01/24/2013 3:58PM

Santa Anita: Maiden winner Omega Star has much in his favor in California Breeders' Champion Stakes


ARCADIA, Calif. – The stakes winners Monument and Weewinnin have the big-race prizes to merit respect in Saturday’s $300,000 California Breeders’ Champion Stakes at Santa Anita.

The maiden race winner Omega Star has a recent victory that may give him the role of favorite in the one-mile race for 3-year-old California-breds.

Omega Star won his California debut in a maiden race for statebreds over 6 1/2 furlongs here on Dec. 31, his first start for trainer John Shirreffs. Owned by breeders Herman Sarkowsky and Marty Wygod, Omega Star closed from seventh in a field of 10 to win by three lengths.

Omega Star was second to Clawback in a maiden race at Aqueduct in December, in his first career start for trainer James Jerkens. Clawback won the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at Aqueduct last Monday.

The California Breeders’ Champion Stakes will be Omega Star’s first start at a mile, an issue that may be moot considering the way he finished in the maiden race.

“Omega Star looked brilliant the other day,” trainer John Sadler said.

Sadler rates Omega Star as one of his top rivals in the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes. Sadler starts Monument, who won the $250,000 California Cup Juvenile here in October, but was later ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile here in November, and third as the favorite behind Weewinnin in the $200,000 King Glorious Stakes over seven furlongs at Betfair Hollywood Park on Dec. 16.

Monument has run erratically at times, but Sadler said those days may be over.

“He’s a different horse to ride,” Sadler said. “He doesn’t always run straight. We’ve been working with the horse and he’s trained smartly for this race. He wants to run on the rail.”

The distance will not be an issue for Monument, who won the Cal Cup Juvenile over 1 1/16 miles.

Weewinnin has never started over a mile, but that does not worry trainer Brian Koriner.

“I don’t think you have to do anything different,” he said. “It’s not a lot farther. He had a good race on [a synthetic track] over seven furlongs.

Koriner was not enthused about Wewinnin drawing the outside in a field of 11.

“Of all the posts, he drew the worst one there is,” Koriner said. “If he leaves there straight, he should be okay. He’s training very good.”

Weewinnin has made three starts, and races on dirt for the first time on Saturday.

“We’re optimistic,” Koriner said. “We think he has a good shot of winning.”

Monument and Wewinnin are the only stakes winners in the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes. Another contender is Fighting Hussar, a two-time winner who was second after a wide rally in the King Glorious Stakes.

Koriner is hopeful that Wewinnin can race just behind the pacesetters, similar to the style that jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. used in the King Glorious, when the colt was a 60-1 outsider.

“We want get away clean, get into the race and be laying just off of them,” Koriner said. “I think he’ll do what Valdivia wants him to do. He won’t run off with him.”