09/02/2010 3:55PM

Unusual Suspect right back for Windy Sands

Benoit & Associates
Unusual Suspect (right) battles with Richard's Kid in the Cougar II.

DEL MAR, Calif. – A week after he finished ninth in the $1 million Pacific Classic, Unusual Suspect returns in Saturday’s $75,000 Windy Sands Handicap at Del Mar.

While the easier competition in the Windy Sands Handicap is certainly a factor, the one-mile distance on the synthetic main track may be an even better fit. Of Unusual Suspect’s eight career wins, five have been at a mile or 1 1/16 miles.

This year, Unusual Suspect is winless in 10 starts, ranging in distances from 1 1/8 to 1 3/4 miles on both synthetic tracks and turf courses. He has been second in three stakes, including the Cougar II Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on the main track here on July 30.

In the Pacific Classic, Unusual Suspect finished 5 1/2 lengths behind Richard’s Kid, a loss that left trainer Barry Abrams characterized as “frustrating.” Unusual Suspect was at the back of the field behind a slow pace and was closest at the finish. “He never had a chance in the Pacific Classic,” Abrams said.

Abrams, who co-owns Unusual Suspect with his brother David and wife, Dyan, said running in the Windy Sands Handicap is preferable to not starting the 6-year-old horse until the Oak Tree at Hollywood Park meeting that begins on Sept. 30. The Del Mar meeting ends on Wednesday, and Abrams does not envision running Unusual Suspect during the Los Angeles County Fair meeting at Fairplex Park that begins on Thursday.

“If I don’t run him, I’d have to work him five times to keep him fit,” he said. “We won’t run again for a month.”

Unusual Suspect may benefit from a quick pace in the Windy Sands. The race has drawn Tropic Storm, who placed in four graded stakes in the summer and fall of 2008, missed all of 2009 and was promoted from second to first in an optional claimer over five furlongs on turf in his comeback here on Aug. 6.

Trained by Craig Dollase, Tropic Storm has shown speed throughout his career.

The Windy Sands marks the comeback of Informed, who was sidelined with an injury last fall. Owned by a partnership, Informed won the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap here in August 2009 but was later ninth in the Pacific Classic and eighth in the Goodwood Stakes.

“He’s been in training for a while,” O’Neill said. “He had about 60 days of galloping and had a good foundation.”

Magicrooy scores big-time

Trainer Steve Knapp ended a 39-race winless streak at Del Mar this summer when Magicrooy ($102.60) rallied from last to win a six-furlong maiden race for statebred fillies and mares in Wednesday’s third race.

Even Knapp feared his losing streak would continue after Magicrooy broke slowly under jockey Felipe Valdez.

Magicrooy was last of 10 at one point, and was still eighth with a quarter-mile remaining, trailing leader Backstreet Dancer by 12 lengths. Valdez brought Magicrooy wide through the stretch, overcame a bump with eventual fourth-place finisher Too Much Xcitement in the final sixteenth, and won by a neck over 13-1 Abovetheinfluence. The $1 exacta for those two runners paid $691.80.

“The way she broke, I thought there was no hope,” Knapp said. “The horse was dead fit, and she had shown she could run a little bit. I guess this makes up for all the other bad beats I’ve had at this meeting. Maybe she’ll get us going.”

Hi Ho Yodeler gets nice prep win

Hi Ho Yodeler won the $100,000 Generous Portion Stakes for statebred 2-year-old fillies on Wednesday in a prep for the $75,000 California Cup Juvenile Fillies at Hollywood Park on Oct. 30, trainer Mike Harrington said.

Ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, Hi Ho Yodeler ($32) rallied on the rail in early stretch to win the six-furlong Generous Portion by 3 1/4 lengths over 54-1 Lucky Sis.

The Generous Portion was Hi Ho Yodeler’s third start of the meeting for owners Todd Marshall and Andrew Molasky. She was second to stablemate Swiss Wild Cat in the CTBA Stakes on July 23, and fifth in an optional claimer against open company over six furlongs on Aug. 18. Swiss Wild Cat finished fourth in the Generous Portion Stakes, losing 4 3/4 lengths.

Twirling Candy heads slim derby

Twirling Candy, the winner of the Oceanside Stakes here on July 21, will be heavily favored in Sunday’s $300,000 Del Mar Derby over 1 1/8 miles on turf.

The race has drawn a disappointing field of six, including Fantastic Pick, Jairzihno, Kid Edward, Royal F J. and Summer Movie. In past years, the Del Mar Derby has typically drawn a full field of 10.