12/20/2010 4:53PM

Margolis has too many sprinters for available stakes at Fair Grounds

Lou Hodges Jr.
Turf sprinter Due Date will be pointed to the Colonel Power in February at Fair Grounds.

Too many sprinters, not enough stakes. That’s the issue – a pleasant enough one – confronting trainer Steve Margolis after the one-two finish of Due Date and Early Return in the Bonapaw Stakes on Saturday at Fair Grounds.

Due Date ran especially well winning the Bonapaw, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint, by 2 1/2 lengths. Due Date performs far better on turf than any other surface, and his immediate target is pretty clear: the Feb. 19 Colonel Power Stakes, the next (and last) open turf-sprint stakes for older males on the Fair Grounds stakes schedule.

Early Return, however, is a multi-surface kind of runner. He was no match for Due Date, who turned in a powerful effort Saturday, but finished strongly in his own right, and might be a natural candidate for the Jan. 22 Gaudin Stakes at six furlongs on dirt. But Margolis has penciled in for the Gaudin still another sprinter, Cash Refund, who will try to get back on track after a subpar showing last out at Churchill. Also in the fold is Cool Bullet, who failed to take to turf in the Bonapaw.

Due Date followed up nicely on a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Woodford at Keeneland in October and a troubled sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint about a month later. The BC race was worth $1 million, but now Due Date, in the best form of his career, has as his best option $60,000 stakes races in New Orleans. Moreover, he may have to face BC Turf Sprint winner Chamberlain Bridge in the next one.

But unlike Chamberlain Bridge, Due Date is not a candidate to travel to Dubai for the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint. That race is at five furlongs, and thus too short for Due Date.

“Five-and-half to six [furlongs] is best for him,” Margolis said.

Margolis said he also believes Cash Refund can rebound to factor in the local dirt-sprint division. Cash Refund was in tough making his comeback from a layoff in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and, Margolis said, did not handle the wet Churchill surface in a subsequent allowance race loss.

“He was slipping and sliding all over the place that day,” said Margolis.

Margolis, meanwhile, had to scratch morning-line favorite Cheyann Belief from Saturday’s Sugar Bowl Stakes after the horse was diagnosed with a chipped knee. Cheyann Belief, a winner in his first two starts, was scheduled to have surgery to repair the injury Monday, and will be out of action for several months.

Archarcharch will stretch out for Smarty Jones

Archarcharch finished a troubled second in his career debut going seven furlongs at Churchill, and cleared the maiden ranks Saturday at Fair Grounds in the six-furlong Sugar Bowl Stakes, but trainer Jinks Fires said he believes he has a route horse on his hands, and will next try Archarcharch in the one-mile, $100,000 Smarty Jones Stakes on Jan. 17 at Oaklawn Park.

“I think [two turns] is going to be better for him,” said Fires, who reported that Archarcharch came out of his Sugar Bowl win well, and had shipped back to Fires’s base at Oaklawn Park in good order.

Archarcharch, unsurprisingly, is by Arch, who has sired plenty of horses with stamina, among them Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame. Archarcharch’s dam, Woodman’s Playmate, was a stakes-class runner who excelled in sprints, though the overall shape of Archarcharch’s pedigree suggests a horse who will at least stay middle distances.

Archarcharch, in fact, was doing his best work late in the Sugar Bowl, collaring pacesetting Joe Hollywood at about the sixteenth pole before drawing away late and galloping out well under Jon Court.

“Jon said he had a lot left in the tank,” Fires said.

◗ A four-win Sunday propelled Fair Grounds newcomer Anna Rose Napravnik into a tie atop the jockey standings with Richard Eramia. Both riders entered Monday’s action with 19 winners, two more than Jamie Theriot.