03/19/2009 11:00PM

Sugar Mint ready for stakes


ARCADIA, Calif. - Sugar Mint's performances are catching up to her promise.

After recording a convincing win in an optional claimer over a mile on turf Thursday, her second win in three starts this year, Sugar Mint is on schedule to make her California stakes debut in the $100,000 Wilshire Handicap over a mile on turf at Hollywood Park on May 2.

The Wilshire "seems perfect for her," said Dan Ward, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer's assistant. "She's had six weeks since the last race and the Wilshire is six weeks away."

Thursday, Sugar Mint stalked pacesetter Heathersdaddysbaby for the first half-mile, took the lead on the turn, and won by 2 1/4 lengths under jockey Rafael Bejarano. She ran a mile on turf in 1:34.46.

Bejarano "got her to relax really nicely," Ward said. "When she got to the lead, she opened up."

Owned by William DeBurgh, Sugar Mint, 4, won an allowance race on the hillside turf course Jan. 8 in her U.S. debut and was third, beaten a head, in an one-mile allowance race Jan. 30. In England last year, Sugar Mint finished second in the Chester Oaks and 12th in the English Oaks.

Motion moving string to Keeneland

Trainer Graham Motion's California division is leaving the circuit for Keeneland, which begins its spring meet next month.

The Maryland-based Motion, who has had a small stable in California since last summer, said he is likely to send horses back to Southern California for the Del Mar meeting in July.

"I'm glad I did it," he said of having a division in California. "It's been perfect for me and for my owners. I'm going to keep a small group at Keeneland and this will be the first year I've done that. I would hope to come back at Del Mar."

Through Thursday, Motion had won 5 races from 22 starts at the Santa Anita meeting. He has won two stakes - the California Breeders' Champion Stakes for fillies with Saucey Evening in December and the La Zanzara Handicap with Caprice in February.

Motion is the latest nationally prominent stable to make plans to leave California. Mark Casse and Todd Pletcher have had divisions in California this year, but they are expected to leave for Woodbine and Kentucky, respectively, in April.

Dawn After Dawn a likely scratch

Dawn After Dawn, who has won two stakes at this meeting, is unlikely to try for a third in Sunday's $150,000 Santa Ana Handicap, trainer John Sadler.

Dawn After Dawn was supplemented to the race for $3,000 last weekend, but Sadler said she is likely to be held out of the race in favor of the $100,000 Las Cienegas Handicap on the hillside turf course here April 12 or the Wilshire Handicap.

Sadler will still have Belmont Cat in the Santa Ana field.

Dawn After Dawn won the Wishing Well Handicap on the hillside turf course on Jan. 31 and the Moscow Burning Stakes over a mile on turf on March 13 for owners Ike and Dawn Thrash.

Whatsthescript gets back to work

The 2008 major stakes winners Daytona and Whatsthescript will make comebacks this spring.

Whatsthescript, winner of the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile last August and the third-place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Mile last October, is scheduled to have his first workout of the year Sunday, said Sadler, his trainer.

Whatsthescript was turned out for 90 days at owner Tom and Debbie Stull's Tommy Town Thoroughbreds in Santa Ynez, Calif., after finishing sixth in the Grade 1 Citation Hanicap at Hollywood Park last November.

Sadler said that Whatsthescript is being pointed for the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park on May 25.

Daytona, who won six stakes from fall 2007 to spring 2008, is nearing his first workout of the year. He was given a break following a 10th-place finish in the BC Mile.

"He'll start breezing at the first of the month," trainer Dan Hendricks said. "He's full of it."

Hendricks said Daytona was not injured last fall but needed a break after being in training for nearly two straight years. Daytona has won two Grade 1 races - the 2007 Hollywood Derby and the 2008 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile.

Add Take the Points to derby field

The field for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby is slowly growing.

Take the Points, second in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes in February, is likely to start in the Santa Anita Derby instead of the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 11.

Trained by Pletcher, Take the Points made his stakes debut and first start in California in the Sham Stakes in February. He was beaten six lengths by The Pamplemousse, a leading contender for the Santa Anita Derby.

Other probable starters for the Santa Anita Derby are Pioneerof the Nile, who has won three consecutive graded stakes; Chocolate Candy, who has won two stakes in Northern California this year; and Mr. Hot Stuff, who was third in the Sham.

Chocolate Candy, trained by Hollendorfer, worked a mile in 1:41.20 at Golden Gate Fields on Thursday.

Tyler Baze, Gryder heading to Dubai

Jockeys Tyler Baze and Aaron Gryder will ride in Dubai next Saturday.

Gryder is booked to ride Well Armed in the $6 million Dubai World Cup. Well Armed was third in the 2008 running.

Baze will ride Hyperbaric in the $5omillion Dubai Duty Free on turf and Machismo in the $2 million Golden Shaheen for sprinters.

Baze is expected to return to California in time to ride Sunday's program at Santa Anita.

Matto Mondo going back to turf

Matto Mondo, third as the favorite in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 7, is likely to return to turf for his next start, trainer Richard Mandella said.

Mandella is considering the Gradeo2 San Francisco Mile at Golden Gate Fields on April 25 and the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 3 for Matto Mondo's next start.

Earlier this year, Matto Mondo won the Thunder Road Handicap over a mile on the main track at Santa Anita. He was a Group 1 winner on turf in Chile in 2007.