01/21/2009 12:00AM

Square Eddie to Southwest


ARCADIA, Calif. - Square Eddie, second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in October and the San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita last Saturday, will make his first start on a conventional dirt track in the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 16.

In seven starts in England and the United States, Square Eddie has started on turf and synthetic tracks. Owner Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O'Neill said last fall that they intended to start Square Eddie at least once on a conventional dirt track in the buildup to this year's Kentucky Derby.

"Timing-wise, the race at Oaklawn would fit him perfectly," O'Neill said. "We've said all along we wanted to get him on the dirt. This is a mile and it will be just fine. It's a good place to try the dirt and get rolling."

Square Eddie finished two lengths behind The Pamplemousse in the San Rafael Stakes over a mile.

"He was tired after that race," Reddam said. "We're anxious to try him on the dirt."

The San Rafael was Square Eddie's first start since he finished 1 1/4 lengths behind Midshipman in the BC Juvenile. Square Eddie has won 2 of 7 starts and $787,366. He won the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity over Keeneland's Polytrack in October in his U.S. debut.

Desert Code out of Palos Verdes

Desert Code, unraced since winning the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint in a 36-1 upset in October, will miss Sunday's $150,000 Palos Verdes Handicap on the main track at Santa Anita, trainer David Hofmans said.

Hofmans said Wednesday that he wants to keep Desert Code on turf and that he is pointing him toward a start in the $100,000 Daytona Handicap on the hillside turf course Feb. 15.

"I want to stay on the grass," Hofmans said. "It seems to be his specialty."

Owned by Tarabilla Farm, Desert Code has won two of his last three starts on the hillside turf course, a span that includes a win in the Joe Hernandez Stakes last February.

Desert Code was nominated to the six-furlong Palos Verdes Handicap, and his absence further weakens that Grade 2 race. Of the 15 nominees, seven have been entered in Saturday's $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint, including 2008 Palos Verdes winner In Summation and Machismo, who was second to In Summation in the El Conejo Handicap on Jan. 1.

In addition, Cost of Freedom, winner of the Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes in September, was taken out of training last week because of unsoundness.

While some horses entered for the Sunshine Millions Sprint could be scratched from that race and start in the Palos Verdes, the Palos Verdes is likely to have a small field.

Johnny Eves, winner of the Vernon Underwood Stakes in December but last of four in the El Conejo, and Talkin to Mom Roo, an allowance-class horse, are expected for the Palos Verdes.

Plans undecided for Artiste Royal

Artiste Royal, who won his third major turf stakes in California in the last 18 months in Monday's Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes, could resurface at several venues around the world in coming months.

Trainer Neil Drysdale said Wednesday that plans have not been finalized for Artiste Royal. After Monday's race, Drysdale said that stakes at Fair Grounds in March or Hong Kong in April could be considered.

Artiste Royal rallied from last in a field of 10 to win the $150,000 San Marcos by a nose over Medici Code in a thrilling finish. Three horses, including eventual third-place finisher Ferneley, led in the final furlong of the race over 1 1/4 miles.

The San Marcos was Artiste Royal's first start since a troubled 11th-place finish in the Hong Kong Cup last month.

Owned by Dave and Jill Heerensperger, Artiste Royal, 8, has won 7 of 28 starts and $871,790. He won the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch Stakes in 2007 and the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park last June.

Drysdale had three of the 10 starters in the San Marcos. Marsh Side, winner of the Grade 1 Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine in October, finished seventh. He was as close as third before fading through the stretch.

Drysdale said Marsh Side will be pointed for the $150,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf on Feb. 22.

"He's a mile-and-a-half horse," he said.

A trip to Dubai in late March is being considered for Marsh Side.

Obrigado, second in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup last month, finished eighth in the San Marcos, emerging from the race with a bruised foot, Drysdale said.

Congor Bay, Smart Bid eye stakes

Congor Bay and Smart Bid, winners on Monday, will start next in important stakes for 3-year-olds in February, their respective trainers said.

Congor Bay earned a start in the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 16, after winning his first stakes in the $78,750 San Pedro Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters.

Ridden by Patrick Husbands, Congor Bay ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.59, finishing a half-length in front of Point Attended. The victory was the first Santa Anita stakes win for Husbands and trainer Mark Casse.

Casse said he was on the verge of giving Congor Bay a break until Husbands returned from an early January workout raving about the colt's condition. The Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes is run over seven furlongs.

Smart Bid won his first start against winners in a one-mile optional claimer on turf, but the surface is not an indication of the colt's direction. On Wednesday, trainer Graham Motion said Smart Bid would be considered for the $200,000 Robert Lewis Stakes on Feb. 7 or the $200,000 Sham Stakes on Feb. 28.

"The question will be whether to take a shot in the Robert Lewis or take a shot in the Sham and give him more time," Motion said.