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Connections of top fillies face tough decision
ARCADIA, Calif. - With the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint being run here on Saturday and the Grade 1, $250,000 Santa Monica Handicap on Sunday, trainers of some top-class female sprinters must choose between the two lucrative races.
Leave Me Alone, the winner of the Grade 1 Test Stakes at Saratoga last summer, is more likely to start in the Filly and Mare Sprint for California-breds and Florida-breds, although trainer Eric Kruljac said over the weekend that she will be entered in both races. Trainer Bob Baffert said Western Hemisphere would start in the Filly and Mare Sprint, but has not ruled out the Grade 1 Santa Monica.
Other California-bred mares, such as Allswellthatnswell and Alphabet Kisses, are nominated for both races.
Choosing between the two races has been an annual dilemma for the owners of top-class female sprinters bred in California or Florida since the Sunshine Millions was launched in 2003.
In the case of Leave Me Alone, Kruljac said the extra prize money has played a factor in the decision.
"We're about 70-30 to run in the Sunshine Millions," Kruljac said. "She's got plenty of Grade 1 wins and placings, but there is the money and it is a good pot. It would be a little easier competition."
A California-bred filly, Leave Me Alone was a game second to Pussycat Doll in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Dec. 31. The Test Stakes last summer was the most prestigious of her three stakes wins in 2005.
Kruljac will have Friday evening to analyze both races. Entries for the Santa Monica will be taken on Friday morning. If the Santa Monica draws a small field, Kruljac said he could be tempted to run Leave Me Alone in that race.
"We love the Grade 1 - even if you run second or third," he said. Thirteen were entered in the Filly and mare Sprint. Leave Me Alon drew post 11.
Leave Me Alone worked a half-mile in 47 seconds on Saturday, the fastest of 49 recorded works at the distance.
"She worked within herself," Kruljac said. "She came back bucking and playing."
The Santa Monica may have a short field. Despite attracting 17 nominations, the list of probable starters is brief - just Behaving Badly, Elusive Diva, Miss Terrible, and Reforest.
Pussycat Doll is nominated, but Baffert, who trains her, is pointing her to the $200,000 La Canada Stakes for 4-year-old fillies on Feb. 12.
Attila's Storm suffers fractured leg
Attila's Storm, fourth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint last October, emerged from a third-place finish in Saturday's Palos Verdes Handicap with a condylar fracture of his left hind leg, according to trainer Eduardo Inda.
Attila's Storm is trained by Richard Schosberg of New York, but has been based with Inda since arriving in California in December.
Attila's Storm was scheduled to undergo surgery at the Alamo Pintado Equine Clinic in Los Olivos, Calif., on Monday, Inda said.
Sent off as the 3-2 favorite in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes, Attila's Storm finished a neck and a head behind Major Success. Attila's Storm won the Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct in November and finished second in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes here in December.
Credit Baze for Major Success's score
Major Success made his stakes debut in the Palos Verdes, a victory that trainer Bobby Frankel credited to jockey Tyler Baze and his agent, Ivan Puhich.
Frankel had thoughts of sending Major Success to a stakes at Louisiana Downs in mid-January, but stayed home after Baze told Frankel how well he thought Major Success was doing.
"Tyler had a lot of confidence in the horse - and this race was graded," Frankel said.
Major Success won his third consecutive race in the Palos Verdes. Ridden by Baze, he was third early and rallied between Attila's Storm on the rail and a stubborn Jet West on the outside in the stretch to win by a neck. Major Success appeared to lose the lead to Jet West in the final furlong, but was clearly in front at the wire.
"I don't usually root, and I was going, 'Come back, come back,' " Frankel said.
A 5-year-old owned by Ed Gann, Major Success made his ninth career start in the Palos Verdes. Major Success's career has been stalled by occasional knee problems, none of which required surgery, Frankel said.
"We stopped on him a few different times," Frankel said. "That why he's so lightly raced."
Bob and John's victory a mere workout
Bob and John had what his trainer called "a paid workout" in an allowance race last Friday, which will lead to a stakes appearance for the promising 3-year-old in coming weeks, Baffert said.
Bob and John had little trouble conquering six rivals, winning by three lengths and finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.81. The race was Bob and John's first start since a third-place finish in the Hollywood Futurity.
"It was a paid workout," Baffert said. "With him, I need to get him to relax."
For Bob and John's next race, Baffert may choose between the $100,000 Sham Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 4 or the $200,000 Santa Catalina Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on March 4.
Baffert acknowledges that Bob and John will need quite a bit of luck to win the Kentucky Derby in May.
"I think [things] have to happen for him to win," he said. "My job is to get him in position to win it."
Hofmans appointed to TOC board
Trainer David Hofmans has been appointed to the board of directors of the Thoroughbred Owners of California as a trainer-owner board member for a one-year term.
Hofmans, 62, replaces northern California-based trainer Art Sherman, whose term expired on Dec. 31.
Santa Maria next for Healthy Addiction
Healthy Addiction, who won the Paseana Handicap in her first start of the year on Thursday, will run next in the $250,000 Santa Maria Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 11, trainer John Sadler said.
The winner of the Grade 2 Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap here in October, Healthy Addiction won the Paseana by two lengths over Freakin Streakin. Healthy Addiction ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.95.
"It wasn't anything to write home about, but it was a good strong start for the year," Sadler said. "I think she could move forward off that."
The race was Healthy Addiction's first start since finishing 13th in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Belmont Park in October.
* Owner Bob Bone won the early double on Sunday with the maiden claimer Robin's Cape ($3) and the $40,000 claimer Bettersweetmoment ($3.40). The $2 daily double paid $4. In November at Hollywood Park, Bone had a record four winners on a single program.
* Trainer Rafael DeLeon has been fined $750 for having two horses test positive for excess levels of Bute at Hollywood Park last month. The positives were found in postrace samples taken from Woody Be Quick and Honeeluv Drop. Woody Be Quick won the first race on Dec. 9. Honeeluv Drop won the third race on Dec. 15.