01/05/2007 12:00AM

Kolo earns shot at Derby trail

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ARCADIA, Calif. - This is the time of year when trainers of promising 3-year-olds find out who will turn into Kentucky Derby material. For trainer Carla Gaines, the time has arrived to leap into the deep end of the pool with Kolo, who heretofore has raced exclusively on turf, and who won last weekend's Eddie Logan Stakes.

The Logan was his fourth start, and second race in 16 days. Gaines said she wants to give Kolo a brief respite, then aim for the Grade 3, $100,000 Sham Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on dirt on Feb. 3 at Santa Anita.

"I want to see how he comes out of the last race," Gaines said. "I ran him back kind of close. It was the first time he really took a deep breath. He had to make a sustained run. The Sham comes up at the right time. And there's not a lot of opportunities for turf horses anyway right now."

Last year, the Derby winner began his career on turf before moving to dirt. Not that Gaines is going to compare Kolo to Barbaro, but he compares favorably in at least one significant area - pedigree. Both are by Dynaformer.

"Wouldn't that be exciting?" Gaines said.

Gaines also has high hopes for Tiz Elemental, a Cee's Tizzy filly who won first time out last Sunday in a downhill turf sprint against maidens. Tiz Elemental, 3, is a California-bred, so Gaines is considering the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Oaks at six furlongs on the dirt at Santa Anita on Jan. 27.

"She's always trained well on dirt," Gaines said. "I like to start my young horses on grass because I think it's easier on them. She hasn't run on dirt, but for $250,000, I think you have to try."

No dirt races in Valbenny's future

Unlike Gaines's plan for Kolo, trainer Paddy Gallagher said he will keep Valbenny on turf for the immediate future and not look at races like the Santa Anita Oaks. Valbenny, who won the Miesque Stakes in her United States debut last fall, captured the Blue Norther Stakes here last weekend.

"I'll look for a similar race in six or seven weeks time, and then another a month after that," Gallagher said. "I'll back off her a little. I don't think she likes dirt. She doesn't act like she would. She seems more comfortable on grass.

"I might try her on Cushion Track," he said, referring to Hollywood Park's synthetic surface.

Valenzuela's return delayed

Jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who broke three ribs when kicked in the paddock at Hollywood Park six weeks ago, has had his comeback delayed yet again and will not be back until Jan. 17, according to his agent, Jim Pegram.

"He's still sore," Pegram said. "He wants to be 100 percent. He's going to get backlogged another week. He tried to play racquetball the other day, and he was still sore."

Valenzuela at first wanted to make opening day Dec. 26, but Pegram thought that was ambitious. They next targeted Jan. 10, when the second condition book of the meet begins.

Winds tear rail, training cancelled

Fierce winds that whipped through Santa Anita Thursday night and into Friday morning tore away a portion of the main track's inner rail near the quarter pole, which forced the cancellation of training on the main track on Friday morning.

The rail was repaired by noon, about an hour before the day's first race.

The National Weather Service said winds in the area were gusting at more than 60 miles per hour. Left in their wake was one of the clearest days in years at Santa Anita.

Delahoussaye, Pincay to be heard

The Hall of Fame riders Eddie Delahoussaye and Laffit Pincay Jr. retired within the last five years, and both are frequent visitors to Santa Anita. Now, the track has decided to put their good names to good use. Both Delahoussaye, 55, and Pincay, 60, are part of a newly formed speakers' bureau instituted by the track.

They will speak to service organizations, youth groups, and schools.

"They're both synonymous with Santa Anita and remain exceptionally popular with our fans," Ron Charles, Santa Anita's president, said in a statement. "Most importantly, they both have a tremendous wealth of knowledge and experience that will greatly benefit any kind of audience. We're very, very proud to have them on our team, and judging from our bookings, we're already off to a fast start."

Parties interested in booking either jockey should contact Chris Quinn of Santa Anita's group sales department at (626) 574-6403.

Two problems for Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park was a stylish winner of a one-mile allowance race at Santa Anita on Jan. 1, the kind of performance that gave trainer Neil Drysdale thoughts of running the Florida-bred gelding in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita on Jan. 27.

Two problems with that. Actually, two big problems. Also pointing for the race are Lava Man, who won the Grade 1 Whittingham on turf at Hollywood last summer, and Miesque's Approval, the Breeders' Cup Mile winner and a finalist for the Eclipse Award as champion male turf horse.

"And it's weight-for-age, so I don't even get a break in the weights," Drysdale lamented. "I'm not sure what I'm going to do."

Showvivor begins Wednesday

Think you can pick one horse a day who will finish in the money every day for the whole meet? It's not as easy as you think. But the person who can outwit, outlast, and out-handicap everyone else who attempts this feat will win Santa Anita's Showvivor contest, which begins Wednesday.

The contest will be held exclusively on Santa Anita's website, www.santaanita.com. One horse in one race must be chosen before the first race each day. Pick one off-the-board runner, and you're out. The top 10 finishers in the contest will split $10,000 in prize money, with the one who lasts the longest getting $5,000.

* Trainer Lisa Lewis got her first victory since moving here for the winter when Smart Crowd won Thursday's featured allowance race. Smart Crowd was bred and is owned by Lewis's father, Jim, who was in attendance.

* Texcess, the winner of the California Cup Classic, worked six furlongs in 1:12.80 on Hollywood Park's Cushion Track on Friday for trainer Mike Mitchell in preparation for the $1omillion Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 27.