01/12/2009 1:00AM

High hopes for Brother Keith

Email

ARCADIA, Calif. - The maiden win by Brother Keith in his career debut at Churchill Downs on Nov. 8 came at an ideal time for trainer Bobby Frankel.

A week before that race, Frankel and his partners had sold leading 2-year-old Vineyard Haven to Godolphin Racing. While replacing Vineyard Haven, who eventually became a finalist for the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding 2-year-old, will not be easy, there is optimism surrounding Brother Keith's potential.

Brother Keith starts in Saturday's $100,000 San Rafael Stakes at a mile - an important test, Frankel said.

"We'll learn more this weekend," Frankel said. "We'll get an idea with him."

Owned by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, Brother Keith was purchased for $150,000 at the 2007 Keeneland September yearling sale. In his debut at 6 1/2 furlongs, Brother Keith pulled away to win by 2 1/4 lengths.

"He seems like a nice horse," Frankel said. "This race will come up tough."

In the San Rafael, Frankel and the Ramseys can compare Brother Keith to Square Eddie, the winner of the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in October and the runner-up to Midshipman in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile here on Oct. 25.

Trained by Doug O'Neill, Square Eddie will be favored in the Grade 3 San Rafael. Aside from Brother Keith and Square Eddie, the other probable starters are Charlies Moment, Desert Eagle, Feisty Suances, Fiddlers Afleet, Frumious, and Ventana.

Majormotionpicture, the winner of a maiden race at Del Mar in August, will not start, trainer Mike Machowsky said. "He's gotten a little jarred up behind," he said.

The San Rafael is one of five stakes, four of which are graded, that will be run between Saturday and Monday. There are three $150,000 races - Saturday's San Fernando Stakes for 4-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles and Santa Ynez Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters, and Sunday's El Encino Stakes for 4-year-old fillies.

The San Fernando is expected to draw El Gato Malo, the winner of the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby last May; Tres Borrachos, who won the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes in July; Madeo, the winner of the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby in September; and Muny, the winner of the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby in October.

Strub next up for Cowboy Cal

Cowboy Cal is taking a slightly unconventional path to the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March. 7.

Saturday, Cowboy Cal won the Grade 2 San Pasqual Handicap against older horses, prevailing by a nose over the longshot Informed. Cowboy Cal was the only 4-year-old in the field of nine. Trainer Todd Pletcher and owners Robert and Janice McNair chose the San Pasqual instead of the San Fernando Stakes against Cowboy Cal's own age group this Saturday.

Pletcher assistant Michael McCarthy said the four-week gap between the San Pasqual and the Strub Stakes on Feb. 7 appealed to Pletcher more than waiting for an age-group race. The plan worked when Cowboy Cal scored his first stakes win on the main track in the San Pasqual. If he runs well in the Strub, Cowboy Cal's next start will be the Santa Anita Handicap.

Informed, who was making his stakes debut, and third- and fourth-place finishers Magnum and Well Armed are bound for the $200,000 San Antonio Handicap on Feb. 8, the top Big Cap prep race for older horses.

Magnum, racing for the first time as a gelding, was the longest shot in the San Pasqual field, at 77-1. An 8-year-old, Magnum battled foot problems that limited him to four starts last year. Magnum was second in the 2006 Santa Anita Handicap.

Well Armed had a troubled trip, taking up between Informed and Magnum in the final furlong. The stewards inquired into the stretch run, but did not change the order of finish.

Six-year-old Double Trouble retired

Double Trouble, the winner of the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap in 2008, has been retired and will be bred to Unbridled's Song this winter, Frankel said.

Owned by Stud TNT, Double Trouble raced in Brazil and the United States, winning 7 of 20 starts and $379,468. She finished fourth in the Paseana Handicap at Santa Anita on Jan. 2 in her final start. Frankel said the 6-year-old Double Trouble's retirement was not caused by injury.

"I think she'd had it," he said. "I think if I gave her a break, she'd be all right. The people wanted to breed her."

Carryover pool attracts $3.1 million

With interest heightened by a three-day carryover of more than $1.2 million, Saturday's pick six returned $9,844 to 299 ticket holders. Bettors added $3,105,014 to the pool on Saturday.

The winners of Saturday's pick-six races included five consecutive second choices in the betting - Flip the Penny ($6.20), Outlaw Yodeler ($9.20), Rare Nugget ($8.20), Mark S the Cooler ($8.80), and Cowboy Cal ($7.60) - and one favorite in the final race, Leavethegateopen ($4.20).

Sunday's pick six returned $170,840 to one ticket holder.

Bob Black Jack out until summer

Bob Black Jack, the world record holder at six furlongs, is out of training until the summer with an undisclosed ailment, said trainer James Kasparoff.

The setback was detected shortly after Bob Black Jack won the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs on Dec. 26, and will prevent him from making two scheduled starts early this year - the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita on Jan. 24 and the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai on March 28.

Owned by Tim Kasparoff and Jeff Harmon, Bob Black Jack has won 4 of 10 starts and $594,925. He set a world record of 1:06.53 in the 2007 Sunshine Millions Dash at Santa Anita.

Best-of-71 bullet for Pioneerof the Nile

Pioneerof the Nile, the winner of the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 20, worked five furlongs in 57.60 seconds at Santa Anita on Sunday, the fastest of 71 recorded works at the distance.

Trainer Bob Baffert described the workout as "awesome," but wished it had been slower. Pioneerof the Nile is being pointed for the $200,000 Robert Lewis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 7.

Pedroza taken to hospital after spill

Jockey Martin Pedroza was taken from the track on a stretcher after being unseated from the longshot Humane during the post parade for Sunday's ninth race. Pedroza fell heavily and reached for his lower back before receiving attention from ambulance personnel.

Track officials said Pedroza was taken to nearby Methodist Hospital after complaining of pain.

Humane, a 32-1 outsider, was scratched.

Maiden euthanized after workout

Dublin Creek, a maiden who made one start at Del Mar last summer, was euthanized on Sunday because of injures suffered during morning workouts, trainer Henry Moreno said. Dublin Creek was diagnosed with an injured left front sesamoid.

Dublin Creek, 3, is the fourth horse euthanized since this meeting began on Dec. 26. The other three horses were lost as a result of injuries suffered during races.