02/06/2009 12:00AM

Trainer finds new owner just in time


ARCADIA, Calif. - Until last month, trainer Ruben Cardenas was unsure how he was going to make ends meet. He was down to just a few horses and was seeking a part-time job to support his wife and four children. He said he was thinking of taking a job driving a horse van.

Not much came of that, which for Cardenas turned out to be a stroke of good luck. About the same time, he met Michael Gonzalez, a horse owner from Puerto Rico.

Seeking to launch a California stable, Gonzalez asked Cardenas to claim horses on his behalf. Since Jan. 22, they have claimed five horses, including Khun Dan, who starts in Sunday's second race, a $16,000 claimer at 1 1/16 miles.

Sunday, Cardenas will be after his first winner since June, and is hoping for a run of luck with Gonzalez, who races under the name M Racing.

"I was waiting for somebody like him," Cardenas said. "I'm glad to get back in action."

Cardenas met with Gonzalez last month and the two finalized plans to claim horses. "He called me and we had a meeting at the barn," Cardenas said. "He went back through my record and he liked what I said. He wants to have between 30 and 40 horses in the future.

"We're trying to build the barn slow and go from there. We'll try to find the right horses."

So far, Gonzalez and Cardenas have claimed five horses for $106,000. The most expensive among them is Heathersdaddysbaby, who won a $50,000 claimer on the hillside turf course in Thursday's first race.

Their first claim, Brought It, was claimed from them on Wednesday. They claimed Brought It for $16,000, and lost the 5-year-old for $22,500. "We're going to claim more," Cardenas said. "He likes to pick his own claims."

Gonzalez, who owns several businesses, according to Cardenas, was not available for comment because he was traveling to Puerto Rico. Gonzalez has had limited runners in California. He owns Copa de Plata, a stakes winner in Puerto Rico in 2007 who was sixth in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita in January 2008.

Cardenas, 49, has kept a small stable in recent years. He left the sport briefly for a time when he said he was suffering from a stomach ulcer that required hospitalization. He said he underwent a battery of tests last year, and feared for a time that he had cancer.

"I think it was a lot of pressure on myself," he said. "I kept saying, 'What am I doing wrong?' This game is so tough. I've got four kids and my wife. When you're [training] two or three horses, it kills you.

"They told me it was an ulcer. I thought it was something worse, like cancer. I went to the doctor 10 days ago and they said everything was fine."

Magnum appears new and improved

At the very least, running has become more comfortable for Magnum, the 8-year-old Argentine-bred trained by Darrell Vienna.

Magnum was gelded last fall after he was found to have large testicles that were subject to bruising, Vienna said.

"It helped," Vienna said.

The proof occurred in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Handicap at Santa Anita on Jan. 10 when Magnum finished third as the 77-1 longest shot in the field.

"That was the first time he ran since he was gelded," Vienna said.

Magnum's next test occurs in Sunday's $200,000 San Antonio Handicap, and could lead to a start in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 7. In 2006, Magnum finished second in the Big Cap, losing by three-quarters of a length to Lava Man. Magnum has made just 10 subsequent starts, including a win in the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap in 2006.

Injury kept Magnum sidelined from October 2006 until last March.

"He had a hip or a shoulder that lit up on the scan," Vienna said.

Magnum made four starts last year before being gelded, failing to finish in the first three in those races. "He never stopped training well," Vienna said.

Owned by Herrick Racing, Magnum will have to run well to justify an appearance in the Big Cap, Vienna said. The San Antonio Handicap field of 11 includes Champs Elysees, who was third in the 2008 Big Cap; Well Armed, the winner of the Grade 1 Goodwood Stakes last September; and Tiago, who was third in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Classic.

"He's got to earn his way there," Vienna said of the Big Cap. "This will be a tough race."

Track okay despite rain

Santa Anita's main track withstood approximately two inches of rain from midday Thursday until early Friday, track officials said.

Despite the wet weather, the Pro-Ride synthetic surface appeared to drain well. Last year, the track lost 11 days of racing because of wet weather when the Cushion Track brand surface failed to drain adequately. The Cushion Track surface was replaced last summer.

On Friday, there were 71 recorded works at distances ranging from three to six furlongs. One of the prominent workouts was the promising 3-year-old Gato Go Win, who worked five furlongs in 1:03.80. Trained by Jeff Mullins, Gato Go Win has won his last two starts - a maiden race and an allowance race - and is nominated for the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs on Feb. 16.

Eddie Logan remembered

A funeral will be held Tuesday for Eddie Logan, a shoeshine attendant at Santa Anita from the track's founding in 1934 until last month.

Logan died of the effects of a stroke at age 98 on Jan. 31. He worked at his shoeshine stand outside the track's racing office. A stakes race honoring Logan has been run in recent years in the first days of the meeting. Logan was in attendance for the 2008 running on Dec. 27.

The funeral will be held at Zook Mortuary, 600 E. Foothill Blvd., in Monrovia at 11 a.m. on Tuesday. A viewing will be held on Monday from 5 to 8 p.m.