01/27/2009 1:00AM

Pulled muscle sidelines Colonel John

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ARCADIA, Calif. - One year after a well-executed 3-year-old campaign led to victory in the Santa Anita Derby, Colonel John is having a hard time getting started as a 4-year-old.

Colonel John pulled a muscle finishing fourth in Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26, and the setback has knocked him out of the top races of the Santa Anita winter meet, including the Grade 2, $250,000 Strub on Feb. 7. Trainer Eoin Harty said Colonel John pulled a muscle "high on the right side of his hind end" in the Malibu.

"He's over it now, but it came at a bad time," Harty said.

Colonel John worked a half-mile on Jan. 11, which was two weeks after the Malibu, but Harty could see that a jammed training schedule was not in his best interest.

"If I ran him in the Strub, it would be off two works," Harty said. "I didn't want to rush him, play catch-up, and get beat. I worked him once, and then just backed off. It's a long year, and he'll be a helluva horse by the end of the year."

Colonel John has won 5 races and more than $1.5 million from 11 starts for owner-breeder WinStar Farm, including Grade 1 wins in the Santa Anita Derby and Travers Stakes. Harty did not have a timetable for his return.

The defection of Colonel John means Garrett Gomez will ride Gio Ponti, the possible Strub favorite. The 1 1/8-mile Strub for 4-year-olds is one of four graded stakes that will be run Feb. 7 at Santa Anita. Other possible starters for the Strub include Dixie Chatter, Nownownow, Blue Exit, and Dakota Phone.

Stardom Bound eyes Las Virgenes

Stardom Bound will get top billing Feb. 7 at Santa Anita, when she makes her first start of the season in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes.

"I couldn't ask for her to be doing any better," trainer Bobby Frankel said. "She's fit and worked really nice."

Stardom Bound worked six furlongs in 1:12 on Sunday.

However, the one-mile Las Virgenes will not be a pushover for the 2008 champion 2-year-old filly. Possible runners include stakes winners Saucey Evening and Navigator, Grade 1-placed Wynning Ride, the improving Dynaformer filly Haka, and Grade 2 sprint winner Alpha Kitten.

Frankel sends pair in Santa Monica

Ventura will tower over the field Saturday when she makes her 2009 debut in the Grade 1, seven-furlong Santa Monica Handicap. Despite the dominance of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner, she will have a back-up from the same stable.

"I'm running two," Frankel said.

His second starter is no slouch. Jibboom is a Grade 2 winner on Polytrack at Keeneland and Grade 3 winner on the Santa Anita turf. "It's either run [Jibboom] here, or run against Visit in the Santa Maria," Frankel said, referring to the Grade 1 race at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 14 in which Visit will make her first start on Pro-Ride.

Jibboom was assigned 115 pounds, eight less than 123-pound topweight Ventura. Both are owned by Juddmonte Farms. Jibboom benefits from a recent start - she won the Monrovia Handicap on Jan. 3 - but Frankel is confident Ventura will fire first start back.

"Even if she runs six lengths slower than she did in the Breeders' Cup, she still should win," he said.

A field of six is taking shape for the Santa Monica. With riders and weights, this is the expected lineup: Ventura, Gomez, 123; Jibboom, Rafael Bejarano, 115; Baroness Thatcher, Joe Talamo, 115; Wake up Maggie, Tyler Baze, 115; She's Cheeky, Alex Solis, 113; and So Long Sonoma, Mike Smith, 112. Indian Blessing is not expected to start.

Spenditallbaby scheduled for surgery

Spenditallbaby, the stakes-winning mare who suffered a career-ending injury Saturday at Santa Anita in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff, is scheduled for surgery Friday to fuse her right front ankle. Spenditallbaby fractured both sesamoids and was pulled up on the clubhouse turn of the Distaff.

Trainer Barry Abrams said Tuesday that early results are encouraging.

"So far, so good," Abrams said. "She has good circulation to her foot."

Surgery will be performed by Dr. Joe Morgan.

"She has a very, very bad injury," Morgan said. "It's not the same severity as Barbaro, but it will be at least four months before we're out of the woods."

Barbaro fractured his right rear leg, developed laminitis in other legs, and was euthanized Jan. 29, 2007, more than eight months after he was injured.

"If [Spenditallbaby] can survive four months, she can be a broodmare," Abrams said.

Spenditallbaby won 5 races and $469,173 from 32 starts and won under a variety of conditions. She won on turf at Del Mar, Golden Gate, and Hollywood Park; and she also won on synthetic surfaces at Del Mar and Hollywood.

Kyniska uninjured in Tuzla

Kyniska, the Frankel trainee who was pulled up and vanned off the turf course Sunday after finishing seventh in the Grade 3 Tuzla Handicap, checked out fine and will return to training. "We can't find anything wrong with her," Frankel said. "He [jockey Jose Valdivia] said she took a bad step."

Frankel said Tuesday that Kyniska "was fine" and that a specific injury normally "would have shown up by now." Kyniska, who was Group 3-placed in Europe, has won 3 of 8, including first- and second-level allowance races in California.

* The Pamplemousse, dominating winner of the Grade 3 San Rafael Stakes on Jan. 17, was scheduled for his first post-race workout Wednesday morning. Trainer Julio Canani said The Pamplemousse would work three furlongs; he makes his next start Feb. 28 in the Grade 3 Sham at 1 1/8 miles.

* Society Hostess makes the final start of her career Saturday in the $70,000 Wishing Well Handicap, a 6 1/2-furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares. Trained by Chris Clemente, Society Hostess has won 8 races and $424,940 from 21 starts.