01/15/2008 12:00AM

Ravel likely to leave California


ARCADIA, Calif. - Final times have been lightning fast on the sand-based Santa Anita Cushion Track, a surface that well-regarded Ravel is not likely to race over again.

Following Ravel's fourth-place finish as the 3-1 second choice Saturday in the Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes, trainer Todd Pletcher said Ravel does not care for the surface and probably will ship out.

"Unless what they do to the track makes a big difference, we'll probably look to run him somewhere else," Pletcher said, referring to work on the track to solve drainage problems. "We're just not convinced he cares for the surface the way it is right now. Garrett [Gomez] said when he tried to quicken, the ground was slipping away from him."

Ravel finished fourth by 2 1/2 lengths on a track that produced three records over the weekend. Grade 2 Santa Ynez winner Indian Blessing raced seven furlongs Sunday in a track record 1:19.89. Two records were set Saturday - El Gato Malo raced one mile in 1:33.37 in the Grade 3 San Rafael; Zappa raced 1 1/16 miles in 1:39.58 in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Handicap.

Pletcher said Ravel would be nominated to the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 1, and the Gradeo2 New Orleans Handicap on March 8 at Fair Grounds.

Meanwhile, plans are undetermined for the promising 3-year-old Talk of a Cat, who finished fifth after a wicked pace battle in the San Rafael.

Racing two turns for the first time, Talk of a Cat pressed a half-mile in 44.34 seconds and was already backing up when pacesetter Massive Drama clocked six furlongs in 1:07.90.

"Obviously, that's not the way to stretch a horse out," Pletcher said. "He didn't settle well, so we'll just go back to the drawing board."

A similar plan is in store for Meal Penalty, who will shorten from 1 1/16 miles to 6 1/2 furlongs Sunday in the $75,000 San Pedro Stakes for 3-year-olds.

Meal Penalty finished eighth in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park.

"He was pretty rank in the Hollywood Futurity, and he started way on the outside," Pletcher said. "I don't think he ran as bad as it looks. He won twice sprinting, so we'll back up and start from there."

The Pletcher-trained Monba, a closing fourth in the Futurity, has shipped to Florida and will aim for the Fountain of Youth Stakes Feb. 24 at Gulfstream.

Turn Away appears okay

Turn Away, who was eased at odds of 3-5 Sunday in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel for 3-year-old fillies, was not seriously injured, trainer Bobby Frankel said.

"We're going to put her through a nuclear scan to make sure everything is okay, but it's nothing serious," he said.

Turn Away took a "real bad step" on the backstretch, according to Frankel, before Rafael Bejarano eased her.

Meanwhile, Frankel said his top 3-year-old filly Country Star remains on target for her 2008 debut. Frankel said Sunday she would make her first start of the year Feb. 9 in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes, pending Frankel's satisfaction with the Santa Anita racing surface.

Molengao due for bloodwork

Has old age caught up with 7-year-old Molengao? Trainer Paulo Lobo hopes to learn the answer after blood tests this week. Molengao finished seventh and last in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Handicap on Saturday, his first start since June.

"He was dull in the race; I don't know if he didn't like this hard track," Lobo said. "He was training very well, and was happy, so we're going to run some blood tests on him."

A lightly raced import from South America, Molengao has won 5 of 17.

Backup ticket hits jackpot

The $607,518.60 winning pick six on Sunday at Santa Anita was a $400 backup ticket sold to a regular customer of Surfside Race Place, the satellite wagering facility at Del Mar. Officials at Santa Anita confirmed that the ticket was purchased Sunday, cashed on Monday, and was a backup to a larger $2,160 ticket. The bettor's identity was not disclosed.

The winning ticket used three singles, and was structured 5 x 8 x 1 x 1 x 5 x 1. The winning singles were second-time starter On the Virg ($12.80) in race 8, El Encino Stakes winner Zenyatta ($4.40) in race 9, and maiden dropper Army Officer ($14.60) in race 11. The other winners were firster Charm N Chuck ($13.40) in race 6, shipper Heathersdaddysbaby ($39.40), and front-runner Silver Moonshine ($41) in race 10.

Monashee earns one more start

Monashee may have temporarily postponed retirement with a front-running victory Monday in the $80,200 Paseana Handicap. A 6-year-old gray mare, Monashee ($9) raced wire to wire under Mike Smith in the 1 1/16-mile race for her 18th win from 24 career starts, including an 11-race win streak from summer 2006 through fall 2007. Owned by Ole Nielsen, the western Canadian-based Monashee was racing for the first time in Southern California.

"Down here, she would not have won 11 in a row, but she would have been competitive and they would have known she was here," Nielsen said.

Monashee, named after a mountain range in British Columbia, is booked to be bred this spring to Hard Spun.

Nielsen said Monashee will remain at Santa Anita, and would be considered for one final start before shipping to Kentucky. Monashee earned an 86 Beyer Speed Figure with her half-length win over Sweet Belle.

Johnny Eves will return to sprinting

San Fernando Stakes runner-up Johnny Eves will return to a sprint rather than the third and final leg of the Strub series, trainer Jay Robbins said Tuesday. Johnny Eves won the Grade 1, seven-furlong Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26 but could not quite carry his speed Saturday in the 1 1/16-mile San Fernando, which he lost by a nose to Air Commander.

Robbins said 1 1/8 miles, the distance of the Grade 2 Strub Stakes on Feb. 2, is "probably too much to ask of him right now. I might run him back in the San Carlos."

The Grade 2, seven-furlong San Carlos will be run Feb. 16.

Izarra's poor effort baffles McAnally

Izarra was no worse for wear after finishing last of five Sunday in the Grade 2, seven-furlong Santa Ynez Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Two days after the comeback attempt, trainer Ron McAnally was still puzzled.

"It's a mystery to us," McAnally said. "She had a fast pace, and she has run on this track before, and run good races."

In the Santa Ynez, won by Indian Blessing, Izarra pulled early chasing the pace, then retreated in the stretch and finished last by 17 lengths. McAnally said he "had a couple things in mind" that might turn her around, but declined to be specific.