01/15/2011 10:31AM

Square Eddie sets Santa Anita record in return

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Square Eddie returned from a layoff of more than 11 months to win an allowance race over 6 1/2 furlongs in track record time of 1:13.11 in Friday’s seventh race at Santa Anita.

Square Eddie was on or near the led throughout the allowance race, setting early fractions of 21.47 and 43.47 seconds. He ran through the six-furlong mark in 1:06.81 and finished 3 1/4 lengths over Stacy Hope without being urged in the last few strides.

Ridden by Joel Rosario, Square Eddie ($7) lowered the previous track record of 1:13.71 set by Son of a Pistol in 1998, and was the third track record of the meeting on the track’s newly installed sand-and-clay surface.

On Dec. 26, the opening day of the meeting, Twirling Candy ran seven furlongs in 1:19.70, winning the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes, and The Factor ran six furlongs in 1:06.98, winning a maiden race for 2-year-olds.

Friday’s victory was Square Eddie’s first win since the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in 2008.

Square Eddie’s win on Friday was not a surprise to trainer Doug O’Neill, who predicted a victory on Wednesday. The style of the win caught him by surprise. “We were asking before, ‘How do you think the race will unfold?’” O’Neill said. “Joel had a horse. At no time, did he have a loose rein.”

Owned by Paul Reddam, Square Eddie was retired to Vessels Stallion Farm in San Diego county because of a high suspensory injury suffered in February 2010, while being prepared for the Strub Stakes. Square Eddie did not start in that race, and was bred to 35 mares last year before going back into training last summer.

“It’s exciting,” O’Neill said. “He was bred to 35 mares and recovered for a high suspensory strain.”

Square Eddie has won 3 of 13 starts and $854,766. A 5-year-old by Smart Strike, Square Eddie was second as the 7-2 favorite in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, losing by 1 1/4 lengths to eventual champion Midshipman. In 2009, Square Eddie was winless in six starts, including a second in the Grade 3 San Rafael Stakes over a mile at Santa Anita.

In the winner’s circle, O’Neill said he had no plans for Square Eddie, but was anxious to see how the horse was feeling early Saturday.
“We’ll be curious to see how he’ll look in the morning,” O’Neill said. “Will he be knocked out or body sore?”