02/24/2012 2:59PM

Los Alamitos: Maiden Stakes first of what Bassett hopes is regular work for Oceanik


Oceanik never had a steady schedule of races in a lucrative 2-year-old campaign last year.

Winless in seven starts at 2, he had a successful year, earning $137,390 for owner Harold Nichols, a sum boosted by a third-place finish in the Ed Burke Million Futurity last June.

This winter and spring, Oceanik may get a consistent string of races, which trainer Joe Bassett thinks will help the colt thrive. Sunday, Oceanik starts as a top contender in the $151,750 Los Alamitos Maiden Stakes over 350 yards. The Maiden Stakes is restricted to horses who were maidens as of Dec. 1, 2011. Oceanik won a division of the trials for the Maiden Stakes on Feb. 4, in his eighth start.

“He’ll get better with the repetition of some races, back-to-back-to-back,” Bassett said on Friday. “He hasn’t been able to get in a good routine. We had three weeks between the trials and final for this and I kind of wish it was two. I thought I had an advantage over everyone because he was doing so well.”

Bassett said that Oceanik is nominated for the El Primero Del Ano Derby, which has trials on March 18 and a final on April 8.

“I expect him to run well [Sunday] and three weeks after this in the El Primero,” Bassett said.

Oceanik failed to qualify for two major futurities last fall – the Golden State Million and Los Alamitos Two Million. A colt by the 2004 champion 2-year-old Ocean Runaway, Oceanik is the only member of the 10-runner Maiden Stakes field with Grade 1 experience. Despite those credentials, Oceanik may not go favored.

The fastest qualifier on Feb. 4 was the well-regarded New Look, who ran 350 yards in 17.50 seconds, scoring his second consecutive win. Trained by Dan Francisco for Martha Wells, New Look beat maidens in his seventh career start on Dec. 17.

New Look is a horse that Bassett fears.

“If we get our perfect trips, it will be tough to outrun that horse,” he said.

Dash Back Perry will race in foal

Bassett won the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity in December with I Like the Odds, a colt who sadly succumbed to laminitis in January. Last month, Bassett’s stable won the Charger Bar Handicap for fillies and mares with Dash Back Perry.

Last Sunday, Dash Back Perry finished sixth in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship.

Bassett said on Friday that Dash Back Perry will be bred via embryo transfer this spring and will return to racing in the fall.