02/04/2010 12:00AM

Patriotic Soldier to try open company


ARCADIA, Calif. - There are signs that Patriotic Soldier could become an important sprinter for trainer Bruce Headley.

The colt has won 2 of 5 starts, all against statebreds, and will be after his first win against open company in a $46,000 allowance race over seven furlongs at Santa Anita on Friday.

Owned by Bud and Judy Johnston, Patriotic Soldier returned from a layoff of more than four months to win an optional claimer against statebreds over 6 1/2 furlongs here on Jan. 8. Ridden by Mike Smith, who has the mount on Friday, Patriot Soldier rallied from fourth in a field of nine to win by a neck as the 3-1 favorite.

"I always have a plan," Headley said. "I want to go through conditions if I can. He looks like a nice, honest horse. Staying sound is a key."

Both of Patriotic Soldier's wins have come at Santa Anita - he won a maiden special weight race over 5 1/2 furlongs last March. The seven-furlong distance on Friday will be the longest race of Patriotic Soldier's brief career. Smith is likely to have the colt just behind the leaders, Tactful and Total Bull.

Tactful won a maiden race and an optional claimer for statebreds in sprints last year, but bombed in an allowance race over a mile on turf against open company on Dec. 26, his first start on the surface and first start around two turns.

"It was worth a shot, I guess," trainer Carla Gaines said.

Gaines said that Tactful will prefer a return to main-track sprints, but does not face an easy field on Friday.

"This is a tough race, no doubt," she said.

Total Bull, 5, is making his third start. Trained by Bob Baffert, he beat maidens at Hollywood Park in his career debut in November and was second to Jeranimo in an allowance race here on Jan. 13. In that race, Total Bull led to the final furlong and was beaten 2 1/4 lengths.

Friday's race will be the first start in more than nine months for Tribal Justice, the winner of the Grey Memo Stakes for statebreds last April. The colt has won 3 of 7 starts and will be a threat from off the pace.

"He needs a little help in front of him," trainer John Sadler said. "He's a late-running sprinter."