03/09/2017 3:00PM

Masochistic will be tough to catch in Triple Bend

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Barbara D. Livingston
Masochistic, shown training on March 3, will make his first start since November in the seven-furlong Triple Bend...

ARCADIA, Calif. – The speedy Masochistic will be everyone’s target in Saturday’s Grade 1 Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita.

A three-time graded stakes winner in sprints, Masochistic is almost certain to set the pace in the $400,000 Triple Bend at seven furlongs.

“There’s no speed like his speed,” trainer Ron Ellis said.

Catching him could be difficult for capable runners such as Kobe’s Back, who won two Grade 2 sprints here last year, or Point Piper, who won the Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs last year and will have his first start in a sprint in his 30th career start.

The field also includes Denman’s Call, who was a fast-closing third in an optional claimer at six furlongs on Feb. 17 after a troubled start, and Silent Bird, who has won his last five starts since early 2016. Conquest Cobra and Nowalking will be longshots.

On Thursday, trainer Mark Glatt said he was unsure whether Silent Bird would start or be pointed for another race.

“We’ll see how he does the next couple of days and make a decision,” Glatt said.

Triple Bend, Race 8

KEY CONTENDERS

Masochistic, by Sought After

Last 3 Beyers: 100-110-107

◗ Masochistic has not raced since finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint here last November. He was later disqualified from the purse for testing positive for the steroid stanozolol, leading to the forfeiture of $255,000.

◗ Owned by Samantha Siegel and Will Shamlian, Masochistic won the 2015 Triple Bend. Last year, he won two of three starts, including the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien Stakes at seven furlongs at Del Mar in August against two rivals. Masochistic led throughout the Pat O’Brien.

◗ Ellis said this week that he was impressed by Masochistic’s six-furlong workout in 1:10.60 from the gate Feb. 13. Mike Smith has the mount on Masochistic, the fourth time he has ridden the 7-year-old gelding. Ellis expects Smith to reserve some of Masochistic’s speed.

“Mike gets him to relax really well,” he said.

Kobe’s Back, by Flatter

Last 3 Beyers: 95-101-98

◗ Kobe’s Back was third to Lord Nelson in the Triple Bend last June, his most recent start. He was turned out later in the summer because of “body soreness,” trainer Peter Eurton said at the time.

◗ Eurton hoped to start Kobe’s Back earlier this year but said a wet winter delayed the 6-year-old’s comeback.

“I think we have him close to 100 percent,” Eurton said on Thursday.

◗ Kobe’s Back won the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes at seven furlongs here last March, closing from last in a field of eight to win by 1 1/4 lengths. He could have a similar trip in the Triple Bend but may need a bit of luck to pass Masochistic and the others in the stretch.

“I hope he catches them all,” Eurton said. “You need them to close, but you need the ones in front to come back.”

Silent Bird, by Summer Bird

Last 3 Beyers: 97-97-94

◗ If he starts, Silent Bird figures to play a role from off the pace. He improved steadily through 2016 for Glatt, as evidenced by a win in the minor Damascus Stakes at seven furlongs here last November on Breeders’ Cup weekend.