07/14/2008 11:00PM

Well Armed set for San Diego Handicap


DEL MAR, Calif. - Eoin Harty has traveled to the United Arab Emirates many times, first as an assistant to Bob Baffert to plunder the Dubai World Cup, and then as a private trainer for Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Racing. The experience has taught him valuable lessons on how to prepare a horse to ship and race in Dubai, and what to do afterwards.

"It's like going to a casino in Las Vegas," Harty said Tuesday morning. "You're on a moving walkway going in. You get the royal treatment. But it's every man for himself coming out.

"It's hardest on the West Coast horses. The plane stops in England to refuel, then goes to New York, then on to California."

This spring, Harty sent Well Armed to Dubai, where he finished third to Curlin in the Dubai World Cup. He has not raced since, but on Saturday, Well Armed will return to the races in the Grade 2, $300,000 San Diego Handicap, whose winner will earn an automatic berth in this year's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

Harty decided to freshen Well Armed after the trip to Dubai. First, he had some downtime at WinStar Farm, the Lexington, Ky., property of his owners, Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt. "Springtime grass in Kentucky is huge," Harty said. "Horses seem to thrive on it."

Then came some swimming, and, finally, Well Armed went back to the track.

He has turned in a sharp series of workouts for his comeback, and polished off his training with a sharp half-mile in 46.80 seconds on Tuesday morning at Del Mar under jockey Aaron Gryder. The time equaled the second-best of 48 at the distance.

"He's doing super," Harty said. "He was just breezing."

Well Armed is one of the largest horses on the grounds.

"I'm afraid to weigh him," Harty said.

Because of his size, though, he has held up well to his campaign this year. Well Armed raced twice at Santa Anita, where he won the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap, before going to Dubai.

"He's shipped to the other side of the world and back, had a layoff, then worked a mile in 1:37 six days ago. By rights, he should look like his trainer," said the slim Harty.

Well Armed was assigned 117 pounds for the San Diego, three fewer than Surf Cat.

The field for the San Diego, at 1 1/16 miles, is expected to be Global Hunter, Magnum, Mostacolli Mort, Racketeer, Rebellion, Surf Cat, Well Armed, and You Got Me Rocking, and possibly Mr. Napper Tandy and Tall Texan

Gomez finds alternate in Spring House

Trainer Bobby Frankel on Tuesday took Manhattan Handicap runner-up Out of Control out of consideration for the Grade 1, $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap on Sunday because of a minor injury to the sole of one of his feet, so jockey Garrett Gomez, who was to ride Out of Control, was able to get on Spring House.

Spring House won the San Luis Obispo Handicap at Santa Anita earlier this year, then finished 10th of 16 in the Dubai Sheema Classic on March 29. His trainer, Julio Canani, had not committed to a rider before Tuesday, so he was able to retain Gomez, who rode Spring House in his last two starts.

"He's had enough time off to put the weight back on," Canani said Tuesday. "He's ready to run."

Spring House was assigned 117 pounds, three fewer than Lava Man. The field for the Eddie Read, at 1 1/8 miles on turf, is expected to include Ferneley, Lava Man, Monzante, Spring House, Storm Military, and Whatsthescript, and possibly Medici Code.

Canani will be seeking a sweep of the weekend's graded stakes races. He also has Mostacolli Mort in the San Diego. Mostacolli Mort has won 3 of his last 4 starts, all on synthetic surfaces.

"He won a three-other-than. He doesn't have another place to go. The next place is a stakes," Canani said. "I thought he was a grass horse, but he likes the synthetic."

Saturday's supporting feature is the $85,000 Osunitas Handicap, at 1 1/16 miles on turf for older female turf runners. Fleet Caroline and Lightmyfirebaby were assigned top weight of 118 pounds. Other top contenders are Kris's Sis and Spenditallbaby.

On Sunday, the supporting feature is the $100,000 Fleet Treat Stakes for 3-year-old fillies going seven furlongs. Spring Awakening, the winner of the California Breeders' Champion Stakes and runner-up in last year's Del Mar Debutante, is expected to make her first start in nearly seven months in that race. Hollywood Oaks winner Lethal Heat is also scheduled to run.

Beresford returns for Hendricks

Though it took him awhile to come around, Beresford appeared headed to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last fall following a fourth-place finish in the Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

That, however, proved to be his last race. Beresford had "the first stage of a condylar fracture," his trainer, Dan Hendricks, said Tuesday, and though no surgery was needed, it took Beresford out of action last fall and for the first part of this year.

Hendricks is hoping the patience begins paying dividends on Thursday, when Beresford, 3, returns to action in the sixth race, a first-level allowance going one mile. It will be his first start against older horses, but comes on the same main track over which Beresford, a colt by Touch Gold, crushed maidens by seven lengths last summer.

"He's had some nice, solid works," Hendricks said. "He looks fit and trim and ready to go. He's matured. It looks like we could have some fun with him."

Hendricks said he thought about running Beresford on turf in the Oceanside Stakes on opening day Wednesday, but decided it would be best not to experiment with turf at this point.

"He doesn't really have a turf pedigree," Hendricks said. "If he comes back well, we'd take a look at the El Cajon," a $125,000 stakes race for 3-year-olds at one mile on Aug. 29. "He's already won over Polytrack going two turns," Hendricks said.

The patience to give Beresford a long rest after his injury, and to resist the temptation of the Oceanside, has been evident from the start. Beresford was purchased by Pavla and Erik Nygaard's Thor-Bred Stable from the Adena Springs sale in April 2007.

"We liked the idea of buying out of a sale where they don't press on the horses," Hendricks said.

Clement has band of six

Trainer Christophe Clement will have a six-horse stable at Del Mar this summer, including In Summation, who is scheduled to defend his title in the Grade 1, $300,000 Bing Crosby Handicap on July 27.

On Thursday, Clement will have his first runner of the meet when Perfectly Natural competes in the day's fourth race, a five-furlong turf sprint, the first of three allowance races on Thursday's card.

Perfectly Natural has raced twice this year, at Gulfstream and Delaware. She came to California because "the weather's cooler here," according to Nicholas Bachalard, the Clement assistant who will be based at Del Mar this summer.

* Because of an extension of a suspension, jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. will not ride on Thursday. Hollywood Park's stewards on Sunday tacked an extra day onto a previous suspension for Valdivia because he rode in a designated race - a stakes race not applicable to the suspension - at Arlington Park on Saturday.