02/24/2009 12:00AM

Einstein bound for Big Cap

Barbara D. Livingston
Einstein, a multiple Grade 1 winner on turf, will now try Santa Anita's synthetic surface.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The connections of Einstein are thinking big these days, as in the Big Cap, the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap, on March 7.

Einstein put the finishing touches on his local preparation for the Santa Anita Handicap here Sunday morning, working five furlongs in 1:00.60 under jockey Julien Leparoux.

"That was awesome," trainer Helen Pitts said back at the barn. "His work was phenomenal today. His last start in the Donn took a lot out of him, but he's doing great right now. "Obviously the surface is an unknown, but he did gallop well over the artificial track when I had him at Arlington last summer for the Million. And it's a million-dollar race, so why not give it a whirl?"

Pitts will accompany Einstein to California when he ships out on Wednesday and will remain with the horse until the race. She added that Einstein would get a work over the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita next Sunday if all goes well.

"I hate to leave here for 10 days like that, but I'm the only one who ever gets on this horse in the morning, and it would be hard for me to try to figure out how he's doing by talking to a rider on the phone who's never been on him before," said Pitts.

A big effort in the Santa Anita Handicap would lend a new dimension to Einstein's already amazing career. A 7-year-old son of Spend a Buck, he is a three-time Grade 1 winner on turf and also a Grade 2 winner on dirt following his victory over a field that included Commentator in the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs to close out his 2008 campaign. He finished third, 2 1/4 lengths behind Albertus Maximus, opening his 2009 season in the Donn.

"He just doesn't like this dirt course here," said Pitts. "But he's so versatile I think he'll like it out there. And with the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita again this year, now's a good time to find out."

Big Drama gets in work

Big Drama, who missed his scheduled 3-year-old debut in the Grade 3 Holy Bull last month because of a minor leg injury, had his first work since returning to training, going an easy half-mile in 50 seconds under jockey Eibar Coa at Calder on Sunday. Big Drama has not started since closing out his 2-year-old campaign with a victory in the $750,000 Delta Jackpot.

"He did it nice and easy," said trainer David Fawkes. "Everything's good right now."

Big Drama suffered a bone bruise in his left hind shin a week before the Holy Bull.

"He underwent surgery right here at Gulfstream with Dr. Steve Selway," said Fawkes. "They basically scraped the bruise off the bone. If they hadn't done the procedure, the dead area could keep festering."

Fawkes says he has nothing definite in mind for Big Drama's return or a Kentucky Derby attempt.

"He'll probably come back and work again next weekend," said Fawkes. "I'd like to get a few more works under him before looking around for a spot to bring him back. The good thing is that we don't have to worry about graded earnings if it looks like we are going to try to get him to the Derby. He's already got enough from his win at Delta Downs."

Dutrow newcomers aimed high

Expectations will be high when both Patena and Danger to Society make their first starts since being transferred to trainer Rick Dutrow Jr.'s barn earlier this winter. That is especially the case in light of the type of improvement This Ones for Phil displayed winning the Sunshine Millions Dash in his initial outing after moving under Dutrow's shed.

Patena and Danger to Society both worked here Sunday morning, Patena breezing six furlongs in 1:14.40 under Mario Madrid and Danger to Society a leisurely half-mile in 50.40 seconds with jockey Edgar Prado aboard just moments later.

"We did good, babe," Dutrow said a couple of hours later back at the barn. "We had a good morning."

Patena is scheduled to make his first start for Dutrow in the Louisiana Derby. A son of Seeking the Gold, he was purchased privately by IEAH Stables after his second-place finish behind Friesan Fire in the Fair Grounds' Grade 3 LeComte.

"He's been improving from the day he got here right up to today," said Dutrow. "I didn't ask a lot of him in his first couple of works, but we asked him today and he showed up. He passed the test. And if he keeps passing the tests, there's no reason why he shouldn't run big in the Louisiana Derby."

Danger to Society joined Dutrow's potent stable less than 48 hours after his seventh-place finish as the favorite in the Holy Bull on Jan. 31.

"I told Edgar to just give him a basic breeze to try to get a little line on him, and he was happy, so I'm happy," said Dutrow.

Danger to Society is not expected to run again until the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 4.

"We've got plenty of time with him, but I expect he'll make the race the right way based on what I saw today," said Dutrow."

Keep the Peace fine in return

Trainer Eddie Kenneally was all smiles following Keep the Peace's impressive allowance win on Saturday. It was her first start since finishing second in the Grade 3 Dogwood on May 31.

"This was a good place to bring her back, especially the way she had a horse to stalk down the backstretch," said Kenneally.

"There are a few little spots we could bring her back," said the trainer, but he said the "main goal right now" for the filly is the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs on May 2.

"She had some bad luck last year in graded stakes, but I think she's good enough to win a big one this year."

* Kent Desormeaux will carry a lead of 32-30 over Julian Leparoux atop the jockey standings heading into Wednesday's program. Alan Garcia (28), Jose Lezcano (27), and Edgar Prado (23) round out the top 10. Ken McPeek maintains a safe lead, 16-10, over a trio of pursuers in the quest for the training title.