09/16/2008 11:00PM

Kelly Leak will skip Norfolk


POMONA, Calif. - Kelly Leak, the disqualified winner of the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes last month, will miss the $250,000 Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 28.

Trainer Mike Machowsky said Wednesday that because he was discouraged by the colt's 10th-place finish in the Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 3, Kelly Leak was turned out for a two-week break on Sept. 9 and will return to Santa Anita next week.

"I wasn't happy with the way he ran," Machowsky said of the Del Mar Futurity. "He was too rank and too close to the pace. After that race, I thought I might regroup."

Owned by a partnership, Kelly Leak finished first in the Best Pal Stakes, his stakes debut, but was disqualified and placed fourth for causing interference in the stretch.

Machowsky's stable will not have a starter in the Norfolk, a major prep for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Oct. 25. Majormotionpicture, the electrifying winner of a maiden race at Del Mar on Aug. 24, will miss the Norfolk because of a minor foot injury, Machowsky said.

"He blew out an abscess in his right front foot a week and a half ago," Machowsky said. "He's galloping and he'll breeze Friday or Saturday. I won't push him."

Machowsky said Majormotionpicture could start in the $75,000 Jack Goodman Stakes at six furlongs on Oct. 18. He said he has no plans for Kelly Leak.

"They're nice horses and there is no sense rushing them," he said. "I don't want to jeopardize their 3-year-old careers."

The Norfolk Stakes is led by Midshipman and Coronet of a Baron, the first two finishers in the Del Mar Futurity.

New rule for long-absent claimers

Claiming horses returning from layoffs of at least six months in California can be entered with a provision that will make them ineligible to be claimed in their comeback races, according to a rule change recently implemented by the California Horse Racing Board.

The rule change, which takes effect with entries on Saturday, is designed to give claiming-class horses a break from racing when necessary and not be plundered by rival owners and trainers when they return to competition. The claiming horses can be entered as ineligible to be claimed for the first race of their comebacks, but must return for a value equal to or greater than their preceding starts, according to a statement released by the racing board.

The rule change was proposed by the Thoroughbred Owners of California earlier this year and was adopted by the racing board in May. The rule change was subject to review by the state's office of administrative law before becoming effective.

"It is to the owner's advantage to be able to bring that horse back and run one time [and] not have to worry about somebody claiming the horse and taking advantage of the time and money spent in the rehab of the horse," TOC director Tom Bachman told the racing board earlier this year.

Mile more to Awesome Gem's liking

Awesome Gem, third in the 2007 Breeders' Cup Classic at Monmouth Park, is being prepared for the $200,000 Oak Tree Mile at Santa Anita on Sept. 28, and is unlikely to start in the Breeders' Cup Classic next month, trainer Craig Dollase said.

Seventh in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 24, Awesome Gem is more likely to run in the Breeders' Cup Mile on turf or the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, Dollase said. Both races are on Oct. 25.

In his last start on turf, Awesome Gem finished second by a nose in the Wickerr Handicap at Del Mar on July 25. Dollase said there is a remote chance that Awesome Gem could run in the BC Classic at 1 1/4 miles, but that is not the current plan.

"His turf form is good and he needs pace," Dollase said. "In a mile race you get a lot of pace. In those longer races, you don't get that pace. He's proven at the shorter distance."

Awesome Gem's presence in the Oak Tree Mile will keep him out of the $500,000 Goodwood Stakes at 1o1/8 miles on Sept. 27, a major prep to the BC Classic.

The Goodwood field is expected to include Albertus Maximus, Mast Track, Spirit One, Surf Cat, Tiago, Tres Borrachos, and Well Armed. The Goodwood is the richest race during the first week of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, which begins on Wednesday.Big Brown game but a bit too slowP