01/05/2012 3:14PM

Free: Big day for Uh Oh Bango, little sister

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Handsome Mike makes his second start for Doug O’Neill in the Sham.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The notebook at Santa Anita is already full, with stuff likes this . . .

◗ It would be hard to find a more attractive maiden sprint than race 9 on Saturday. The good field of statebred fillies includes first-time starter Ez Effort, by the win-early stallion In Excess and out of a dam that produced three debut winners already (Ez Dreamer, Top Debutante, and Uh Oh Bango).

◗ Speaking of Uh Oh Bango, he looks like the right horse Saturday in the Grade 2 San Pasqual. He ran a whole lot better than the line looks last out at Golden Gate (reared and away slowly, blocked far turn). Uh Oh Bango is worth backing at 7-2 or higher. Not sure if that number will be available.

◗ My stay in Santa Anita’s Showvivor contest is destined to end soon, apparently. Early picks were odds-on Muny, all-out third on Jan. 1, and Unzip Me, who somehow salvaged a dead-heat third on Jan. 2. If I somehow last until Saturday, not likely at this rate, the pick will be Letsgetitright in race 2. Two powerful wins at Golden Gate, making his first local start for Mike Mitchell.

◗ Handsome Mike, a contender Saturday in the Grade 3 Sham, was named for breeder John Liviakis’s father, Michael. A “live” longshot in the Sham, Handsome Mike makes his second start since being sold to J. Paul Reddam and transferred to trainer Doug O’Neill. Handsome Mike ran better than his finish position looks in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity and could post an upset if Secret Circle does not stay.

◗ Speaking of Liviakis, he bred four special-weight 2-year-old winners on this circuit in 2011, including retired Grade 3 winner Mighty Caroline, Handsome Mike, Tenacious Thomas, and Reneesgotzip. Sorrento winner Mighty Caroline is booked to the stallion Lonhro.

◗ You don’t often see equipment changes on an unbeaten Breeders’ Cup winner. But there is Secret Circle, blinkers off, in the Grade 3, one-mile Sham. “He relaxes better without blinkers,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “With blinkers, he gets too rank and gets going too fast.”

◗ Secret Circle, 3 for 3, did not wear blinkers his first two starts. Why blinkers-on for the Breeders’ Cup? “It was a mistake that he wore them,” Baffert said. Apparently, someone tossed a set of blinkers into the colt’s equipment bucket, they were added in the paddock, and no one caught the mistake. No wonder Secret Circle went so fast.

◗ Just to document the obvious – the smashing Dec. 31 debut by Princess Arabella stamped the Baffert-trained daughter of Any Given Saturday as something special this winter. She is a budding star, and it will be interesting to see if she can put Baffert and owner Peachtree Stable on the trail to a second straight Kentucky Oaks win.

◗ Speaking of Plum Pretty, she looked good following her initial three-furlong comeback workout on New Year’s Day. Baffert reminisced about the filly beginnings – “When we first got her, we called her Plum Ugly.”

◗ Discreet Dancer should make it 2 for 2 Saturday at Gulfstream Park, in an allowance sprint that is race 7. Outside draw, 98 Beyer Speed Figure first out, early speed, and short price. On paper, it is a free pass. We’ll find out just how good Discreet Dancer is on Feb. 11 in the Grade 2, seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes. So far, he appears very good, indeed.

◗ The Dec. 3 romp by Discreet Dancer was either validated, or not, in race 1 Thursday at Santa Anita. The horse Discreet Dancer defeated by 9 3/4 lengths, runner-up Put It Back, was listed as the 3-1 second favorite in the Thursday lid-lifter.

◗ You won’t find two nicer guys on a California backstretch than trainers Humberto Ascanio and Lewis Cenicola. Get-well wishes are appropriate for two gentlemen of the sport.

◗ Without looking it up, can you name the richest horse sired by Pleasantly Perfect? That would be Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Shared Account. But can you name the “most famous” horse by Pleasantly Perfect? A hint – he won a $5,000 claiming starter allowance on Wednesday at Laurel Park, his 22nd straight win and 28th of his career.

◗ Five years ago on Feb. 3, 2007, at Gulfstream, a Smart Strike colt trained by Helen Pitts won the first start of his career. Curlin later sold, transferred to Steve Asmussen, and earned $10 million. Saturday in race 6 at Santa Anita, a Smart Strike colt trained by Asmussen launches his career. Welter Weight is not believed to be quick, but the $1 million colt is believed to be very, very good. Post time is 3:05 Pacific. Tune in.

◗ Maclean’s Music, who earned a 114 Beyer winning his only start March 19, 2011, at Santa Anita, is jogging two miles a day for Asmussen. The 4-year-old’s career has been interrupted by splint issues, but the brilliant sprinter should return sooner or later. If he does, Asmussen might have another Majesticperfection on his hands.

◗ Since relocating to Southern California full time in fall 2010, jockey Chantal Sutherland gained a reputation as one of the most likeable, social riders on the circuit. And sorry guys, but she also is engaged. Sutherland and fiancé Daniel Lewis Kruse will be married in early August at Del Mar. Congratulations to both.

Kruse’s father is David Kruse, who owned the speedy colt Bag, a stakes winner for trainer Jerry Fanning in the early 1990s. It is kind of funny Daniel Kruse would marry a jockey, because according to Sutherland, her 6-foot-6 fiancé is allergic to horses.

◗ Looking for a long-range stakes prospect? American Blend is a candidate. Tender shins postponed the gelding’s career, but his comeback sprint win Dec. 26 was outstanding, and he wants to run long. “He’ll never sprint again,” trainer Carla Gaines said. A 4-year-old by Quiet American, he is out of outstanding broodmare Blending Element. Watch fireworks when American Blend stretches out.

◗ Lady of Shamrock is now a stakes winner on turf (Blue Norther, Dec. 30), but now stuck without a race. The next scheduled stakes for 3-year-old grass fillies is not until April. So will trainer John Sadler give the daughter of Scat Daddy one shot on the main track? “I might have to,” he said. Stay tuned.

◗ Speaking of Sadler trainees, Home Sweet Aspen might have run better Dec. 31 in the Grade 1 La Brea, but her trip from the rail was not good – under pressure all the way in a race won by outside trippers. “With an outside post, she would have been right there,” Sadler said. Can’t disagree, but the Candy Ride filly has now misfired two straight.