Updated on 09/17/2011 9:59AM

Longshots weigh in for Big Cap


ARCADIA, Calif. - Trompolino, the winner of the Group 1 Chilean St. Leger in 2001, and Tough Game, who has never started in a stakes, are being considered for Saturday's $1 million Santa Anita Handicap, their trainers said on Wednesday.

The defection of Medgalia d'Oro, a co-topweight at 124 pounds with Congaree, has given the connections of a few longshots the chance to reconsider their plans. Medaglia d'Oro was withdrawn from the race on Tuesday after trainer Bobby Frankel expressed frustration at the weight assignments.

Without Medaglia d'Oro, the other candidates include Milwaukee Brew, Kudos, Pleasantly Perfect, Sligo Bay, and Piensa Sonando. Congaree, the winner of three consecutive graded stakes, will be a strong favorite under Jerry Bailey.

Trompolino was assigned 112 pounds for the Big Cap, which would be his stakes debut in the U.S. A 5-year-old, Trompolino has one victory in nine starts in this country, an optional claimer over 1 1/8 miles on a wet-fast track here on Feb. 12.

In Chile, he had 5 wins in 11 starts, including a 13-1 upset in the Chilean St. Leger over about 1 3/8 miles on dirt in December 2001. He is trained by Gary Mandella, who in the last year has tried Trompolino in route races on dirt and turf.

"I screwed it up for the first 12 months," Mandella joked about Trompolino's recent form.

Mandella said a decision on whether Trompolino starts may not be made until closer to the race. An entry fee of $2,500 is due on Thursday, with an additional $7,500 owed in order to start.

From a strategy standpoint, Mandella would like to try Trompolino. The 5-year-old led throughout his recent allowance, setting a decent pace before pulling away in the final quarter mile.

In the Big Cap, Trompolino may be the lone speed, but could also be tracked by Congaree, who runs near the front.

"If Congaree was the only other speed, we think we'll be 50-1 and Jerry won't be riding against our horse," Mandella said. "Maybe Trompolino has a chance to outrun his odds and pick up a check."

Tough Game has won 2 of 4 starts, and is being considered for two stakes this weekend - the Big Cap and Sunday's $200,000 San Carlos Handicap over seven furlongs.

Between the first and second race on Wednesday, Tough Game, the winner of an allowance race over 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 9, worked five furlongs in 59.58 seconds through fractions of 24.79 and 48.45.

Tough Game was assigned 111 pounds for the Big Cap, the lightest assignment among the 21 nominated horses. After the workout, trainer Bob Baffert was noncommittal about his plans.

Tough Game will not face an easy field if he starts in the Grade 1 San Carlos.

Kona Gold is the 121-pound topweight, but is likely to pass the race, according to his trainer, Bruce Headley.

Other candidates are Aldebaran, Crafty C.T., Grey Memo, Mellow Fellow, Roman Dancer, and Total Limit.

Grey Memo is using the race as a prep to the $1 million Godolphin Mile in Dubai on March 29, a race he won last year.

In his most recent start, the 6-year-old Grey Memo finished third in the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park over 1 1/8 miles on Jan. 25, losing by a half-length to Best of the Rest after a wide trip.

"He ran well, and I thought he should have won," trainer Warren Stute said. "The jockey rode to instructions and brought him wide. If we'd let him ride his own race, he might have won."

Grey Memo is winless in 12 starts at Santa Anita, but the losing streak includes an unlucky fourth in the California Cup Classic in November when he might have been best.

The seven-furlong distance of the San Carlos should help Grey Memo's late-running style, Stute figures.

"It's a lot easier to back up in distance," Stute said. "I like him better at seven-eighths than a mile and a quarter."

The San Carlos will be the first time Grey Memo is ridden by Gary Stevens since the Godolphin Mile. The March 29 race remains in Stute's plans, pending world developments.

"I need to see no war," he said.

Trainer Bruce Headley said it was "very questionable" whether Kona Gold would start. He was upset about Kona Gold's assignment of 121 pounds, expecting a lighter load for the 2000 champion sprinter who has won 14 of 28 starts and $2.2 million.

The 9-year-old Kona Gold has started twice this year. He carried 123 pounds to victory in the El Conejo Handicap over 5 1/2 furlongs on Jan. 1, and 124 pounds when he finished sixth as the favorite in the six-furlong Palos Verdes Handicap on Jan. 26.

"I've got to talk with the owners," he said, referring to Irwin and Andrew Molasky. "They're pretty disappointed, too."

Card gets off to troubled start

There were two late scratches in the first race Wednesday, and the heavily favored One Eyed Cobra broke down.

Behind the Plate, 7-2 in the betting with a few minutes to post, was withdrawn after he was found to be unsound in a hind leg, the stewards said. At the gate, 35-1 Freedom Class was scratched after he refused to load.

The withdrawals made One Eyed Cobra a 1-2 favorite. Ridden by Laffit Pincay Jr., One Eyed Cobra was challenging for the lead in midstretch of the one-mile race for maiden claimers when he was pulled up with a severe injury to his left foreleg.

One Eyed Cobra, trained by Bob Baffert, was euthanized.

Mornings not what they ought to be

There were few workouts on Wednesday at Santa Anita after rain fell midway through the morning. There were no workouts on the main track after 9 a.m. because the track was sealed in preparation for afternoon races.

Wednesday was the third consecutive day training was disrupted. Monday there was no training because the track was sealed when light rain fell shortly after 5 a.m. Even though the sun came out later in the morning, the track remained closed because a tractor driver had struck the inside rail, causing damage that was not repaired until later in the day.

There were only two recorded works on the main track on Tuesday.