04/03/2008 11:00PM

Intangaroo’s start lifts Sherlock’s spirits


ARCADIA, Calif. – Trainer Gary Sherlock reached a milestone when Intangaroo won the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap at Santa Anita in February. The prestigious sprint for females was Sherlock’s first stakes win at that level.

Intangaroo starts in Sunday’s $150,000 Las Flores Handicap and her presence in the race is even more meaningful to Sherlock. Earlier this week, the 62-year-old trainer underwent a procedure to have stents placed in two blocked arteries.

Sherlock was at home Friday, and ready to return to the barn on Saturday. He was eagerly anticipating Sunday’s race.

“It will be a good present,” he said. “I’m in good shape. I’m feeling great.”

Intangaroo, 4, won her stakes debut in the Santa Monica, rallying from fourth in a field of five to win by a nose at 26-1. After the race, Sherlock said he planned to wait for the Las Flores with Intangaroo, with the long-term goal of starting the filly in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint here in October.

Intangaroo remained in training after the Santa Monica, and impressed Sherlock when she worked five furlongs in 57 seconds at Hollywood Park on March 18, the fastest of 28 recorded works at the distance.

Sherlock described the work as “phenomenal.”

“I put a horse in front of her and I wanted her to do something,” he said. “She’s doing super. The hardest part was waiting nine weeks to run her.

“There wasn’t any place to run, timing wise. It was a good break because the ultimate goal is the Breeders’ Cup with plenty of opportunities along the way.”

Owned by Tom Grether Farms, Intangaroo has drawn the outside post in the Grade 3 Las Flores, which is run over 6 1/2 furlongs and has drawn a field of six. Intangaroo and Tiz Elemental, the winner of the Honest Lady Stakes on Feb. 24, are the only 2008 stakes winners in the field.

Sherlock is most concerned with the speedy Overly Tempting, who was third in the Santa Monica and seventh in the Honest Lady.

“Hopefully, we’ll have a good trip and we have a good shot,” he said. “I hope someone can soften up Overly Tempting.

“I don’t fear anybody. I think it’s all about the trip. I don’t think she stumbled into the [Santa Monica]. She won it and she ran fast. She’s a good filly and she’s getting better.”

Sherlock has an eye on the $300,000 Humana Distaff over seven furlongs at Churchill Downs on May?3 as Intangaroo’s next start. He says that could be her only “road trip” in 2008, with the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.

“That’s probably the only real shipping I’ll do,” he said. “I’ll probably just stay around here and wait for the Breeders’ Cup. Luckily, she’ll be in with winning that Grade 1. I don’t have to ship and prove anything.”

Behindatthebar’s stock rising again

Behindatthebar may still have a say in the important 3-year-old races in coming months after winning an allowance race over 1 1/16 miles by four lengths on Thursday.

Making his first start since finishing fifth in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows on March 8, Behindatthebar closed from eighth in a field of nine to win convincingly in 1:42.40.

The victory has not led to any definite plans, according to Michael McCarthy, who directs trainer Todd Pletcher’s California stable.

Pletcher “was gong to see what happened this weekend and then we’d go from there,” McCarthy said, referring to the major 3-year-old stakes on Saturday. “I think the Coolmore Lexington Stakes is back in 16 days and I’m not sure that’s an option or not.

“I did speak with Todd briefly and he was pleased with the way the horse ran. The two turns is not an obstacle now.”

McCarthy said that Behindatthebar will be sent to Churchill Downs on Monday, when the last of Pletcher’s California stable leaves.

Stewards probe Hendricks positive

The California Horse Racing board has filed a complaint against trainer Dan Hendricks after one of his starters in February tested in excess of the permitted level of acepromazine, a tranquilizer.

Lotacat finished second in the sixth race on Feb. 10, a maiden race over 5 1/2 furlongs. Hendricks faces a possible fine and/or suspension in the case, which will be heard by track stewards at Santa Anita on April 13, according to a statement released by the racing board.

Brother Derek back on work tab

Hendricks’s top older horse, the millionaire Brother Derek, worked six furlongs in 1:11.80 on Friday, his first workout since being declared from an allowance race on March 28 because of a foot injury.

Unraced since February 2007, Brother Derek was withdrawn the day before his scheduled comeback when the foot problem surfaced. Hendricks said at the time that he expects Brother Derek to start in the next month.