03/08/2017 2:50PM

Masochistic shifts attention to the track in Triple Bend

Barbara D. Livingston
Masochistic trains last week for his comeback in Saturday's Triple Bend Stakes.

ARCADIA, Calif. – In his 14-race career, Masochistic has won eight races, three graded stakes, and been disqualified from purse money twice for medication violations.

In November, Masochistic was second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita, but he was later disqualified because of a steroid positive. In January, the Breeders’ Cup announced that Masochistic is banned from any Breeders’ Cup race at Del Mar in November, as are all runners from trainer Ron Ellis’s stable.

Without a season-ending Breeders’ Cup race as a goal, Masochistic will have a different campaign in 2017 than he had last year, one that begins in Saturday’s Grade 1 Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita. Masochistic won the 2015 Triple Bend when the race was run in June, and Ellis is convinced that the 7-year-old gelding will run well in his first start since the BC Sprint.

“He’s pretty fit,” Ellis said on Wednesday. “He’s got a lot of work under his belt.”

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Owned by Samantha Siegel and Will Shamlian, Masochistic had only three starts last year, winning an optional claimer here in July and the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien Stakes at seven furlongs against two rivals at Del Mar last August.

The goals for 2017 have not been finalized, but the Grade 1 Metropolitan Mile Handicap at Belmont Park on June 10 is a possibility, Ellis said.

“The one-turn mile could be right up his alley,” Ellis said.

Masochistic’s owners forfeited $255,000 earned from the BC Sprint after the horse tested positive for the banned steroid stanozolol. The positive could lead to sanctions against Ellis, though no hearings on the matter have been conducted.

In his first start in 2014, when trained by A.C. Avila, Masochistic finished fifth and was disqualified from the purse money because of a positive for a common tranquilizer. He won his next three starts.

Masochistic joined Ellis’s stable in early 2015. The recent positive has brought added attention to Masochistic and Ellis as the gelding’s 2017 season begins.

“There is more pressure on me,” Ellis said.

For now, the focus is on having Masochistic back to the races, and on the $400,000 Triple Bend at seven furlongs.

“He’s shown what quality he is,” Ellis said. “For the rest of us, we’d like to see what he can do.”

The Triple Bend field is expected to include the multiple stakes winner Kobe’s Back as well as Conquest Cobra, Denman’s Call, and Point Piper.

There are three Grade 1 races on Saturday’s program, including the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap and the $400,000 Frank Kilroe Mile on turf.

The Kilroe Mile has a tough field of seven probable starters, all graded stakes winners – Bal a Bali, Bolo, Conquest Enforcer, Dortmund, Flamboyant, Ring Weekend, and What a View.

The Kilroe Mile will be the turf debut for Dortmund, who won the 2015 Santa Anita Derby and finished third in the Kentucky Derby that year.

Dortmund was transferred from trainer Bob Baffert to Art Sherman in January after Baffert and owner Kaleem Shah parted ways.

On Wednesday, Sherman said Dortmund will be ridden for the first time by Victor Espinoza. Martin Garcia, who rode Dortmund in the Santa Anita Derby and the Kentucky Derby, was expected to have the mount, but he did not work Dortmund at Los Alamitos last Sunday, choosing to stay at Santa Anita and work horses that morning for Baffert. As a result, Sherman said he has switched riders. Espinoza rode the Sherman-trained California Chrome, the Horse of the Year in 2014 and 2016.