03/23/2009 11:00PM

Take the Points changes plans


ARCADIA, Calif. - The presence of both Pioneerof the Nile and The Pamplemousse in the Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 4 is causing trainer Todd Pletcher to re-route Take the Points to the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 11.

Take the Points most recently finished a distant second to The Pamplemousse in the Sham Stakes.

Pletcher on Tuesday said Take the Points, who is currently training at Santa Anita, could jump back into the Santa Anita Derby picture "if there is a defection or two." Barring that, though, he's off to Keeneland.

If Take the Points does run in the Blue Grass, Garrett Gomez will ride him. Gomez also is riding the Pletcher-trained Dunkirk this Saturday in the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. On April 4, Gomez is scheduled to ride Pioneerof the Nile in the Santa Anita Derby, so if Take the Points were to run against Pioneerof the Nile in that race, Pletcher would need a different jockey.

Regardless, a small field is expected for the Santa Anita Derby. One of the definite candidates for the race, Mr. Hot Stuff, worked six furlongs in 1:12.60 on Tuesday morning at Santa Anita. His trainer, Eoin Harty, is in the United Arab Emirates this week to run Well Armed in the Dubai World Cup on Saturday.

2-year-old racing commences

The first 2-year-old race of the year on this circuit takes place in Thursday's opener, with California-breds dashing two furlongs through the homestretch. Of the 11 entered - 10 can start - four were bred by Terry Lovingier, including Action Call and Turbo Time, both trained by Walther Solis.

Nine males are entered in the race along with two fillies, including Miss Dubai, another Lovingier-bred runner. Lovingier also bred the gelding Mac Nine. Both Action Call and Mac Nine are by the sire Nineeleven.

All 2-year-olds must be a full 24 months old to start, so no horse born in April 2007 or later is currently eligible. Every starter must have at least three workouts, with at least one a quarter-mile in length. And every runner must be approved by the starter to have broken satisfactorily from the gate in a morning training session.

Baffert closer to home this year

Trainer Bob Baffert has won the Dubai World Cup twice, but even though he has Indian Blessing running on this year's undercard in the Dubai Golden Shaheen, he has remained home, allowing assistant Jimmy Barnes to travel.

"He's been in lockdown for six years, or more. It's a vacation of sorts," Baffert said.

But Baffert will be taking his act on the road, though not as far. He is heading to Sunland Park on Sunday to run Mayor Marv and Mythical Power in the $800,000 Sunland Derby and Gabby's Golden Gal in the $200,000 Sunland Oaks.

Gabby's Golden Gal is one of several promising 3-year-old fillies for Baffert. He added another to the list when Irish Gypsy, making her first start since July, defeated stablemate, and first-time starter Mother Ruth in a maiden race Sunday.

"She had some baby things at Del Mar. Foot issues," Baffert said of Irish Gypsy. "She just needed some time. If you don't give them time, they'll make you wait longer.

"I've got some nice fillies coming along. Hopefully they'll have a big summer and fall campaign."

Medzendeekron ready to go again

Medzendeekron is scheduled to make his sixth start of the year, and fourth start since Feb. 8, in the $125,000 Sensational Star Handicap on Sunday. The Sensational Star, at 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course for older California-breds, is part of a fairly pedestrian weekend of stakes racing here, as Santa Anita saves its ammunition for what should be a terrific Santa Anita Derby card the following weekend.

Medzendeekron will be seeking his third straight victory. He defeated Cal-breds going a mile on turf in the Crystal Water Handicap on Feb. 28. He worked a half-mile in 52.40 seconds Tuesday morning for trainer Barry Abrams.

Liberian Freighter, who was second in the Crystal Water, is among those expected to face Medzendeekron, along with Lucky Honey and Lucky J.H.

Also Sunday is the Grade 3, $100,000 Santa Paula Stakes for 3-year-old fillies going 6 1/2 furlongs on Pro-Ride. The unbeaten Carlsbad, who has won four races by a combined total of more than 50 lengths at Turf Paradise, is scheduled to make her California debut. She had been trained by Kevin Lewis in Arizona, but Jeff Mullins has her now.

Saturday's stakes are the Grade 3, $100,000 Tokyo City Cup for older horses at 1 1/2 miles and the $70,000 San Miguel Stakes for 3-year-olds at six furlongs.

Jockeys meet special-needs children

Several jockeys from Santa Anita are scheduled to meet a group of youngsters from AbilityFirst, a local charity that works with both children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities, in the walking ring Thursday morning. The get-together is timed to promote the Santa Anita Derby Day 5K, a road race held the morning of the Santa Anita Derby that ends at the finish line of Santa Anita's training track.

The Derby Day 5K, under the stewardship of Pete Siberell, Santa Anita's tireless community events coordinator, has become an extremely popular event, attracting thousands of runners and walkers. This year, some participants in the 5K will be raising funds for AbilityFirst, which is one of the local associations to glean donations from the 5K. For more information on the race, visit Santa Anita's website, www.santaanita.com.