02/13/2008 12:00AM

San Carlos start point for Greg's Gold


ARCADIA, Calif. - Greg's Gold won 4 of 10 starts and $566,995 in 2007, a campaign that left trainer David Hofmans somewhat unsatisfied.

Greg's Gold lost the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap by a nose and the Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes by three-quarters of a length in a troubled trip.

"He should have won both of those," Hofmans said.

This year, the goals for Greg's Gold are clear. With the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita in October, Hofmans wants Greg's Gold in top form in the fall. The campaign starts in the $150,000 San Carlos Handicap at Santa Anita on Saturday, a Grade 2 race over seven furlongs that should be an ample test.

The field of seven includes Johnny Eves, winner of the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes over seven furlongs here in December; the four-time stakes winner Surf Cat; and Circular Quay, winner of the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby last March.

Hofmans said that Greg's Gold is approaching the race in excellent condition. Greg's Gold has been based at Hollywood Park and has trained regularly there during a time when Santa Anita's synthetic main track was undergoing renovation in an attempt to solve a drainage problem.

"That's why I sent him over there," Hofmans said.

Greg's Gold may not travel outside of Southern California this year. Owned by Bill Boswell, Greg's Gold has won 3 of 6 starts on synthetic tracks and may stay on those surfaces through the year.

"That seems to help him a lot," Hofmans said. "He gets over these tracks easily."

Greg's Gold did win three stakes last year - the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien Handicap over seven furlongs at Del Mar in August and two stakes over 7 1/2 furlongs for statebreds at Hollywood Park - the Tiznow Stakes in April and On Trust Handicap in December.

The On Trust ended a three-race losing streak that included an eighth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint on a sloppy track at Monmouth Park in October.

Greg's Gold returned in February from a 22-month layoff caused by a bowed tendon suffered in 2005. He has 8 wins in 23 starts and earnings of $917,923.

"The tendon has been amazing," Hofmans said. "It's as good now as when he started back - no heat, no nothing."

Daytona eyes Dubai Duty Free

Daytona, the winner of four consecutive graded stakes in California and Louisiana, is being strongly considered for the $5 million Dubai Duty Free in the Middle East on March 29, trainer Dan Hendricks said Wednesday.

The 4-year-old colt was scheduled to return Wednesday from New Orleans, where he won the $150,000 Fair Grounds Handicap on Saturday. Last year, he won the Oak Tree Derby, Hollywood Derby, and San Gabriel Handicap in consecutive starts.

"How many times do you have a chance to run for $5 million?" Hendricks said. "We're talking about it."

The Dubai Duty Free, which typically attracts runners from Japan, Australia, Europe, Dubai, and the United States, is run over about 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Daytona is also being considered for the Frank Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita on March 1 and the Mervin Muniz Handicap at Fair Grounds on March 8, Hendricks said.

Colonel John works leisurely

Colonel John, winner of the Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood Park in November and a leading California-based 3-year-old, worked six furlongs in 1:17 on Wednesday at Santa Anita, a slow time that did not concern trainer Eoin Harty.

"I thought he looked good," Harty said.

Colonel John worked quickly in late January and early February, which left Harty comfortable with a slower workout Wednesday.

"He's been getting a little too racy," Harty said. "I'll go a mile next week and let him work a bit. There are still some questions about this track."

Santa Anita reopened its main track to training last Saturday after a five-day renovation.

Owned by WinStar Farm, Colonel John will make his 3-year-old debut in the $200,000 Sham Stakes over 1o1/8 miles at Santa Anita March 1.

Colina Verde targets stakes

Colina Verde, winner of an allowance race in her U.S. debut Monday, will make her next start in a stakes, possibly the Grade 2, $150,000 Santa Ana Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf on March 23.

Trainer Neil Drysdale stopped short of committing Colina Verde to the Santa Ana, but said she will return in a stakes.

Colina Verde won Monday's one-mile turf race by three-quarters of a length over Immortelle. The race had a unique twist. Colina Verde won the 2006 Brazilian Oaks, while Immortelle won the 2007 Brazilian Oaks.

Colina Verde was second for most of the race under jockey Rafael Bejarano before rallying between rivals in the final furlong. The race was her first start since the Brazilian Oaks in October 2006.

"She settled very well," Drysdale said. "She was a little bit rusty, but when he asked her to go, she went. It was nice to see that she had tactical speed."

Race may be Angel Craft's last

Friday's seventh race may be the final career start for the Drysdale-trained Angel Craft, a winner of 2 of 10 starts. The optional claimer over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course has drawn a field of 11 fillies and mares.

A 5-year-old A.P. Indy mare owned by Darley Stable, Angel Craft was fourth in the Glendale Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on turf at Turf Paradise in her last start. Drysdale hopes Angel Craft will be more effective at a shorter distance.

"She hasn't been finishing up as well," he said. "She's going off to be bred. It might well be" her last start.

Exquisite Beauty is after her third win in four starts since last July. She won turf sprints at Del Mar and Hollywood Park in the second half of last year and finished ninth on the main track at the Oak Tree meeting in October.

"She had bad feet," trainer Rafael Becerra said. "She didn't get a hold of the track that time."