09/29/2009 11:00PM

Star Nicholas joins five in Classic


ARCADIA, Calif. - After the trouble he has caused around trainer Peter Eurton's barn this week, Star Nichols needs to win Saturday's $200,000 California Cup Classic at Santa Anita just to redeem himself.

When Star Nicholas was leaving the main track after a gallop on Tuesday, he unseated exercise rider A.C. Valenzuela, who broke an ankle in the spill, Eurton said.

"Something spooked in front of him and he dropped his shoulder," Eurton said. "He [threw off] Valenzuela and then stepped on him. A.C. said it was the first time he'd been hurt in 20 years."

Eurton and the partnership that owns Star Nicholas are hoping for a less eventful day on Saturday. Star Nicholas is part of a field of six in the California Cup Classic, which is led by the 3-year-old Grazen, a two-time stakes winner.

Star Nicholas has won two stakes in the last year, including the Windy Sands Handicap over a mile at Del Mar on Sept. 5. In that race, Star Nicholas rallied from last in a field of five in the final furlong to win by a neck.

The Windy Sands equals the longest win of his career, a slight concern for Eurton.

"He's got the mind to go a mile and an eighth," Eurton said.

Eurton paid a late nomination fee of $1,000 to make Star Nicholas eligible for the Classic.

Grazen will be facing older horses in a stakes for the first time, and the result will determine how he is campaigned for the rest of the fall. Owner-breeder Nick Alexander and trainer Mike Mitchell are considering supplementing Grazen to the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile here on Nov. 7 if he runs well on Saturday.

It would cost $100,000 to nominate Grazen to the Breeders' Cup program as a horse of racing age. If Grazen wins the California Cup Classic, he would earn $120,000.

"I would have to take the money from this race and give it to them," Alexander said of the Breeders' Cup.

The Classic also drew the 2007 Cal Cup Classic winner, Bold Chieftain, the filly Lethal Heat and the longshots Blackbriar and One Chin Again. Bold Chieftain won the one-mile Governor's Handicap by five lengths at Sacramento on Sept. 7, his first win in seven starts this year.

The small Classic field is reflective on the overall field sizes for Saturday's 10-race California Cup program, which drew only 76 horses.