04/05/2011 12:59PM

Silver Medallion ready for dirt debut in Santa Anita Derby

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Benoit & Associates
Silver Medallion, winning the Eddie Logan on turf, will make his first start on dirt in the Santa Anita Derby.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Six races into his career, Silver Medallion will make his first start on a dirt surface in Saturday’s $1 million Santa Anita Derby.

This is not a major concern for Scott Blasi, trainer Steve Asmussen’s assistant in California. This winter in California, Silver Medallion is perfect in two starts – a win in the Eddie Logan Stakes on turf here on Dec. 31, and the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby, on a Tapeta surface at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 12.

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Plus, Silver Medallion exercises on a near daily basis on Santa Anita’s main track.

“The way he trains on it, he does better on the dirt than the other two,” Blasi said on Tuesday morning. “It’s the matter of whether he can run the same race on dirt as synthetic. If he runs like he trains, I think he’ll like the dirt.”

Silver Medallion breezed a half-mile in 48.60 seconds on Tuesday, his final major exercise before the Santa Anita Derby, which is run over 1 1/8 miles and is the West’s leading prep for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7.

Silver Medallion was ridden by exercise rider Dominic Terry and worked alone, with little urging from the rider. Blasi said a seven-furlong workout in 1:23.60 on March 29 was designed as a tougher work than the one that Silver Medallion had on Tuesday.

“We got what we needed last week,” he said. “He went out and stretched his legs.”

Silver Medallion has not started since the El Camino Real Derby. Since then, a majority share of the colt has been acquired by Steve Marshall, who races as Blackrock Stables. Michael Ryan, who previously owned the horse entirely, has retained a share.

Blasi said the layoff between the El Camino Real Derby and the Santa Anita Derby “benefits our horse. “It’s freshened him up and he’s gotten stronger. He’s a May baby and he’s grown now. He’s headed in the right direction.”

The Santa Anita Derby has a probable field of 10, led by Premier Pegasus and Jaycito, the first two finishers of the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes on March 12. Other probable starters are Anthony’s Cross, Bench Points, Comma to the Top, Indian Winter, Midnight Interlude, Mr. Commons, and Offlee Wild Boys. Anthony’s Cross, Premier Pegasus, and Silver Medallion will try to remain eligible for the Preakness 5.5, a $5.5 million bonus offered by MI Developments, with a victory in the Santa Anita Derby. The winner would also have to take the Preakness on May 21 to cash in on the bonus.

Celestic Night, the winner of the C.B. Afflerbaugh Stakes at Fairplex Park last September, is passing the race and will undergo an operation on a knee, trainer Mike Mitchell said on Tuesday. Celestic Night was claimed by Mitchell for $80,000 last month on behalf of owner Jeffrey Sengara.

Mitchell said he noticed that Celestic Night drifted to the outside while galloping out after a workout on Saturday, which caused concern. The injury was detected on Monday and is likely to keep the colt out of training for three months, Mitchell said.

Jockey Joe Talamo was expected to ride Celestic Night, but he will ride the longshot Offlee Wild Boys.

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