01/27/2009 12:00AM

Day of mixed emotions for Gilchrist


ALBANY, Calif. - Trainer Greg Gilchrist admits to having some bittersweet pangs in the winner's circle following last weekend's Sunshine Millions victories by Wild Promises in the Filly and Mare Turf and High Resolve in the Filly and Mare Sprint. Both horses are owned by the estate of the late Harry Aleo.

"There were a lot of emotions going through me," Gilchrist said. "I wish Harry could have been there, and I wish Indyanne was back in my barn. It did feel a little strange celebrating after High Resolve's win."

Indyanne, who qualified for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint last year, broke her left front ankle in the Grade 1 La Brea at Santa Anita on Dec. 27 and was euthanized on Jan. 13.

Both of Gilchrist's stars returned to Golden Gate Fields on Tuesday.

"I'll give them a week or so and then start looking at condition books," Gilchrist said.

While both are likely to hit the road again, Gilchrist did note that Wild Promises had success locally last year, winning the 1 3/8-mile Yerba Buena, a race scheduled for April 4 this season. Although High Resolve will likely run before the May 9 Raise Your Skirts at Golden Gate, Gilchrist said that race could be on her agenda.

Both runners are special. Wild Promises, a winner of six straight, has 12 wins from 17 starts with 4 seconds and a third. High Resolve is 10-7-2-1.

"Wild Promises makes a trainer's job real easy," Gilchrist said. "All you have to do is point her in the right direction. You just have to give her time between races, but she tells you when she's ready."

The biggest surprise of the weekend for Gilchrist was the lack of respect for High Resolve, who paid $13.40 as the third choice in the field.

"When I opened the Form, nobody picked her even as high as third," he said. "Her last two races were farther, and they were tough races. She ran hard in both and put away a couple speed horses early and kicked on over tracks that didn't play to speed.

"I think people were concerned about drawing the one hole. A lot of people asked me about that. But we just let her run away, and she had enough lift to clear. The problem in the one hole is if you take back and are maybe laying fourth, fifth, or sixth behind a wall of horses. Then it could be ugly."

Specht has options for Lady Railrider

Trainer Steve Specht was happy with Lady Railrider's second-place finish behind Leah's Secret in the Sunshine Millions Distaff. He, too, may be hitting the road again after his filly's big race.

The Grade 1 La Canada for 4-year-old fillies may come up a little close on Feb. 15, but several other Santa Anita races might suit her, as well as the Work the Crowd for Cal-breds at Golden Gate on March 14.

"We've got options," Specht said. "We just have to keep her healthy. She's pretty versatile. She can come from back or stalk.

"She was unlucky last weekend. She had no room at the quarter pole. If the horse on the lead would have drifted out a bit, she could have gotten through. She might not have won, but she would have made the winner work harder for it."

Lady Railrider was the highest placing Cal-bred in her field, which makes Specht feel good about her chances in Cal-bred races.

Autism Awareness targets stakes

Autism Awareness, forced to the sidelines after winning the El Camino Real Derby, made his third start following his eight-month layoff, running second, beaten a neck by Reality Now, on Sunday. It was his best race yet after setting the pace and fading in a pair of routes.

"I was very happy with the way he ran," trainer Genaro Vallejo said. "He was trying every step of the way."

Autism Awareness had been so eager to run that he used himself early in his first two starts, both second-level allowance routes.

"He hasn't relaxed that much, so I tried to run him in a sprint," Vallejo said.

Vallejo said Autism Awareness would be pointed to the newly added McCann's Mojave overnight stakes that will be run as part of the El Camino Real Derby card here on Feb. 14.

Will O Way heads Oaks probables

Will O Way, an easy winner in the Dec. 13 Corte Madera and third in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel at Santa Anita on Jan. 11, heads the field for Saturday's $100,000 California Oaks at 1 1/16 miles.

Be So Special, Digestivo, Miss Lion Heart, and Point of Reference are likely to test her.

* Sunday's card - the day of the Super Bowl, and another $1 Day - will begin at 11:15 a.m. Pacific. A lucky fan will win a 42-inch flat-screen television after each of the first eight races.