10/04/2012 3:06PM

Santa Anita: Scherer Magic gets blinkers for Tim Conway Stakes

Benoit & Associates
Scherer Magic will try to bounce back in Saturday's Tim Conway Stakes.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Although summer was a bust for Scherer Magic, autumn still holds promise for the 2-year-old sprinter.

A return to form in the $100,000 Tim Conway Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita would re-establish Scherer Magic as a leading candidate for a $500,000 Breeders’ Cup race Nov. 2 on the same track, at the same six-furlong distance.

“We’re looking at the Juvenile Sprint,” trainer John Sadler said, which might have seemed ambitious after an even-money debacle in August at Del Mar.

Sadler, however, is confident Scherer Magic is back to his old self following two subpar efforts in summer.

“Del Mar did not go that great for him,” Sadler admitted. “But he hasn’t gone back. Maybe others have gone forward, but he hasn’t gone back.”

Scherer Magic was nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program after winning the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile in July, his first start for Sadler after owners Gary and Cecil Barber claimed him from a smashing debut for $50,000.

But two starts at Del Mar produced mixed results – a troubled fifth as the favorite in the Grade 2 Best Pal, followed by a third in the slow-pace Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity. Jockey Martin Pedroza suggested an equipment change after Scherer Magic’s most recent start.

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“Pedroza said he was looking around a little bit in the Futurity, so we’re adding blinkers,” Sadler said. He hopes the small, French-cut blinkers “will sharpen him up.”

Sadler said 2-for-4 Scherer Magic has “trained super” with blinkers, and he expects the gelding to move forward with the equipment while racing over a dirt track he seems to like. Improvement is necessary, because two sharp maiden winners pose legitimate threats.

Merit Man and South Floyd, debut winners at Del Mar and Fairplex Park, respectively, are the main competition. Zeewat makes his first local start after winning two at Santa Ros. The $62,500 maiden-claiming winner No Rachmones will keep the pace honest. Super Ninety Nine and I’m Wide Awake are entered but not confirmed starters.

Merit Man has upside for trainer Bob Hess, who said a Sept. 2 maiden race at Del Mar was intended as prep.

“We were giving him a race, and he won despite that,” Hess said.

Hess believes Merit Man “is completely ready now, and I think he’s actually a touch better on dirt.”

He cautions handicappers not to misinterpret apparently slow workouts.

“Although the works don’t look fancy, they have been smooth and powerful,” he said.

His most recent work was recorded as a 51.40 second gate work, but others timed him in 48 and change. Pat Valenzuela is scheduled to ride him back.

South Floyd scored one of the most visually impressive maiden wins of the Los Angeles County Fair meet Sept. 22 at Fairplex, winning by four lengths with a 79 Beyer that is the highest last-race figure in the Conway field.

Doug O’Neill is his trainer; Juan Hernandez rides him back.

The Tim Conway, race 4, is one of four stakes on the Saturday card.

The Grade 2 Arroyo Seco for turf milers is race 3; the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship is race 8; the $70,000 Swingtime Stakes for fillies and mares is race 9.

Sadler-trained Byrony is expected to start favored over Fairplex stakes winner Gem of Soul in the Swingtime at a mile on turf.