02/19/2008 12:00AM

Don't blame Johnny Eves

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Johnny Eves was compromised by an interrupted training pattern and a botched final workout prior to his dull fourth-place finish last Saturday in the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap, and trainer Jay Robbins is confident the Grade 1-winning sprinter can rebound when he makes his next start in Kentucky.

"His last work got screwed up on the training track," Robbins said, referring to a five-furlong drill in a slow 1:02.80.

Due to wet weather and a main track that was unavailable because it was undergoing repair, Robbins said, Johnny Eves was a tired horse in the final furlong of seven-furlong San Carlos.

"He only had one good work in five weeks," Robbins said.

Johnny Eves won the Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26, and finished second in the Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 12. But after that, he had only one five-furlong workout on the main track.

Robbins said Johnny Eves will point for the Grade 2, seven-furlong Commonwealth Stakes on April 12 at Keeneland.

Colonel John preps for Sham

The main track Tuesday morning at Santa Anita produced slow work times, including the seven-furlong drill by Derby prospect Colonel John, who is nearing his 2008 debut for trainer Eoin Harty. Runner-up in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity, Colonel John was timed in 1:24.80 under Iggy Puglisi.

Colonel John is scheduled to run March 1 in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes, and would have a two-start campaign leading into the Kentucky Derby. Harty started Colonel John four times as a 2-year-old, and he was due for a freshening after the Dec. 22 CashCall Futurity.

"I just gave him the time," Harty said. "He's mentally capable. It's not like he was going to learn anything [by continuing to race]. It would have done more damage than good to continue pounding on him, and in light of the track condition [the short layoff] might have been a blessing."

Colonel John's regular rider, Corey Nakatani, who sustained a broken collarbone in mid-January, is scheduled to resume riding on Feb. 25, and will ride Colonel John in the Sham.

Costume edges Black Mamba

Costume is not in the same league as Bobby Frankel's top turf mare Precious Kitten, but Monday at Santa Anita, Frankel's second string was good enough. Costume, a 4-year-old filly who was still eligible to a first-level allowance, won the Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap by a neck over 8-5 favorite Black Mamba.

The stakes victory in the mile turf race was the ninth of the meet for leading rider Garrett Gomez, and fourth for Frankel.

Strategy made the difference, according to Frankel. "She's a little one-paced, she doesn't have that turn of foot, so we decided to put her closer to the pace," he said.

Gomez positioned her in second, they inherited the lead when pacesetter Alexandra Rose drifted out into the lane, opened up by 2 1/2 lengths, and held. Frankel did not specify Costume's next race, though he said she will skip the Grade 2 Santa Ana on March 23.

Meanwhile, Grade 1 winner Precious Kitten had her first three-furlong workout on Feb. 16, and Frankel is aiming her to the Grade 2 Jenny Wiley Stakes on April 12 at Keeneland.

Pick six pays record $3.1 million

After a three-day carryover, the lone winning pick-six ticket Monday produced a Santa Anita record payoff of $3,120,256. The winning bet was purchased through a hub in New Jersey, according to the Santa Anita publicity department. The previous record payoff ($2,687,611) was set Oct. 25, 2003 during the fall Oak Tree meet. The previous winter-meet record was $1,567,984 set March 3, 2004. The three-day carryover into Monday was $1,269,223; an additional $3,337,881 was bet Monday.

The winning horses Monday in the pick six on races 5-10 were not easy to find. They were Gula Gold ($29.60), Norway House ($4.40 favorite), Mymomawzafandancer ($47), Costume ($11.60), Medjool ($8.20 favorite), and Paparazzi Charm ($69.60). Only two of the 12 runners in the last race were not covered in the pick six - fourth-place finisher Key Rose, and last-place Sweet Spot.

Paparazzi Charm's 33-1 odds in race 10 were the second-highest in the field, and she keyed the first double-carryover in the brief history of the $1 Super High Five. The wager had a carryover of $86,043 into Monday; the carryover into Wednesday was $274,952.

Several options for Midnight Lute

Midnight Lute, the 2007 champion sprinter, has not worked since Jan. 14, but is galloping daily according to trainer Bob Baffert, and will make his next start in New York or Kentucky. Baffert said his options are the Grade 1 Carter on April 5 at Aqueduct, the Grade 2 Commonwealth on April 12 at Keeneland, or the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap on May 3.

The Baffert-trained Pussycat Doll is nominated to the $100,000 Honest Lady Stakes on Sunday at Santa Anita, but he said she would skip the six-furlong race. Pussycat Doll worked a half-mile Tuesday in 49.80.

* Santa Anita jockeys meet Holy Angels School's seventh- and eighth-graders 7 p.m. Thursday at LaSalle High School in the school's 41st annual charity basketball game. LaSalle High School is located at 3880 E. Sierra Madre Blvd. Tickets are $5 at the door, with proceeds benefiting the Holy Angels athletic department.

* Santa Anita track superintendent Richard Tedesco is bracing for the first heavy rain on the refurbished main track later this week. "It looks like we'll get an inch, to an inch and a quarter. We'll put it to the test," he said, referring to the new surface.

* Santa Anita's popular online contest "Showvivor" returns Feb. 28 at santaanita.com. The free contest, which has a winner-take-all prize of $5,000, requires players to pick one horse each day to finish first, second, or third.