10/21/2011 1:51PM

Santa Anita: Cup outsiders get in works

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Benoit & Associates
Irish Gypsy, with Martin Garcia riding, wins the A Gleam, earning a fees-paid Win and You're In spot in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

ARCADIA, Calif. – One of the Breeders’ Cup races in which California-based runners should have a significant impact is the Filly and Mare Sprint, where Turbulent Descent and Switch figure to be the top two choices.

But the depth of that Nov. 4 race is not nearly what it was a couple of months ago, not with the defections of Hilda’s Passion and Sassy Image, and that is among the reasons why Champagne d’Oro and Irish Gypsy, two locally based runners, are on course for the Filly and Mare Sprint, even though their connections are quite familiar with, and respectful of, the leading contenders.

Both Irish Gypsy and Champagne d’Oro worked Friday morning here at Santa Anita. Irish Gypsy came out after the last renovation break, at 9 a.m., and flew through six furlongs in 1:11.20, the best time of nine at the distance. Her regular rider, Martin Garcia, was up.

Irish Gypsy’s trainer, Bob Baffert, recognizes she will be an outsider in the race. But by virtue of her victory in the A Gleam Handicap at Hollywood Park in the summer, Irish Gypsy has won a fees-paid berth into the Filly and Mare Sprint through the Win and You’re In program.

“Might as well run. We got a free roll,” Baffert said Friday morning. “You never know.”

Champagne d’Oro, who worked earlier Friday, going five furlongs in 59.80 seconds, has yet to return to the form that carried her to victory last year in the Test Stakes. She will be turning back in the Filly and Mare Sprint, which is at seven furlongs, after going long in the Lady’s Secret here three weeks ago. That was her first race, trainer Eric Guillot said Friday, since undergoing throat surgery following a disappointing run at Monmouth Park.

“Give me the money, baby,” the ever-confident Guillot said Friday morning. “She’s doing so good. Stalk and pounce.”

Guillot said Corey Nakatani, whose career has been revitalized in New York with agent Ron Anderson, would have the mount in the Breeders’ Cup.

Top horses to have final works here

Both Irish Gypsy and Champagne d’Oro will have their final Breeders’ Cup works here before traveling to Churchill Downs the week of the event, a timetable utilized by the majority of West Coast horses this year.

Baffert, for instance, frequently has gone to Kentucky well in advance of races at Churchill Downs, most notably for the Kentucky Derby in the spring. But he said he was going to do his serious training here in order to avoid the potential weather hiccups in Kentucky.

While Irish Gypsy breezed, several of Baffert’s Breeders’ Cup runners – including Game On Dude for the Classic, and Secret Circle for the Juvenile Sprint – had routine gallops, but the one who caught the eye was Plum Pretty, who looked magnificent, with a shiny coat, an eager disposition, and a physique that has filled out since the spring, when she won the Kentucky Oaks.

“She’s doing really good,” Baffert said.

Hoping for better start with Gelila

Gelila, who closed furiously after breaking poorly in her debut at Del Mar on Sept. 5, stretches out around two turns and moves to the turf for her second start in Sunday’s first race. Gelila, 3, a filly by Bernstein, is trained by Shirreffs.

In her lone start, Gelila started last in a 12-horse field, but rallied to finish fifth while making up more than seven lengths in the final quarter-mile of the 6 1/2-furlong race.

“Unfortunately, she forgot to break,” Shirreffs said. “She came flying. Hopefully she’ll improve off of that. First time out, she may have been looking around.”

Since then, Gelila has worked once from the gate, a half-mile in 49 seconds at Hollywood Park on Oct. 10.

Gaines resurrecting Smart Spending’s career

Smart Spending was cut out to be a good horse. A son of Smarty Jones, out of the mare who previously produced Lawyer Ron, he was purchased as a yearling in 2008 for $410,000 by John Ferguson, who buys horses for Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai.

But Smart Spending, now age 4, did not race until the fall of his 3-year-old year, when, long since sold to new owners, he made his debut in a $20,000 maiden-claimer at Hastings Park. And, by then, he was a gelding.

He won that race, and then, after another start at Hastings, came to Southern California and was placed with trainer Carla Gaines. In his first start for her, Smart Spending won a starter allowance race on Feb. 13. He has not been seen since, but he returns in an optional-claimer, race 7, on Sunday.

“He had a stress fracture of a tibia,” Gaines said of the reason for the layoff. “His works don’t look that fast, but he’s been training super.”