03/14/2013 2:53PM

Santa Anita: Slim Shadey needs to break cleanly in San Luis Rey


ARCADIA, Calif. – When he gets into the starting gate, Slim Shadey will look to back out, stir uncomfortably, or even sit down. It took Gary Stevens to make the real Slim Shadey stand up.

Stevens was aboard Slim Shadey for the first time last out in the San Marcos Stakes, and they took their 11 rivals on a merry chase over the 1 1/4 miles. On Saturday at Santa Anita, they will try to stretch out to 1 1/2 miles in the Grade 2, $150,000 San Luis Rey Stakes, which drew eight other long-distance grass runners.

“It’s not important for him to be on the lead, but it’s important for him to get a clean break,” Stevens said Thursday at Santa Anita. “Last time, he caught a flyer. The gate crew has done a great job with him. He’s very active. For the two seconds he was quiet, that’s when they kicked it.

“He’s been known to throw a fit. They’ll load him, back him out, then put him back in. He rears up. Sometimes he sits down. I just don’t think he likes the confines.”

Slim Shadey has won half of his eight starts on Santa Anita’s turf. He has yet to win going 1 1/2 miles, but just missed when losing by a head in last year’s San Luis Rey to Bourbon Bay, who also won the race in 2010 and is entered again this year.

Bourbon Bay, 7, has not raced since the Hollywood Turf Cup on Dec. 15. Santa Anita is where he thrives. He is 7 for 10 over this course, including 4 of 9 at 1 1/2 miles.

Neil Drysdale, trainer of Bourbon Bay, also sends out Fire With Fire, who was fourth behind Slim Shadey in the San Marcos before finishing second in a second-level allowance March 3.

Interaction, second in the Hollywood Turf Cup, was a late-running second behind Slim Shadey in the San Marcos. His trainer, Ron McAnally, thinks the extra distance could make a difference Saturday.

“It was a slow pace,” McAnally said. “A few more jumps, and I think he had him.”

With regular rider Joe Talamo at Oaklawn Park on Saturday to ride Treasury Bill in the Rebel, McAnally has given the call to Brice Blanc, who rode Interaction to victory in his first start for McAnally last June at Betfair Hollywood Park.

John Scott was scratched from the Santa Anita Handicap two weeks ago. He won his grass debut last time out in the Crystal Water for California-breds on Jan. 26.

All Squared Away should be one of the major players. He was third in the San Marcos after defeating Fire With Fire in a second-level allowance.

Bright Thought has won two straight on this circuit in impressive fashion, and his early speed should make for an interesting early head-to-head battle with Slim Shadey.

Tiz Gianni has won two of his last three starts but was a distant seventh in the Hollywood Turf Cup in his lone try against horses of this caliber.

Huntsville, second in the Crystal Water to John Scott, was subsequently fifth in the San Marcos and sixth in the second-level allowance March 3 in which Fire With Fire was second.