01/11/2008 1:00AM

Reopened Cushion Track gets mixed reviews


ARCADIA, Calif. - Opinions from horsemen on the condition of Santa Anita's Cushion Track synthetic surface varied widely on Friday, from a few jockeys who said the course was too hard to praise from trainers who said the course was in ideal condition.

Friday was the second day of racing following a three-day interruption last weekend. Racing was cancelled from Jan. 5-7 after the course failed to drain because of significant rainfall.

Jockey Garrett Gomez described the track as "useable" on Friday.

Gomez said that golf-ball sized rocks are present on the surface of the track, which has been brought to the attention of track management.

"We've let them know it's there," Gomez said. "Hopefully, they are figuring out what to do. This isn't the same track they had last fall.

"There are a lot of rocks coming up. We've got the outriders picking them up when they see them. It's hard underneath and cuppy on top."

Jockey Martin Garcia described the track "as too hard," while jockey Jon Court called the surface "slightly inconsistent."

Court, who worked several horses on Friday morning, said the track has a few soft areas, but said "it's not real dramatic. It's not like you run into a big deep spot."

While some jockeys are critical of the surface, there was considerable activity on Thursday and Friday mornings. There were 243 recorded works on the main track on Thursday and 186 on Friday.

"I think it's super," trainer Mike Machowsky said on Friday. "It's back to what it was before" the cancellation.

"I worked a bunch yesterday and they came back super. The horses are getting over it well."

Machowsky has had misfortune on the Cushion Track surface since it was installed last August. In September, the Machowsky-trained Drill Down, winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, broke down and was euthanized.

"I'd be the first to complain after Drill Down broke down, but it's been a good, safe surface unless it rains," he said. "I haven't had any shins, and that makes such a difference in getting a horse ready."

There were incidents of injury on Friday during the morning and afternoon. During morning training, an unraced maiden owned by Bud Johnston and trained by Don Warren was vanned off after suffering a hind leg injury. Johnston and Warren said the injury was not life-threatening and that X-rays were scheduled later in the day on Friday.

In the day's third race, Can This Be True suffered a severe leg injury in a sprint for $10,000 claimers. His condition was not immediately known.

Student Council waits, works, sizzles

On Friday, Student Council worked six furlongs for the $250,000 San Antonio Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 3.

Trainer Vladimir Cerin said he considered working Student Council earlier this week, but "we let [the track] go a couple of days to see how horses responded," he said Friday. "We worked a few yesterday and they came back well."

Student Council worked six furlongs in 1:11.40, which equaled the fastest of 21 recorded works at the distance. Student Council worked with King Palm, starting two lengths behind his stablemate before drawing even at the quarter pole. Cerin timed Student Council in 23.80 through the final quarter mile.

Owned by Ro Parra, Student Council won the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar last summer and finished eighth in the Japan Cup Dirt at Tokyo Racecourse in November. Cerin said that Student Council was treated in a hyperbaric chamber 10 times after the Japan race and "recovered very quickly."

"Normally, you wouldn't plan to run a horse so soon after a trans-oceanic race," he said.

Keeping up with Talamo

This is going to be a memorable month for jockey Joe Talamo.

On Wednesday evening, at a local par-3 golf course, he nailed his first hole-in-one.

On Thursday at Santa Anita, he rode three winners, his first wins of the meeting, ending a 28-race winless streak dating to the start of the meeting on Dec. 26.

On Saturday, he turned 18.

On Jan. 21, he is expected to win an Eclipse Award as the outstanding apprentice jockey of 2007.

For Talamo, the hole-in-one was fun, but the three wins on Thursday were much needed. He won the third race aboard Victory Pete ($6.80), the fourth on Angel Eyes ($22.40), and the sixth on Jambalaya Joy ($18.20).

"It all worked out," he said. "Slumps are part of this game. You have to keep a positive attitude."

Talamo said he gained some perspective on his rough start to the meeting after speaking with retired Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye.

"I talked with Eddie and he said that one time he went 84 mounts and didn't win a single race," Talamo said. "You can't get discouraged."

The hole-in-one was witnessed by jockey's agent, Brandon O'Bryan, and jockey Alonso Quinonez, who along with Talamo is a finalist for the Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice.

Talamo will be the first to admit he is not much of a golfer.

"I'm not very consistent," Talamo said. "It landed on the green, but it was dark. I couldn't see. I went up there and looked in the hole and there it was."

On Sunday, Talamo has seven rides on the 11-race program, including Izarra in the $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes. He rode Izarra in her first start, a win in a maiden race at Del Mar last summer, but was not aboard for her next three starts.

Leparoux moving to Fair Grounds

Julien Leparoux, who won the Eclipse Award as the outstanding apprentice jockey of 2005, is relocating to Fair Grounds in New Orleans next week, according to his agent, Steve Bass.

Through Thursday, Leparoux, 24, had won with 2 of 16 mounts at the Santa Anita meeting.

"We've had some people from New Orleans call us and ask us to ride a bunch of horses," Bass said.

Bass said that Leparoux will ride at Santa Anita on Monday and begin riding at Fair Grounds next Saturday. He said the absence of trainer Patrick Biancone, who is serving a suspension for a medication violation, hurt Leparoux's business in California. Leparoux has ridden frequently for Biancone since launching his career in the summer of 2005.

Mandella gets colt from France

Shediak, third in the Group 1 Gran Criterium in France in his most recent start last fall at age 2, has been purchased privately for Paul Boghossian's Triple B Farm and will join trainer Richard Mandella's barn next week, according to bloodstock agent Eugenio Colombo, who bought the colt for Boghossian.

Shediak, by Selkirk and a grandson of French Oaks winner winner Shemaka, was bred by the Aga Khan and raced three times last year for trainer Andre Fabre. He won his debut going seven furlongs at Deauville, then was second at Longchamp in the Group 2 Prix de la Rochette.

He was sent off the second choice in the Gran Criterium, but finished third after a rough trip.

Mandella also trains one of the leading West Coast-based 3-year-olds, CashCall Futurity winner Into Mischief, who is owned by B. Wayne Hughes.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman