02/07/2007 1:00AM

Two Baffert runners to miss stakes


ARCADIA, Calif. - E Z Warrior and Downthedustyroad, stakes winners for trainer Bob Baffert in recent weeks, will not start in stakes at Santa Anita this weekend because of minor injuries, Baffert said on Wednesday.

Downthedustyroad, the winner of the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes in late December, will miss two stakes opportunities after emerging from a workout on Monday with an undisclosed injury.

"She won't run this weekend," Baffert said, declining to reveal the injury. "She'll probably be out of training for 60 days."

A winner of 4 of 10 starts and $282,050, Downthedustyroad, 4, would have been a top contender in Saturday's $250,000 Santa Maria Handicap or Sunday's $200,000 La Canada Stakes for 4-year-old fillies. As of last weekend, Baffert had not decided which race to try.

The injury was detected after Downthedustyroad worked on Monday, Baffert said.

Downthedustyroad was purchased for $1.5 million last month at the Keeneland January all-ages sale by Theiline Scheumann through an agent. Downthedustyroad has yet to start for Scheumann.

E Z Warrior, unbeaten in three starts, is suffering from foot problems that will prevent him from starting in Sunday's $150,000 San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters.

"I'm dealing with a little foot issue," Baffert said. "He ran really fast last time. I don't know when he'll run next. His feet have been bothering him."

Owned by Zayat Stables, E Z Warrior won the San Miguel Stakes at six furlongs on Jan. 7 in his first start since winning the Hollywood Juvenile Championship last July.

New routine for Ermine

The absence of Downthedustyroad weakens the Santa Maria, a race that will mark the California debut of Ermine.

Trained by Ronny Werner for Art and Stephanie Preston's Oxbow Racing, Ermine will make her first start of 2007 in the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.

A winner of 4 of 10 starts and $441,082, Ermine has not started since winning the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs in November. Last spring, she was a troubled second in the Kentucky Oaks.

Ermine will be trying to win for the first time away from the track where she is based. Her first two wins came at Oaklawn Park last spring, where Werner had a stable, and she won twice at Churchill Downs in November, where Werner was based at the time. In between, she finished fifth in the Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park and was sixth in the Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks at Hoosier Park.

For those races, Werner said that Ermine arrived two days before starting. For the Santa Maria, she arrived in late January.

"Her biggest thing is she's never hauled [well]", Werner said by phone on Wednesday from his base at Fair Grounds. "Every time she's run well, she's walked out of her stall and went over and run.

"What we did differently this time is I took her in [to Santa Anita] about 13 days before. She's been out there quite a while. Hopefully, that makes a difference. I can't foresee any excuses."

The Santa Maria field is expected to include Dona Amelia, Ermine, Neuilly, Rahys' Appeal, River Savage, Seafree, and Sugar Shake.

Foxysox out of La Canada

Sunday's La Canada Stakes for 4-year-old fillies will not include Foxysox, the winner of the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park in December. Foxysox is recovering from a foot bruise that kept her out of the El Encino Stakes on Jan.o14.

"She's training every day, but I backed off on the works until [the foot] grew out again," trainer Carla Gaines said. "It's unfortunate that she missed these races with these straight 4-year-olds. I wanted to run in those."

Balance, the winner of two Grade 1 races last year, worked five furlongs in 1:02.80 at Hollywood Park on Wednesday for the La Canada. The Grade 2 race will have a small field, including Bai and Bai, Kris' Sis, and Witch Woman.

Runway Rosie works fast

Runway Rosie's half-mile workout in 47.80 seconds at Hollywood Park on Wednesday has trainer David Hofmans raving about her chances in Saturday's $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes.

And Runway Rosie will need to be at her best. She is one of seven stakes winners expected to start in the Grade 1 race for 3-year-old fillies at a mile.

Owned by a partnership, Runway Rosie was second to Las Virgenes hopeful Baroness Thatcher in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes here on Jan. 6. Last fall, Runway Rosie won the Sharp Cat Stakes in November but finished 10th of 12 in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet in December, a result of what Hofmans described as a "terrible trip."

Runway Rosie is a stalker who apparently will have a good pace to track in the Las Virgenes.

"I couldn't ask her to be doing any better," Hofmans said. "I think she's maturing. I wish this race was a little farther."

Runway Rosie's workout time was tied for second-fastest of 24 recorded at the distance that day.

The Las Virgenes field is led by Starlet winner Romance Is Diane and Jump On In, the winner of the Santa Ynez Stakes at seven furlongs here on Jan. 15. Other probable starters are Cash Included, Quick Little Miss, Rags to Riches, and Swiss Diva. Rags to Riches is the only filly in the race that has yet to win a stakes.

The Tin Man back from hiatus

The Tin Man, the winner of the Arlington Million and three other stakes in 2006, has returned to trainer Richard Mandella's stable at Hollywood Park after being given more than two months off.

The Tin Man has not started since winning the Clement Hirsch Turf Championship here in late September. He did not start in the Breeders' Cup Turf or the Citation Handicap in the fall.

"He didn't hurt his legs," Mandella said. "He was just tired."

Mandella said that The Tin Man, 9, could be ready to start by the middle of the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting. The Tin Man has won 12 of 27 starts and $3,126,860.

"It will be a long process, probably three or four months," Mandella said.