08/24/2007 12:00AM

Thor's Echo out for the year


DEL MAR, Calif. - Thor's Echo, last year's champion sprinter Breeders' Cup Sprint winner, is out of training likely until winter after undergoing surgery earlier this month to have a bone chip removed from a hind ankle, trainer Doug O'Neill said.

Thor's Echo has been sent to Magali Farms near Santa Ynez, Calif., to recover, O'Neill said.

"He was doing unbelievably," O'Neill said. "I breezed him and the next day he had a little filling. The doctor said there is no reason he shouldn't come back to full strength."

Owned by Sheikh Rashid al-Maktoum, Thor's Echo was based with O'Neill last year when owned by Pablo Suarez and Royce Jaime. They sold Thor's Echo to Maktoum in January. For Maktoum, Thor's Echo was beaten in two starts in Dubai, finishing sixth in a Group 3 stakes on March 1 and sixth in the $2omillion Golden Shaheen for sprinters on the Dubai World Cup undercard on March 31. At the time, he was trained by Satish Seemar.

Thor's Echo returned to the O'Neill stable in late May and had six recorded workouts, including two bullets, from mid-June to early August before the injury was detected. O'Neill was hoping to have Thor's Echo ready to launch a fall campaign in the Pirate's Bounty Handicap at Del Mar on Sept.o5.

Medici Code to stay on grass

Medici Code's debut on a California synthetic surface will have to wait until after the Del Mar meeting. Thursday, trainer Darrell Vienna said Medici Code, the winner of the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap on turf on Aug. 11, will make his next start in the $400,000 Del Mar Derby at 1 1/8 miles on turf on Sept. 2.

Vienna would like to start Medici Code on a synthetic track.

"He works so well on an all-weather track," Vienna said. "He's fine on turf and better on the all-weather."

Medici Code won three races on England's synthetic track circuit last winter, before being bought for about $585,000 by Donna and Bill Herrick and sent to Vienna. In California, Medici Code has finished sixth in the Santa Anita Derby in April, second in the Oceanside Stakes, and won the 1o1/16-mile La Jolla.

The last two results have given Vienna encouragement that Medici Code belongs in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby.

"The Oceanside may have been a fluke, a good race," Vienna said. "When he put two together, it established him as a horse of quality, at least in his crop. Certainly, he fits in his herd."

Vienna knows that Medici Code will need to improve to win the Del Mar Derby, which has drawn 21 nominations. The race has a safety limit of 10 starters because of the narrow Del Mar turf course. Preference is given to graded or group stakes winners, followed by horses that placed in such races.

Medici Code is assured of a berth because of his win in the Grade 2 La Jolla. The other nominees guaranteed starting spots are Asperity, Bleu Intense, Bwana Bull, Souvenir Slew, Stoneside, Unusual Suspect, Vauquelin, Warning Zone, and Worldly.

Asperity, Bleu Intense, and Stoneside are from Europe and have not started in the United States.

The next three horses eligible should one of those drop out are Augment, Ten a Penny, and Scat Thief.

Horses such as Daytona, Karazi, and Knockout Artist were intended runners by their stables, but are farther down the list in the order of preference and may not gain berths. Some of those could start in the $125,000 El Cajon Stakes at a mile on the main track on Friday instead.

One notable omission from the nominations was Shamdinan, the winner of the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes on Aug. 12. O'Neill said that Shamdinan will start in the $500,000 Man o' War Stakes at Belmont Park on Sept. 8 as a prep to the Breeders' Cup Turf at Monmouth Park on Oct.o27.

Shamdinan earned an automatic berth to the BC Turf with his victory in the Secretariat.

Two Grade 1's for 2-year-olds

Beginning Wednesday, and continuing through the end of the meeting on Sept. 5, there are 12 stakes scheduled, ranging in value from $85,000 to $400,000.

Among those races are two Gradeo1, $250,000 stakes for 2-year-olds at seven furlongs - the Del Mar Debutante on Sept. 3 and the Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 5.

The Debutante field will be led by Tasha's Miracle, the winner of the Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs on Aug. 8. Other probable starters are Comical Vacation, Foxy Danseur, Golden Noodle, Magic Myth, Ididntmeantoo, Set Play, and Treadmill.

Golden Noodle won the Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park earlier this year.

O'Neill said that Grace Anatomy, the winner of a maiden race on Aug.o19, would pass the Debutante in favor of the $250,000 Oak Leaf Stakes at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on Sept. 29.

"She's a long-bodied horse, and in my mind, she got a little thin," he said.

The Futurity has 10 probable starters - Dixie Chatter, Drill Down, E Z's Gentleman, Georgie Boy, Good Man Dan, Kanan Dume, Leonides, Overextended, Salute the Sarge, and Whatever Whenever.

Trainer Jeff Mullins said that Yes It's a Cat, the winner of a maiden special weight race on Aug. 11, would pass the Futurity for an undetermined start in the fall.

Black Seventeen back to work

Black Seventeen, the winner of the Grade 2 Carry Back Stakes at Calder on July 7, worked three furlongs in 36.60 seconds on Thursday and is showing no ill effects of a minor foot injury that interrupted his training schedule earlier this month, trainer Brian Koriner said on Friday.

Koriner is hoping that Black Seventeen can earn a spot in the Breeders' Cup Sprint with a win or a placing in a major stakes in late September or early October. No decision on a prep race will be made until Black Seventeen has a few more workouts, Koriner said.