02/24/2012 1:53PM

Santa Anita Handicap longshot Holladay Road works briskly

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ARCADIA, Calif. – Holladay Road, a former claimer, has had an adventuresome journey to the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap next Saturday.

A California-bred, Holladay Road became a stakes winner earlier at this meeting, in the $100,000 Crystal Water Stakes for statebreds on Jan. 28. But the 7-year-old Holladay Road will need to show considerable improvement to be a factor in the Big Cap, and to keep up with several of his more accomplished siblings.

Bred by Warren Williamson, and claimed from him for $25,000 last July, Holladay Road will be an outsider in the Big Cap, a race led by defending champion and 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Game On Dude.

Friday, Holladay Road, who is best racing from off the pace, worked six furlongs in 1:11.80, the fastest of 22 recorded works at the distance at Santa Anita.

“He’s doing good,” trainer Julio Canani said. “There’s going to be some speed [in the Big Cap].”

Canani timed the last quarter-mile in 23.80 seconds.

Remarkably, Holladay Road is the fourth stakes winner produced by Blending Element, a graded stakes winner during her racing career. Blending Element was kept in California for the first few years of her time as a broodmare and is now in Kentucky.

Blending Element is the dam of the California-bred stakes winners Tiz a Blend ($186,354), Tiz Elemental ($483,740), and Excessive Blend ($173,175). The Kentucky-bred foals out of Blending Element include War Element, who was second in the Grade 2 Citation Handicap last November but is currently sidelined; and the lightly raced American Blend, who was nominated for the Big Cap but will not start, according to trainer Carla Gaines.

Gaines had Holladay Road in her stable until he was claimed by current owners Gary and Wendy Broad. When Holladay Road was claimed it was the third time that he appeared in a $25,000 claiming race, having finished second and first in maiden claimers at the 2009-2010 Santa Anita winter-spring meeting.

For the Broads and Canani, Holladay Road has won 3 of 5 starts, and was a fast-closing third in the California Cup Classic on turf last October. The Big Cap will be his first start in a graded stakes and first start in a Grade 1.

Holladay Road is by the Kentucky-based stallion Street Cry. He is considered a Cal-bred because he was foaled in this state, and Blending Element was bred back to California stallion In Excess the following year, producing Excessive Blend.

In recent years in Kentucky, Blending Element has produced colts by Artie Schiller, now a 2-year-old, and a yearling colt by Curlin. The colt by Artie Schiller will join Gaines’s stable later this year, she said. Blending Element is in foal to Smart Strike for an expected April foal.

Fewer than expected 2-year-olds for new series

The newly-formed Golden State Series has attracted approximately 825 nominations from the current 2-year-old crop, according to Doug Burge, the executive director of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

The Golden State Series of stakes for statebreds began in January, but the first races for 2-year-olds are not until late July at Del Mar. Only 2-year-olds of 2010 had to be nominated for the stakes series, at a cost of $300. Horses of older ages were grandfathered into the series, which features 29 races for all ages from late January to late December.

CTBA officials had hoped to attract 1,000 of the approximately 1,900 foals born in the state in 2010.

At Thursday’s California Horse Racing Board meeting, chairman Keith Brackpool described the absence of more nominations “mystifying.”

“I’m staggered that 60 percent were not subscribed for the program that is available,” he said.

Burge told the racing board that horses can be supplemented to the program for the duration of their racing careers for a $25,000 fee.

“I think it’s too early to say it’s a disappointment,” Burge said of the number of nominations.