03/06/2009 12:00AM

Two might skip San Felipe


ARCADIA, Calif. - Pioneerof the Nile is likely to face a small field when he attempts to extend his streak of graded stakes wins to three in next Saturday's $200,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita.

Trainer Bob Baffert said on Friday that he is leaning to starting only Pioneerof the Nile and is unlikely to start stablemate Zensational, the winner of a six-furlong maiden race on Feb. 21.

Zensational, who like Pioneerof the Nile is owned by Zayat Stables, was officially timed in 1:10.60 for six furlongs at Santa Anita on Friday. Baffert said he timed Zensational in 1:12.40.

"I've got to slow him down," Baffert said. "He's so fast."

In addition, trainer Richard Mandella said New Bay, the winner of a six-furlong allowance race on Feb. 16, may skip the Grade 2 San Felipe over 1 1/16 miles in favor of the $70,000 Pasadena Stakes over a mile on turf on Marcho15. "I'm between the two races," Mandella said.

New Bay has yet to convince Mandella that he is a candidate for the Triple Crown. Friday, Mandella said he wants to start New Bay around two turns before making grand plans.

"I hate to throw him into that tough of a race next time, but I might," Mandella said of the San Felipe Stakes.

Pioneerof the Nile and the Sham Stakes winner The Pamplemousse are considered the top California-based 3-year-olds. Pioneerof the Nile won the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity in December and the Robert Lewis Stakes Feb. 7.

Jeranimo, the runner-up in an allowance race over 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 26, is a probable starter for the San Felipe, according to trainer Mike Pender. Jeranimo has yet to run in a stakes.

There were seven late nominations, including Leedstheway, the runner-up in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 16; Massone and Rendezvous, who were second and third in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 14; and Pray for Action, the winner of the OBS Sprint at the Ocala Training Center in Florida on Feb. 16.

Sutherland going back to Woodbine for now

Jockey Chantal Sutherland, who has cracked the top 10 at Santa Anita this season, said on Friday that she will return to Canada for the start of the Woodbine meeting next month.

But next year, Sutherland is strongly considering a full-time move to California.

"Eventually, I'd like to stay here," she said. "I'd like to get a Derby horse or a Breeders' Cup horse."

Sutherland, 33, said the purses at Woodbine and her allegiance to several leading stables based there make it difficult to miss that meeting this year. Last year she was ranked third in the Woodbine jockey standings when she relocated to California for the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

"I have an opportunity to go back to Canada and the purses are so good," she said.

Through Thursday, Sutherland was 10th in the standings with 15 wins, two behind ninth-place Martin Garcia.

In addition to riding, Sutherland is part of the television series "Jockeys" which concludes a five-week run on Animal Planet next weekend. The program has partially focused on her personal relationship with fellow rider Mike Smith.

"I think they did a good job," she said. "I think they've portrayed us accurately."

Sutherland said she plans to return to Woodbine for the track's opening weekend on April 4 and will ride the following two weeks at Santa Anita, completing the Santa Anita meeting on April 19.

She said she does not anticipate returning to California until the fall, in time for the start of the 2009-10 Santa Anita winter-spring meeting.

Indian Blessing targets Golden Shaheen

Indian Blessing, the champion female sprinter of 2008, is on course for the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai on March 28, trainer Bob Baffert said.

Baffert made the decision after Indian Blessing worked five furlongs in 59 seconds on Thursday. He had considered skipping the six-furlong race and keeping the 4-year-old filly in the United States for her next start.

"She's doing too well," Baffert said. "I've got to run her."

Fairplex shifts simulcast site

Fairplex Park is relocating its simulcast wagering facility from the grandstand to the Barretts sales pavilion later this month. The transition is tentatively scheduled for March 25.

The sale pavilion, enclosed bar area, and back patio used for viewing horses during sales have been remodeled to accommodate simulcast customers, according to Jim Henwood, the chief executive officer of the Los Angeles County Fair Association.

The new location will be more accessible for bettors. The existing facility in the grandstand is well within the massive fair grounds property. While Barretts property is also on the fair grounds, it has its own entrance, and is more easily accessible from adjacent parking lots.

Three-month closure of Fairplex backstretch

Fairplex Park will close its backstretch from May 15 until approximately Aug. 15 because of a lack of financing from a stabling and vanning fund administered by California racetracks. The backstretch will reopen in advance of the track's September county fair meeting.

Henwood said he is vehemently opposed to closing the stable area because of the inconvenience to owners and trainers who have approximately 550 horses at the track.

Henwood said some Fairplex Park-based horsemen will be accommodated at Los Alamitos, while others will be based at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park. He feared that some would not be allotted stall space because their horses are not high-caliber.

* Kim Lloyd, a former Thoroughbred trainer and more recently a member of the management staff at Barretts sales, has been named equine manager of the Los Angeles County Fair. Lloyd, 53, will continue as vice president of sales at Barretts. His role will expand to include the county fair's annual race meeting in September, horse shows, training and inter-track wagering operation.