Champion sprinter Kona Cold was among the seven horses entered for Sunday's 49th running of the Palos Verdes Handicap, but was scratched out of the race due to his weight assignment. The 7-year-old gelded son of Java Gold started last year's championship campaign with a win in the Palos Verdes and was assigned top weight of 126 pounds for Sunday's renewal.
The unanimous choice for champion sprinter of 2000 would have faced last year's second- and third-place Palos Verdes finishers -- Big Jag and Freespool, respectively. Big Jag has been assigned 120 pounds and Freespool 116.
Highweighted at 126 pounds, Kona would be attempting to become the first horse to win this race under that weight assignment since Ancient Title carried a 126-pound impost to a Palos Verdes win in 1974.
"There is a 95%-5% chance that he will not run," trainer Bruce Headley told Bloodhorse.com Saturday morning. "I am not complaining about the spread," Headley said of the weight differential between Kona Gold and his two top rivals. "What I am complaining about is that we have a star everyone wants to see and this is how they start him out. I have look at down the road. If he starts and wins, then it will be more the next time and more the time after that. I thought it would have been 124. If it was 124, we would run. This is a compliment to the horse but it also could cripple him."
Headley said he is allowing a 5% chance that he will run because "the horse is so sharp."
The field for the grade II, $200,000 Palos Verdes Handicap, from the rail out, with jockeys and weights, as it was drawn Friday: Men's Exclusive, Laffit Pincay Jr., 116; Kona Gold (SCRATCHED), Alex Solis, 126; National Saint, David Flores, 115; Freespool, Chris McCarron, 116; Blade Prospector (Brz), Omar Berrio, 112; Big Jag, Kent Desormeaux, 120, and Full Moon Madness, Gary Stevens, 118.