Updated on 09/16/2011 6:53AM

Irisheyesareflying staying put for Big Cap


CYPRESS, Calif. - Irisheyesareflying, who was third in the San Antonio Handicap on Feb. 3, is scheduled to make his next start in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap next Saturday.

This year, there is no defending Horse of the Year in Tiznow to face in the meeting's richest race.

Fourth in the 2001 Big Cap, Irisheyesareflying will be the only member of that 12-horse field to return for this year's race.

Trainer John Dolan said he considered the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap on March 3, but opted for the Santa Anita Handicap after discussing the race with the partnership that owns the 6-year-old Irisheyesareflying.

"The owners kind of swayed me in that direction," he said. "I like not having to travel."

Irisheyesareflying, who won the California Cup Classic last November, will be a longshot in the Big Cap, which is run over 1 1/4 miles. The field is led by , the winner of the Malibu Stakes and Strub Stakes at this meeting. Dolan said that outside of Mizzen Mast "there is no one to be afraid of."

In the San Antonio Handicap, Irisheyesareflying finished two lengths behind Redattore, who finished a half-length in front of Euchre. Redattore emerged from the San Antonio with feet problems and will be pointed for the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 23.

The San Antonio came a month after Irisheyesareflying finished fifth in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Handicap, his first start since the California Cup on Nov. 3.

"Euchre has beaten me three times, but only by a length last time," Dolan said. "We could turn the tables on him."

The Big Cap had 12 starters last year and is expected to have an equally large field this year. The other probables include Cagney, Fancy As, Freedom Crest, Futural, Giant Gentlemen, Kudos, Last Parade, and Seinne.

Trujillo hurt

Apprentice jockey Elvis Trujillo suffered a sprained left wrist in a paddock accident before Thursday's eighth race and took off his mounts on Friday and Saturday, according to his agent, Bill Barisoff.

Trujillo starts a five-day suspension on Sunday for causing interference aboard race winner Caliban in Monday's fourth race and therefore will not return to riding until March 3. Caliban was disqualified and placed third for lugging out through the stretch.

On Thursday, Trujillo was unseated from Richillini and was taken to Arcadia Methodist Hospital for X-rays, which were negative, Barisoff said.

Two fillies look sharp

The early daily double on Thursday went to a pair of 3-year-old fillies who may have roles in important stakes later this year.

Adoration won the first, a maiden race, by eight lengths, finishing a mile in 1:36.69. In the second race, recorded the same time winning a first-condition allowance race by four lengths.

Adoration was making her second career start for Fraser Racing Syndicate and trainer David Hofmans.

"I nominated her to a stakes as a maiden, but her first race was a mess," Hofmans said. "She stumbled at the start and got dirt in her face.

"I was very pleased with this race. She wasn't bred to sprint."

Before Thursday's race, trainer Bruce Headley considered it a prep to the $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks on March 9 for Diamond Tiara. After she won, he backed off that statement, and says he will wait a few days to decide on her next start.

"It's 16 days away, and that's close for a young mare," Headley said of the Oaks.

Attendance drops, but handle rises

Attendance and handle figures have been mixed through the first half of the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting.

Through Monday, the 41st day of the 85-day meeting, the ontrack attendance was 9,439, or a drop of slightly less than 5 percent.

The handle figures were brighter. The average ontrack handle was $2,486,263, a gain of just under 1 percent. The overall average handle, including statewide and nationwide outlets, was $11,771,542, a gain of more than 3 percent.

The track has had favorable weather since Dec. 26, opening day. There have only been two days in which turf races were switched to the main track because of wet conditions.

"I very much appreciate the weather we've had," Jack Liebau, president of Santa Anita, said. "We seem to be doing acceptably ontrack as far as attendance and handle. We are staying up because of the offtrack wagering. Out-of-state wagering is way up."

Liebau cited the frequency of pick six carryovers as a boost to handle. On Thursday, for example, bettors put $974,529 in the pick six that featured a carryover of $186,350 from Monday's program.

The weather in March and April is typically brighter than January and February, giving Liebau the hope that attendance figures will remain steady.

He said the track has emphasized direct-mail promotions to frequent customers at this meeting.

"I will be excited if we can break even in the second half on total attendance," he said.

Pick four alternates will wait

A plan to offer alternate selections in the pick four will not be implemented until the start of the Hollywood Park meeting, according to a California Horse Racing Board official.

Alternate selections allow bettors to specify a horse to be used if the main selection is scratched. Without an alternate, the selection would revert to the favorite. Alternate selections are currently used on pick six and place pick-all bets.

The issue for the pick four was approved at the CHRB meeting in January, a month after the Santa Anita meeting started. Despite the convenience and flexibility it will allow for bettors, implementation is being delayed.

"We didn't want to have a system where the rules changed halfway through the meet," said John Reagan, the CHRB's senior management auditor.