03/29/2010 11:00PM

Mag Shot faces softer foes in his return


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - There's no Girolamo, Cash Refund, or Flavor in the ninth race Thursday at Oaklawn Park. And that's good news for Mag Shot, who had been hooking those future stakes winners in the maiden and allowance ranks last year in New York and Louisiana.

Mag Shot invades from Fair Grounds on Thursday for a first-level allowance sprint at six furlongs. The field also includes Majesticperfection, who won his maiden last out with a Beyer Figure of 82, and Im the Man, who won his career debut last time out at age 7.

The race Thursday will be Mag Shot's first since August, when he had a run-in with Girolamo in a first-level allowance at Saratoga and finished ninth. Girolamo went on to win the Grade 2 Jerome at Belmont Park two starts later, while Mag Shot was sidelined with a suspensory lesion for which he has had stem cell therapy, said his trainer, Ronny Werner.

"He's come back great," said Werner.

Werner wins at a well above average 27 percent rate with horses returning from layoffs of 180 or more days, and said he is pleased with the way Mag Shot has been working for his return. But he's also aware it's a tough assignment for a horse to win in his first start in eight months.

"He coming off quite a bit of a layoff," Werner said. "We've got to get him started. He's been breezing pretty good. We'll see how we start out.

"We trainers always want one more work. I think he's close enough."

Mag Shot turned in some strong five-furlong drills for his return, among them a 1:00.80 move from the gate March 8.

Mag Shot won his maiden at Churchill Downs in June with a career-best Beyer Figure of 92. Earlier in his career, he had finished second to Cash Refund, now a two-time sprint stakes winner. The third-place finisher from that race, Flavor, has since become a stakes winner at Turfway Park.

Majesticperfection won his maiden at Fair Grounds, leading throughout on Feb. 14. He could go favored for Oaklawn's leading trainer, Steve Asmussen.