10/04/2011 12:22PM

Santa Anita: Surplus brings big Beyer into turf debut


ARCADIA, Calif. – The threat of rain this week in Southern California will not dampen a Santa Anita autumn racing program bursting at the seams.

Average field size opening weekend exceeded 9.3 per race, compared to 7.4 per race during the Oak Tree at Hollywood Park fall meet one year ago. The full-field theme at Santa Anita continues Thursday, with 91 horses entered in eight races.

That includes 14 California-bred allowance horses entered in the seventh race feature, although the field could decline. Showers are forecast Wednesday; the feature Thursday is scheduled for 6 1/2 furlongs down the hill. Santa Anita turf sprints usually are switched to the main track in wet weather.

The surface issue is a key for the improving Surplus, a highly rated (92 Beyer) last-start maiden winner whose trainer, John Sadler, expects will improve on grass.

“He’ll probably run either way [dirt or turf], but I think he will love the grass,” Sadler said.

Surplus, a 3-year-old gelding by good turf sire In Excess, developed rapidly on Polytrack during the seven-week Del Mar meet. Sixth in his debut, then second, he won his third start by 2 1/4 lengths Sept. 7. Apparently, any footing will do. Surplus ran well on synthetic and trains well on dirt. Sadler, however, sees more upside on grass.

“He has the kind of action of a turf horse, I think he will really like it,” Sadler said.

Surplus will be ridden by Joel Rosario, and though his 92 Beyer on synthetic tops the field, there are many other alternatives.

Holladay Road and Bolinas go route to sprint; Arresting Officer and Fun and Frolic were gelded since their last start; Mint Humor is fast; Sammy’s a Runnin’ will finish. The field, like most races Thursday, is large and competitive. Holladay Road, fourth with an unusual trip last time, has won 3 of 9 racing exclusively on synthetic and turf.

“I’m going to run on the dirt, too,” trainer Julio Canani said, regarding the uncertain surface. “What else am I going to do?”

Canani claimed Holladay Road for $25,000 from a sharp comeback win in a statebred optional claimer July 31 at Del Mar. Holladay Road, a 6-year-old Street Cry gelding whose siblings include stakes winners Tiz Elemental, Excessive Blend, and Tiz a Blend, was favored Aug. 27 in a statebred allowance.

A front-runner/pace-presser, he was shuffled back, rated in eighth, blocked behind horses on the far turn, then finished through traffic to miss by only a length in a race that already produced at least three next-out winners.

Holladay Road’s last eight starts were around two turns, but Canani envisions a good trip in the turf sprint, positioned right behind the speed while changing riders to Garrett Gomez. Holladay Road is the most likely winner.

Bolinas goes route to sprint after opening up a six-length lead racing a mile on turf. Third in two previous turf sprints, Bolinas also could get a good trip just off the speed.