08/31/2009 11:00PM

First a scare, then the works

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Benoit & Associates
Colonel John returned from a seven-month layoff to win the Wickerr Stakes on July 31.

DEL MAR, Calif. - As Colonel John and Richard's Kid were about to have their final workouts Tuesday morning for the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic, the maiden filly Bell Canyon Road broke down on the Del Mar main track. Fifteen minutes later, after Bell Canyon Road was removed in a horse ambulance, both horses worked, and worked well. But the drama of the morning left Eoin Harty, the trainer of Colonel John, and Bob Baffert, who trains Richard's Kid, unnerved.

Bell Canyon Road broke down nearing the finish line, resulting in the delay. Baffert got on his walkie-talkie and ordered Richard's Kid to cool his heels at his barn, while Colonel John waited things out near the seven-furlong chute.

"I'm always anxious before I work any horse any more," said Harty.

Colonel John worked five furlongs in 59.40 seconds on Polytrack. The Pacific Classic, to be run Sunday at 1 1/4 miles, will be only his second start of the year. He returned from a seven-month layoff to win the Wickerr Stakes at one mile on turf on July 31.

"He worked well," Harty said. "He looks good. I got him galloping out a mile in 1:40."

A few minutes later, Richard's Kid returned to the track and worked a sharp five furlongs in 58.80 seconds while in company with Miss Heather Lee, a 2-year-old filly who, like Richard's Kid, is now owned by Arnold Zetcher following a private purchase. The work was the fastest time of 17 at the distance on Tuesday.

"He worked good, that horse," Baffert said to Zetcher. "Put your $1,000 up."

It costs $1,000 to enter the Pacific Classic. Entries were to be taken and post positions drawn on Wednesday night at a party at the L'Auberge hotel in Del Mar.

Richard's Kid will be a longshot in the Pacific Classic. He comes off a second-place finish in the Cougar II Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on the main track on Aug. 5.

"He's working so good down here," Baffert said.

Baffert remained undecided on whether to run the 3-year-old Misremembered, who was scheduled to work on Wednesday morning. Baffert said if Misremembered does not run in the Pacific Classic, he will head to the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs later this month.

The Pacific Classic is expected to have a large field. In addition to Colonel John and Richard's Kid, others scheduled to run are Awesome Gem, Einstein, Global Hunter, Informed, Mast Track, Parading, Rail Trip, Song of Navarone, and Tres Borrachos.

The winner of the Pacific Classic receives an automatic berth into the Breeders' Cup Classic Nov. 7 at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting through the Win and You're In program.

The response time to tend to Bell Canyon Road was quick, which was in contrast to a delay in reaching a stricken animal during training hours one morning before the meet started here. The warning horn sounded immediately Tuesday, and the horse ambulance arrived shortly thereafter.

But the fractured sesamoids in her right front leg were so severe that she needed to be euthanized, according to her trainer, Barry Abrams.

Harty ran down from the box seats to assist, and Dr. Helmut von Bleucher put a Kimzey splint on Bell Canyon Road to try and stabilize the injury before she was put in the ambulance.

"I'd been lucky this meet," Abrams said. "The odds catch up to you."

Einstein gets feel of track

The well-traveled Einstein arrived at Del Mar on Monday afternoon and went for a jog on Tuesday morning. It is the first time both he and his trainer, Helen Pitts, have been here.

"I hope he likes this track as much as he liked Santa Anita," Pitts said Tuesday morning while standing outside Einstein's stall.

Einstein won the Santa Anita Handicap in March. He most recently finished fifth in the Arlington Million.

"It was hot, and the turf was soft there," Pitts said. "He didn't handle it at all. You could tell from the beginning of the race he didn't like it. I don't think we'll have to worry about rain here."

Parading, fifth in the Hollywood Gold Cup last time out, also arrived Monday. Parading flew with a group of horses from Saratoga to Louisville, Ky., where Einstein was picked up for the journey to California. Parading, who is trained by Shug McGaughey, merely walked under tack around trainer Richard Mandella's barn on Tuesday morning.

Baffert's Futurity runners tune up

Baffert sent Lookin at Lucky and Marcello, his candidates for the Grade 1, $300,000 Del Mar Futurity, out for their final works on Tuesday, and they recorded the two fastest six furlongs of the morning, with Lookin at Lucky slightly faster in 1:11.20.

"They're ready," Baffert said. "They can't get more ready than that."

The Futurity will be run on Labor Day Monday this year, having been moved from its traditional closing-day spot in order to be part of Del Mar's stakes-filled holiday weekend.

Options aplenty for Spring House

Spring House, who won the Del Mar Handicap for the second straight year on Sunday, could come back in the Clement Hirsch Stakes at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting next month. The Breeders' Cup Turf on Nov. 7 is a possibility, being as Spring House earned a berth in the race on Sunday through the Win and You're In program. But trainer Julio Canani said a long-range goal of owner R.D. Hubbard is the International Races in December in Hong Kong.

Spring House got up in the last jump to win the Del Mar Handicap. The photo finish sign remained on the tote board for several minutes. During the wait, a replay of the race was shown on the infield Jumbotron. Canani implored his horse anew, as though the race were live.

"Get up, get up," he said.

Finally, Spring House's number was placed first. Canani thrust his arms triumphantly and cried, "Yessssssss."

Canani has won 39 stakes at Del Mar, placing him seventh on the all-time list among trainers here.

* Veteran jockey agent Vince DeGregory will represent Matt Garcia beginning at the Fairplex meet, which starts Sept. 10.