03/19/2007 11:00PM

King's Drama expected to race again


ARCADIA, Calif. - King's Drama, who was pulled up and eased as the favorite March 10 in the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz at the Fair Grounds, is expected to race again. Trainer Bobby Frankel said tests came back clean and revealed no soft-tissue tears.

"I think he just stepped in a hole," Frankel said. "He probably strained a ligament."

Over the past two years, King's Drama has emerged as a consistent Grade 2-caliber long-distance turf runner. He won the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga in 2005.

A 7-year-old gelding, King's Drama has won 10 races and more than $1.1 million from 31 starts. He is stabled at Santa Anita, where he will walk for three or four weeks before he returns to serious training.

"I think he'll be all right," Frankel said.

Frankel is mapping spring campaigns for other top runners. Grade 1 winner Sugar Shake, who was sick and missed the Grade 1 Santa Margarita, could resurface May 4 in the Grade 2 Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap. Les Grands Trois, whom Frankel was tempted to run two turns last weekend in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes, will start next in the Grade 3 Bay Shore at seven furlongs on April 7 at Aqueduct.

Les Grand Trois, a son of Officer who won his debut last July at Belmont by nine lengths, won his March 7 comeback by a length with a 94 Beyer Figure. He worked a half-mile Tuesday at Hollywood Park in 48.40 seconds. High Limit, winner of the 2006 Strub Stakes, worked five furlongs Tuesday in 1:01 as he nears a comeback. The 3-year-old filly Down, runner-up in the Hollywood Starlet, has returned to the track after arthroscopic surgery, and will return later this spring at Belmont Park.

A.P. Xcellent ready for San Luis Rey

A.P. Xcellent finished a sharp second Feb. 8 in a 1 1/2-mile turf allowance, but was scratched from the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo Handicap at the same distance Feb. 25.

"It was back a little too soon for him," trainer John Shirreffs said.

Now one month later, lightly raced A.P. Xcellent is ready for his first try in a turf stakes on Saturday in the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Handicap.

A.P. Xcellent is unplaced in five starts on dirt, but won both his starts on Cushion Track during the Hollywood fall meet before his runner-up finish on turf.

"Those two surfaces seem to work well with him," Shirreffs said. "He found a home on Cushion Track."

A.P. Xcellent could set the pace in the San Luis Rey and will carry 113 pounds. The rest of the field, with weights, is expected to include Fourty Niners Son and One Off, 117; Runaway Dancer, 116; and Notable Guest and Prospect Park, 114.

The Grade 2 Santa Ana Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile grass race for fillies and mares, will be run Sunday. Possible starters include Foxysox, 119; Cittronade and Memorette, 117; Conveyor's Angel, 116; Singalong, 115; and Flip Flop, Quiet Royal, and Riche Americaine, 114.

Two join prospective derby field

The likely field for the Santa Anita Derby has grown. Tiago and Boutrous are expected to join Ravel, Liquidity, King of the Roxy, and Song of Navarone in the Grade 1 race April 7. Tiago, a half-brother to Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, finished seventh in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis on March 3. Trainer John Shirreffs considers the last start by Tiago an aberration and said his training on Cushion Track at Hollywood Park may have left him unprepared for the kickback on dirt.

"I'm going to throw that race out and attribute the poor performance to being stuck down inside," Shirreffs said. "That's one thing we don't get - dirt kicked in their face. Even when we work them behind horses, all they get is a little dusting."

Tiago was scheduled for a major workout Wednesday.

Boutrous, a troubled second in the California Derby before finishing fourth in the 1 1/16-mile Robert Lewis, will appreciate the 1 1/8-mile trip.

"We're going to take a shot," trainer Craig Dollase said. "He needs the distance."

Magnificience steps up to stakes

Magnificience, the spectacular debut winner March 11 for owner-trainer Bruce Headley, will meet tougher company when she makes her second start April 1 in the Grade 3 Santa Paula Stakes for 3-year-olds. Trainer John Sadler will nominate two fillies to the race, including Coco Belle, who earned a 102 Beyer Figure winning a first-level allowance by 9 3/4 lengths. Jump On In, winner of the Grade 3 Santa Ynez at seven furlongs before finishing last in the one-mile Las Virgenes, also will be nominated to the Santa Paula by Sadler.

Sadler said his colt Noble Court, winner of the Grade 2 San Vicente at seven furlongs, has returned to the track after missing 10 days of training with a foot abscess.

"It was terrible timing," Sadler said.

The original plan for Noble Court was a start in the San Felipe. Sadler said he will consider the Santa Anita Derby and Blue Grass Stakes for Noble Court, but cautioned, "I'm not going to do anything that would jeopardize him."

Bordonaro may dodge Smokey Stover

For the Grade 1 sprinter Bordonaro, the choice is simple - stay home at Santa Anita to face nemesis Smokey Stover again, or return to Oaklawn Park and try to win the six-furlong Count Fleet Handicap for the second straight year.

Bordonaro, third by nearly five lengths to Smokey Stover in the Sunshine Millions Sprint on Jan. 27, worked five furlongs Monday (1:02, breezing), after which trainer Bill Spawr favored the Count Fleet on April 13 at Oaklawn over the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs on April 7 at Santa Anita.

"Six and a half furlongs compromises our chances, and favors Smokey Stover," Spawr said.

Spawr said a decision on Bordonaro's next start would be made closer to the race. Even without Bordonaro, the Potrero Grande will be a strong race that will likely include Grade 1 winner Greg's Gold and comebacker Battle Won.

Cash Included headed to Keeneland

Cash Included, third to Rags to Riches in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks on March 11, will make her next start April 7 in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland. Upset winner of the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes last fall before finishing fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, Cash Included has won 2 of 6.

"We're looking to improve third start off the layoff," trainer Craig Dollase said, adding that Cash Included "did not have the best of trips" in the Santa Anita Oaks. She was forced to move early into the far turn, and lost her punch in the lane.

"We weren't going to beat the winner, but it might have cost us second," Dollase said.