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Southern Image won't go in Classic
DEL MAR, Calif. - Southern Image, the winner of the three major races earlier this year, will not start in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30 because of foot problems, trainer Mike Machowsky said.
Southern Image has not started since finishing second to Colonial Colony in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs June 12. Two weeks later, while preparing for a start in the Hollywood Gold Cup in July, he was taken out of training because of a bruised foot. A quarter crack later surfaced and has failed to sufficiently mend, Machowsky said.
"The foot is better, but it won't be 110 percent for the Breeders' Cup," Machowsky said. "Time was an issue. It's a big disappointment for us, but we have to do what's right for the horse."
Southern Image has won 6 of 8 starts and $1,843,750. This year, he won the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic, $1 million Santa Anita Handicap, and the $500,000 Pimlico Special.
Machowsky said Southern Image will be pointed for the 2005 Santa Anita Handicap, with an emphasis on late-season races.
"We need to make sure we have a good last six or eight months next year," Machowsky said, "and finish with a bang."
Retroactive purse increase
Del Mar will pay a retroactive purse increase of approximately 4 percent from its current levels, a track official said.
The increase, projected to total $600,000 to $700,000, will be paid later this year. This will be the second consecutive year that Del Mar will have had a retroactive increase. In 2003, Del Mar distributed $500,959 to owners who had horses earn purse money in overnight races, an increase of 3.6 percent.
The amount of the retroactive increase from the current meeting, which ends Wednesday, will not be known until later this fall, when revenue from simulcast wagering is calculated.
The retroactive payment will come from a 1 percent increase in handle and a reallocation of money available for purses, said Michael Ernst, the chief financial officer at Del Mar.
The Del Mar purse increase is the first on the Southern California circuit since the Los Angeles County Fair meeting at Fairplex Park last September, which had a retroactive increase of 14 percent.
Purse cuts occurred at the 2003 Oak Tree and Hollywood Park fall meetings and the 2003-04 Santa Anita winter-spring meeting. During the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting earlier this year, purses were not cut, but it began with a purse distribution schedule lower than the corresponding meeting in 2003.
Got Koko retired
Got Koko, a five-time stakes winner and the 2003 Texas-bred horse of the year, has been retired because of a recurring ankle injury, trainer Bruce Headley said.
A winner of 7 of 15 starts and $960,946, Got Koko finished third in her final start, the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap at Santa Anita in January.
Got Koko, 5, resumed training this summer and was up to five furlongs in workouts before the decision was made to end her career.
"She just didn't make it back," Headley said.
Got Koko swept the La Canada Series for 4-year-old fillies at Santa Anita in 2002-03, a series that included the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes. Last fall, she won the Grade 2 Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap against Elloluv and Azeri and returned to finish third in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.
Halfbridled back in training
Halfbridled, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2003, has resumed light training in Kentucky and is expected to rejoin trainer Richard Mandella's stable at Santa Anita in a few weeks. Halfbridled had a stress fracture diagnosed in a cannon bone in early May.
Halfbridled was unbeaten in four starts last year, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. This year, she is winless in two starts, having finished second in the Santa Anita Oaks and Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland. She was scratched on the morning of the Kentucky Oaks on April 30 after tying up, or cramping.
Owned by Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, Halbridled has earned $959,400.
Top Money gets hat trick
Top Money won his third race of the meet when he rolled to a three-length victory in Monday's $98,000 I'm Smokin Stakes for California-bred 2-year-olds. Top Money, a gelding by Old Topper, was bred and is owned by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds. Isaias Enriquez rode Top Money for trainer Adam Kitchingman.
Top Money ($5.20) sped six furlongs in 1:09.28. He beat maiden claimers in his debut, and most recently had won a starter-allowance.
Megahertz, one of the top female turf runners of the last two years, has resumed training after a 60-day break. Humberto Ascanio, the assistant to trainer Bobby Frankel, said Megahertz is jogging. He said a start in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf is not out of the question, but that time is a concern.
Megahertz has not started since finishing second in the Grade 1 Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park on May 31. Owned by Michael Bello, Megahertz has won 10 of 26 starts and $1,431,594.
"She was just sour," Ascanio said. "We gave her two months off."
Baze breaks foot bone
Jockey Tyler Baze's quest for the riding title at Del Mar may be compromised by a broken bone in a foot, which he sustained in a starting gate incident on Saturday.
Baze, who led the standings at Hollywood Park, has been locked in a battle with Corey Nakatani for the Del Mar title. Going into Monday, the next-to-last day of the meet, Nakatani led by one winner, 50-49.
As recently as Aug. 26, Baze led Nakatani by eight winners. But Baze blanked on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. While in the starting gate for Saturday's sixth race, his mount, West War, thrashed about and had to be scratched. It was during that incident that Baze was injured.
Baze said the foot "just hurts when I walk."
Heavy last-minute action
A four-figure win bet on Que Borges, the winner of Saturday's first race, caused the odds on the front-running gelding to drop from 6-1 to 4-1 during the running of the one-mile race.
Que Borges was 6-1 when the race began, but was the subject of more than $10,000 in win bets in the seconds before the race started, according to Ernst. Ernst said that $7,800 of the money came from a betting hub in Lewiston, Maine, which processes bets from some offshore betting locations.
"It was at the proper cutoff time," said Ernst. "Based on what we see, there was a large amount bet that came in on that last cycle."
Que Borges paid $10.80.
Santiago takes break in Puerto Rico
Jockey Javier Santiago, who has struggled this summer at Del Mar, has returned to his native Puerto Rico for a brief respite, but will be back by Sept. 14 to continue riding on this circuit, his agent, Tony Matos, said Monday.
Santiago won with just 8 of 109 mounts at Del Mar. He also was involved in the accident on July 23 in which jockey Alex Solis fractured a vertebra.
"He needed some time to freshen up," Matos said. "He doesn't feel comfortable because the language is a barrier, and he's uptight about it. He feels it's hurting his business. He's going to take a crash course in English."
Santiago made a big splash earlier this year, when he arrived from Puerto Rico and immediately started winning major races, including the Louisiana Derby on the Bob Baffert-trained Wimbledon. But Baffert later dropped Santiago as one of his primary riders.
"That hurt Javier's business a lot," Matos said. "Baffert took Javier off Wimbledon and Preachinatthebar, but where have those horses been since then? It was the horse, not the jockey. Javier got the worst end of the deal."
Matos said speculation that Santiago would leave this circuit was false.
"His wife and kids are here," Matos said. "His kids are in school. He just needed to get away. "
* Matos said that his other client, jockey Victor Espinoza, has picked up the mount on Pico Central for the Vosburgh Handicap at Belmont Park on Oct. 2. Espinoza also will ride Dimitrova that day in the Flower Bowl Handicap, Matos said.
* Imperialism, scheduled to make his next start in the Super Derby on Sept. 25 at Louisiana Downs, worked one mile in 1:40.60 Monday morning at Del Mar.
- additional reporting by Jay Privman