03/21/2012 1:53PM

Santa Anita: Win in Pasadena Stakes could boost plans for Tones

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Tones, under Eswan Flores, wins the Baffle Stakes at Santa Anita last month.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Tones scored a 13-1 upset in the Baffle Stakes on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita in late February, a victory that may lead to an adventuresome 2012 campaign.

If Tones wins Friday’s $70,000 Pasadena Stakes for 3-year-olds over a mile on turf, he could start in the $200,000 American Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 4.

“The guys that own this horse are game, and they would be looking around the country,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “We were pumped about his [last] performance.”

Co-owned by new Santa Anita chief executive Mark Verge, Tones has won 3 of 8 starts and $65,968, with two of those races in the United States.

In England last year, Tones won two minor races.

In his U.S. debut, Tones was a well-beaten fourth in a one-mile optional claimer on the main track Feb. 9. In the Baffle Stakes on Feb. 26, he was near the pace throughout and won by a neck under 18-year-old apprentice jockey Eswan Flores.

An Irish-bred colt by Strategic Prince, Tones will be a much shorter price in the Pasadena, which drew a field of 10.

“He just looks like a miler,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill suggests that Tones will race near the front, leaving the final decision to Flores. Through Sunday, Flores ranked third in the jockey’s standings with 39 wins, well behind leader Joel Rosario with 66.

“At times, he’ll remind you that he’s that young,” O’Neill said of Flores. “When you watch him in a race, he looks like a seasoned veteran.”

Tones is one of three stakes winners in the field, along with Chips All In, who won the Eddie Logan Stakes over a mile on turf here in December; and Stoney Fleece, winner of the Grade 3 Generous Stakes at Hollywood Park in November.

Both are coming off losses. Chips All In was seventh in the Grade 2 Robert Lewis Stakes on dirt Feb. 4, but was later promoted to sixth.

Stoney Fleece was third to Chips All In in the Logan and a fast-closing second to Tones in the Baffle.

Captain Obvious, fourth in the Real Quiet Stakes on a synthetic track at Hollywood Park last November, makes his 3-year-old debut, but will need the start, trainer Ben Cecil said.

“He needs to run and get a race under his belt,” Cecil said. “He’s not going to be 100 percent fit.”