01/09/2009 1:00AM

Surf Cat retired to stand at Old English Rancho


ARCADIA, Calif. - Surf Cat, the millionaire who won six Grade 2 stakes in a four-year racing career, has been retired to stud at Old English Rancho in Sanger, Calif., trainer Bruce Headley said Friday.

Surf Cat, 7, won 9 of 23 starts and $1,045,420 for Marsha Naify and Aase Headley, who is Bruce's wife. A stud fee has not been determined. The stallion was en route to Old English Rancho on Friday, Bruce Headley said.

By Sir Cat, Surf Cat won stakes at 3, 4, and last year as a 6-year-old. He won the 2005 Swaps Stakes, and three stakes in 2006 - the San Carlos, Potrero Grande, and Mervyn LeRoy handicaps. In 2008, he won the San Carlos and Mervyn LeRoy handicaps.

"Every race was extremely exciting," Headley said. "When he won the Swaps, he was one of the best 3-year-olds in California at the time."

In his final start, Surf Cat finished 12th in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita on Oct. 25. He was steadied in traffic on the first turn and raced in traffic on the final turn.

"He got slaughtered on both turns," Headley said. "It was his worst luck."

Believe in Hope still not healthy

The 3-year-old campaign of Believe in Hope is on hold, owing to a slow recovery from a recent virus, trainer Ron Ellis said.

The third-place finisher in the Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita in September, Believe in Hope was pre-entered for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile here in October, but did not start because of illness.

Earlier this week, Ellis said he was discouraged that Believe in Hope has not held his weight in recent weeks. He said the colt's condition has prevented him from planning a workout, or a start.

"Our window of opportunity is closing," Ellis said of the upcoming major stakes for 3-year-olds. "I'm not happy with the way he's training. He doesn't look as good as he did at Del Mar. He hasn't put the weight on since he was sick."

Owned by Mace and Samantha Siegel, Believe in Hope has 1 victory in 3 starts and earnings of $66,800. After beating maidens in his debut, Believe in Hope finished fifth in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity. He was beaten three-quarters of a length by Street Hero in the Norfolk.

Hollendorfer high on Sugar Mint

There is a good chance that Sugar Mint will play an important role in turf stakes for females in 2009.

In her U.S. debut in Thursday's seventh race, Sugar Mint ($4) won an allowance race on the hillside turf course by 1 1/2 lengths, running about 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:12.85.

In England, Sugar Mint had 1 victory in 9 starts, and was unplaced in three Group 1 races. In her final start in that country, she finished a troubled ninth in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes last August.

Now owned by William de Burgh, Sugar Mint was second in the listed Cheshire Oaks last May. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is hopeful that Sugar Mint can develop into a stakes winner this year. He said he would prefer to start Sugar Mint in an allowance race around two turns at this meeting for her next start, but did not rule out a stakes, either.

"We have high hopes for her," Hollendorfer said. "We're thinking about a number of things. We've taken a long time with her since she came from Europe."

Asked if the $100,000 Buena Vista Handicap for fillies and mares over a mile on turf on Feb. 16 is a possibility, Hollendorfer said, "I wouldn't count that out."

Apprentice gets first local win

The jockey Jordan Springer, 31, won at Santa Anita for the first time in Thursday's fourth race for maiden claimers.

Springer, who has ridden in Kentucky, New York and Florida in the past, has been working primarily as an exercise rider at Santa Anita in recent months, riding occasionally at Los Alamitos and Santa Anita.

"That's how I pay the bills," she said. "This is extra."

Springer moved to California after recovering from a back injury that left her sidelined for 4 1/2 months. "That was horrible," she said.

Thursday, Springer rode Tavern ($50.60) for trainer Bob Hess, for whom she exercises horses in the mornings.

Seminole Native aims for Sunshine Turf

Seminole Native, third in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic last January, is being pointed for the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf here on Jan. 24, trainer Jorge Gutierrez said.

If he starts in that race, it will end a layoff of nearly 11 months. Seminole Native has not started since finishing 11th in the Santa Anita Handicap last March. He suffered a condylar fracture to a hind leg while training last spring.

Gutierrez said that Seminole Native will have a one-mile workout on Sunday which will determine plans. Another option is to skip the Sunshine Millions Turf in favor of an allowance race, Gutierrez said.

"He'll determine it," Gutierrez said. "He's doing unbelievably. It will be a stiff workout on Sunday and that will determine whether he goes or not."

Seminole Native has won 4 of 18 starts and $308,300.

The Sunshine Millions is restricted to California-breds and Florida-breds. The Turf is the richest of four races that will be run at Santa Anita on Jan. 24. Another four races, led by the $1 million Classic, will be run the same day at Gulfstream Park.

Sir Beaufort retains Grade 3 status

Despite a surface switch, the $100,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26 has had its status as a Grade 3 race restored by the American Graded Stakes Committee.

The committee automatically downgrades stakes one level when races switch surfaces and then reviews the results on merit. After such reviews, races are either restored to their previous level or remain downgraded. The Sir Beaufort was switched from turf to the main track because of inclement weather.

In the one-mile Sir Beaufort, Gio Ponti, the winner of four stakes, including the Grade 2 Virginia Derby last year, won his first start on the Pro-Ride main track. Medjool and El Gato Malo finished second and third.