03/11/2009 12:00AM

Madeo returns in loaded field


ARCADIA, Calif. - Madeo's career appeared in danger when he was pulled up on the backstretch of the Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes on Jan. 17. Jockey Mike Smith felt the colt take a bad step and feared he had been injured, quickly guiding him to a stop.

Fortunately, Madeo was not hurt. Moments after being pulled up, Madeo showed no ill effects while being jogged on the racetrack.

After Madeo was checked over by vets, trainer John Shirreffs said the colt would return to racing on turf. The day arrives Thursday when Madeo starts in a $63,000 allowance race over a mile at Santa Anita. Smith, the only jockey to ride Madeo, is back aboard the colt, best known for winning the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby last August.

"We were so happy that Mike was aboard to pull him up and he was okay," Shirreffs said. "Mike said he took a bad step.

"We had the vets go over him carefully at the barn and do X-rays. Everything looked good. After three days, we took him back to the track and waited a certain amount of time to work."

A winner of 3 of 10 starts and $347,915 for owner-breeders Jerry and Ann Moss, Madeo has had five recorded workouts since late January, including five furlongs in 59.20 seconds at Hollywood Park on Feb. 6, the fastest that morning.

"He's training very well," Shirreffs said. "There doesn't seem to be any lingering effect from when he ran at Santa Anita on the Pro-Ride. He looks good and his coat is good and he's got extra weight on."

Madeo may be sending Shirreffs positive signs, but the colt will face a stern test in his comeback. It takes a win in at least a Grade 2 stakes to deserve consideration in Thursday's race.

The race drew 14 but will be limited to 10 starters. The field includes Mast Track, winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup last July; Monterey Jazz, winner of the Gradeo2 Strub Stakes in February 2008; and Sky Cape, who won the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar last August.

Mast Track and Monterey Jazz were scratched from the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile last Saturday in favor of this race.

The field also includes Liberian Freighter, who was second in the Crystal Water Handicap on Feb. 28.