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Rain forces parade of works
ARCADIA, Calif. - In an effort to stay one day ahead of an expected rainstorm, horsemen at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita worked more than 460 horses on Wednesday.
At Santa Anita, 315 horses worked out, including champions Action This Day and Azeri and the undefeated 3-year-old Lion Heart.
At Hollywood Park, there were 147 recorded workouts, including one by top 4-year-old Ten Most Wanted.
Action This Day, the champion 2-year-old male of 2003, worked six furlongs in 1:13.60. Fourth in the Sham Stakes on Feb. 8 in his 3-year-old debut, Action This Day will return in the $250,000 San Felipe Stakes on March 14.
"He's just getting better," trainer Richard Mandella said. "I'm very happy with him so far."
Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year and champion older female of 2002 and 2003, breezed a half-mile in 47.80 seconds. She was headed toward retirement last fall because of a tendon injury, but owner Michael Paulson brought her back into training in late December with D. Wayne Lukas. Laura de Seroux trained Azeri during her championship campaigns.
Lion Heart worked six furlongs in 1:12.80 from the gate under jockey Mike Smith. Lion Heart worked in company with a stablemate.
Unbeaten in three starts, Lion Heart has not raced since winning the Hollywood Futurity in late December - the last time that Smith was aboard the colt before Wednesday's workout.
Smith said he was impressed with the way Lion Heart relaxed during the workout.
"He's really matured," Smith said. "If someone wants to go real fast, I don't think he has to be there."
Trainer Patrick Biancone said the presence of Smith was a reminder to the colt that racing is not far off.
"It was good to let him know that there is business coming," he said.
Lion Heart will start in the one-mile San Rafael Stakes on March 6.
The fastest six-furlong workout of the day was in 1:12.60 by Pomeroy, a 3-year-old trained by Biancone.
Pomeroy will start in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct or the Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park on March 20, Biancone said. He has not started since finishing first, then being disqualified and placed third, in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile last September.
"We call him the shadow, because he's in the shadow of the other one," Biancone said. "But the shadow is not far behind."
Ten Most Wanted breezed a half-mile in 49 seconds at Hollywood Park. Trained by Wally Dollase, Ten Most Wanted will make his 4-year-old debut in Sunday's $500,000 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds.
The larger-than-normal number of workouts led to a near-procession of workers at times, with horses breaking off solo and in teams of two for several minutes after the 9:15 a.m. renovation at Santa Anita.
Rain was expected in Southern California by midday Wednesday and was supposed to continue through Thursday.
Weekend stakes could be rained onto dirt
The weather could affect the two weekend stakes, the Baldwin and La Habra for 3-year-olds over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course.
Both races could be run at 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track if officials deem that the dirt crossing separating the hillside portion of the turf course from the main oval is too treacherous.
Saturday's Baldwin Stakes will include Don'tsellmeshort, a winner of three stakes for California-breds. Trainer Dan Hendricks was considering the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Saturday but said it was difficult to justify a trip to Arkansas for a $100,000 purse.
"You don't ship for $100,000 unless you're 4-5 in a six- or seven-horse field," he said. "If you get third money, you're losing money. He might love the grass. Who knows? It'd be a nice thing to find out if he does."
Turf course has been used sparingly
The recent rain has led to limited use of the turf course in the past week; one turf race is scheduled for Friday. The turf course was used once on Feb. 20 and Feb. 21, then was not used from Sunday through Thursday.
Friday's turf race is a one-mile starter allowance that drew 10 entrants.
Leif Dickinson, the turf course superintendent at Santa Anita, said the break has benefited the course and led to a reseeding project.
The break has given Dickinson and his staff time to replace divots on the oval using plugs of grass from the outside of the hillside turf course.
Still sore, Krone postpones her return
Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone has pushed back her return to riding, citing the lingering effects of a spill at Hollywood Park in December.
Krone suffered two fractured ribs in a two-horse spill on Dec. 12 and returned to ride for one day at Santa Anita, Feb. 11.
She took off her mounts the following day, citing lingering soreness. On Wednesday, she said she is uncertain about a comeback date.
"I'm going to focus on getting healthy first, without putting any time frame on it," she said. "I just came back too soon."
Krone said she will undergo further medical tests this week.
Krone is not expected to ride Halfbridled when the champion 2-year-old filly makes her return in the Santa Anita Oaks on March 13.
Mandella said Wednesday that he has not found a substitute jockey, but he said Krone will retain the mount when she returns.
Track conditions lead big names to scratch
Wednesday's seventh race, a 6 1/2-furlong allowance, was weakened by the scratches of Bull Market and Terrell early in the day.
Both were withdrawn because of track conditions, according to track stewards. Midafternoon was scratched because of illness, leaving seven runners.
Bull Market has not started since finishing fourth in the 2002 Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Arlington Park. Terrell was the impressive winner of a maiden race on Jan. 31. He was withdrawn by trainer Eoin Harty after the main track was sealed before the races.
"I'd rather run on a muddy track than a sealed track," Harty said. "I thought it was in the horse's best interest."
Track superintendent Steve Wood sealed the track with heavy equipment after Wednesday's workouts and later reopened the 25 feet closest to the inside rail.
"Steve is in a tough spot," Harty said. "He can't just worry about the track today, but the rest of the week."