01/05/2008 1:00AM

Maimonides will skip San Rafael


ARCADIA, Calif. - Recent wet weather, and continuing concern over Santa Anita's Cushion Track surface, has caused one prominent horse to be pulled from next Saturday's San Rafael Stakes, and another might follow.

Maimonides, who ran third in the Hopeful Stakes, was expected to make his first start since then in the Grade 2, $150,000 San Rafael, the first two-turn stakes race of the meet for 3-year-olds seeking to get to the Kentucky Derby. But Bob Baffert, who trains Maimonides, said he and owner Ahmed Zayat decided to pass the race.

"He needs another work, and the rain messed me up, so I'm going to pass," Baffert said.

Maimonides has been star-crossed by synthetic surfaces. His inability to handle Polytrack while training last summer at Del Mar was one of the factors that led to an animated discussion between Zayat and Del Mar's Joe Harper, which subsequently resulted in Zayat pulling his horses out of Del Mar. Maimonides went to Saratoga, where he rolled to an easy debut win against maidens before going in the Hopeful.

Talk of a Cat, who was an impressive maiden winner at Hollywood Park, is also slated for the San Rafael. But trainer Todd Pletcher said he was monitoring the situation with Cushion Track at Santa Anita.

"I'd like to keep him out there and on a California schedule," said Pletcher, who has his top 3-year-olds in California and Florida this winter.

Having horses in multiple locations gives Pletcher options should Cushion Track be an ongoing concern at Santa Anita.

"This weekend could shed some light on things," Pletcher said.

Signature Move may go to Louisiana

The highly regarded 3-year-old Signature Move easily disposed of three rivals in a first-level allowance race on Friday and now is headed to stakes competition, according to his trainer, Eric Guillot.

"I'll probably go to the Risen Star," Guillot said of the Feb. 9 stakes race at Fair Grounds. "I'd like to stay away from three or four of them here, like Colonel John. This would give him some shipping experience, and then I could come back here for his last two races before, hopefully, he goes to the Derby."

Guillot said the other race under consideration for Signature Move is the Grade 2, $150,000 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 2.

Signature Move, a son of Vindication who cost $625,000 at auction, lost his debut, but now has won two straight, both around two turns.

Guillot also trains Overbid, who won a six-furlong maiden race at Hollywood Park on Dec. 8 and is scheduled to run in the San Rafael.

* The gloomy weather on Friday was braved by just 3,393 fans, and ontrack handle did not reach $1 million, topping out at $988,593.

* Trainer Howard Zucker is sending out live runners, but is stuck in second. He has sent out five horses at Santa Anita so far, and four have run second, including Tontine Too, who was nailed in the final strides of Friday's seventh race by late-running Fly Dorcego.