02/22/2010 1:00AM

Kettle River may miss Sham start


ARCADIA, Calif. - A brief illness earlier this month may keep Kettle River from making his stakes debut in Saturday's $150,000 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita.

Trainer Eoin Harty worked Kettle River five furlongs in 59.80 seconds on Sunday, but said the colt returned breathing heavily.

"He had a pretty good blow after the workout," Harty said. "I missed a work last week. He got a little sick on me."

Owned by Darley Stable, Kettle River has won his last two starts - a maiden race over 1 1/16 miles on turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 15 and a first-condition allowance race over 1 1/16 miles on the main track here on Jan. 6.

The Grade 3 Sham Stakes over 1 1/8 miles would be Kettle River's stakes debut, although that could be postponed to the $150,000 San Felipe Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on March 13, a race expected to draw 2-year-old champion Lookin At Lucky.

"A mile and an eighth after missing a work leaves me a tiny bit concerned," Harty said. "If I'm not happy with him, I'll wait and run him in the San Felipe."

None of the nine probable starters for the Sham Stakes has won a graded stakes. Nextdoorneighbor, the four-length winner of a maiden race here on Jan. 24, is a leading contender, along with The Program, who was fourth in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park in December and has since won a first-condition allowance race.

Other probable starters include Alphie's Bet, Boulder Creek, Outlaw Man, Privilaged, Setsuko, Wolf Tail, and Viva Macho. Setsuko, second in an optional claimer over 1 1/8 miles on turf, worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 on Sunday.

Loup Breton headed for Big Cap

Loup Breton, the winner of the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes on turf last month, has convinced trainer Julio Canani to try him on the main track in a wide-open running of the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 6.

Canani has worked Loup Breton on Santa Anita's synthetic main track on a regular basis in recent weeks, including five furlongs in 59.80 seconds on Sunday. Canani said he skipped Sunday's $150,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap with Loup Breton in favor of the Big Cap.

"He worked unbelievably this morning," Canani said.

Owned by Wildenstein Stable, Loup Breton, 6, has won 2 of 3 starts since arriving from France last year. A winner of 5 of 21 starts, Loup Breton was a group stakes winner in France in 2007 and 2008.

The Big Cap is likely to have a maximum field of 14. With less than two weeks remaining to the race, the candidates include Acclamation, Dakota Phone, Enriched, High Court Drama, Hold Me Back, Jeranimo, Mast Track, Misremembered, Neko Bay, Palladio, Philatelist, Pick Six, Richard's Kid, Snowmaster, St Trinians, Tiger's Rock, and Unusual Smoke.

The top 14 highweights will run if the race oversubscribes.

Unusual Smoke won an optional claimer over a mile on turf in a dead heat with Lease of Life on Sunday, and is on course for the Big Cap, trainer A.C. Avila said.

Dubai doubtful for Dancing in Silks

Dancing in Silks is unlikely to start in the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai next month after managing only a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap on Saturday.

"I don't think we'll go but I need to talk to the owner," trainer Carla Gaines said, referring to owner Ken Kinakin.

The winner of the Breeders' Cup Sprint last November, Dancing in Silks was never in contention in the San Carlos, fading through the stretch to finish 7 3/4 lengths behind race winner Bob Black Jack. Dancing in Silks was third on the backstretch, but got no closer in the stretch.

"He was very quiet before the race," Gaines said on Sunday. "Usually, his typical behavior in the paddock is bouncing and showing off. He was sound, ate up, and his temperature is good. Maybe the Breeders' Cup took a lot out of him? I don't know."

Bob Black Jack was making his first start since winning the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes here in December 2008. Trained by James Kasparoff, Bob Black Jack was injured after that race and returned to serious training only in December.

Owned by James's brother Tim and Jeff Harmon, Bob Black Jack led throughout the seven-furlong San Carlos, winning by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:21.05 under jockey David Flores.

A 5-year-old by Stormy Jack, Bob Black Jack has won 5 of 11 stars and $684,925.

Treatment for a tendon lesion forced Bob Black Jack's layoff.

"I didn't think what happened to him would be a major problem other than he needed time off," he said.

In January 2008, Bob Black Jack set a six-furlong world record of 1:06.53 with a victory in the Sunshine Millions Dash, a mark that was lowered to 1:06.49 by Twin Sparks at Turf Paradise last November.

Kasparoff said Bob Black Jack is likely to run next in the Potrero Grande here on April 3.

Bortstein memorial at the track Wednesday

A memorial service for horse racing writer Larry Bortstein will be held in the Frontrunner restaurant at Santa Anita at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

Bortstein died on Jan. 31 from the effects of a pulmonary embolism suffered on Jan. 23. He was 67. Bortstein worked as a racing writer for the Orange County Register and was a contributing writer to the California Thoroughbred.