01/25/2012 1:55PM

Santa Anita: Falcon Rock finds spot for San Marcos Stakes prep

Shigeki Kikkawa
Falcon Rock will prep for the San Marcos Stakes in an optional claimer Friday at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Trainer Simon Callaghan says it is vital that Falcon Rock starts in Friday’s second race at Santa Anita, an optional claimer over 1 1/4 miles on turf. Such long-distance turf races have become rare in Southern California, and Falcon Rock hasn’t raced since November.

“We’ve been waiting ages,” Callaghan said.

Callaghan has two of the six entrants, including Slim Shadey, who won a first condition optional claimer over 1 1/4 miles on turf Jan. 12.

Falcon Rock is using Friday’s race as a prep for the $150,000 San Marcos Stakes over 1 1/4 miles on turf on Feb. 11.

“It’s on my mind,” Callaghan said. “He seems in good form and is ready to run. At a mile and a quarter, it’s shorter than his best distance, but it’s a drop in class for him. It’s a good opportunity for a win.”

Owned by Michael Tabor, the 7-year-old Falcon Rock has won 2 of 23 starts and $205,182. Last year, Falcon Rock was winless in seven starts, but was second in the Jim Murray and Sunset handicaps at Hollywood Park in the summer and third to San Marcos probable Sanagas in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup in November.

“He runs well fresh,” Callaghan said. “It’d be nice to have a win going into the next race. We’re confident he’ll run a big race off a layoff.”

Last summer, Falcon Rock was plagued by a foot abscess that led to a four-month layoff between the Sunset Handicap and Hollywood Turf Cup.

Slim Shadey was fourth in the English 2000 Guineas and seventh in the Irish 2000 Guineas last spring. His victory Jan. 12 was his second in 15 career starts.

“It wasn’t the strongest of races, but he's got a bit of back class,” Callaghan said.

The Callaghan pair must beat Hard Sun, who won an allowance race at Golden Gate Fields on Dec. 11, ending a six-race losing streak. Trained by Neil Drysdale, Hard Sun is winless in six starts in Southern California.

Dynamic Host is capable of a win. A 6-year-old gelding, he was claimed for $40,000 last August from an optional claimer over 1 3/8 miles on turf at Del Mar. Trained by Art Sherman, Dynamic Host was a fast-closing third in an optional claimer over 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood Park on Dec. 15.