Kona Gold Does the Talking, Headley Listens

(from track report)
Nine-year-old Kona Gold has raced only 27 times in a brilliant career that has seen him win 14 times, including the 2000 Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) and a subsequent Eclipse Award as best sprinter.

"That's been the game plan all along," says the gelding's trainer, Bruce Headley. "It's been by design. We probably could have run him more. He does tell me when he's ready (to run) and he does tell me when he wants to go to the farm (for a break), which he's had to do a couple of times. Right now, he's telling me he's ready (to run again)."

Headley has taken Kona Gold's hint to heart. The 68-year-old trainer is pointing to the Jan. 26 Palos Verdes Handicap (gr. II) and already has a work schedule penciled in for the son of Java Gold, who won the El Conejo Handicap (gr. III) for the second time on Jan. 1.

"I've already got my charts (mapped out)," Headley said. "Like (the late Charlie) Whittingham, I make my charts in advance. I've got three workouts until that race (Palos Verdes)."

Kona Gold might have lost some zip through the years, but not his passion for racing -- and winning.

"He set a track record when he won the El Conejo in 1999," Headley said. "He didn't set a track record this time, so he's probably lost a couple steps, but he hasn't lost the desire."

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