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Updated on 09/17/2011 10:45AM
Bonus Pay Day surprises in feature
ARCADIA, Calif. - Bonus Pay Day, the only horse in a field of five available for a claiming price, pulled an upset in a $76,700 allowance/optional claiming race on Friday at Santa Anita.
Eligible to be claimed for $100,000, Bonus Pay Day was overlooked by bettors, who focused on Labamta Babe, the winner of the 2002 Santa Catalina Stakes, and Truly a Judge, the winner of the Claiming Crown Jewel Stakes at Philadelphia Park last August.
But it was Bonus Pay Day who got a perfect trip under jockey Patrick Valenzuela, and left trainer Peter Eurton pleasantly surprised by the result.
Bonus Pay Day ($14) stalked pacesetter Jentzen to the final turn, took the lead in early stretch and pulled clear through the final furlong to win by 5 1/2 lengths over Oh Take.
Truly a Judge finished third, followed by Labamta Babe and Jentzen.
Racing for Frank Alesia, Bran Jam Stable, and Joe Ciaglia, Bonus Pay Day finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.96.
"He ran better than I expected," Eurton said. "On paper, it looked like it would be a tough race."
Claimed for $32,000 last March, Bonus Pay Day has won 4 of 9 starts for his current connections. Friday's race was the first time he had been offered for a claiming price since he was last claimed.
In coming months, Eurton may consider California-bred stakes races for Bonus Pay Day.
"I don't have any plans for him," Eurton said. "I didn't think they'd take him for $100,000. When he runs like that, you think he'd go farther, but a mile and an eighth seems to kick him in the rear end."
Flores wins four races
Jockey David Flores won four races in a day at Santa Anita for the first time in his career on Thursday. One win came aboard French import Cayoke, who set a course record on the turf course.
In Thursday's second race, Cayoke ran about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course in 1:11.45, shaving a hundredth of a second off the previous mark set by El Cielo in 2001.
Flores later won three consecutive races from the fifth through the seventh with Mon Ange ($17), Emphasize ($16.80), and Hannibal Lad ($10). An all-Flores $1 pick three returned $262.50.
"Everything went the way I hoped," Flores said. "Good horses make the difference."
Julio Canani trains 6-year-old Cayoke, and is considering the $2 million Dubai Duty Free in the Middle East on March 29 for the horse.
Kona Gold stays sharp
Less than three weeks after he opened his 9-year-old campaign with a stakes win in the El Conejo Handicap, Kona Gold remains sharp in his morning workouts.
On Friday, Kona Gold zipped five furlongs in 58.60 seconds, the third fastest of 46 recorded works at the distance.
"He did it in a gallop, as always," trainer Bruce Headley said.
On Jan. 26, Kona Gold will try to win his second Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita, three years after his victory over Big Jag. It was a reversal of the 1999 running when Big Jag edged Kona Gold in an epic battle.
Headley is not concerned that this year's El Conejo win took too much out of Kona Gold. "I always have a horse dead fit, as fit as you can without racing," Headley said. "He had a lot of fast works leading up to that race."
General Challenge comeback?
General Challenge, the winner of the 1999 Santa Anita Derby and Pacific Classic and 2000 Santa Anita Handicap, has rejoined trainer Bob Baffert's stable at Santa Anita in his third attempt at a comeback in the last 2 1/2 years.
Unraced since August 2000 because of a variety of injuries, the 7-year-old General Challenge has been galloping on the main track.
General Challenge was briefly in training in 2001 and for a month last summer before being sidelined by a minor injury, Baffert said.
Owner Betty Mabee has left Baffert with instructions to give General Challenge ample time in this comeback attempt.
"If he can make it back at the top level, great," Baffert said. "If not, she said to send him home."
Because General Challenge only returned to the racetrack this week, it is far too early for Baffert to say when the gelding could be ready for racing. But, he said, the early signs are promising.
"He went out today and tried to run off," Baffert said.
Above Perfection's future uncertain
Above Perfection, a winner of four stakes in 2001 and 2002 who finished last in the Survive Stakes on Jan. 3, has been sent to owner ClassicStar's farm in Kentucky and may be retired.
Jon Freston, the racing manager of ClassicStar, said no final decision has been made on Above Perfection's future as a racehorse.
Above Perfection, a winner of 7 of 10 starts and $380,737, was purchased for $610,000 at owner David Milch's dispersal in Kentucky in November. Above Perfection's stakes wins include the Grade 3 Las Flores Handicap last February.
Purse redistribution, five years later
Nearly five years after the race was run, the purse of an allowance race at Hollywood Park has been redistributed by the California Horse Racing Board. The situation centered on a second-place finisher who tested positive for the banned medication Clenbuterol.
Fascinate finished second in the eighth race on May 16, 1998. The second- through fifth-place prizes on Friday were redistributed to the owners of Francie, Rexy Sexy, Miss Lawless, and Fun in Excess.
Headley, who trained Fascinate, paid a $1,000 fine for the positive test in October 2001. The redistribution was not completed until this week due to a paperwork delay, according to a person familiar with the proceedings.
Composure works six furlongs
Composure, the runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Arlington Park in October, and Kafwain, the runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, worked at Santa Anita on Friday.
Kafwain worked six furlongs in 1:10, the fastest of 29 recorded works at the distance. He is being pointed for the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs on Feb. 1, Baffert said.
Composure worked six furlongs in 1:12.60. Since the Breeders' Cup, she finished second to the longshot Elloluv in the Hollywood Starlet Stakes on Dec. 14.
Composure will run next in the $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes at one mile on Feb. 9.
Puxa Saco in Santa Ynez
There is a nine-race program at Santa Anita on Monday that includes two $150,000 races - the Santa Ynez Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and the San Marcos Stakes at 1 1/4 miles on turf.
The Santa Ynez is run at seven furlongs and drew six fillies, including Elloluv and Puxa Saco, the winner of two sprint stakes last fall.
The San Marcos Stakes drew nine runners, including Johar, the winner of the Hollywood Derby on Dec. 1, and Grammarian, the winner of the San Gabriel Handicap on Dec. 29.
Buffy back in training
Buffythecenterfold, the winner of the Sorrento and Landaluce Stakes last summer, has resumed training at Santa Anita with Mel Stute after being given a break following the Breeders' Cup.
Seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, Buffythecenterfold is not expected to start until spring, according to co-owner Allen Brian.
"She's been on vacation in Florida," Brian said. "We'll take our time getting her ready."
* Marco Ramirez, an exercise rider for Bobby Frankel at Hollywood Park, was hospitalized on Friday after being involved in a spill.
Frankel said Ramirez "was just shaken up" and that he later spoke to the rider who was sent to the emergency room at Centinela Hospital in Inglewood.