02/01/2013 5:37PM

Santa Anita: Second City, Tale of a Champion get major class relief in starter handicaps

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Second City. shown winning his stakes debut in the British Columbia Derby, will race on turf for the first time in the first division of a starter handicap.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Breeders’ Cup races, or any other stakes for that matter, did not work out for Second City and Tale of a Champion in the final months of 2012.

For both horses, divisions of Sunday’s $40,000 Super Bowl Party Starter Handicap over a mile on turf at Santa Anita may be a welcome respite from graded stakes. The starter handicaps, divided, appropriately enough, into the Baltimore and San Francisco divisions, are restricted to horses that have started for a claiming price of $25,000 or less since Jan. 1, 2012.

Second City won a $25,000 claimer for maidens in his debut at Penn National last July and later won the British Columbia Derby at Hastings Park in September before being acquired by Paul and Zillah Reddam and sent to trainer Ben Cecil.

Second City is winless in two subsequent starts – a 10th after a wide trip in the Grade 2 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park in October and a ninth in the BC Dirt Mile here on Nov. 3.

“I thought he’d had enough and needed a break,” Cecil said.

Second City, 4, starts in the first division of the starter handicap, the San Francisco division, which drew a field of 10. Second City makes his seventh start and first on turf Sunday.

“We’ll try him on the grass and maybe the grass will be in his future,” Cecil said. “He’s worked well on it. It looks like more of a soft spot.”

Second City’s opposition includes Green Secret, a 9-year-old gelding who was second in the Cotton Fitzsimmons Handicap over a mile on turf at Turf Paradise on Jan. 12. Donato, winner of a $10,000 claimer Jan. 17, and God of War, winner of a $25,000 claimer Dec. 8, also will show speed.

Tale of a Champion will be favored in the second division, Sunday’s sixth race.

Tale of a Champion, 5, won a $25,000 claiming race for maidens at Gulfstream Park last April and later won the Calder Turf Sprint. He was purchased by Rustin and Juliana Kretz and turned over to trainer Kristin Mulhall last summer.

Winless in five starts in California, all stakes, Tale of a Champion was eighth in the BC Turf Sprint here in November and fifth in the Grade 2 San Gabriel Stakes here Jan. 13.

“I just wanted an easier spot to get his confidence up,” Mulhall said.

Mulhall said she has been a bit discouraged by Tale of a Champion’s recent results.

“He just hadn’t had a break,” she said. “I thought he would turn out to be a little better. He’s been in tough spots.”