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Behindatthebar injured, out of Swaps
INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Behindatthebar, the winner of the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland in April, was not entered for Saturday's $350,000 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park because of a minor foot injury, according to Sasha Sanan of Padua Stables.
Behindatthebar popped an abscess near the coronet band of his left foreleg earlier this week, which prevented the colt from being sent from New York to California for the race, according to Sanan, Padua's racing manager.
The injury is the second setback suffered by Behindatthebar since the Lexington. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Behindatthebar was entered for the Preakness Stakes on May 17 but was scratched because of a bruised foot.
Behindatthebar would have been a leading contender in the Grade 2 Swaps.
"It's a little frustrating," Sanan said. "I think he's better since it popped. He should be back to regular training in a day or two."
Behindatthebar has won 3 of 5 starts and $277,100. The Lexington was his first stakes win. Sanan said that Behindatthebar, who is based with Pletcher at Belmont Park, will be pointed for the $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga on July 27.
"Todd will have the most important vote" on his next race, Sanan said.
The defection of Behindatthebar leaves the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes with six entrants. The race will have a strong favorite in Colonel John, the winner of the Santa Anita Derby in April. Trained by Eoin Harty, Colonel John has not started since finishing sixth in the Kentucky Derby.
The other entrants are Madeo, Nownownow, Tres Borrachos, Trevor's Clever, and Two Step Salsa.
Nownownow won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Monmouth Park last fall, and has made one subsequent start, finishing fifth in the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh on May 24. The Swaps will be Nownownow's first start for trainer Jason Orman.
Six-week track overhaul
Santa Anita will begin the latest renovation of its synthetic main track on Friday at the conclusion of training hours, track president Ron Charles said.
Santa Anita is replacing its asphalt base and will treat its problematic synthetic main track in a project that track officials hope will solve a year-old drainage problem. The project will take six weeks to complete. It is the third time in the last year that the surface has undergone a significant overhaul.
During the upcoming renovation, the asphalt will be replaced by a gravel base. The existing synthetic surface, which consists of the original Cushion Track brand surface installed in August 2007 and Pro-Ride material that was added during a previous renovation in February, will be mixed with polymers and fibers from the Pro-Ride surface and then reapplied.
The work will be completed less than two months before the Breeders' Cup races will be run at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on Oct. 24-25. The Oak Tree meeting begins on Sept. 24.
The first stage of the project will be to remove the main surface to reach the asphalt.
"We're still looking at around six weeks" to complete the project, Charles said.
Mitchell's time draws near
The last two weeks of July could define trainer Mike Mitchell's summer.
From Sunday's $150,000 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park through the end of the month, Mitchell will have starters in at least six stakes worth $100,000 to $400,000.
Church Service starts in the Sunset. Kilderry, claimed for $100,000 at Santa Anita earlier this year, starts in Wednesday's $100,000 Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar. You Got Me Rocking, recently acquired from Texas, makes his California debut in the $300,000 San Diego Handicap, a day before Spring Awakening starts in the $100,000 Fleet Treat Stakes and Monzante runs in the $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap.
"The first week is kind of loaded," Mitchell said of the start of the Del Mar meeting.
Toward the end of the month, Big Booster runs for him in the $150,000 Cougar II Handicap on July 30. Big Booster was fifth in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup on June 28.
Kilderry has won two of his last three starts, with the wins coming in a maiden race and an optional claimer. The Oceanside Stakes, which is run at a mile on turf, will be his stakes debut.
Monzante was beaten a neck by Artiste Royal in the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park on June 7.
"I think he should have won the Whittingham," Mitchell said. "I know the Read is going to be a good race."
Mitchell recently acquired You Got Me Rocking for owner Burt Bacharach. A 4-year-old, You Got Me Rocking has won 2 of 10 starts and $62,710 racing in Kentucky. The Grade 2 San Diego, which is run at 1o1/16 miles, will be You Got Me Rocking's stakes debut.
"I won it with Sun Boat, and he seems like a little better horse than Sun Boat," Mitchell said. "He's just training great."
Despite having runners in several lucrative races, Mitchell considers Spring Awakening, a California-bred 3-year-old filly, to be his most likely winner. She has not started since winning the California Breeders' Champion Stakes at Santa Anita last December.
"The best chance is probably Spring Awakening," he said. "But she hasn't been out in a while."
Mitchell's stable is at an all-time high with 60 runners. He will send 36 to Del Mar, using 32 stalls and four pens, and leave the rest at Hollywood Park. He expects the stable to shrink in coming months, if some of his horses are claimed from him.
Church Service in Sunset
Church Service is part of an expected field of eight in the Sunset, the closing-day feature of the spring-summer meeting. Owned by Robert Tjosvold, Church Service won the Grade 3 Dallas Turf Cup at 1 1/8 miles on grass on May 26 and was second in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Handicap on the synthetic main track at Santa Anita on March 29.
"I think he's the horse to beat," Mitchell said. "He can run on any surface."
The Sunset, which is run at 1 1/2 miles on turf, has a probable field of eight, including Boule d'Or, Cedar Mountain, Fitz Flag, Porfido, Storm Trooper, Transduction Gold, and Warning Zone.