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Top two play Big Cap waiting game
ARCADIA, Calif. - Weekend workouts by Congaree and Medaglia d'Oro will determine whether the two handicap stars will start in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 1.
Medaglia d'Oro, the winner of the Strub Stakes on Feb. 1, was scheduled to work on Saturday at Hollywood Park. Trainer Bobby Frankel is also considering sending Medaglia d'Oro to the Middle East for the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 29.
Congaree, the winner of the San Pasqual and San Antonio handicaps at this meeting, will work Sunday, according to trainer Bob Baffert.
Few observers expect both horses to run in the Big Cap, over 1 1/4 miles.
"Let's see how he works first," Frankel said.
"I don't know if I'll run yet," Baffert said. "I've got to work my horse. I'll know after Sunday."
Their decisions may dictate which horse Jerry Bailey rides. He rode both horses in their last start.
Behind the top pair is a supporting cast of five horses - Kudos, Milwuakee Brew, Piensa Sonando, Pleasantly Perfect, and Sligo Bay.
Richard Mandella trains Kudos and Pleasantly Perfect. Both horses worked on Friday. Pleasantly Perfect worked seven furlongs in 1:25 in company with Olmodavor, who is being pointed for the New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds on March 2.
Before the first race, Kudos worked a mile in 1:35.80 in company with Omega Code, a hopeful for the San Rafael Stakes on March 1.
Piensa Sonando, who will be a longshot in the Big Cap, worked five furlongs in 59.40 seconds.
The Big Cap is the richest race of the meeting and one of four major stakes next weekend.
The San Rafael Stakes on Saturday for 3-year-olds over a mile is an important prep for the Santa Anita Derby on April 5. The probables are Excessivepleasure, Just Wonder, Omega Code, Our Bobby V, and Spensive.
The Saturday program also includes the $400,000 Frank Kilroe Mile on turf. Sunday's feature is the $200,000 San Carlos Handicap over seven furlongs.
Siberland out of San Rafael
Siberland, the winner of three stakes races since early September, will miss the San Rafael Stakes after pulling up poorly following a workout last Tuesday, trainer Kevin Lewis said.
On Friday, Siberland was scheduled to undergo nuclear scan tests, which are more thorough than conventional X-rays.
"He's a little off behind," Lewis said. "He worked awesome, but he was a little funny afterwards."
Owned by Dennis Weir, Siberland has won 4 of 7 starts and $172,180. His stakes wins include the I'm Smokin Stakes for California-breds last summer at Del Mar and two stakes during the current Turf Paradise meeting - the Arizona Juvenile and the Rattlesnake. He finished second in the Turf Paradise Derby on Feb. 1.
Last weekend, Siberland was included among the 24 betting interests in the first pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, but was sent off as the longest shot, at 114-1.
Four-bagger brings Pincay close
Jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. pulled within one win of catching leading rider Patrick Valenzuela after scoring four victories from seven mounts on Thursday's eight-race program.
Pincay won the first race aboard Devious Impact ($10.20), the third with Kolob ($5.60), and the late double with Ditch Digger ($7.60) and Spoonman ($8.20).
Valenzuela won the sixth race aboard Miss New York ($7) to maintain his lead in the standings, 48-47.
Two of Pincay's wins came at the expense of Valenzuela. Devious Impact won by a nose over Valenzuela's mount, Quero Quero, and Kolob won by a nose over Comstock King, who was also ridden by Valenzuela. The Kolob- Comstock King race was so close that Pincay was not sure he had won, and asked Valenzuela while the two were galloping out.
"When he said, 'I don't know,' I knew I had a chance," Pincay said.
Pincay, 56, is seeking his first riding title in a Santa Anita winter-spring meeting since 2000-01. He won his first riding title at Santa Anita in 1970. Last year, Pincay finished third behind Alex Solis and Kent Desormeaux, missing the title by 10 wins.
"I'd love to win the title," he said. "If I don't, I know I'll have a pretty good meeting. If I finish second, it's a big accomplishment for me at my age."
Atswhatimtalknbout snags 104 Beyer
Atswhatimtalknbout earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 104 for his victory in an allowance race over 1 1/16 miles on Thursday.
Trained by Ron Ellis, Atswhatimtalknbout will be pointed for the $250,000 San Felipe Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on March 16.
During, who finished second to Atswhatimtalknbout, will be pointed for the same race, according to Baffert.
Crackup laughs last
While his sprinter Roll Hennessy Roll runs short Sunday in the Baldwin Stakes, trainer Rafael Becerra is looking forward to longer races with 3-year-old prospects Crackup and Sum Trick. Both colts worked seven furlongs Friday morning at Santa Anita, and Crackup was particularly impressive. Crackup broke off about eight lengths behind older handicap runners Pleasantly Perfect and Olmodavor, narrowed the gap after a half-mile, and finished nearly even with those two. He was timed in a blazing 1:23.60.
"We're pointing for either the El Camino Real Derby" - March 8 at Golden Gate - "or the Gotham Mile" - March 16 at Aqueduct - Becerra said. Crackup bled and finished a distant fourth in his last start, Jan. 18 in the Santa Catalina, but Becerra hopes he can control the colt's bleeding for his next start. Crackup has won 3 of 6 and earned $328,8282.
Sum Trick's 8 a.m. workout was timed in 1:25.20, and Becerra said "he finished strong, he went [23.60 seconds] the last quarter, and galloped out a mile in [1:37.40]." Sum Trick, runner-up behind Kafwain in the Grade 2 San Vicente on Feb. 1, runs one mile Saturday in the Grade 2 San Rafael Stakes.
Affluent likely to get new jockey
Alex Solis rode Affluent to victory in the Grade 1 Santa Monica, and the jockey was up for the mare's six-furlong workout (1:15) Friday morning at 6:30. Nevertheless, when Affluent starts favored March 9 in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap, she is likely to have a different rider. Solis is the regular rider for Got Koko, the Bruce Headley-trained filly who won all three races in the La Canada series and is aiming for the Santa Margarita.
Affluent is trained by Ron McAnally. Regarding the jockey assignment, he said, "I don't know what's going to happen, and [Solis] wouldn't be able to ride her in the Apple Blossom anyway, because he's going to have to stay here and ride [Man Among Men] in the Santa Anita Derby." Both the Apple Blossom, at Oaklawn, and the Santa Anita Derby will be run April 5.
* Jockey Gary Stevens won his first race in nearly four months, aboard Throw Me Roses ($8.40) in the first race. Stevens did not ride from late October until mid-February because he was playing the role of George Woolf in the movie based on the book "Seabiscuit." He returned to racing last weekend.
* Jockey Omar Berrio remained hospitalized for observation at midday on Friday after being involved in a spill on Thursday. In the seventh race, Berrio rode McCordnskuba who broke down on the hillside turf course. McCordnskuba was euthanized because of injuries to his right foreleg. Berrio was expected to be released by Friday afternoon and may return to riding by Wednesday, according to his agent, Rene San Miguel.
* Requete, the winner of Thursday's San Marino Handicap, will return in the Explosive Bid Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Fair Grounds on March 23, Frankel said.
- additional reporting by Brad Free