01/15/2009 12:00AM

Pro-Ride pedigrees and surviving ShowVivor


ARCADIA, Calif. - Time to clean out the handicapping notebook again, with stuff like this . . .

* Perhaps you noticed that the "bred-for-turf" angle has returned as a viable handicapping factor on Pro-Ride at Santa Anita. First-time starter Miss Silver Brook (by Cozzene) ran super in her winning debut Jan. 11 on the main track; two races later, Haka (by Dynaformer) finished a big second in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel.

* The Hollywood Derby for 3-year-olds in fall is historically a key race. Johar, Dare and Go, and Marlin ran in it, and later became top Grade 1-winning older horses. Seems the 2008 derby may follow suit - Cowboy Cal (second) and Gio Ponti (seventh) already have won stakes since; Muny (fifth) and Madeo (eighth) run Saturday; and Midships (third) runs Monday.

* And speaking of Johar, his first crop of runners are 3-year-olds, including Mark S the Cooler and San Rafael entrant Brother Keith. Neither can catch the biggest Johar-sired overlay. That was stretch-out He's Really Big ($57.40) in race 8 Wednesday. A $2 wager on all 92 Johar-sired starters would have returned a flat-bet profit of $25.40. Don't you love backdated wagering angles? They never fail.

* Mark S the Cooler switched to grass Jan. 10 and ran the race of his career by powering to a daylight maiden win. Will he stay on grass? Of course not. Turf horses do run well on Pro-Ride, and owner J. Paul Reddam is eager to prove it. So if Reddam-owned Square Eddie ships to a dirt track somewhere after winning the San Rafael on Saturday, then Mark S the Cooler can try Pro-Ride, probably in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis on Feb. 7.

* There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that Pioneerof the Nile is being trained for a sprint campaign. But it's an easy mistake to make, considering the Kentucky Derby prospect posted successive bullet workouts recently at Santa Anita - five furlongs in 57.60 seconds and 58.40. This is still January, right?

* The 3-year-old Jimmy Two Times is working well as he nears his debut for trainer Bill Spawr. The colt has an unusual background - he was born with two penises; one was surgically removed. Jimmy Two Times, sired by Cee's Tizzy, worked five furlongs Jan. 10 in a quick 59.40 seconds. No joke.

* Trainers that criticize synthetic surfaces need stronger material than D. Wayne Lukas, who was quoted in USA Today saying that synthetic surfaces will "cure the gamblers" because the surfaces are less predictable than dirt. That is like saying exorbitant yearling prices will "cure" buyers. Neither statement is true - once a gambler, always a gambler. The only question is how one plays the game.

* It sure was surprising this week to read in a Daily Racing Form headline, "Early Derby picture fuzzy." Gee whiz, the Derby is only four months from now. Time to panic!

* Yes, I will play the popular Santa Anita online contest ShowVivor that begins Saturday (pick a horse a day to hit the board at ), but will not use anything trained by a Canani. In two previous ShowVivor contests, I was knocked out by off-the-board finishes from Nick Canani-trained Hottodi (spring 2008), and Julio Canani-trained Renagade Ruby (fall 2008). My pick for Saturday is Slew's Tiznow. Real creative.

* The preceding paragraph is not a knock on Julio Canani, who started the meet 5 for 10, and whose improving 3-year-old The Pamplemousse is headed for bigger and better. But can he beat San Rafael entrant Square Eddie?

* It is great news for college football that the game's top quarterback (Tim Tebow) will return for his senior year at Florida. And I hope everyone caught the Jan. 8 hunch parlay. The colt Go Tebow Go ($10) won his debut at Tampa Bay Downs by more than eight; later that evening, quarterback Tebow led the Gators to a spread-covering 24-14 victory in the BCS championship.

* Did the best 3-year-old filly in the country run Jan. 12 at Fair Grounds? Probably not. But the 6 3/4-length allowance win by Auspicious was her second romp in two starts, and the Indian Charlie filly has emerged as one of the most exciting sprint fillies in the country.

* Speaking of 3-year-old fillies, it was good to hear that Churchill Downs finally wised up and reduced the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager from multiple pools to just one.

* As for the new Churchill Downs announcer Mark Johnson, he is a fine replacement for Luke Kruytbosch. But sooner or later, a major-league racetrack somewhere will hire the best young announcer in the country, Michael Wrona.

* Bob Black Jack's victory in the Malibu Stakes means 13 of the last 20 horses that led through six furlongs in the Kentucky Derby later won graded stakes. Those include subsequent Grade 1 winners Bob Black Jack, Hard Spun, Lion Heart, War Emblem, Hal's Hope, Serena's Song, Honour and Glory, and Sea Cadet. The preceding statistical nugget is courtesy of Churchill Downs publicist Darren Rogers.

* Look for a rider switch on the good allowance filly Moonshine Alice; she and Chantal Sutherland have had nothing but bad luck. They broke slowly Nov. 21 and finished second; they went too fast on the lead Wednesday in race 7 (fastest downhill fractions of the meet - 21.12 and 43.06 seconds), and finished second again.

* A new shooter from Europe can be added to horses-to-watch lists. The 4-year-old filly Bussell Up is nearing her U.S. debut for trainer Dan Hendricks, and the daughter of Danehill Dancer is training like she means business. Write it down - Bussell Up.

* Chocolate Candy is way overqualified for the non-graded $100,000 California Derby on Saturday at Golden Gate Fields. It makes you wonder if Chocolate Candy might not be as good as his third-place finish in the Hollywood CashCall Futurity looks. Stay tuned.