03/08/2006 12:00AM

Turf Paradise track report


Things don't always go according to plan, but the sign of a top jockey is when he or she can adjust quickly - like, say, in a split-second during a race. Well, Glenn Corbett is a good jockey, and his sharpness helped get Corazondelcampeon into the winner's circle in last Sunday's $40,000 Palo Verde Handicap at Turf Paradise.

"He didn't break well, and we weren't where we wanted to be early," said Corbett, 41. "So we had to go to Plan B."

Plan B turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Corbett and Santa Anita shipper Corazondelcampeon (the name translates from Spanish as "heart of a champion"), as fellow West Coast shipper and 4-5 favorite Rattlesnake Joe, with Scotts Stevens up, got caught on the outside of pacesetters Pistol Creek, Ibetiwin, and Flying Jim.

"We rode the rail behind the speed horses battling in front us," said Corbett. "It is the shortest way to the finish line."

For Corazondelcampeon, it was his first victory since an ultra-impressive debut maiden win at Hollywood Park last May a week after running off in the post parade and having to be scratched out of what was to be his debut in the May 22 Willard Proctor. Then he was entered in the Haggin Stakes at Hollywood in mid-June only to see that race scrapped because of a lack of entries.

Then came a splint bone injury that prevented him from making the Hollywood Juvenile. When he did resurface, in Del Mar's Grade 2 Best Pal, he dueled for the lead and fizzled behind the enormously talented What a Song.

Another layoff ensued, and then came three straight dull outings at Santa Anita this winter. Trainer John Johnson then purchased him from owner Scott Merrell, and moved Corazondelcampeon from David La Croix's barn to his care. This victory may mean the one-time promising runner is back on track.