01/29/2008 12:00AM

Red-hot Trail Mix in dicey spot


ARCADIA, Calif. - A recent spate of cancellations has not compromised the veteran sprinter Trail Mix, who seeks his fourth straight win - and third of the meet - when racing resumes Thursday at Santa Anita.

"Luckily, his races have not been canceled," trainer Gary Stute said.

It might not have turned out this well, because when Stute claimed Trail Mix for $10,000 in October, his bowed tendon was public knowledge.

"I heard he had a tendon, but it's old and it's set," Stute said.

No problem. Trail Mix ran fifth in his initial start after the claim, then went on a roll for owners Black Diamond Racing and Daniel Martin. The 7-year-old gelding won for a $12,500 tag, dropped and won again for $10,000, then won again for $20,000.

Apparently, the tendon is no concern. "So far, it's not," Stute said, while admitting the California-bred optional claimer Thursday was not his first choice. Stute hoped to run Trail Mix in a $16,000 claimer Monday, but racing was canceled. "That took the decision out of it," Stute said.

It might not matter for Trail Mix, an 8-for-30 speedster whose half-mile fraction last time of 42.85 seconds was the fastest of the meet for 6 1/2 furlongs. In race 8 Thursday, Trail Mix will try to stretch his speed to seven furlongs. The distance "doesn't bother me at all, not the way he's been galloping out," Stute said.

Alonso Quinonez rides Trail Mix, who was entered for a $32,000 tag. If he gets beat, it might be due to a pace duel with Tribal Chief, who moves from inside to outside and will be breathing down Trail Mix's neck.

Stute has two other live starters Thursday, including La Swing, a claiming filly in race 4 dropping precipitously from $40,000 to $16,000 claiming.

"She's got some issues, but we're a little ahead on her," Stute said, referring to her earnings.

La Swing has made $26,280 in three starts since she was claimed for $16,000 last fall. She is the speed of the field, and should be long gone over Bold Cleo and late-runner Lucky Stab.

Stute starts Angel Eyed in race 2, a $32,000 filly claimer. She shed blinkers last time and won at 10-1. To win again, she must beat Kimmy'sklassylady, trained by Gary's father, Mel Stute.

"As long as it's [Mel] that beats me," Gary Stute said.

* In race 9, the Bob Baffert-trained Sangaree looks like a slam dunk stretching to a mile in a maiden race for 3-year-olds.