04/08/2011 11:57PM

Santa Anita: Major Art makes quick return in La Puente


ARCADIA, Calif. – The way that Major Art rallied in deep stretch to win an allowance race on turf at Santa Anita on March 18 should have left trainer Eric Kruljac excited about the colt’s 3-year-old stakes debut in Sunday’s $100,000 La Puente.

Kruljac, an admitted worry wart, is being more reserved.

“It’s kind of quick back,” he said. “It’s the old bounce stuff. He seems to be doing well, the blood is strong. I’m kind of a pessimist and I need to worry.”

If Major Art duplicates his March 18 stretch run, he can win the La Puente. Owned by Class Racing Stable, Major Art is part of a competitive field of seven in the La Puente, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-olds.

Major Art has made four starts in the United States, including a fourth in the Eddie Logan Stakes on turf on Dec. 31. The British-bred Major Art emerged with a bruised foot, Kruljac said.

Once Major Art recovered, Kruljac said, a suitable allowance race failed to draw enough entries on several occasions until the March 18 race, which was run over a mile.

The La Puente will be the longest race of Major Art’s career, which includes 2 wins in 7 starts. In England last year, he was third in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes over seven furlongs at Goodwood.

“We’re hoping he gets the additional eighth of a mile,” Kruljac said.

Major Art is one of three runners in the field who began their careers in Europe, along with Surrey Star, who was third in the Grade 3 Generous Stakes on turf at Hollywood Park in November, and Inscrutable, a minor stakes winner in France earlier this year.

Surrey Star was unplaced in San Vicente Stakes over seven furlongs and seventh in the San Felipe Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on the main track earlier this year, races that trainer Jim Cassidy said were worth trying.

“He handled the dirt well and I thought he needed more ground, but whatever,” Cassidy said. “Back to the grass.”

Jakesam, eighth in the San Felipe, and The Flying Whizzer, who was stakes-placed on turf last year, are likely to contribute to an honest pace.

Quail Hill may not start. He was cross-entered in Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby. King Cola, who has placed in four stakes in Northern California, will be a longshot.