06/24/2008 11:00PM

Intangaroo has eye on a title


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Intangaroo has already won two Grade 1 sprint stakes for females this year - the Santa Monica Handicap at Santa Anita in February and the Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs last month.

Even with those credentials, trainer Gary Sherlock didn't see her as likely to win a championship until a barn area discussion Wednesday made him aware that an Eclipse Award is given to the nation's outstanding female sprinter. The award was first presented for the 2007 season.

Quickly, a race such as Saturday's $150,000 A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park has an added importance for Intangaroo.

"I didn't think of" the Eclipse Award, Sherlock said. "That would be a pleasant surprise. I wouldn't trade her for anyone in the country."

Owned by Tom Grether Farms, Intangaroo has been the star of Sherlock's nearly three-year return to training. He trained Quarter Horses at Los Alamitos and Thoroughbreds in Southern California before giving that up in the early 1990s to work in the equine insurance business.

Sherlock, 62, started mostly with 2-year-olds in 2006, and the stable had a few slow seasons, winning just two races that year. This year has been different, with seven wins through Tuesday. The 4-year-old Intangaroo has won 4 of 11 starts and $464,231. Her career was delayed by a cracked tibia, and she made her first start last June at 3.

Intangaroo has won 3 of her last 4 starts, and Sherlock insists she should have a four-race winning streak going. After winning an allowance race at Santa Anita in January and the Grade 1 Santa Monica at 26-1, she finished third in the Grade 3 Las Flores Handicap at Santa Anita in April. Intangaroo rallied on the rail in that race and finished a half-length behind Tiz Elemental.

"She should have won that race," Sherlock said. "She made that move on the inside and she hit a quagmire. Nobody was winning on the inside. That race really showed me how good she was."

Intangaroo was 14-1 when she won the Humana Distaff, and may not be favored in the seven-furlong A Gleam, even though she shares top weight of 122 pounds with Tiz Elemental. Aside from Tiz Elemental, there will be support for the undefeated Magnificience.

Sherlock wonders if Intangaroo has earned sufficient respect from bettors. "It's not like she's the second coming of Ruffian, but with her heart and determination she bears down and does what she has to do," he said.

After the A Gleam, Intangaroo will have only one more start before the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on Oct. 24. Sherlock plans to start her in the $200,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap over6 1/2 furlongs at Del Mar on Aug. 24.

"I made a plan a long time ago," Sherlock said. "Hopefully, she'll keep getting better. Hopefully, she'll be good on Oct. 24."

The A Gleam is one of four stakes on Saturday's program. Aside from the Hollywood Gold Cup, led by Santa Anita Handicap winner Heatseeker, the card includes the $250,000 American Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf and the $100,000 Landaluce Stakes for 2-year-old fillies over six furlongs.

San Diego is Rebellion's next target

Rebellion, the Maryland-based winner of the Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap on June 7, will return to California for the $300,000 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 19, trainer Graham Motion said on Wednesday.

Motion had considered sending Rebellion back to Hollywood Park for the $300,000 Triple Bend Handicap on July 5, but has opted to give the 5-year-old horse additional time between starts.

"The idea of putting him back on the plane this week is a little too quick to me," he said. "What makes it a tough decision is he's in top shape, but it's a long year."

Motion said he would prefer to start Rebellion over 1 1/16 miles in the San Diego rather than the seven-furlong distance of the Triple Bend. The long-term goal is the Breeders' Cup Mile or BC Dirt Mile at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

"I also feel like we're looking to get him back to the two-turn races," he said. "I'd love to think we can get him back for the Breeders' Cup, whether it's a mile on turf or a mile on the" synthetic track.

Well Armed, who beat Hollywood Gold Cup favorite Heatseeker in the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap on Feb. 9, is another candidate for the San Diego. Trained by Eoin Harty, Well Armed has not started since finishing third in the $6 million Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba on March 29.

The Harty-trained Colonel John is on course for the $300,000 Swaps Stakes on July 12, following a solo six-furlong workout in 1:12.20 at Santa Anita on Wednesday.

"If I work him in company, he'd do too much," Harty said.

He described Colonel John's recent training as "very straightforward."

The winner of the Santa Anita Derby in April, Colonel John finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby in his last start.

Public comment on steroids

The California Horse Racing Board has opened a public comment period on rule changes that will penalize trainers for anabolic steroid violations. The racing board is expected to vote on the rule changes on July 17. The public comment period ends on July 14.

The board has banned all anabolic steroids, with the exception of boldenone, nandrolone, stanozolol and testosterone, which are only allowed to be found in trace levels in a horse's blood in postrace tests. All steroids other than those four are listed as class 2 or 3 medications. Currently, those four steroids are listed in class 4, but the proposed rule change would move those steroids into class 3, making a violation a more serious offense. When that reclassification takes place, trainers will face more severe penalties for positive tests for those four medications.

Positive tests for drugs in classes 1, 2, and 3 are subject to a purse redistribution and a possible fine or suspension for a trainer.

Racing board chairman Richard Shapiro told a Congressional subcommittee on June 19 that "there is no place for anabolic steroids in horse racing."

The racing board is seeking all opinions, for and against the use of anabolic steroids, during the commentary period.