01/31/2008 12:00AM

Indian Blessing headed to Fair Grounds


ARCADIA, Calif. - Trainer Bob Baffert confirmed that Indian Blessing, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2007 and the winner of the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes on Jan. 13, most likely will start in the $200,000 Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds on Feb. 9.

Baffert said on Thursday that he plans to start Indian Blessing in the Grade 3 Silverbulletday Stakes to race her on "D-I-R-T." Indian Blessing has been training and racing on a Cushion Track synthetic surface this winter at Santa Anita.

Indian Blessing worked seven furlongs in 1:24 at Santa Anita on Thursday, with Baffert timing her in 1:11.40 for six furlongs. Indian Blessing went the first quarter-mile in 24.80 seconds and a half-mile in 47.80, according to Baffert's stopwatch. "She looked good," he said.

Jockey Garrett Gomez, her regular rider, was aboard.

If she starts in the Silverbulletday, Indian Blessing will avoid a much-anticipated meeting with Country Star, the winner of the Alcibiades Stakes and Hollywood Starlet last year. Earlier this year, it appeared the two fillies would meet for the first time in the $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes on Feb. 9.

"I could change my mind," Baffert said. "Nothing is set in stone."

Owned by breeders Hal and Patti Earnhardt, Indian Blessing is unbeaten in four starts and has earned $1,447,200.

In the 6 1/2-furlong Santa Ynez, Indian Blessing set a track record of 1:19.89 in her first start since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Monmouth Park in October.

Colonel John works a six-furlong bullet

Colonel John, the winner of the Real Quiet Stakes in November and the runner-up in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity in December, worked six furlongs in 1:10.80 on Thursday, the fastest of 17 recorded works at the distance.

Colonel John worked under exercise rider and former jockey Corey Black, going the first quarter-mile in 23.40 seconds and a half-mile in 47.20, according to trainer Eoin Harty's stopwatch.

Harty said that Colonel John will start in the $200,000 Sham Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on March 1, but that recent wet weather has made keeping a schedule more difficult.

"He worked only once since the Hollywood race" before Thursday, Harty said. "I had a whole routine mapped out for him."

Colonel John's training schedule has been interrupted in recent weeks after wet weather led to the cancellation of seven racing days and several days of training in January.

More disruptions are on the horizon. Santa Anita has canceled racing on Monday and Thursday next week (Tuesdays and Wednesdays are dark) and will not have training on the track from Monday through Wednesday. According to a memo sent to horsemen earlier this week, track officials said that racing was "possible" next Friday, depending on the progress of a maintenance project that is scheduled to start Sunday. The project will add polymers and fibers from the Pro Ride synthetic surface to the Cushion Track, which is a mixture of sand, rubber, and fibers coated in wax.

The maintenance project is designed to eliminate the drainage problems that have plagued the surface, track officials said.

Harty said that Colonel John could be sent to Hollywood Park to train if Santa Anita's main track is not quickly mended.

Track super tries to keep surface consistent

Prior to the works of Indian Blessing and Colonel John, which came minutes apart shortly after 9 a.m., track superintendent Richard Tedesco worked to mend a portion of the stretch near the eighth pole that trainers said was uneven.

Tedesco drove a heavy equipment wheel loader over the surface several times before the track was groomed and training resumed. When training concluded later in the morning, further work was conducted to even the surface.

Thursday was a busy morning for workouts at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park, with 433 between the two tracks.

At Santa Anita, 190 works were recorded on the main track, 41 on turf, and 13 on the training track. At Hollywood Park, 189 works were recorded on the main track.

Georgie Boy, the winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity in September, worked seven furlongs in 1:24 at Hollywood Park, the fastest of six recorded works at the distance. Georgie Boy was scratched from the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Dash at Santa Anita last weekend. He has not started since the Del Mar Futurity, and could run in the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs for 3-year-olds on Feb. 10.

* Jockey Corey Nakatani, who suffered a broken collarbone in a training accident at Hollywood Park on Jan. 19, is hoping to return to riding later this month. Nakatani, 37, was at Santa Anita on Thursday to watch Colonel John's workout. He said he will visit a doctor during the week of Feb. 11 and is hoping to receive clearance to resume riding.