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Kedington covets the Classic
ARCADIA, Calif. - Kedington finished second to Tizbud in the $250,000 California Cup Classic last November - not bad for a horse who had been claimed for $16,000 seven months earlier.
This year, much of Kedington's season has been geared toward Saturday's renewal of the California Cup Classic at Santa Anita, a race that trainer Rafael Becerra feels Kedington can win in an upset.
After making three starts from January to April 1 this year, Kedington was given a rest to prepare for the fall. He returned to finish third in an allowance race over a mile on turf on Oct. 2, losing by three lengths.
The loss did not bother Becerra. He saw the allowance race against open company as a prep race.
"He's sharp and he's coming along really good," Becerra said. "I'm happy with the way things came out. The main track is his best surface."
Winless in his last six starts, dating back to an allowance race at Fairplex Park in September 2003, Kedington has made five starts since the 2003 California Cup Classic. He finished third in the On Trust Handicap at Hollywood Park last December, and was second in an allowance race at Santa Anita in late January. Two races later, Becerra decided to interrupt Kedington's campaign.
"He had too many races," Becerra said. "I said, 'Let's kick him out and give him some time off."'
Since the comeback race on Oct. 2, Kedington has not had a workout. Becerra said this was by design.
"I won't work him," Becerra said. "I'll leave it as it is. That's why I put him in that race, to get a race into him."
Owned by Kassie van Doren, Kedington is a closer. In the 2003 Cal Cup Classic, Kedington rallied from seventh in the final quarter-mile to finish three lengths behind Tizbud. Since then, Tizbud has not started.
Becerra thinks he may have an edge against Tizbud, because Kedington has had a recent start. "That's a lot to ask," off a layoff, Becerra said. "I do think they need to run once, especially when you go in a stakes."
Tizbud and Kedington aren't the only two horses worthy of consideration in the Classic, which is run over 1 1/8 miles. The two topweights at 120 pounds - Excess Summer and Yougottawanna - are capable of winning.
Excess Summer has made two starts this year, finishing second in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic in January and third in the Governor's Cup Handicap over 6 1/2 furlongs at Fairplex Park last month. He is expected to be favored.
Yougottawanna, who won the 2001 California Cup Juvenile, won the Governor's Handicap at Sacramento on Aug. 28, his second stakes win of the year. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Yougottawanna represents one of the few northern California invaders expected for Saturday's 10-race California Cup program.
The presence of Excess Summer and Yougottawanna may help Kedington, who carries 114 pounds. They both have speed, and a fast pace would help Kedington's late kick.
No BC Sprint for Bluesthestandard
Bluesthestandard, the runner-up in the 2003 Breeders' Cup Sprint, will not run in that race this year after finishing fifth in the Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sunday.
Trainer Ted West, who assists his son, Bluesthestandard's trainer Ted H. West, said Bluesthestandard will undergo a nuclear scan this week to check for possible physical problems. Nuclear scan tests are more comprehensive than conventional X-rays, revealing the most minute fractures.
"He doesn't show anything," Ted West said. "There has to be a physical reason, but so far it's not an obvious reason."
In the Grade 1 Ancient Title, Bluesthestandard was fifth throughout, finishing seven lengths behind upset winner Pt's Grey Eagle. He was within 3 1/2 lengths of the leaders in early stretch, but failed to launch a rally.
"The Breeders' Cup is a scratch," Ted West said. "We won't run him."
Bluesthestandard has won 15 of 32 starts and $929,818. He is winless in four starts since the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap last January. In the spring and summer, Bluesthestandard was sidelined with a hind-end muscle strain.
West said the upcoming nuclear scan could reveal a recurrence of that injury.
Douglas finally has shot at riding title
After a six-year absence, jockey Rene Douglas returned to California on a full-time basis last month. This time, Douglas could be on the verge of an accomplishment he failed to achieve while riding on this circuit from 1995 to 1998 - winning a riding title.
Through Monday, the 11th day of the 26-day Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, Douglas was the leading rider with 12 wins, holding a tenuous lead of two wins over Corey Nakatani.
Douglas cracked the top five on a few occasions during his first stay in California. Douglas, 37, won riding titles at Arlington Park from 2001-04 to go with three previous titles at Calder and Hialeah.
Since Douglas left Southern California, the jockeys' roster has changed. Hall of Famers Eddie Delahoussaye, Chris McCarron, and Laffit Pincay Jr. retired. Douglas insists that does not make finding top mounts easier.
"Nakatani is a good rider," he said. "Kent Desormeaux just got put in the Hall of Fame. David Flores and Mike Smith do well. I've been confident. I've been here before."
Douglas said he has changed his habits in recent years, recalling some of the reasons why he did not have breakthrough seasons in California in the 1990's.
"I watch tapes of races," he said. "I do things better than I did the last time I was here. I know how to hustle. I didn't do that before. I'm prepared. That helps me mentally."
Among his mounts in Saturday's California Cup are Calkins Road in the $250,000 Classic, American Allstar in the $175,000 Mile, and Drought Breaker in the $100,000 Distance Handicap for fillies and mares over 1 1/4 miles on turf.
Later this month, Douglas is expected to ride Tamweel in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Lone Star Park. He has never won a Breeders' Cup race. An upset win by that filly and a first riding title in California would create a memorable October for Douglas.