11/21/2008 12:00AM

Shakis sustains fatal injury


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Shakis, who won the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga in 2007 and 2008, was euthanized on Friday after suffering a leg injury following a workout at Hollywood Park, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said.

The injury occurred after Shakis worked a half-mile in 49.20 seconds on the main track.

"They had to put him down," McLaughlin said. "It's a real shame. He was a neat horse. It's tough."

Shakis, who finished 11th in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita on Oct. 25, was at Hollywood Park being prepared for a start in the Grade 1 Citation Handicap next Friday. An 8-year-old, Shakis won 7 of 34 starts and $860,532.

"He was a barn favorite," McLaughlin said.

Owned and bred by Shadwell Farm, Shakis raced on three continents - Asia, Europe, and North America.

In Europe, as a 3-year-old in 2003, Shakis was second in two Group 3 races. In Dubai, he placed in a Group 3 race over 1 1/8 miles on turf in 2005 and was later 10th behind Electrocutionist in the $6 million Dubai World Cup in 2006.

Shakis was sent to the United States, and McLaughlin's stable, in the spring of 2007. Aside from the wins in the Barnard Baruch, he was third in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park in 2007 and second in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 4 of this year.

Desert Code sidelined by bad ankle

Desert Code, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita on Oct. 25, will not start again this year after suffering an ankle sprain earlier this month, trainer David Hofmans said.

Hofmans had considered Desert Code for the $1.5 million Hong Kong Sprint on Dec. 14 or the $150,000 Hollywood Turf Express at Hollywood Park next Saturday, but gave up those plans earlier this week.

"He came up with a small filling in an ankle and he missed a work," Hofmans said. "We'll give him until the beginning of the year. I think it's a slight ankle wrench."

Owned by Tarabilla Farm, Desert Code has won 6 of 19 starts and $1,028,939. A 4-year-old colt by E Dubai, Desert Code was the 36-1 longest shot in the Sprint Turf field when he roared from 12th in a field of 14 to win by a half-length over Diabolical.

Gio Ponti gets extensive schooling

Gio Ponti, the star 3-year-old turf horse, was schooled in the starting gate on Thursday. Friday at Santa Anita, he worked five furlongs in 1:00.40. This weekend, he will be shipped to Hollywood Park to be schooled in the paddock.

The busier he stays, the more his mind stays occupied in advance of one of the biggest races of his career - the $500,000 Hollywood Derby next Sunday.

Gio Ponti has shown an occasional flash of temper. In the Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park on Oct. 4, Gio Ponti was the 4-5 favorite, but finished second to Court Vision, another Hollywood Derby hopeful. Before the start of the Jamaica, Gio Ponti was unsettled in the gate. During the race, he was stuck in traffic briefly in early stretch.

To avoid a recurrence of the gate problem, Gio Ponti went through a schooling session at the starting gate on Thursday at Santa Anita.

"He was good in the gate yesterday," said Nicholas Bachalard, assistant to trainer Christophe Clement, on Friday. "Hopefully that will not be an issue on [race] day."

Owned by Castleton Lyons, Gio Ponti has won three stakes in his career, including the $775,000 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs in July. He was later second in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby.

The Hollywood Derby is run over 1 1/4 miles on turf, the same distance as the Virginia Derby.

The Grade 1 Hollywood Derby is led by Court Vision and Del Mar Derby winner Madeo. Other probable starters are Albhari, Cowboy Cal, Dixie Chatter, Muny, and Sailor's Cap. Winchester, the winner of the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park in August, may be held out of the derby in favor of the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup over 1 1/2 miles on Dec. 6.

Albhari, set to arrive from France on Monday, was recently bought by owner Ed Gann. Albhari, who will be trained by Patrick Biancone, has been supplemented to the Hollywood Derby for $10,000.

The derby is on the same program as the $500,000 Matriarch Stakes for fillies and mares over a mile on turf. Defending champion Precious Kitten will face an outstanding field expected to include Black Mamba, Cocoa Beach, Criminologist, I Can See, Magical Fantasy, Passified, Roshani, Rosinka, and Visit.

Colonel John breezes half-mile

Travers Stakes winner Colonel John breezed a half-mile in 47.80 seconds at Santa Anita on Friday, his first work since finishing sixth behind Raven's Pass in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

Trainer Eoin Harty said Colonel John has the $250,000 Malibu Stakes for 3-year-olds over seven furlongs on Dec. 26 as his first goal of the winter.

Owned by WinStar Farm, Colonel John has the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 7 as a long-term goal, Harty said. Earlier this year, Colonel John won the Santa Anita Derby and finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby. He has won 5 of 10 starts and $1,468,830.

The Malibu, the traditional opening day fixture of the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, should have an outstanding field. Among the other candidates are the stakes winners Bob Black Jack, El Gato Malo, Into Mischief, Georgie Boy, Gayego, and Tres Borrachos, and the stakes-placed runners Dancing in Silks and Silver Sword.

Silver Sword, second in the Kentucky Cup Sprint at Turfway Park on Sept. 27, was recently bought by Pablo Suarez and turned over to trainer Doug O'Neill.