02/23/2009 12:00AM

Spring House breathes easy in half-length score

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ARCADIA, Calif. - A subtle but effective change of equipment may have help land Spring House the Grade 2, $150,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap on Sunday at Santa Anita.

Trainer Julio Canani said Spring House was having trouble getting his air following his previous start, the Jan. 19 San Marcos Handicap, in which he finished fourth. Canani said he first considered throat surgery, but was talked out of it by three veterinarians, who said putting a figure-8 bridle on the horse would suffice.

Spring House ($15.20) responded by rallying for a half-length victory over a fast-closing Church Service in the 1 1/2-mile grass race. Attempted Humor was another half-length back in third.

Spring House completed 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:27.26.

Zambezi Sun, sent off the 4-5 favorite in his United States debut, faded to sixth in the 10-horse field after racing in second for the first 10 furlongs. He was pulling hard the whole way, and trying to lug out.

"I had both my hands on the left rein," said Garrett Gomez, who rode Zambezi Sun and had a left hand that looked like it went through a paper shredder after the race. "He was getting out the whole way. He was getting out and rank."

Spring House, 7, won the San Luis Obispo last year, too. He has now won eight times in 38 lifetime starts. Canani trains Spring House, a gelding, for owner R.D. Hubbard.

"I thought he'd run much better in his last race," Canani said. "He was hanging, and then he was making noise."

Alex Solis rode Spring House.

"I learned quite a bit about him the last two times I rode him, but Julio has been working with him and in his last few works he's figured out what he needed," Solis said. "Today, he was on the bit the whole way, and when that hole opened up in the stretch, he went through it like a bullet."