Updated on 09/16/2011 7:54AM

Canani will prep Val Royal in Kilroe Mile


ARCADIA, Calif. - Despite a training setback caused by fever and a wet track, Breeders' Cup Mile winner Val Royal will start Saturday in the $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile, according to trainer Julio Canani.

"I missed a work, but it's not the end of the world," he said. "This is a horse you don't need to pound, anyway."

Following the Grade 2 Kilroe, the 6-year-old Val Royal will ship to Dubai for the $2 million Dubai Duty Free on March 23, and Canani said the Kilroe would set him up perfectly for the richer race in Dubai. Without a prep, Val Royal would have to be trained harder. Val Royal worked a half-mile in company Tuesday in 48.20 seconds, breezing, slower than Canani preferred. "I would have liked it to be a little quicker; the track is like a freeway," Canani said.

Val Royal and Irish Prize (also headed to Dubai) were assigned high weight of 123 pounds for the Kilroe. Others expected to run include Decarchy, El Cielo (who scratched from a minor stakes on Wednesday), Designed for Luck, Orientate, Thady Quill, Malabar Gold, No Slip, and Sarafan.

Nakatani and Meldahl together again

Jockey Corey Nakatani has rehired agent Bob Meldahl, with whom he achieved much of his career success through the 1990's. Nakatani entered the week ranked 12th in the Santa Anita jockey standings with 14 wins from 118 mounts. He has been represented throughout the meet by Tony Matos; the switch to Meldahl takes effect with the new condition took that begins March 6.

"I have a relationship with Bob that's like no other," Nakatani said. "It's not a knock against Tony, he's a great agent, but I had a relationship with Bob like no other agent in the business. I click with Bob a lot better."

Nakatani, 31, won five Breeders' Cup races from 1996 to 1998 and was with Meldahl for 10 years, until the start of the current meet. "I want to ride for everybody," Nakatani said. "I want to be leading rider. I'll work horses, I'll do whatever they ask me to do.

"People got the perception I won't ride a certain quality of horses, but that's not the case. I want to ride the 16's, the 12,500's, I want to ride for everybody." Nakatani has been the leading rider at a Southern California race meet six times.

Dubai invitation for Blade Prospector

Blade Prospector, off the board in six of his last seven starts, has been invited to the $1 million Godolphin Mile, part of the Dubai World Cup card on March 23. Trainer A.C. Avila said the 7-year-old Blade Prospector has returned to top form, though the analysis is difficult to confirm based on recent races. Blade Prospector won the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap last March 31 at Golden Gates Fields, but his only in-the-money finish since then was a win in a four-horse field during the fall Oak Tree meet.

"The horse is back in shape, he feels good," Avila said. "He's back with those eyes, he looks like a tiger again." Avila said Blade Prospector, 10 for 25 lifetime, lost his right front shoe and tore off part of the wall of his foot while finishing fourth in a classified allowance race in his most recent start Dec. 14. Blade Prospector's recent workouts have been fast, and include a 46-second half-mile gate work Feb. 23.

Ocean Sound workout earns San Rafael spot

A sensational workout by European turf horse Ocean Sound has persuaded trainer Jim Cassidy to start the 3-year-old in the Grade 2 San Rafael Stakes Saturday on the Santa Anita Handicap undercard. "This horse worked too good not to go," Cassidy said of the 58.40-second work Feb. 21. "I've never had a horse work like that."

Ocean Sound finished second by a nose (disqualified to fourth) in a Feb. 3 allowance race, a turf sprint that was flattered when winner Shuffling Kid returned Sunday to win the Grade 3 Baldwin Stakes. Despite the good turf prep and fast work, Ocean Sound will be one of the outsiders in the one-mile San Rafael.

Likely favorite Came Home worked a half-mile Tuesday (46.80 seconds) and will start favored in a field expected to include Fonz's, Easy Grades, Werblin, and Pelirrojo. Northern California-based Metatron might not make the trip.

Holdthehelm and Azillion headed to Spiral

The $600,000 Spiral Stakes for 3-year-olds on March 23 at Turfway Park will have a distinctively California flavor as Holdthehelm and Azillion are both pointing toward the race. Azillion has finished third in both his starts in the United States, including a 2 1/2-length loss on Friday to rapidly improving Sunday Break. Trainer Bob Hess said the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Spiral suits Azillion, a one-paced sort who may lack the necessary quickness to compete in California.

Holdthehelm was a troubled fifth in the Grade 3 Baldwin Stakes, a sprint, on Sunday, and will stretch back out to two turns for the Spiral. Holdthehelm, 2 for 10, won his only previous main-track start around two turns, winning a first-level allowance Dec. 29 by 3 1/2 lengths.

* Captain Squire, winner of the Turf Paradise Derby, will make his next start March 9 in the $200,000 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields, according to trainer Jeff Mullins.

* The 35th annual basketball game between Santa Anita jockeys and Holy Angels School is scheduled for Thursday at 7:15 at La Salle High School. Tickets are $4 and benefit the Holy Angels athletic department.

* Habibti worked five furlongs Tuesday in 59 seconds, preparing for the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks on March 9. Habibti and Las Virgenes winner You are expected in the field, while recent Cal-bred allowance winner Daddy's Gold has joined the prospective lineup. Diamond Tiara will not run in the Oaks.