02/23/2009 12:00AM

Take the Points shipping for Sham


ARCADIA, Calif. - Jockey Garrett Gomez and trainer Todd Pletcher are spending the winter 2,500 miles apart, but their paths are starting to cross with greater frequency. Gomez, based in California, traveled to Gulfstream Park last Thursday to ride the Pletcher-trained Dunkirk to an impressive victory against allowance company, and this Saturday at Santa Anita they will combine with Take the Points, a 3-year-old whom Pletcher is sending west from south Florida for the Grade 3, $200,000 Sham Stakes.

It's a shrewd move by Pletcher, because Take the Points should be the second choice to San Rafael Stakes winner The Pamplemousse in the 1 1/8-mile Sham. Although Take the Points will be making his stakes debut, he has won two straight, most recently a first-level allowance at Gulfstream Park in a one-turn mile. Take the Points - by Even the Score out of a Fred Astaire mare - is owned by Jack and Laurie Wolf and Don and Barbara Lucarelli. The four race as Starlight Partners.

"He's going to fly out there on Wednesday," Pletcher said from Florida on Sunday, after Take the Points worked five furlongs at the Palm Meadows training center in 1:00.85. "I wanted to get a two-turn race into him, so that eliminated the Fountain of Youth. His owners have Naos in the Gotham, so that was eliminated as a possibility. And this made more sense than waiting for the Louisiana Derby. It fit his schedule better. My only concern was flying out West, but I was able to get a Tex Sutton flight for him.

"He's never raced on synthetic, but he trains like he'll handle it, and he's got a little turf pedigree on his bottom side. If he runs well, he can come back in the Santa Anita Derby."

The Santa Anita Derby, also at 1 1/8 miles, is on April 4.

In addition to Take the Points and The Pamplemousse, the Sham field is expected to include Mark S the Cooler, Mr. Hot Stuff, Ventana, and possibly Balfour Park, who was entered in a first-level allowance race on Thursday.

Pioneerof the Nile stays on edge

Meanwhile, the top-ranked 3-year-old in California, Pioneerof the Nile, continues to train steadily for his next start, the Grade 2, $200,000 San Felipe Stakes on March 14. On Sunday at Santa Anita, he worked five furlongs in 1:00.60.

"He's relaxing and becoming more professional," trainer Bob Baffert said. "When you ask him to pick it up, he picks it up. When you want him to slow down, he slows down. He's on autopilot now. In the CashCall Futurity, he wasn't sure what was going on, but he still did it because he's a good horse."

Baffert has another rising star

Baffert unleashed another promising 3-year-old on Saturday when the Unbridled's Song colt Zensational cruised to a 3 3/4-length victory against maidens, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 103 after zipping six furlongs on Pro-Ride in 1:08.64 under Gomez. It was his first start for Baffert after racing once last summer for Bill Mott.

"He was smoking, huh?" Baffert said. "He looked like his sire."

Baffert said he was not sure where Zensational would run next, but said, "I am going to stretch him out."

"I would like to run him a mile," Baffert said. "He's like Congaree. He's got an engine on him. What I liked more than the way he won was the way he galloped out. When you get a 103 Beyer on this stuff, that's pretty unheard of."

Before a race at Santa Anita on Sunday, Baffert told David Flores, who rode Mayor Marv to a victory in the Turf Paradise Derby on Saturday, that he might run Zensational against Mayor Marv in next month's WinStar Derby at Sunland Park.

"Can I trade?" Flores said.

Onebadkitty makes good

On Friday night, viewers of Animal Planet's series "Jockeys" saw the filly Onebadkitty become fractious in the gate and toss her jockey, Aaron Gryder, like a rag doll. She's come a long way since that incident was taped in October. Onebadkitty has made five starts since then, the most recent on Saturday, when she finished in a dead heat for first with Bel Air Sizzle in the $100,000 Valentine Dancer Handicap for California-bred fillies and mares.

The winners were timed in 1:36.15 on firm turf.

"She made her TV debut on 'Jockeys' flipping over and the next day she wins," said her trainer and co-owner, Brian Koriner, who had Gryder bring Onebadkitty, a 7-1 shot, from off the pace.

"I had Patrick Husbands take her back last time, and everybody was questioning me after the race because we didn't go for the lead and they thought it cost her the race," Koriner said. "But it was to set her up for down the road. She needed to learn something."

Bel Air Sizzle, who went off at 7-2, overcame severe traffic trouble at the top of the stretch and midstretch to get her first win since April.

"At least I know she's back," trainer Barry Abrams said. "I'll take a dead heat. Who gets the trophy?"

Spring House staying home this time

When Spring House won the San Luis Obispo Handicap in 2008, trainer Julio Canani subsequently took him to Dubai. In six starts after that, he won once. Lucky No. 7 was Sunday, when Spring House captured the Grade 2, $150,000 San Luis Obispo for the second straight year. This time, though, he's staying home.

Canani said Spring House would again race 1o1/2 miles on turf in his next start, the Grade 2, $150,000 San Luis Rey Handicap on March 21. He has now won 3 times in 6 starts on this course.

As in 2008, Church Service finished second in the San Luis Obispo. Zambezi Sun, sent off as the odds-on favorite while making his first start in the United States, pulled hard throughout, tried to lug out, and eventually faded to finish seventh in the 10-horse field.

Three prominent entrants in the San Luis Obispo were scratched, as expected, for other spots.

Champs Elysees scratched in order to run in the Grade 1, $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 7. He worked five furlongs in 1:00.20 on Sunday morning for Bobby Frankel, who also trains Zambezi Sun.

Artiste Royal was scratched by trainer Neil Drysdale in favor of the Grade 1, $300,000 Kilroe Mile, also on March 7. He worked five furlongs on turf in 1:02 on Sunday.

Drysdale also scratched Marsh Side. Drysdale said he would like to run the horse in the Dubai Sheema Classic on March 28.

"We are hopeful of getting an invitation," Drysdale said.

Marsh Side worked seven furlongs on turf in 1:31 on Sunday.

* Tiago worked six furlongs in 1:12.40 on Sunday morning at Hollywood Park in preparation for the Santa Anita Handicap. A large field is expected for the Big Cap, whose ranks swelled further on Sunday when it was announced Einstein would head west for the race for trainer Helen Pitts.

* Among the items on the agenda of the monthly California Horse Racing Board meeting on Thursday at Santa Anita is the election of a chairman. John Harris, the vice chairman, has been acting as chairman since the resignation in December of Richard Shapiro, who subsequently was hired by a consortium of racetracks and horsemen's groups to be a liaison with the state government in Sacramento.

* Ventura, who has won the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf and the Santa Monica Handicap in her last two starts, worked five furlongs in 1:00 on Sunday. She could run in the Kilroe Mile.

* Indian Blessing, preparing for the six-furlong Dubai Golden Shaheen, zipped five furlongs in 59.20 seconds on Saturday for Baffert. The time was the best of 68 at the distance.

* Among the visitors to Clocker's Corner on Saturday was Jim Rome, the television and radio sportscaster, who is partners in the Little Red Feather ownership syndicate.