12/26/2009 12:00AM

Ulcer sidelines Crown of Thorns


ARCADIA, Calif. - Crown of Thorns, the runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Sprint last month, has battled a severe throat ulcer in recent weeks that threatens his participation in the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, trainer Richard Mandella said on Saturday.

The ulcer was detected after the BC Sprint, in which Crown of Thorns finished a nose behind race winner Dancing in Silks.

"If I had seen it before the race, I would not have run him," Mandella said.

Mandella said the ulcer was found to be the size of a thumb and is being treated regularly with antibiotics and a medicinal wash. Crown of Thorns has not been in active training since the BC Sprint.

"We don't want to do anything to irritate it," Mandella said.

Owned by B. Wayne Hughes, Crown of Thorns, 4, has won 2 of 6 starts, including the Grade 2 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita in February 2008. Earlier this year, he was second in the Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes at Santa Anita.

Mandella said that he hopes Crown of Thorns can resume racing by the spring.

"We can have a big second half of the year," he said.

Lookin at Lucky gets brief break

Lookin at Lucky, the winner of three Grade 1 stakes for 2-year-olds and the leading candidate for the division title, has yet to return to racetrack training following his win in the $750,000 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 19.

Trainer Bob Baffert said Lookin at Lucky could have three races in the build-up to the Kentucky Derby on May 1. Last week, Baffert said he was considering a schedule of two prep races for Lookin at Lucky.

"The race took nothing out of him," Baffert said of the Futurity. "I don't know if I can hold off for just two races.

"I had him really ready in case that race was tough. All he had to do was run a quarter of a mile."

Baffert said he has not chosen Lookin at Lucky's first start at 3, but possibilities include the $100,000 San Rafael Stakes here over a mile on Jan. 16 or the $150,000 Robert Lewis Stakes here on Feb. 6.

"He'll run here," Baffert said. "I just don't know when."

He said the colt emerged from the Futurity with a skin disease that "is going through my barn," but downplayed that as a concern.

"I'll give him a few more days off," Baffert said.

Desert Code back in training

Desert Code, the winner of the 2008 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, has resumed training after finishing 13th in the BC Turf Sprint here last month.

Saturday, Desert Code worked a half-mile in 47.60 seconds, the third fastest of 28 works at the distance. Trainer David Hofmans is hoping that Desert Code can be ready to race by February.

Owned by Tarabilla Farms, Desert Code was beaten 8 1/2 lengths by California Flag in the BC Turf Sprint. He was never a serious factor in the race.

A 5-year-old by E Dubai, Desert Code has won 7 of 24 starts and $1,088,939.

After the Breeders' Cup, there were conversations about retiring Desert Code to stud, but the decision was made to put him back in training.

"He's just getting older and smarter," Hofmans said.

Life Is Sweet tunes up for turf

Life Is Sweet, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic on Nov. 6, breezed six furlongs in 1:14 at Hollywood Park on Saturday and is on course for the $150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap on Sunday, trainer John Shirreffs said.

Life Is Sweet worked alone on Saturday.

"She was nice and relaxed, easy," Shirreffs said. "She's training very well."

Owned by Marty and Pam Wygod, Life Is Sweet, 4, has not started since winning the BC Ladies' Classic.

The Grade 2 San Gorgonio Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares, would be Life Is Sweet's first start on grass since a second in the Grade 2 Sands Point Stakes at Belmont Park in May 2008 when trained by Bill Mott.

The San Gorgonio is also expected to include Diamondrella, who won two Grade 1 stakes earlier this year - the Just a Game Stakes at Belmont Park and the First Lady Stakes at Keeneland. She was third in the Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park on Nov. 29.

Kelly Leak recovers from illness

Kelly Leak, the winner of the $900,000 Sunland Park Derby in March, has returned to trainer Mike Machowsky's stable at Santa Anita after an illness this fall.

Kelly Leak has not raced since finishing sixth in the Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park on Oct. 11. Machowsky said the colt bled in that race and was found to be ill.

"I gave him a couple of months off," Machowsky said.

Kelly Leak is winless in three starts since the Sunland Park Derby, and has won 3 of 11 starts and $731,890.