01/17/2008 12:00AM

Track to request makeup dates


ARCADIA, Calif. - Santa Anita will ask the California Horse Racing Board for additional racing dates, likely in March or April, to make up for three days of racing lost because of wet weather earlier this month and two days the track is scheduled to miss for main-track maintenance, track president Ron Charles said on Thursday.

Charles stopped short of detailing how many extra days Santa Anita will request before the winter-spring meeting ends on April 20, but the track is likely to run six-day weeks at some point in the late winter or early spring when the chance of rain lessens. The track currently runs five days a week, Thursday through Monday.

"It's way too early to look at what ways we might make it up," Charles said. "We want some additional racing dates. I wouldn't want to address the issue until we get the surface in and we know where we are."

Earlier this week Charles said that Santa Anita needs four days of uninterrupted dry weather to add polymer binding material and fibers to the track, which officials believe will allow water to pass through the surface properly. The track will be closed for training and racing during that four-day span.

The Cushion Track synthetic surface - a mix of sand, rubber, and natural and synthetic fibers - failed to drain sufficiently, resulting in the cancellation of racing from Jan. 5-7. Earlier this month, the track employed Ian Pearse, the founder of the Pro-Ride synthetic surface in Australia, to participate in tests at the University of Southern California to improve surface drainage. Charles described the results of the tests as "dramatic and extremely encouraging."

One set of dates being considered for maintenance is Jan. 28-31, which would require the cancellation of racing on Jan. 28 and 31. There is no racing scheduled for Jan. 29 and 30. Santa Anita officials say the polymer binding material is being produced in Texas and will be shipped to the racetrack.

Unspoken Word takes crack at Tuzla

Unspoken Word has already turned out to be a bargain since being bought privately by Tom Clark last fall. In her first start for Clark, who races as Rancho San Miguel, and his partner, Twin Creeks Farm, Unspoken Word finished second in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes last month, her graded-stakes debut.

Unspoken Word will attempt to win her first graded stakes in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Tuzla Stakes over a mile on turf for fillies and mares, the fifth race on a 10-race program.

"It's a mile and we think she can do that really well," trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said.

Unspoken Word was exceptional on turf last year. She won a stakes on turf at Belmont Park - the Wild Applause in September - and placed in three turf stakes.

Unspoken Word is likely to be near the front in the Tuzla. She will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, who was aboard in the La Brea.

A 4-year-old filly, Unspoken Word is part of a field of nine that includes Good Mood, the winner of the Gradeo3 Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs last June; Private Banking, a stakes winner at Bay Meadows in October; and I Can See, Shermeen and Trick's Pic, who all placed in stakes last year.

Good Mood was third in the Gradeo3 Monrovia Handicap on the hillside turf course on Jan. 1, but was promoted to second after original runner-up Society Hostess was demoted for causing interference in the stretch. Audacious Chloe, who was promoted to third in that race, also is in the Tuzla, attempting to end a four-race losing streak. She won three consecutive stakes early last year.P

Indian Blessing bounces back

Indian Blessing, who is expected to be named champion 2-year-old filly of 2007 at the Eclipse Awards ceremony in Beverly Hills on Monday, has more than recovered from a track-record performance in the Santa Ynez Stakes last Sunday, trainer Bob Baffert said.

"She's fired up," Baffert said.

In the Santa Ynez, her first start since the BC Juvenile Fillies, Indian Blessing zipped seven furlongs in 1:19.89.

"She laid her body down," Baffert said. "It takes her a couple of days and she's back to normal."

Baffert declined to commit Indian Blessing to the $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes over a mile for 3-year-old fillies on Feb. 9. A more likely scenario is the $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks over 1 1/16 miles on March 8.

"There is no immediate plan for her," Baffert said. "I'll stretch her out. She could run in a month or she could run in two months."

In the Santa Ynez, Indian Blessing set early fractions of 22.27 and 43.76 seconds and led by three lengths in early stretch. She was fully extended in the final furlong to hold off a late run from Golden Doc A, who got within a head of Indian Blessing at the finish.

"We've got to slow her down," Baffert said. "The thing about her is that she runs so fast. She ran a great race. She had every right to stop."

In the long-term, Baffert thinks that Indian Blessing may be best around one turn, even though the Kentucky Oaks over 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs on May 2 remains a goal.

"Down the road, I would love to run her in the Test," he said referring to the seven-furlong Grade 1 race for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga during the summer.

Baffert had an outstanding weekend, pulling an upset in Saturday's Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes with Air Commander, a 52-1 longshot. Owned by Robert Clay and Faisal Salman, Air Commander won his first stakes in the San Fernando, and will return in the $300,000 Strub Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 2.

Baffert said that Air Commander has overcome minor injuries at 3 to show development this season.

"We always had high hopes for him," Baffert said. "We were on the Derby trail with him. I told Clay he was jarred up. He let me freshen him up, and we thought he'd be a better 4-year-old."

* Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. did not ride on Thursday to be with his 18-month-old daughter Sienna, who was hospitalized with breathing difficulties, according to the track publicity office.