02/14/2007 12:00AM

Pair of possible spots for Proud Tower Too


ARCADIA, Calif. - Trainer Sal Gonzalez wants to start Proud Tower Too one more time before a scheduled start in the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai on March 31.

The winner of the 2006 Golden Shaheen, Proud Tower Too has started twice at the current Santa Anita meeting, placing in two stakes. The 5-year-old horse is likely to try for his first win of 2007 in Saturday's $150,000 San Carlos Handicap at seven furlongs.

But Gonzalez and owner Daniel Cardenas, who races as Tricar Stable, have not fully committed Proud Tower Too to the Grade 2 San Carlos. There is a chance that Proud Tower Too would start in Sunday's Sensational Star Handicap for California-breds, particularly if the forecast calls for wet weather that would force the race off the hillside turf course and onto the main track.

"I'm leaning toward the [San Carlos], and the owner is leaning toward the California-breds," Gonzalez said.

Last year, Proud Tower Too ran in the Sensational Star, which was run on a wet-fast main track because of inclement weather. It was his final start before being sent to Dubai for a race that turned out to be his last start of 2006.

Proud Tower Too was taken out of training last summer after being found to have a bone chip in an ankle. In two starts at this meeting, he has finished third in the Grade 3 El Conejo Stakes on Jan. 1 and second in the Sunshine Millions Sprint for California-breds and Florida-breds on Jan. 27.

In both races he was ridden by David Cohen, who will have the mount in the San Carlos.

"He needed the first race," Gonzalez said of the El Conejo. "Then in the second race, David rushed him out of the gate and used him a little too much in the first part. He came up a little empty.

"We're pretty happy with what he's done" this year, Gonzalez said. "I think he'll run good this weekend. He's galloping and he's sound."

Gonzalez is not the only trainer with lingering doubt about starting in the San Carlos.

Trainer Howard Zucker said he is likely to start Tontine Too, but admits to being something of a reluctant participant.

The San Carlos will be Tontine Too's stakes debut after four wins in his first five starts. Tontine Too is coming off a career-best performance in an optional claimer at six furlongs on Jan. 19.

"It would be hard not to run," Zucker said of Saturday's race. "If I had an overnight stakes or an extra condition to try, I'd do that."

Owned by Carl Grether, Tontine Too was purchased for $200,000 as a 2-year-old in training in 2005. He did not make his first start until April 2006 but reeled off three consecutive wins before finishing third in an allowance race at Hollywood Park last November, his first start after a five-month break.

The win on Jan. 19 left Zucker enthused.

"He's 2 for 2 on this track and he's training better than ever," Zucker said. "It's kind of his third race off a layoff."

The San Carlos is led by Latent Heat, the winner of the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs here in December. Latent Heat has not started since that race, following a plan that trainer Bobby Frankel set in late December.

Other probable starters are Majestic Stream, Northern Soldier, Publication, and Siren Lure, the winner of three graded stakes last spring and summer.

Big Cap possible for 'Mojave'

McCann's Mojave, the upset winner of the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 27, remains a candidate for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on March 3, according to owner-breeder Mike Willman.

But Willman cautioned that McCann's Mojave could skip the Big Cap to start in the $100,000 Tokyo City Handicap on March 31. The Grade 3 Tokyo City, formerly known as the San Bernardino Handicap, is run at 1 1/8 miles.

Tuesday at Golden Gate Fields, McCann's Mojave worked five furlongs in 1:00.40, the fastest of 14 recorded works at the distance. McCann's Mojave is trained by Steve Specht, who is based at Golden Gate.

"There are a lot of options," Willman said. "The mile and a quarter is a big question. He's worked twice since he ran. We've got a fit horse and we'll play it by ear."

The Big Cap is likely to have a large field led by defending champion Lava Man. Other probable starters are Arson Squad, Awesome Gem, Ball Four, Brother Derek, El Roblar, Majestic Stream, Molengao, and Spring at Last.

Majestic Stream, a stakes winner in New Mexico last year, is using the San Carlos as a prep to the Big Cap.

Spankey Come Home out sick

Spankey Come Home, a maiden who finished eighth in the $300,000 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds last Saturday, will be given "two or three weeks off" because of illness, said his trainer, Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said he regretted starting Spankey Come Home in the Risen Star after the colt showed signs of illness before the race.

"He got kind of sick," Gonzalez said. "We were going to scratch him, but we were already there. I don't think we should have run him."

Owned by Cardenas's Tricar Stables, Spankey Come Home finished first in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race on Jan. 21, but was disqualified and placed second for causing interference in early stretch.

In that race, one of the most dramatic in the opening weeks of the Santa Anita meeting, Spankey Come Home drifted out badly when the field entered the stretch, faded to fifth, and re-rallied to win by a head.

Gonzalez said he did not know when Spankey Come Home would be ready to return to racing.

Sweet Return has half-mile drill

Sweet Return, winner of the Thunder Road Handicap on Feb. 3, worked a half-mile on turf in 52.20 seconds on Wednesday, his first work since the stakes win. Trainer Ron McAnally stopped short of committing Sweet Return to the $300,000 Frank Kilroe Mile on March 3, a race that Sweet Return won in 2004 as a 4-year-old.

Charmo, last in the Thunder Road, worked a half-mile on turf in 49.60 seconds and will start in the Kilroe, trainer Julio Canani said.

Chinese Dragon, who was third in the 2006 Kilroe, worked three furlongs on turf in 38 seconds, launching a comeback from injury. Trainer Bob Hess is hoping to have Chinese Dragon back to racing in April.