12/26/2012 4:09PM

Santa Anita notes: Wilkinson cuts back for return in Daytona Stakes

Shigeki Kikkawa
Wilkinson cuts back to 6 1/2 furlongs in Saturday’s Grade 3 Daytona Stakes on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. – After an eventful summer, the 4-year-old colt Wilkinson makes his first start since May in the Grade 3 Daytona Stakes on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on Saturday.

The layoff was caused by a bout with colic, which was not a serious setback, trainer Jeff Mullins said Wednesday.

The break may have done Wilkinson considerable good. In the last few weeks, Mullins has noticed that Wilkinson has thrived in training, and Mullins hopes the colt can play a major role in stakes for turf milers in 2013.

“He’s training way better than he was before,” Mullins said. “He’s looks healthy and he’s acting better.”

Wilkinson has started once for Mullins, winning the Grade 2 American Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park in a 44-1 upset on May 26. He was a candidate for the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile in late June when he was stricken with colic.

Though he required an operation, Wilkinson did not have a severe case, Mullins said.

“We got him in there early enough,” he said. “They didn’t have to remove any intestine.”

Owned by E.K. Gaylord II, Wilkinson has won 5 of 18 starts and $336,994. For previous trainer Neil Howard, Wilkinson won four races, including the Grade 3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds in 2011.

The $100,000 Daytona, run over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course, will be the shortest race of Wilkinson’s career.

The race drew a field of 12 but will have 11 starters. Byrama, the 3-year-old filly who won the Unzip Me Stakes on the hillside turf course Sept. 29, will pass the race in favor of the $150,000 Monrovia Stakes for fillies and mares on the hillside turf course Jan. 6, trainer Simon Callaghan said.

Callaghan may have a leading contender in stakes for turf milers in 2013 with the recent import Strong Suit.

A 4-year-old Arkansas-bred colt by Rahy, Strong Suit won three group stakes in England in 2010 and 2011, including the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2010 and the Group 2 Lennox Stakes at Goodwood in 2011.

Winless in five starts earlier this year, Strong Suit is being pointed to the $150,000 Arcadia Stakes over a mile on turf Feb. 2, Callaghan said Wednesday.

Callaghan trains a third of the field for Sunday’s $150,000 Robert Frankel Stakes for fillies and mares over 1 1/8 miles on turf. He starts Camelia Rose, Qaraaba, and Imperialistic Diva. Qaraaba won her U.S. debut in an optional claimer on turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 15.

The field of nine also includes Tiz Fliratious, who was a game second in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes over a mile on turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 25.

Overnight purses hold steady

Overnight purses for the winter-spring meeting that began Wednesday are unchanged from the corresponding meeting in 2011-12.

Purses for maiden special weight races and some allowance races were raised last year, along with the purses of some stakes. For example, a maiden special weight race for 2-year-olds is worth $56,000 this year compared with $54,000 at the 2010-11 meeting. A first-condition allowance race for turf sprinters is worth $58,000, $2,000 more than two years ago.

For the upcoming meeting, some purses could rise if business is especially strong, racing secretary Rick Hammerle said.

“We’re hoping this is a base,” he said. “We’re trying to be a little conservative.”

My Best Brother turned out

My Best Brother, winner of the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby in September, has been turned out to a local farm, trainer Julio Canani said Wednesday.

Canani did not disclose the reason for My Best Brother’s absence but said the gelding will be out for five months.

Owned by breeders Bill Currin and Al Eisman, My Best Brother has won 4 of 10 starts and $346,090. He finished seventh in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in November and was working as recently as Dec. 9 before being turned out.

M One Rifle retired from racing

M One Rifle, winner of the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes in 2009, has been retired.

Karen Headley, an assistant trainer to her father, Bruce, said that the 6-year-old M One Rifle is at the family’s residence, near Santa Anita. M One Rifle won 5 of 22 starts and $535,142.

A three-time stakes winner, M One Rifle made his final start in the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap at Hollywood Park in May, finishing fifth. Earlier in his career, he won the Real Good Deal Stakes at Del Mar and the Cool Frenchy Stakes at Hollywood Park.

M One Rifle raced for Ed Bernstein, Bryan Greenspun, Bruce Headley, and Irwin Molasky.

A gelding, M One Rifle may be retrained as a riding horse, Karen Headley said.

“He’d make some girl really happy,” she said. “He’s really smart.”