10/22/2008 11:00PM

Georgie Boy among returnees in Damascus


ARCADIA, Calif. - Georgie Boy will finally run on a big day at Santa Anita on Saturday.

Back in April, Georgie Boy was a top contender for the Santa Anita Derby until a hind end injury forced him from training. Saturday's $100,000 Damascus Stakes, run after the Breeders' Cup races, will be Georgie Boy's first start since a victory in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes here in March. Trained by Kathy Walsh for breeder George Schwary, Georgie Boy has won 4 of 7 starts and $496,806.

The Damascus will not be an easy race for Georgie Boy. Run at seven furlongs for 3-year-olds, the Damascus features a field of 14, including Gayego, who won the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park in April; Into Mischief, the winner of the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park last December; and the 2008 stakes winners Hatta Fort, Kool Comic, and Leonides.

"I didn't plan a very good spot for a comeback," Walsh said.

Walsh has taken a patient approach to Georgie Boy's comeback. Georgie Boy resumed training in late June and has worked regularly in recent weeks.

"He wants to come back," she said.

A gelding, Georgie Boy has won his last three starts, a streak that began with the Gradeo1 Del Mar Futurity in September 2007 and the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes here in February. He is unbeaten in two starts at seven furlongs.

"The toughest race you can run in is seven-eighths," Walsh said. "It's neither a sprint or a route race. He's not a speed horse anyway."

Into Mischief has not started since finishing second to Georgie Boy in the San Vicente. Trained by Richard Mandella, Into Mischief is nearing the end of his brief career. Mandella said that owner B. Wayne Hughes is strongly considering sending Into Mischief to stud in 2009.

"He's done more than we've asked" for his comeback, Mandella said. "I expect him to run a good race right away. He's in good shape and ready."

Gayego was badly beaten in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes before he was given a break. Even though he won the Arkansas Derby at 1 1/8 miles, Gayego has excellent sprint form, having won the San Pedro Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs here last January.

"It's a very tough race," trainer Paulo Lobo said. "He's fit."

Oak Tree Derby: Madeo looks strong

The Damascus is the 10th race on an 11-race program. The day's final race is the $150,000 Oak Tree Derby, a 1 1/8-mile turf race that has drawn an outstanding field of 14.

Madeo, the upset winner of the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby at 10-1 on Aug. 31, will attempt to win the second stakes of his career. Trainer John Shirreffs expects a successful race Saturday.

"He's coming into the race as well as he did for the Del Mar Derby," Shirreffs said.

Shirreffs said that Madeo's fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap was a solid performance for the colt's turf debut, especially after he discussed the race with jockey Mike Smith.

"Mike felt like he had the winner of the La Jolla," Shirreffs said. "A hole didn't open up. He had a lot of horse turning for home."

Owned by breeders Jerry and Ann Moss, Madeo has drawn post 6 in the Oak Tree Derby, which also features Tres Borrachos, the winner of the Swaps Stakes on the main track at Hollywood Park in July; Nownownow, who won the 2007 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Monmouth Park and was fourth in the Del Mar Derby; and Dixie Chatter, who won a division of the Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar in July.