02/26/2008 12:00AM

Scrumpy continues to climb


ARCADIA, Calif. - How high can Scrumpy climb? That is the question Thursday at Santa Anita, where the former bottom-rung claimer seeks his seventh straight victory in a first-level allowance-optional claimer for California-bred sprinters.

The race 7 feature is a long way from the $4,000 claiming race that kicked off Scrumpy's win streak on Oct. 20 at Bay Meadows. Apparently, the sky is the limit. Each win has been against increasingly tougher company, and 11 days ago, owner Lamonte Isom and trainer Jeff Metz claimed Scrumpy for $20,000 at Bay Meadows.

"He's got some old problems that he's learned to run with, and he's gone right up the ladder," Metz said. "We thought he could step up and do the Cal-bred allowance [at Santa Anita], and numbers-wise, it looks like he should."

Numbers-wise, Scrumpy is unquestionably the horse to beat in the 6 1/2-furlong sprint. He won by four lengths last time out, earning a 102 Beyer Speed Figure that towers over the field. The only thing stopping Metz from total confidence is the 11-day turnaround for a horse that has never raced in Southern California.

"This race came up fairly quick," he said. "But he's a feisty guy, and he's just so game."

Scrumpy has won 9 of his 16 starts in Northern California and will be ridden Thursday by Rafael Bejarano. Metz said regular rider Kyle Kaenel offered to fly from Northern California to ride Scrumpy, but the decision was made to go with a local rider.

Scrumpy's main rival is Comoros, who has not raced since winning his debut at Santa Anita more than one year ago. John Sadler trains the 4-year-old colt, a half-brother to the stakes-winning filly Lady Gamer. Comoros has been out because of a tendon injury.

"He's come back really good," Sadler said, and successive six-furlong workouts have the son of Comic Strip ready to roll under Garrett Gomez.

Although his margin of victory in his maiden win was only a nose and the Beyer Figure was a mere 83, that race was flattered when the second-and fourth-place finishers both returned to win with 90 Beyer Figures.

Sadler also entered Partywithlarryz, who responded to a change in strategy last time and won a maiden race rallying from behind. The field also includes fast-working Blaze It and the Marty Jones-trained pair of River Echo and Frankelstein. Two other longshots are Unusual Jail and Las Vegas Lucky.