09/24/2007 11:00PM

Workout times get faster

EmailARCADIA, Calif. – Workout times were noticeably quicker Tuesday on Cushion Track, as Santa Anita continued to tinker with the newly installed synthetic surface in advance of the first week of racing at the Oak Tree meet, which was to begin Wednesday.

The average half-mile workout time Tuesday was 48.77 seconds, more than second faster than the day before. The average five-furlong work time was 1:01.41, also more than a second faster. Magna track-surface consultant Ted Malloy said the faster surface was intentional.

"I wanted it a little quicker, but I didn't want it as quick as last week," Malloy said.

Crews rolled and tightened the track Monday evening in an effort to stabilize the surface. Some horsemen said the track was inconsistent following the first rainstorm of the season over the weekend.

"We're fortunate it rained Saturday instead of Monday," Malloy said. "This gives us a chance to understand what we have to do, especially during when it rains this winter at Santa Anita."

Bordonaro tightens up

Bordonaro worked five furlongs in 1:00 Tuesday morning as he prepares for the six-furlong Grade 1 Ancient Title Handicap on Oct. 7. Bordonaro won the Ancient Title last year when the Santa Anita surface was dirt, and will try to rebound from a last-place finish Aug.o19 at Del Mar in the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien on Polytrack. Bordonaro's trainer, Bill Spawr, said Bordonaro is a different horse on Cushion Track.

"He seems to be really happy on this track," Spawr said. "It is quicker and he just bounces over it. This isn't the same surface as Del Mar - not even close."

Bordonaro finished last, beaten nine lengths, in the seven-furlong Pat O'Brien. Spawr says to throw out the race.

"He cannot run a mile, and that's what [seven furlongs] was like over that track," Spawr said.

At Del Mar this summer, the Polytrack surface was completely different in the afternoon than it was in the morning. Like many other trainers, Spawr hopes Santa Anita's Cushion Track is the same in the afternoon as the morning.

"I feel it's going to be pretty much the same in the afternoon, because they will water it," he said.

Rush With Thunder on new footing

If the poor effort last out by Bordonaro can be excused because of surface, handicappers face an opposite dilemma next week when Polytrack specialist Rush With Thunder makes his first start on the Santa Anita Cushion Track. Rush With Thunder won four races this summer at Del Mar.

"To be honest, I'm not sure he can keep it going," trainer A.C. Avila said. "He likes [Cushion Track], but I cannot say he loves it. I'm afraid he'll become an ordinary horse here.

"Cushion Track and Polytrack are completely different."

Rush With Thunder won the $112,000 El Cajon Stakes for 3-year-olds in this last start Aug. 31 at Del Mar, and run in an allowance sprint next week.

Celtic Dreamin eyes Cal Cup

Track surface apparently is never an issue for Rafael Becerra-trained Celtic Dreamin. A winner on the Santa Anita dirt, Hollywood Cushion Track, and Del Mar Polytrack, the 3-year-old shipped from Santa Anita to Hastings Park (dirt) over the weekend, and on Sunday scored a 5 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby. It was his fifth win from six starts, and the fourth surface on which he has won.

The win by Celtic Dreamin sets him up for the $250,000 California Cup Classic on Nov. 3.

"If Lava Man is not in there, then [Celtic Dreamin] will be," Becerra said. Celtic Dreamin is owned by K.K. Sangara.

Leonides out of Norfolk

Leonides, a close fourth in the Del Mar Futurity in his last start, will miss Sunday's Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting and is out of consideration for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, trainer Vladimir Cerin said Tuesday.

"He bruised a foot," Cerin said. "He had three races prior to that. That's enough for now. I've been playing catch-up with him since before his last race. He goes to the track to train every day, but I don't want to push him."

With Leonides out of the race, the Norfolk will have just one of the first six finishers from the Del Mar Futurity, in which the top six were separated by just two lengths. Only fifth-place finisher Dixie Chatter is scheduled to run on Sunday.

Georgie Boy, the Del Mar Futurity winner, is pointing for the California Cup. Salute the Sarge will run in the Breeders' Futurity next week at Keeneland. Drill Down was euthanized after suffering a fatal injury on Monday, and sixth-place finisher Kanan Dune recently underwent surgery on both front ankles.

Tasha's Miracle faces two hurdles

Tasha's Miracle, scratched from the Del Mar Debutante when she tied up, returns Saturday in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. It will be the 2-year-old filly's first start since Aug. 8 and her first start around two turns.

"If you're going to the Breeders' Cup, you want to have had a route race," trainer John Sadler said. "For her to run in the Oak Leaf is a little more important than running in the Debutante. She's training really good here."

Tasha's Miracle's main foes in the Oak Leaf are Debutante winner Set Play and romping maiden winner Cry and Catch Me.