03/09/2009 11:00PM

Third Dawn to lead crew to Keeneland


ARCADIA, Calif. - It took five starts, but Third Dawn finally got the right trip Saturday in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks, and the recent maiden winner earned a trip out of town after jumping up and finishing second by only a nose to Stardom Bound.

The Oaks was the first race in which Third Dawn was able to rate behind a contested pace. "I always felt she'd be more effective in a big field" with speed to run at, trainer John Sadler said. "She never got the trips her first few races I wanted her to get."

Third Dawn will lead a Sadler assault on Keeneland. The trainer said Third Dawn will start April 4 in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes, and be joined by stablemates Evita Argentina and Noble Court, respective 2009 and 2007 winners of the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes. The 3-year-old turf colt Oil Man also will ship.

Evita Argentina, who knocked off the boys Feb. 16 in the San Vicente, will run April 8 in the Grade 2 Beaumont Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs. Her spring-summer campaign will be geared toward one-turn races, according to Sadler. Noble Court, a 5-year-old who has recovered from a bruised foot discovered after his Nov. 22 third in the Grade 3 Vernon Underwood, will aim for the Grade 2 Commonwealth at seven furlongs on April 11.

"It will be a mini-invasion," Sadler said.

Oil Man will point for the opening-day Transylvania Stakes on April 3.

Unbeaten filly for Mullins

Carlsbad is unbeaten, untested and virtually unknown. That might change later this month when the 3-year-old filly makes her California debut for trainer Jeff Mullins. The 4-for-4 Arizona-bred, who won the Arizona Oaks at Turf Paradise by more than 13 lengths on Feb. 21, posted her first local work Tuesday at Santa Anita, going five furlongs in 1:01.40. Mullins plans to start both Carlsbad and Empressive Lady on March 29 in the Grade 3 Santa Paula Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs.

"There's nothing else for her," Mullins explained as reason to shorten Carlsbad from a mile to a sprint. Owned and bred by Dennis Weir, Carlsbad posted three successive Beyer Speed Figures of 85 or higher in Turf Paradise stakes, and Mullins said "she ran faster than the boys every time" in corresponding stakes for males.

As for Empressive Lady, she is one of the 23 individual fillies listed in the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager, but Mullins doubts he would stretch her out.

"I don't know if she'll go long, I just don't think she has the mentality to do it," he said.

Empressive Lady wired allowance sprinters Feb. 11 with a 96 Beyer.

Mullins-trained I Want Revenge, romping winner of the Gotham Stakes on Saturday, was scheduled to fly out of New York at noon Tuesday and arrive at Hollywood Park late that night.

Another shot with Shafted

Longshot players who backed Shafted five weeks ago in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis, only to see him finish a bad eighth at 6.90-1, will be tempted to chase the 3-year-old Saturday when he takes on Pioneerof the Nile in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes. A small field is expected for this final Santa Anita Derby prep, and if Mark Casse-trained Shafted reproduces his Jan. 2 allowance win he can upset the San Felipe. If he repeats the Lewis, he may finish up the track again.

"It was a disappointing race - he just ran a subpar race," assistant trainer Ricky Griffith said Tuesday, offering no excuses. Nonetheless, hopes remain high for the Mineshaft colt, who won a strong allowance race Jan. 2.

"We're hopeful he shows what we think of him Saturday," Griffith said. "He's bounced back well, and he's put on some weight."

The sharp allowance sprint winner New Bay will enter the San Felipe, but even after a good five-furlong work Tuesday in 1:01.20, trainer Richard Mandella reiterated that the $70,000 Pasadena Stakes on Sunday, at a mile on turf, is the likely spot.

"I'd just as soon bring him along a little more conservatively," Mandella said.

Rail Trip works for Santana Mile

The unbeaten Rail Trip worked an easy three furlongs in 36.40 seconds Monday at Santa Anita, and will run April 4, Santa Anita Derby Day, in the $70,000 Santana Mile.

"It will set him up for the Hollywood Park races," trainer Ron Ellis said, referring to Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy on May 9, Grade 2 Californian on June 13, and Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 11.

Rail Trip won two allowance races on Pro-Ride at Santa Anita, but Ellis and jockey Jose Valdivia believe he is more effective on Cushion Track. "It's a little more like dirt over there," Ellis said.

Santa Margarita comes up light

With three of the four topweights skipping the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap on Saturday, a small field is expected for the $300,000 race. Life Is Sweet, the 120-pound topweight, will aim for her third straight stakes win in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Margarita. Her rivals will include Magical Fantasy (117), the runner-up to Life Is Sweet in the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes, as well as Santa Teresita (117) and Model (116), one-two finishers in the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap.

Jibboom (118) started three times this meet and will pass. Bsharpsonata (117) will run in either the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn or the Vinery Madison at Keeneland. Foxysox (117) goes March 22 at Santa Anita in the Santa Ana Handicap on grass.

Racing office bests press corps

The Santa Anita racing-office staff was looking for good news last week that was not related to bankruptcy. They got it Saturday by pounding an overconfident press box handicapping team in the eighth annual Golden Horse Handicapping Contest held on Santa Anita Handicap day.

Einstein's $12 payoff in the Big 'Cap (tabbed by the racing office's Lisa Jones), put the contest out of reach, as the final mutuels-based tally was $102-89 in favor of the racing office.

"We needed the victory for team morale," racing secretary Rick Hammerle said.

Despite the racing office's upset victory, the press box remains as the comfortable leader of the series, 5-3.