04/11/2006 11:00PM

Tough spot for Gallardo to repeat


ARCADIA, Calif. - A flashy win by Gallardo last month will make him the favorite in an optional claimer at Santa Anita on Friday, but he will face challenges from two veteran claimers who each are coming off a victory - Primerica and Spriggzee.

The trio is expected to dominate the one-mile race, which carries a purse of $62,000. The optional claimer is the seventh race on an eight-race program that begins at 3 p.m. Pacific. The optional claimer was not intended to be the feature; two allowance races on turf failed to draw sufficient entries on Wednesday morning.

Gallardo, trained by Bob Baffert, was a seven-length winner of a first-condition allowance race on March 16. Ridden by Aaron Gryder, Gallardo rallied from third to take the lead in early stretch before drawing off.

The win ended a four-race losing streak for Gallardo, who was second in the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs last April.

Gallardo has made three starts at this meeting, finishing fifth of six in a seven-furlong allowance race on Dec. 31 and third in an allowance race at 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 28. In the latter race, he lost to Devil's Bay, a Baffert-trained starter entered in Friday's race.

Primerica and Spriggzee are each making his first start since being claimed.

Primerica, now trained by Mike Mitchell, won a $50,000 claimer at 1 1/16 miles by a half-length on March 1. Trained for that start by Mike Puype, Primerica rallied from third and led by two lengths before holding on for the win. He is the lone horse in Friday's race entered for a $62,500 tag.

Mitchell trained Primerica for three starts in December and January, including a win in a $32,000 claimer at Hollywood Park in December. He lost the 8-year-old gelding to Puype after a second-place finish in a $50,000 claimer here on Jan. 29.

Spriggzee won a $40,000 claimer by 3 1/2 lengths on March 19. He was trained by Steve Knapp for that win and was claimed by Ted H. West. Spriggzee ran close to the pace, rallying from second to take the lead in early stretch.

Devil's Bay has lost two starts since winning in January. He finished 10th in a seven-furlong allowance race on March 4 and third in an allowance race at 1 1/16 miles on March 23. In the latter race, Devil's Bay finished 3 1/4 lengths behind Capitao Risso, racing near the pace before fading.

Power Boy is making his first start since finishing second in a $62,500 claimer last May.