02/01/2010 12:00AM

Gomez looks for big weekend

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Barbara D. Livingston
Richard's Kid will be making his first start since the Breeders' Cup Classic in Sunday's San Antonio Handicap.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday and Sunday may propel jockey Garrett Gomez to bigger prizes in coming months.

Gomez rides Viscount in Saturday's $200,000 Strub Stakes, and a win in that race would lead the 4-year-old to the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 6. On Sunday, Gomez and Richard's Kid start in the $150,000 San Antonio Handicap, a prep for the Dubai World Cup on March 27.

Add mounts on Saturday aboard Tiz Chrome in the $150,000 Robert Lewis Stakes for 3-year-olds, Blue Chagall in the $65,000 Leroidesanimaux Stakes, and Dreamt in the $60,000 Wishing Well Handicap, and Gomez has a chance for a big payday this weekend.

Viscount is a familiar mount for Gomez. The colt has won 2 of 8 starts and has yet to win a stakes. He was fourth in the Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes over 1 1/16 miles here Jan. 16.

"He's kind of a one-paced kind of horse," Gomez said. "If he gets pace, he's a solid horse. The one time he didn't run well was over 6 1/2 furlongs, and that was too short."

The Grade 2 Strub Stakes, run over 1 1/8 miles for 4-year-olds, will have a big field. The probable starters include Diferentkindagreat, Eagle Poise, Gallant Son, Massone, Misremembered, Rendezvous, Smart Bid, and Square Eddie.

Bob Baffert trains Viscount, who races for Peachtree Stable, as well as probable favorite Misremembered, the winner of the Swaps Stakes and Indiana Derby last year. Misremembered was second in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes over seven furlongs here Dec. 26.

Richard's Kid aiming to end skid

Richard's Kid has not started since finishing sixth behind Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic here in November and has not won since the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar last September.

Gomez has never ridden the horse, but he has been aboard Richard's Kid in recent workouts, trying to learn more about the 5-year-old who joined Baffert's stable last spring.

"Ever since Bob got him, he's moved forward," Gomez said. "He's been working really well. He needs the pace in front of him."

The pace could come from Mast Track, who won the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap at Hollywood Park in December, or Furthest Land, winner of the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile here in November but seventh under Gomez in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Handicap here Jan. 9. Other probable starters include Dakota Phone, Giganticus, Marsh Side, Nownownow, Philatelist, and Pick Six.

Gomez approaches the weekend in outstanding form. He rode three winners Sunday.

The Strub Stakes and San Antonio will offer clues as to which horses are worth following for the Big Cap.

No Big Cap for Bold Chieftain

Bold Chieftain, winner of the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic for California-breds and Florida-breds on Saturday, will not start in the Big Cap. He was sent back to Golden Gate Fields on Sunday, trainer Bill Morey said.

"I'll give him a lighter go for a while," Morey said. "I don't see the Big Cap as our next race. We were pointing for the Sunshine Millions and mission accomplished."

Bold Chieftain won his 12th stakes and the most lucrative of his career in the Sunshine Millions, his 15th win in 34 starts. He has earned $1,406,411.

The second- through fourth-place finishers of the Sunshine Millions - Palladio, Unusual Smoke, and Jeranimo - are being considered for the Big Cap. Palladio was sent back to Florida on Sunday, but trainer Roger Attfield said a return trip to California is possible.

Unusual Smoke, a 50-1 shot, will be freshened with the Big Cap in mind, trainer A.C. Avila said. Jeranimo could start in the Big Cap, though trainer Mike Pender was not fully committed.

"Where do we go from here?" he said.

Pender was discouraged by Jeranimo's trip through the stretch, when he was blocked behind horses and was beaten a length.

One horse not in the Big Cap picture is The Usual Q.T., the even-money favorite in the Sunshine Millions Classic. He faded to finish last and bled, trainer Jim Cassidy said. He described the bleeding as "a 4 of 5."

Cassidy said the $250,000 Frank Kilroe Mile on turf on March 6 is a possibility for The Usual Q.T., if he recovers quickly.

"I won't be able to do anything with breezes and such for three weeks," Cassidy said.

The Usual Q.T. had won six consecutive turf races, including four stakes, before the Sunshine Millions Classic, his stakes debut on a synthetic main track. Cassidy said the surface switch was not as much of a factor in the loss as the pressure that The Usual Q.T. faced while racing near the front in the first half of the race.

"All that that came into play, the stress and the race," Cassidy said. "It was not a question of him handling the surface."

Evening Jewel set for Las Virgenes

The Cassidy-trained Evening Jewel, who finished second in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes here on Jan. 10, will make her Grade 1 debut in the $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes over a mile on Saturday.

Evening Jewel won the fillies division of the California Breeders' Champion Stakes over 1 1/16 miles here Dec. 27 in her first start around two turns.

Evening Jewel will be ridden by Victor Espinoza, and they will have a difficult assignment in the Las Virgenes. The race is led by the two-time Grade 1 winner Blind Luck, who will be a heavy favorite. Other candidates are Crisp, La Nez, and Summer Games.

Cherokee Heaven needs quick pace

Cherokee Heaven, who won the Impressive Luck Handicap in a 9-1 upset on Jan. 2, is part of an oversubscribed field in a $53,000 allowance race on the hillside turf course Wednesday.

Similar to his recent stakes win, Cherokee Heaven will need a quick pace to develop in front of him to help his kick, trainer Marty Jones said.

"It looks like a tough race," Jones said. "He's got to have the right trip. Pace helps him."

Cherokee Heaven has helped Jones to an outstanding start at this meeting, with 6 wins from his first 13 starters,

Wednesday's race also includes the multiple stakes winners Get Funky and Liberian Freighter and the 10-year-old Shadow of Illinois.