01/29/2013 4:09PM

Santa Anita: Appealing Tale the clear speed of Thursday allowance

Benoit & Associates
Appealing Tale will be switching to a fast track after a maiden romp on wet-fast footing.

ARCADIA, Calif. – An allowance route in January cannot be mistaken as a Kentucky Derby prep race. But for the promising 3-year-olds entered Thursday in race 6 at Santa Anita, a first-level allowance at one mile is a good place to start dreaming.

“Anytime you have a 3-year-old at this time of year, you have ambitions,” Appealing Tale’s trainer Peter Miller said.

And any time you have a fast horse with a built-in pace advantage, you are likely to let that horse use his speed. Appealing Tale, who crushed maidens one month ago, should be the one to catch Thursday in a $58,000 allowance that is brimming with potential.

Bob Baffert entered two, including comebacker Code West and sprinter Super Ninety Nine. Appealing Tale switches to a fast track after a maiden romp on wet-fast. Persuasive Paul goes turf to dirt. Debut winner Kochees stretches out and also goes turf to dirt.

Every horse in the field faces a question, including Code West, whose most recent start was a maiden win three months ago. Baffert said both his entrants are “doing great” and added “Code West should improve off last win.”

Code West, the 2-1 program favorite, is owned by Gary and Mary West, whose highly regarded Baffert trainee Flashback will make his second start on Saturday in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes. Martin Garcia rides Code West, whose deliberate 2-year-old campaign concluded Oct. 26 with a workmanlike maiden route win that earned an 85 Beyer Speed Figure.

A full brother to Grade 2 Peter Pan winner Charitable Man, Code West raced in three routes last year. The mile distance Thursday is not expected to be an issue, although stablemate Super Ninety Nine will run long for the first time.

The mile distance is not an issue for Appealing Tale, either. His challenge is footing. After two sprints, he stretched to a mile Dec. 29 and caught a wet-fast racetrack.

“You never know how they’re going to take to mud,” Miller said. “They either love it, or hate it. He seemed to like it.”

Did he ever.

Appealing Tale chased a fast pace from second position, took command into the lane, and drew off by more than six. Although his 72 Beyer was ordinary, it appears Thursday that Appealing Tale is the controlling speed under Edwin Maldonado.

Persuasive Paul, a maiden turf winner last out, enters with the strongest foundation. He has three recent routes under his belt, and will roll late under Mario Gutierrez.

Meanwhile, trainer Mike Pender is optimistic for the dirt-route debut of Kochees, first-out winner of a turf sprint. “He was ready to run a mile, we just wanted to get a good race into him,” Pender explained as the reason for starting his career short on grass.

“We don’t think he’s a turf horse, we think he’s a dirt horse all the way. We’ve been pointing for two turns, and we are confident he can get it.”

Pender was satisfied Kochees drew the outside post in the field of seven, where jockey Jose Valdivia can keep him away from the kickback in his first try on dirt. Not that it would bother this son of Lion Heart.

“The best thing about him is his mind,” Pender said. “He’s an easy horse to train, and I don’t stretch horses out in their second start.

I just don’t do it. But with a horse of his quality, it’s time.”