07/26/2009 11:00PM

Colonel John to try the turf

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Barbara D. Livingston
Colonel John, kept from the Big Cap by illness, will return in the Wickerr.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Colonel John and Well Armed are the two best horses in trainer Eoin Harty's barn. Both have been off for several months, but both are now ready to run. Harty nominated both to the Grade 2, $250,000 San Diego Handicap this Sunday at Del Mar, but didn't want to run them against one another.

He found an option. After Colonel John worked satisfactorily on the turf on Sunday morning, Harty entered him in the $85,000 Wickerr Handicap, a restricted stakes race for older horses at one mile on turf that will be run on Friday. Although Colonel John has won such major races as the Santa Anita Derby and the Travers Stakes, he was eligible to the Wickerr because he had not won a stakes race since May 1.

In fact, he hasn't even raced since Dec. 26. Colonel John, 4, finished fourth in the Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita, then was rested for the Santa Anita Handicap in March. But the morning of that race, he was running a temperature and was scratched.

"The groom was adamant something was wrong when I got there in the morning," Harty said. "He normally has a temperature of 99 to 100. It was 101. I didn't think it was that bad, but wanted to monitor him. A little bit later, it was 103. He had pleural pneumonia. I had never had a problem with him his whole career until the morning of the Big Cap. These guys, they know their horses. When Wayne Lukas left this circuit, I got a few grooms who had been with him for 15 or 20 years."

Colonel John worked five furlongs on turf on Sunday morning in 1:02 under jockey Garrett Gomez, who will ride him in the Wickerr.

"He's going to be fine on it," Gomez told Harty right after the workout. "He didn't really quicken, but he was comfortable on it, steady. And he covers so much ground."

Harty said he "would have preferred to run him on the main track, but there's no reason, judging by the way he worked, that he won't handle the grass.

"I didn't necessarily want to run the two of them against each other in the San Diego."

Well Armed assigned high weight

Well Armed was assigned top weight of 123 pounds for the 1 1/16-mile San Diego, which will be his first start since capturing the Dubai World Cup in March. On Monday morning, Well Armed had his final work for the San Diego when he effortlessly covered five furlongs in 1:00 with his regular jockey, Aaron Gryder.

Well Armed will spot at least five pounds to his rivals. Ball Four was assigned 118 pounds. The filly Life Is Sweet also got 118 pounds, but since she is a female, she gets a five-pound weight break, making her actual assignment 113 pounds. That is moot, though, since Gomez, her jockey, rides a bit over that weight.

Others expected for the San Diego include Informed, Mast Track, Song of Navarone, and Temple City, and possibly Allicansayiswow, Cigar Man, Kelly Leak, Magnum, Sangaree, and Spurrier.

Magnun worked five furlongs in 1:00.20 on Monday morning for trainer Darrell Vienna, who said Magnum was "50-50" to run in the San Diego.

"It's a tough race," Vienna said.

Sangaree and Spurrier, both trained by Bob Baffert, each worked six furlongs in 1:12.80 on Monday morning. Asked if they would run on Sunday, Baffert said, "I don't know yet."

Informed worked five furlongs in 1:02.60 for trainer Doug O'Neill on Monday.

Temple City worked five furlongs in 59 seconds on Sunday morning for trainer Carla Gaines, equaling the fastest time of 93 at the distance.

Thorn Song OK after bolting

Thorn Song, who bolted suddenly under jockey Mike Smith while on the lead going around the first turn of the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes on Saturday, was fine on Sunday morning, trainer Mike Mitchell said.

"I opened up the blinkers on him, and I guess he saw too much," Mitchell said. "Now I might add a shadow roll. He pulled up good. The race started perfectly. He had that easy lead I wanted. I was loving it."

Smith said Thorn Song gave him no warning. "He was just cruising," Smith said. "I can't believe I stayed on."

Thorn Song was making his first start for Mitchell after being trained previously by Dale Romans.

Thorn Song has a reputation of being difficult in the mornings.

"He's a nightmare," Mitchell said.

Mitchell said Thorn Song would be pointed to the Grade 2, $300,000 Del Mar Mile on Aug. 29. That is also the likely next spot for Global Hunter, who scored a 14-1 upset in the Eddie Read, giving trainer A.C. Avila his first win in a Grade 1 stakes race.

Race favorite Monterey Jazz, who inherited the lead when Thorn Song bolted, cooked himself by racing uncontrollably for a half-mile from the first quarter to the third quarter in 46.09 seconds under jockey Tyler Baze.

"He just locked his jaw and Tyler couldn't do anything with him," trainer Craig Dollase said.

3-year-old breaks down on turf

Insider, a 3-year-old gelding racing in a starter allowance race on the turf for Mitchell, suffered a compound fracture in his left rear leg in the second race on Sunday and was euthanized.

Insider was making his fifth start, but his first on this circuit after racing in New York and Kentucky.

He became the third horse to be euthanized as a result of his injuries in a race during the first week of racing here, which encompassed five days. Two other horses suffered fatal injuries in main-track races.

A fourth horse was euthanized after being injured in a workout on the main track three days before the meet opened, bringing to four the number of horses who have been euthanized here this summer.

Sadler packing punch

Trainer John Sadler will have a formidable team of Evita Argentina and Million Dollar Run for the $200,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap for female sprinters on Sept. 4.

Sadler has won the Grade 3 Rancho Bernando Handicap four times, including last year with Dearest Trickski.

Million Dollar Run became a candidate for the Rancho Bernardo after a successful 2009 debut in an optional claimer over six furlongs on Saturday. Ridden by Joel Rosario, Million Dollar Run won by a half-length over Carmel Coffee, finishing in 1:10.43. Lethal Heat, the 4-5 favorite, could finish only fourth in her first start since January.

The optional claimer was Million Dollar Run's first start for Tommy Town Thoroughbreds and Sadler. She was acquired last winter after a 3-year-old season highlighted by a win in the Grade 3 Railbird Stakes at Hollywood Park.

"She's pretty classy," Sadler said.

Evita Argentina won the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap over seven furlongs earlier this month at Hollywood Park.

Jockeys switch agents

Jockeys Michael Baze, David Flores and Alonso Quinonez have changed agents.

Baze has ended a month-long relationship with Jim Pegram and hired Ron Ebanks, who also represents Baze's cousin Tyler.

Flores has hired Ron Anderson, who also represents Garrett Gomez, the winner of the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding jockey of 2007 and 2008. Flores had previously worked with Brad Pegram, who will continue to represent Mike Smith.

Quinonez has hired Nick Cosato, who worked for Michael Baze until earlier this summer.