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Mr Napper Tandy takes a shot
ARCADIA, Calif. - Mr Napper Tandy has developed a reputation as a troublemaker at trainer Jack Carava's stable. Second in two turf stakes at Santa Anita this winter, Mr Napper Tandy might have won one of those races with a little luck.
"He creates his own trouble," Carava said. "He doesn't like horses a lot. He gets a little mean and he can lay on horses."
If Mr Napper Tandy can stay out of trouble, Carava is hoping he can pull an upset in Saturday's $300,000 Frank Kilroe Mile, a Grade 1 race on turf.
"I think he can improve off his last two races," Carava said. "He's a good horse. Whether he's up to this or not, I think he will be eventually. He has the potential to be this kind of horse."
Owned by La Canada Stables, Mr Napper Tandy was beaten a length by Santa Anita Handicap hopeful Monterey Jazz in the Grade 3 Sir Beaufort Stakes on Dec. 26.
"He had trouble in the lane," Carava said.
Mr Napper Tandy returned to finish second to Storm Military in the Thunder Road Handicap on Feb. 2. Carava wished that race had been run a week later, because wet weather disrupted training in Southern California in January and led to the cancellation of several days of training on the main track.
"His training was really compromised," Carava said. "Not that everyone else's wasn't, but I missed a lot of training. I think he'll forward with that race."
Mr Napper Tandy will have a better class of horse to roughhouse with in the Kilroe Mile. The race drew only seven entrants, but includes Out of Control, unraced since winning the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile last October; War Monger, the winner of the Sunshine Millions Turf on Jan. 26; Artiste Royale, the winner of the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch Turf Championship last October; and Storm Military.
Mr Napper Tandy was stakes placed in England and Ireland last year and has won 2 of 10 starts, with a remarkable seven second-place finishes.
Carava could use a big-race winner. He won his third race of the meeting Wednesday with his 53rd starter, Belly Button Dawn ($8.40), who took the first race.
"It's not totally unexpected," he said of his slow patch. "I didn't do that much during that time off. I've had a few that ran a little worse than anticipated. It will come around. I've got a lot of healthy horses."
All-stakes pick three Saturday
The Kilroe Mile is part of an 11-race program that includes a rare all-stakes pick three in the seventh through ninth races - the $200,000 Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds, the Kilroe Mile, and the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap.
The program, which begins at noon, also includes the $90,000 China Doll Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over a mile on turf. The track has guaranteed that the pick-six pool will reach $1 million.
After suffering through weeks of modest programs comprising mostly maiden claimers and low-priced claimers, bettors get a reprieve Saturday. Aside from the four stakes, the program includes three maiden special weight races, two optional claimers, an allowance race, and a starter-allowance race.
Tiz Elemental eyes Las Flores
Tiz Elemental, the winner of the Honest Lady Stakes for female sprinters in her 2008 debut last Sunday, will reappear in the $150,000 Las Flores Handicap over 6 1/2 furlongs on April 6, trainer Carla Gaines said.
"We know she can run that distance and we know she likes this track," Gaines said.
Owned by breeder Warren Williamson, Tiz Elemental, 4, rallied from seventh in a field of eight in the Honest Lady to win by three-quarters of a length over Glorified.
Gaines had considered starting Tiz Elemental in a two-turn race in her next start, but has put off those plans until later in the spring.
Tiz Elemental has won 4 of 6 starts and $303,260. She was sidelined last April after suffering a bone chip in a knee.
Last year, she won the Melair Stakes for 3-year-old statebred fillies over 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood Park.
Zada Belle back from long layoff
Nearly 17 months after she won her debut by nine lengths, Zada Belle makes the second start of her career in an optional claimer over six furlongs in Friday's second race.
Owned by Darley Stable, who purchased her privately after her maiden win, Zada Belle makes her first start for trainer Eoin Harty. Zada Belle has been with Harty since last fall. She spent the last part of 2006 and most of 2007 in Dubai, Harty said, but never started. Zada Belle was purchased a few weeks after her debut from William Peeples and trainer Adam Kitchingman.
Harty entered Zada Belle earlier this month, but scratched her after he became concerned about condition of the track.
"I had her entered but it was a day when we didn't know what kind of track we were getting," Harty said. "I think she's pretty tight now. She has a big reputation."
Zada Belle led throughout her maiden win and may not have much company Friday. She is the only entrant that had the lead in her last start.
Zada Belle has shown some fast works for her return. She has only four opponents, none of whom ran well in their last start. None in the race have started this year.
Mood Winner, won consecutive starts on turf at Hollywood Park last summer - a maiden race and an optional claimer for California-breds - but has not started since finishing sixth in an optional claimer at Del Mar last August.
Monzante skips Big Cap
Monzante, third in the Grade 2 Strub Stakes on Feb. 2, was not entered in Saturday's $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on Wednesday after trainer Mike Mitchell assessed the race as "too tough."
He may not have had a chance to start in any case. Monzante needed a defection to earn a berth in the 14-horse field. He was given a 113-pound weight assignment, equal to Seminole Native at the bottom of the handicap, but would have lost a tiebreaker with that horse based on earnings in 2007-08.
Instead of the Big Cap, Mitchell is considering the $75,000 Santana Mile on March 8 for Monzante, who has won 2 of 9 starts and $102,020.
"I don't think he's ready to meet those horses yet," Mitchell said. "I will run against them eventually."
Indian Blessing, Midnight Lute work
Indian Blessing, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2007 who is unbeaten in five starts, worked seven furlongs in 1:25.60 under Garrett Gomez at Santa Anita on Wednesday. Trained by Bob Baffert for owner-breeders Hal and Patti Earnhardt, Indian Blessing is being pointed for the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks on March 8.
Midnight Lute, champion sprinter of 2007, worked a half-mile in 47.60 seconds, the fastest of 32 recorded works at the distance. Trained by Baffert, Midnight Lute is expected to make his 2008 debut in the $300,000 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct on April 5.