03/01/2009 12:00AM

The Pamplemousse cruises in Sham


ARCADIA, Calif. - In the weeks leading up to the Grade 3, $200,000 Sham Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita, The Pamplemousse trained like he was about to do something special, and he ran to his works, romping to an easy six-length victory over the invading Take the Points.

The Pamplemousse ($3), the heavy favorite, led every step of the 1 1/8 miles under jockey Alex Solis. He set fractions of 23.08 seconds, 46.51 seconds, 1:10.29, and 1:35.09 through one mile en route to a final time of 1:47.86 on Pro-Ride.

Take the Points, chasing from the three path throughout after breaking from the outside post in the field of 10 3-year-olds, held on for second, 1 3/4 lengths in front of the fast-closing Mr. Hot Stuff.

"I've never been on a horse like this, and I've been on some good ones," said Solis, who has ridden the likes of Snow Chief and Kona Gold over the years. "The way he had been training, I expected something like this."

Julio Canani, who trains The Pamplemousse, said the colt would make his next start in the Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 4. That would give The Pamplemousse five weeks until that race, and another four until the Kentucky Derby on May 2 at Churchill Downs.

The Pamplemousse, a son of Kafwain, lost his first two starts sprinting but has now won three straight since stretching out around two turns. He defeated maidens at Hollywood Park on Dec. 14, then won the one-mile San Rafael Stakes here on Jan. 17.

The Pamplemousse is owned by a partnership that includes Solis's son, Alex Jr., as well as brothers Jeff and Bill Strauss, Tom Lenner, David Bienstock, and Chuck Winner.

* Earlier in the day, Medzendeekron ($9), racing for the fourth time at this meet and the fifth time this calendar year, rallied to take the $100,000 Crystal Water Handicap for older California-breds. Garrett Gomez scored his fourth win of the day on Medzendeekron, who is trained by Barry Abrams for a partnership that includes Abrams's brother, David. Medzendeekron, 6, was timed in 1:34.35 for one mile on firm turf.