Updated on 09/17/2011 10:42AM

Fading stars in quest of a rare win


ARCADIA, Calif. - It has been a while since their glory days. Neither National Saint nor High Wire Act, both of whom have placed in graded stakes, has won a race in nearly two years. Now age 7, and out of nonwinners allowance conditions, they are caught in no-man's land. Their options include running in graded stakes, which appears beyond their scope these days, or dipping into a claiming race, an option not yet pursued by their trainers.

A classified allowance race fits both perfectly, and they get a chance to run in such a spot in Thursday's featured seventh race at Santa Anita, a seven-furlong sprint with a $65,000 purse. The field of seven largely comprises horses on the backsides of their careers. If National Saint or High Wire Act can reach back for one of his better efforts, he can end a long losing streak.

National Saint returned last month after 15 months on the sidelines, and finished last of nine in the Vernon O. Underwood Handicap at Hollywood Park after racing four paths wide on the turn. National Saint needed the race, and the race's winner, Debonair Joe, came back to win the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes here on opening day. National Saint also came back with a fast workout at Hollywood Park on Sunday, a five-furlong drill in 59.60 seconds that was the best of 48 at the distance.

High Wire Act has had several interruptions during a career that numbers just 14 starts. Sidelined for six months last year, he returned in December and was a close third going 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood Park. This will be the first time he has raced twice in a month since his last victory, in January 2001. He also is returning to his favorite track, having won 3 of 6 starts at Santa Anita.

National Saint is one of two runners in the race trained by Bob Baffert. His other horse, So Urgent - like National Saint - last ran in the Underwood, and also faded after racing wide. He was third in a similar classified allowance sprint at Hollywood in his race prior to that, and has finished in the money four times in five starts at this track. So Urgent, however, has not won a race in more than 16 months.

The improving Slew of the Night may find this over-the-hill gang ripe for the taking. He finished well for third in the Dayjur Handicap at Hollywood Park on Dec. 22, and won his two prior starts.

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