11/26/2010 3:52PM

Cost of Freedom may get chance to return to dirt in Palos Verdes

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Benoit & Associates
Cost of Freedom could run next in next month's On Trust Handicap or await the Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita in January.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Cost of Freedom is so old that he was around before California’s synthetic track era.

The 7-year-old Cost of Freedom won his maiden in a $40,000 claimer at Del Mar on a dirt surface as a 3-year-old in August 2006, the final year before all the state’s major tracks went to synthetic surfaces. Since then, Cost of Freedom has been claimed for $50,000 by current owners Gary and Cecil Barber and trainer John Sadler, and has won four stakes, including Thursday’s $100,000 Vernon Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park.

The Grade 3 Underwood was Cost of Freedom’s second stakes win at Hollywood Park this fall, preceded by the California Cup Sprint on Oct. 30. Friday, Sadler was debating whether to start Cost of Freedom in the $75,000 On Trust Handicap for statebreds over 7 1/2 furlongs here on Dec. 19 or wait for the $150,000 Palos Verdes Handicap over six furlongs at Santa Anita on Jan. 19.

If the Barbers and Sadler wait for the Grade 2 Palos Verdes, Cost of Freedom will be racing on a dirt surface for the first time since 2006. Santa Anita is replacing its synthetic track surface this fall.

“I guess we’ll find out this winter,” Sadler said of how Cost of Freedom will cope with the new surface.

In the six-furlong Underwood, Cost of Freedom led throughout under jockey Joe Talamo, through quick fractions of 21.95 and 44.19 seconds, and won by 1 3/4 lengths over Gato Go Win in 1:08.46.

The long-term goal for Cost of Freedom is the $2 million Golden Shaheen for sprinters in Dubai in March. The Barbers and Sadler considered the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs earlier this month for Cost of Freedom, but opted for the Cal Cup Sprint, which turned out to be an easy win.

“I’m not sure the Breeders’ Cup would have been the way to go,” Sadler said. “There was a ton of speed in there.”

Cost of Freedom has won 10 of 20 starts and $812,263.

Well-bred maiden may need more distance

Sadler runs the first-time starter World Renowned in a maiden special weight race for 2-year-olds over 6 1/2 furlongs in Sunday’s sixth race, but does not have immediate high expectations for a colt who cost $900,000 at the 2009 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale.

“He’s probably not a sprinter,’ Sadler said. “This race will be a good schooling.”

World Renowned is owned by B. Wayne Hughes, and is the first horse that Sadler has trained for the prominent owner, he said. World Renowned is by A.P. Indy out of Splended Blended, who won the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes in 2004 in a career that included five stakes wins.

World Renowned is part of a field of nine, which includes four first-time starters.

Trainer Bob Baffert starts The Factor, a colt by War Front who was the most expensive horse sold at the Barretts March sale of 2-year-olds in training in May for $250,000. The Factor has worked quickly in recent weeks, but Baffert was downplaying his chances on Friday.

“He’s been training well,” Baffert said. “This time of year, they usually need a race. We’ll know more when he runs. The horses that have an out have a big advantage. I can get a good start in him before Santa Anita.”

Quintons Destiny has made one start, finishing a troubled sixth in a maiden race on Oct. 16 when he was steadied in the final sixteenth. Trainer Dan Hendricks expects a better performance on Sunday.

“I think if he hadn’t veered in a little bit he would have followed the winner right to the wire,” Hendricks said. “He’s come back and worked well since. He’s one of probably six that wouldn’t be a surprise if he wins. It’s about as competitive of a 2-year-old maiden race I’ve seen on paper.”

O’Neill recuperating from abdominal surgery

Trainer Doug O’Neill underwent an appendectomy in Santa Monica, Calif., on Wednesday, and was released from the hospital on Thursday, he said from his home on Friday.

“I’m feeling better every minute and I should be back at the track on Saturday morning,” said O’Neill, 42, the current leading trainer at the fall meeting, with 8 wins.

◗ Kinsale King, who won the Golden Shaheen earlier this year, has been sidelined with a foot infection, trainer Carl O’Callaghan said.

Seventh in the BC Sprint, Kinsale King was under consideration for a stakes in Hong Kong in December, but will be pointed for the Palos Verdes, O’Callaghan said.

◗ Dilemma and Afleet Ruler, who were second and fourth in the Grade 3 Morvich Handicap on Oct. 11, are the leading contenders in Sunday’s $55,000 Wild Harmony Stakes over six furlongs on turf, the day’s third race.