03/26/2009 11:00PM

Hillside distance 'not his cup of tea'


ARCADIA, Calif. - Medzendeekron is having the best season of his career this year, with two wins in five starts and his first stakes win. If he adds to that in Sunday's $125,000 Sensational Star Handicap for statebreds on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita, it will be a pleasant surprise to trainer Barry Abrams.

"It's not his cup of tea," Abrams said of the distance of about 6 1/2 furlongs. "I'm concerned about that. He's never run good down the course."

Medzendeekron won an allowance race at seven furlongs on the main track on Feb. 14 and returned two weeks later to win the Crystal Water Handicap for statebreds at a mile on turf. In that race, he rallied from sixth to win by a head.

"He can run the last eighth as fast as anyone can," Abrams said. "You have to keep him covered up for the last eighth."

That will be jockey Joel Rosario's job in the Sensational Star. Rosario replaces leading rider Garrett Gomez, who is riding at Sunland Park on Sunday. Rosario, who through Thursday was third in the jockey standings behind Gomez and Rafael Bejarano, is riding Medzendeekron for the first time on Sunday.

Medzendeekron finished fourth in an optional claimer on the hillside turf course on Jan. 7, his last start over the course. Medzendeekron is winless in two starts on the hillside course. He did win an allowance race at six furlongs on turf at Hollywood Park in 2007.

The race has drawn a field of 12, and should be run at a furious pace. The field includes Mr. Wolverine, the winner of the 2008 Khaled Stakes; Shadow of Illinois, who won the 2005 San Simeon Handicap; Liberian Freighter, who was second in the Crystal Water; Swift Winds, who won the California Cup Mile last October; and Big Bad Leroybrown, who won the 2007 Real Good Deal Stakes and has placed in four subsequent stakes.

They will all be chasing Its in God's Hands down the hillside. Trained by Peter Miller, the former maiden claimer has shown blazing speed on the main track in recent starts. Its in God's Hands led throughout an allowance race at 5 1/2 furlongs here on Feb. 20, his third win in seven starts.

"I'll be in front when they cross the dirt," Miller said. "He's as fast as anyone around over five-eighths."