08/30/2009 11:00PM

Debutante prospect may scratch

Benoit & Associates
Ferneley, pulling away to win the Del Mar Mile under Joel Rosario, will be pointed to the $1 million Woodbine Mile on Sept. 20.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Champagne d'Oro, a maiden race winner on Aug. 9, may not start in the $300,000 Darley Debutante on Saturday because of a recent positive test for the banned medication trenbolone, trainer Eric Guillot said Sunday.

Guillot was notified of the positive by California Horse Racing Board investigators last week, he said. He has authorized a second test of the original sample, which will confirm or negate the initial findings. If the second test is negative, the issue will be dropped. If the second test is positive, the racing board will proceed with actions against Guillot and the disqualification of Champagne d'Oro from the purse.

Racing board officials declined to comment on the test.

Trenbolone, an anabolic steroid used to build muscles and appetite, is not permitted to appear in post-race tests. It is listed as a Class 3 drug, meaning positive tests will result in a loss of purse and a possible fine or suspension for a trainer.

Guillot insists the initial positive was caused by accidental contamination.

"It's not like I'm cheating," he said. "We don't know how it happened."

Guillot is not expected to learn the results of the split-sample test before Saturday. As a result, Guillot said he ordered another test taken last week to see if the medication remains in the filly's system. If that test is clear, she will start, he said. If not, Guillot said Champagne d'Oro will be scratched after entries are taken Wednesday.

"I want to make sure it's out of her system," he said. "We're supposed to get the pre-race test back on Thursday. We can't have two [positives] in a row."

Earlier this year, trainer Jeff Bonde was fined $3,000 and suspended five days for a trenbolone positive at Bay Meadows in 2008. The suspension was for 30 days, but 25 days of the penalty was stayed.

Mi Sueno sharpens for Debutante

Guillot has the leading contender for the seven-furlong Debutante in Mi Sueno, the winner of the Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes here Aug. 7.

Mi Sueno won the Sorrento Stakes by 6 1/2 lengths, finishing 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.40. She worked five furlongs in 59.70 seconds under jockey Michael Baze on Saturday, according to Guillot. The workout did not appear on the official work tab.

"She galloped out in 1:13," Guillot said. "Michael said it was easy as a horse can breeze."

The Debutante is expected to have a large field. The probable starters include Blind Luck, It Tiz, Necessary Evil, Octogarian, Punctual, Repo, and Ridemetothemoon.

Woodbine Mile next for Ferneley

Ferneley, winner of Saturday's Grade 2 Del Mar Mile, began his career in Ireland and England before joining trainer Ben Cecil's stable last summer. Another international trip, this time to Canada, is likely next month.

Cecil has nominated the $1 million Woodbine Mile on Sept. 20 as Ferneley's next start. He would like to start Ferneley on a less-firm surface than what is typically found in Southern California.

"He doesn't have the best of feet," Cecil said. "I think a slightly softer track can help him. He didn't switch leads [on Saturday]."

Ferneley won his first stakes in the United States in the Del Mar Mile, his 10th stakes appearance in this country.

Ridden by leading rider Joel Rosario, Ferneley rallied wide on the final turn and through the stretch to win by 1 1/2 lengths over the 4-year-old filly Allicansayis Wow. Lethal Heat, another 4-year-old filly, finished third in the field of eight.

Ferneley ran a mile on turf in 1:33.11.

"I was delighted, but I didn't realize that fillies ran second and third," Cecil said. "I don't know how strong the race was."

In December, Cecil is considering shipping Ferneley to Hong Kong for the $2 million Hong Kong Mile on turf. The 5-year-old horse was not nominated to the Breeders' Cup program, so a start in the Breeders' Cup Mile on Nov. 7 is highly unlikely since a six-figure supplement would be required. The winner of the Del Mar Mile received an automatic berth to that race, subject to the payment of nomination fees.

Another fast work for Zensational

Watching Zensational in the afternoons is a treat, but so is seeing him breeze in the mornings. He works swiftly, but goes along so effortlessly that the times are deceiving. It was business as usual for the elite sprinter Monday morning at Del Mar, when he flew five furlongs in 57 seconds while just cruising along in his final prep for the Grade 1, $300,000 Pat O'Brien Stakes on Sunday. He went so easily the work was designated as "breezing" by the clockers. Of the 88 works at Del Mar on Monday, just two were labeled "breezing."

"Ridiculous," his trainer, Bob Baffert, said in admiration. "He looks like he's just galloping. I got him galloping out six furlongs in 1:09 and 4. He's freaky. I've quit making up excuses for his works. He's just a fast horse."

Zensational is seeking a sweep of this track's Grade 1 sprints this summer. He won the six-furlong Bing Crosby on Aug. 8. That was his second straight Grade 1 win and his third victory in a row.

Victor Espinoza is scheduled to ride Zensational in the seven-furlong Pat O'Brien. Their rivals are expected to include Big Bad Leroybrown, Noble Court, and Talkin to Mom Roo.

Big Bad Leroybrown worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 on Monday for trainer Don Warren.

Star Nicholas is nominated to both the Pat O'Brien and the $85,000 Windy Sands, at one mile, on Saturday. Peter Eurton, who trains Star Nicholas, said Monday he was leaning toward running in the Pat O'Brien. Star Nicholas worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 on Monday.

Springer draws 10-day suspension

Jockey Jordan Springer was given a 10-day suspension by Del Mar stewards on Saturday for her ride aboard Engine Sixty Nine in Friday's fifth race.

Engine Sixty Nine led by three lengths with a furlong remaining but was caught in the final stride by Autocue. Springer did not strike Engine Sixty Nine with a whip in the stretch, hand-riding him to the wire.

Springer's suspension begins Saturday and covers the final four days of the Del Mar meeting, through Sept. 9, and the first six days of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting Sept. 30 through Oct. 7.

Springer was cited for a rule that states "No jockey shall . . . ride in a manner which is inconsistent with using the best effort of the horse [she] is riding."

Springer, 31, is primarily an exercise rider at Southern California tracks. She previously rode in the Midwest and East. This year, she has won 2 races from 31 mounts.

Dave in Dixie headed to Norfolk

Dave in Dixie, the impressive winner of a six-furlong maiden race for 2-year-olds on Saturday in his debut, will make his next start in the $300,000 Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 4, trainer John Sadler said.

The Grade 1 Norfolk is run over 1o1/16 miles and considered California's leading prep for the $2omillion Breeders' Cup Juvenile, which will be run at Santa Anita on Nov. 7.

In Saturday's race, Dave in Dixie rallied from eighth in a field of 10 to win by 3 1/4 lengths under Rosario in 1:10.46. It was arguably the most visually exciting performance by a 2-year-old maiden at the current Del Mar meeting.

"If he can go to the Norfolk, it would be great," Sadler said.

As of Sunday, Sadler was debating whether to start maiden race winner Sidney's Candy in Monday's $300,000 Del Mar Futurity. Sidney's Candy won a maiden race over 5 1/2 furlongs by four lengths in track-record time of 1:02.71 on Aug. 22.

"My plan is to breeze him [on Wednesday] and check his energy level," Sadler said.

The Futurity is led by Lookin at Lucky, the winner of the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes here Aug. 9. Other probable starters are Hurricane Ike, Lions Story, Make Music for Me, Marcello, Smiling Tiger, and Sterling Outlook.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman