04/23/2007 11:00PM

Mitchell has 'em going short and long

Email

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Sure, Mike Mitchell can train an older horse like On the Acorn to win a Grade 2 turf race like the San Juan Capistrano at 1 3/4 miles. But can Mitchell train a 2-year-old to win first out at 4 1/2 furlongs? That is the question Thursday in race 2, the first juvenile race of the meet, in which Mitchell entered Magic Mike. Until two weeks ago, the 2-year-old was trained in Florida by Wesley Ward.

Magic Mike worked a half-mile under Martin Garcia in 47.60 seconds at Hollywood on April 17, but Mitchell said the work was not as good as it looks. Garcia was unimpressed and chose to ride a different horse Thursday in the $40,000 maiden claimer. "[Magic Mike] worked very green," Mitchell said. "I put blinkers on, galloped him, and he was much better. I'm going to run him in blinkers first time out. Usually, I don't do that."

Mitchell said Magic Mike, by the excellent debut sire Smooth Runner, "looks just like" his full brother Swedish Cowboy, a low-level claimer who won his career debut. Michael Baze rides Magic Mike. The horse that Garcia chose to ride, Kris the Red, will be one of the favorites. He is a Swiss Yodeler colt trained by Mike Harrington.

On the Acorn pointed to Jim Murray

On the Acorn came out of his San Juan victory in such good shape that Mitchell already has penciled in the $250,000 Jim Murray Handicap on May 12 for the gelding's next start. That is less than three weeks from the San Juan.

"He pulled up good, ate everything, and after a mile and three-quarters, I won't need to do anything with him," Mitchell said referring to a light training schedule the next three weeks.

The Grade 2 Jim Murray is named after the legendary Los Angeles Times sports columnist. On the Acorn is owned by a six-member partnership that includes former sportswriters Ross Newhan and Jack Disney, who is currently a Santa Anita publicist.

Two other Mitchell trainees are headed for stakes. Battle Won, runner-up in the Potrero Grande, will not run again until the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap on July 7. Sindy With an S required five stitches on her left hind after stepping on herself in an allowance win Saturday, but Mitchell said she will be fine for the Grade 3, seven-furlong Railbird Stakes on May 13. Sindy With an S earned a 98 Beyer Speed Figure winning the 6 1/2-furlong race on a glib track in 1:14.80.

Brazilian import makes U.S. debut

Right Special, who won two Group 3 races in Brazil, makes his U.S. debut Thursday. Trainer Paulo Lobo hopes his U.S. career starts better than in South America, where he lost his first seven starts before getting it together.

"They told me they changed his bridle, and then they changed his running and took him back and made one run," Lobo said.

New equipment and strategy allowed Right Special to win 3 of his next 4.

But when Right Special starts Thursday in race 3, an allowance at 1 1/16 miles on turf, Lobo said the dynamics of the race work against him.

"There's no pace and he's a horse that comes from behind, so that's a problem," Lobo said.

Two other problems are trainers Neil Drysdale and Bobby Frankel, who each start two. Drysdale entered Macduff and Fantastic Spain; Frankel entered possible pacesetter Dealer Choice and Profido.

Great Opinions favored in allowance

Cushion Track specialist Great Opinions, trained by Ben Cecil, is the horse to beat Thursday in race 1, a second-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles. Five fillies and mares entered, and after a better-than-looked prep on turf, Great Opinions returns to the surface where last fall she had a win and a third. Cecil said she is training very well, and he expects the Rahy mare to reproduce her top form.

Meanwhile, Grade 1-placed Quiet Kim might need a start.

"I wish I had two more weeks, but she's a crazy-good work horse," trainer Bob Hess said.

Quiet Kim finished second to Balance in the 2006 Santa Anita Oaks, but her late-season campaign stalled because of ankle issues.

"She'll be better this year," Hess said.

Three others were entered: Musical Echo, Forest Huntress, and Bosset.

Buzzards Bay set for LeRoy Handicap

The first Saturday in May is the comeback date for 2005 Santa Anita Derby winner Buzzards Bay. Trainer Ron Ellis believes the 5-year-old will return much improved. The Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap on May 5 at Hollywood will be his first start since last June. Buzzards Bay "has really matured, and he's much sounder," Ellis said.

Ellis said Buzzards Bay will target the three-race handicap series at Hollywood, including the Grade 2 Californian on June 2 and Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup on June 30. Buzzards Bay, fifth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, won 2 of 4 last year, including the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap by more than six lengths. An ankle flared up in summer, and Ellis and owner Gary Broad backed off to point him for a 5-year-old campaign.

Buzzards Bay will face racing-fit Molengao, who won the Grade 2 San Antonio prior to a runner-up finish in the Santa Anita Handicap.

The field for the Mervyn LeRoy also may include a turf horse. Trainer Julio Canani said Porto Santo will be nominated to the 1 1/16-mile race. But will Porto Santo handle Cushion Track? In his initial work on the new track last fall, Porto Santo went a half in 46.60, fastest of 49 works.

Willow O Wisp favored in Inglewood

Chinese Dragon is the 118-pound topweight for the Grade 3 Inglewood Handicap on Saturday, but he will run Saturday at Golden Gate Fields in the Grade 2, $300,000 San Francisco Mile. That leaves Hollywood horse-for-course Willow O Wisp as the likely favorite for the 1 1/16-mile Inglewood.

Willow O Wisp, third in his April 7 comeback, was nominated to the San Francisco Mile, but trainer Vladimir Cerin prefers to keep him home. Willow O Wisp has won 3 of 5 on the Hollywood turf. Cerin is planning to send Willow O Wisp to the Grade 1 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile on May 28 next.

"This gives me four weeks to the Shoemaker," Cerin said.

The field for the $100,000 Inglewood is expected to include Willow O Wisp, Get Funky, and Red Fort, 117 pounds each; Railroad and Stormin Away at 116; and After Market at 115.

Five entered in Henson Stakes

A field of five was entered for the $75,000 Harry Henson Stakes on Friday night. The six-furlong turf race goes as race 3. From the rail out, the field comprises Vaunt, Candy's Bro, Hurry Home Warren, Bitter Bill, and Prime Ruler. First post Friday is 7:05 Pacific.