03/26/2013 4:02PM

Santa Anita: Dubai You X Y Z returns from long layoff in Thursday allowance

Benoit & Associates
Dubai You X Y Z will return from a nine-month layoff for trainer-owner Mark Tsagalakis in a Thursday allowance.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Trainer-owner Mark Tsagalakis will be happy if the month of March ends like it began, with a comeback victory at Santa Anita.

Oliver’s Tale might eventually emerge as the star of Tsagalakis’s small stable after a sparkling March  1 maiden win that earned him a 104 Beyer Speed Figure in his first start in nine months. But the current star is Dubai You X Y Z, returning Thursday from a similar layoff.

The 5-for-7 gelding has not started since June, but he runs well fresh: Four of his five wins were first out or first start back. This time, however, Tsagalakis admits he will use the allowance turf sprint to prepare for the next town. Still, could Dubai You X Y Z win first start back?

“Absolutely,” Tsagalakis said. “I think he’s good enough to win, but he doesn’t have to win. I’d like to use it as a steppingstone to a month down the line at Hollywood.”

That applies to many in the field. Koast and Carbonite both are 2 for 2 on the hillside turf course but have not raced in seven and 13 months, respectively. Charlemagne Wood, from Europe, has not raced in a year; Grand Berry makes his first start in California.

Chosen Miracle and Starspangled Heat are the only entrants with recent form and will be backed accordingly. Chosen Miracle shortens in distance and drops from Grade 2 routes; Starspangled Heat always finishes close.

Win or lose Thursday, Dubai You X Y Z can be followed at longer distances. “It’s a little short,” Tsagalakis said, referring to the race’s 6 1/2-furlong distance. “It’s not exactly his forte, but we’ve got to start somewhere.”

Tsagalakis, who bred and owns Dubai You X Y Z, has an ambitious goal for the 6-year-old – the Grade  1 Shoemaker Mile on June 29. Last summer, Dubai You X Y Z finished sixth in the Shoemaker, beaten only three lengths, and then was sidelined.

“I think he deserves another shot in that race,” Tsagalakis said. Why the layoff? “He just had a lot of physical issues – foot issues, his back got a little sore. There were too many fires to put out, so I just turned him out in the sunshine.”

The patient approach by Tsagalakis, 50, produces results. Though he operates a small stable – his current roster consists of five horses – bettors appreciate the outcomes. Tsagalakis’s starters generated a flat-bet profit in seven of the last 10 years, with impressive long-term statistics.

Over the past decade, Tsagalakis has won 23 races with 150 starters, a 15 percent rate that produced a $3 return for each $2 win bet. Tsagalakis has never started more than 23 runners in a year.

Brice Blanc will ride Dubai You X Y Z, Rafael Bejarano rides Chosen Miracle for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, and Edwin Maldonado takes over Starspangled Heat for Barry Abrams.

The sixth-race turf sprint is one of three allowance races Thursday. In race 5, a first-level route for fillies and mares, Saturday Nite Ride steps up after a romping maiden win. In race 7, a first-level sprint for 3-year-old fillies, Lady Rosamond drops from a Grade 2. Saturday Nite Ride and Lady Rosamond are trained by Bob Baffert.