11/18/2008 12:00AM

Gomez opts for Pioneerof the Nile


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Ahmed Zayat has not campaigned horses regularly in California since summer 2007, but the owner's West Coast return this fall already has created a welcome disturbance in an otherwise sleepy 2-year-old division.

Pioneerof the Nile, the Zayat colt who finished a close fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, is returning to California. Even before touching down, he has knocked Chocolate Candy off his perch as favorite for the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity on Dec. 20 at Hollywood Park, and forced Chocolate Candy to find a new jockey.

In a move that might reveal the perceived ability of Chocolate Candy, jockey Garrett Gomez will relinquish the Futurity mount on the horse he rode to victory in the Real Quiet, and will switch to Pioneerof the Nile for the first time.

Ron Anderson, agent for Gomez, confirmed the move Tuesday. Gomez rode Chocolate Candy to victory Nov. 8 at Hollywood in the Real Quiet Stakes, winning by 1 1/2 lengths with an ordinary 79 Beyer. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Chocolate Candy has won 2 of 5.

"The other colt is okay, but I think [Pioneerof the Nile] might be a Derby horse," Anderson said. "The upside is anything.

"After the Breeders' Cup, my focus is trying to find a Triple Crown-type horse."

Pioneerof the Nile has won 1 of 4, and is likely to start favored in the 1 1/16-mile Futurity. He finished third in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity on Oct. 4 at Keeneland, and was fifth, beaten 2 3/4 lengths, in the BC Juvenile. Sired by Empire Maker, Pioneerof the Nile earned an 86 Beyer last out.

Bill Mott trained Pioneerof the Nile his first four starts, but it was unclear Tuesday if the colt's trainer for the Futurity will be Mott or Bob Baffert.

Chocolate Candy, who won his last two starts, will have a different rider for the Futurity. Assistant trainer Dan Ward said Hollendorfer could name a jockey Wednesday. Chocolate Candy has had a different rider in all five starts.

Real Quiet runner-up J P Jammer needs to be supplemented to the Futurity for $30,000. Rafael Becerra trains the colt for Judi Partridge.

"We do have another option," Becerra said, referring to the Grade 3, $750,000 Delta Downs Jackpot on Dec. 5. "Right now, we're up in the air, but we'll probably stay home."

J P Jammer, who has won 1 of 3, showed surprising speed in the Real Quiet, and battled on the lead until deep stretch when he was run down by Chocolate Candy. His first two starts, J P Jammer rallied from behind.

"I would have preferred he run from off the pace, but from the 3-hole, going a mile and a sixteenth, you have to make sure you get position," Becerra said.

Godolphin acquires Two Step Salsa

Another top U.S. horse is gone to Dubai. Graded stakes winner Two Step Salsa, third in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, has been purchased by Godolphin and was shipped to Kentucky on Monday to prepare for his imminent departure to Dubai.

Two Step Salsa was sold by A.C. Avila, who early this month purchased the 3-year-old colt from owner-breeder Jeff Nielsen with the intention of reselling him.

"It happened sooner than I thought; I thought they would come after me after the Malibu," Avila said.

Avila planned to start Two Step Salsa in the seven-furlong Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26, the opening day of the winter meet at Santa Anita. Two Step Salsa has won 4 of 8 races and $386,540, including Grade 3 wins at Hollywood Park in the seven-furlong Lazaro Barrera Memorial and the 1 1/16-mile Affirmed Handicap.

Ariege will point to La Brea

Santa Anita Oaks winner Ariege posted her first workout Tuesday since returning to California, after which trainer Bobby Frankel said the 3-year-old filly will make her return early in the Santa Anita meet in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes, a seven-furlong race that could attract Indian Blessing.

Ariege is 2 for 2 on synthetic, while Indian Blessing is more effective on dirt. Indian Blessing was blown off the track in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint by Frankel-trained Ventura. Ariege is not in the same league, but Frankel said Ariege "has the same style as Ventura." Ariege worked a half-mile Tuesday at Santa Anita in 49 seconds, breezing.

Becrux will be supplemented to Citation

The millionaire Becrux has regained top form, and is expected to be supplemented to the Grade 1 Citation Handicap on Nov. 28. Becrux finished nowhere his first two starts of 2008, but returned to form in an Oct. 24 allowance sprint, his first start since transferring to trainer John Sadler.

Tuesday, Sadler said that owners Team Valor and Gary Barber are planning to pay the $8,000 Citation supplement that was due Wednesday.

Becrux has won 10 races and more than $1 million in 30 starts. He gives Sadler a strong one-two punch in the $400,000 Citation. Sadler also starts Whatsthescript, the third-place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Mile and the likely favorite in the Citation.

Garrett Gomez has committed to Whatsthescript for the Citation, leaving the mount open on Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile winner Hyperbaric. Trainer Julio Canani said Tyler Baze would ride Hyperbaric. Baze also picked up the Hollywood Derby mount on Dixie Chatter.

Georgie Boy tunes up for Malibu

Into Mischief was nominated to the Grade 3 Vernon Underwood Stakes on Saturday, but he will wait for the Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita.

His main rival will be Georgie Boy, fourth as the favorite in the Oct. 25 Damascus Stakes, a race Into Mischief won by two lengths.

Georgie Boy had his first comeback work Monday at Hollywood Park in 59.80, breezing, and trainer Kathy Walsh expects him to improve off his comeback.

"He was too fresh, too rank, and he came up a little tired," Walsh said. In his Monday workout, Walsh said, "He just breezed along; he seems to be right on target."