Updated on 09/16/2011 9:36AM

Tout Charmant back, but...

Benoit & Associates
Tout Charmant returns from a seven-month layoff in the Grade 2 Las Palmas Handicap at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The paradoxes continue Sunday, closing day of the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita. You've got questions? We've got . . . more questions.

Is a half-year rest for a racehorse too short? Or too long? The dilemma applies in both stakes Sunday. Tout Charmant's seven-month break makes her vulnerable in the Grade 2 Las Palmas Handicap, but El Cielo's nine-month rest is irrelevant in the Grade 3 Morvich Handicap. El Cielo is chalk, Tout Charmant is not.

The Las Palmas attracted 10 fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on grass. Tout Charmant's spring mating with Storm Cat proved unsuccessful, and she returned to training. The Las Palmas serves only as a prep.

"She might need this race," trainer Ron McAnally said. Tout Charmant has won eight races and $1.7 million from 27 starts. She will improve Dec. 1 in the Grade 1 Matriarch. That leaves the Las Palmas a match between Voodoo Dancer and Tates Creek.

Voodoo Dancer finished second in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon her last start. The Christophe Clement trainee has won nine of 16, earning $955,588. The Bobby Frankel-trained Tates Creek, 7 for 11, won a Grade 3 in her last start, Sept. 21 at Belmont.

In the Morvich, turf-sprint specialist El Cielo returns with sharp works to run on a course over which he is 10 for 14.

As the Oak Tree meet drew to a close, favorites were winning at a 37 percent clip through Thursday, leaving plenty room for chaos across all divisions. Pleasantly Perfect looked destined for fame on Oct. 6 winning the Goodwood Handicap, but conflicting interstate regulations regarding bleeders excluded him from the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Although trainer Bob Baffert mastered Oak Tree's 2-year-old stakes, his Oak Leaf winner, Composure, fell short in the BC Juvenile Fillies; Norfolk winner Kafwain was no match for Baffert's BC Juvenile hero, Vindication, who has never raced at Santa Anita. Entering the weekend, Baffert was four wins behind red-hot Jack Carava, whose claiming stable was 13 for 45.

David Flores reemerged as a leading rider, closely followed by a resurrected Pat Valenzuela and the marvelous Laffit Pincay Jr., 55. Troubled jockey Garrett Gomez has put his career on hold; Gary Stevens cannot ride until filming is completed on Seabiscuit, the movie.

The dominant Oak Tree racehorse was Azeri, who followed the opening-day Lady's Secret with a romp in the BC Distaff. The filly is a horse. As in, Horse of the Year.

Racing resumes Wednesday at Hollywood Park.

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