02/17/2012 3:50PM

Santa Anita: Amazombie could face The Factor in San Carlos Stakes

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Shigeki Kikkawa
The Factor (above) could take on Amazombie in next Saturday’s Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Amazombie, the champion sprinter of 2011, will have approximately five rivals, including two other stakes winners, in his first start of the year in the $200,000 San Carlos Stakes at Santa Anita next Saturday.

The Factor, winner of the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes here Dec. 26, is a candidate for the seven-furlong San Carlos, although trainer Bob Baffert stopped short of committing to the race Friday. Another probable starter is Mensa Heat, winner of the Pirate’s Bounty Stakes at Del Mar last summer, who was second to Amazombie in the Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes here last fall.

The field is expected to include Canonize, winner of an allowance race Feb. 3; Rothko, second in the Malibu; and Sway Away, a 4-year-old who placed in graded stakes for sprinters at 2 and 3.

On Friday, Amazombie worked six furlongs in 1:12.60 in a pre-dawn exercise. Trainer Bill Spawr timed Amazombie galloping out seven furlongs in 1:25.60.

“He’s really happy right now,” a confident Spawr said.

Baffert was not as confident whether The Factor would participate. There is a possibility the 4-year-old could be sent to Dubai for the $2 million Golden Shaheen for sprinters on March 31. Baffert said he would not hesitate to train The Factor up to that race.

“I’ll make a decision at the beginning of the week,” he said of the San Carlos.

CHRB officials to oversee TOC election

The California Horse Racing Board has appointed commissioner Jesse Choper and investigator Bill Westermann to oversee the election for board of directors of the Thoroughbred Owners of California.

The election, which will be conducted via mail-in ballots, began Wednesday and will continue through March 15. Westermann, part of the racing board’s investigative team at the racetrack, will be present when ballots are opened and counted.

The involvement of Choper and Westermann in the election was announced by racing board executive director Kirk Breed in a letter Tuesday. Members of the California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which is seeking a greater role for owner-trainers on the TOC’s board, had publicly called for a more open method of counting ballots.

There are 30 candidates seeking 15 seats. The winning candidates will be announced in late March. The election auditing firm TrueBallot will count the ballots

Briecat returns in Buena Vista Handicap

Briecat, the eight-time stakes winner, was once second to Zenyatta in the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park in 2009. Last winter, she was second in the Grade 2 Buena Vista Hanicap, part of a limited four-race campaign in 2011.

On Monday, the 7-year-old Briecat is back in the Buena Vista, but will have a tough job to win the Grade 2 race over a mile on turf. Briecat drew the outside post in a field of 10. There are 11 entrants, but the race will be limited to 10 starters. Secret Cove is on the also-eligible list.

The field is led by Cambina, winner of the Grade 1 American Oaks last July. She was eighth in her last start, the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs in November.

Jockeys set for charity basketball game

Santa Anita jockeys will exchange their silks and riding boots for tank tops and sneakers in their annual charity game against the Holy Angels eighth grade team at La Salle High School in Pasadena on Thursday.

The game benefits three organizations or charities – the Holy Angels athletic program, the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, and, for the first time, the Eye on Jacob Foundation.

The Eye on Jacob Foundation is named for the son of Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux. Jacob Desormeaux, 13, suffers from Usher’s Syndrome, which causes loss of hearing and eventually a loss of sight.

To raise money for those charities and organizations, several raffle items, including sport bicycles and autographed basketballs will be offered.

Admission is $5 for the game, which begins at 7 p.m. and features many of the top riders at Santa Anita. In addition, retired Hall of Famers Eddie Delahoussaye, Laffit Pincay Jr., and Gary Stevens and active Hall of Famer Mike Smith will sign autographs from 6 p.m. and at halftime.