Top sprinter The Lumber Guy, looking to rebound from a disappointing performance in the Malibu Stakes (gr. I), is part of a well-balanced field for the $200,000 San Carlos Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 23 at Santa Anita Park.
The seven-furlong main track test drew a field of eight, with grade I winner The Lumber Guy a potential standout if he's fully recovered from a foot injury sustained while finishing seventh as the odds-on choice in the Malibu Dec. 26 at Santa Anita.
The injury kept Barry K. Schwartz's 4-year-old son of Grand Slam out of the Palos Verdes Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 19, according to Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale. The gray colt certainly appears to be ready to go now after posting a bullet five-furlong workout in :58 2/5 Feb. 17 on the main track, fastest of 38 drills at the distance. The Lumber Guy has been working on a weekly basis since mid-January.
Garrett Gomez will take over on New York-bred The Lumber Guy, who drew post 7.
Trained last year by Michael Hushion, The Lumber Guy ended 2012 as one of the leading sprinters in the nation after capturing the Vosburgh Invitational (gr. I) at Belmont Park. That was prior to a game runner-up effort to Trinniberg in the Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I), where he was defeated by three-quarters of a length. His start in the Malibu was his his first for the Drysdale barn.
The race The Lumber Guy missed, the Palos Verdes, was won by Sahara Sky, one of four entrants in the San Carlos that last appeared in that race.
Sahara Sky is trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, who owns the 5-year-old in partnership with Kim Lloyd's Sweetwater Stable. The son of Pleasant Tap, making his first start in six months, took advantage of a blistering pace to motor home late by one length at 21-1 odds Jan. 19. Sahara Sky was timed in a sizzling 1:07.73 for the six-furlong Palos Verdes while posting his first stakes victory.
The pace that ensued in the Palos Verdes when Comma to the Top was engaged by Private Zone—:21.50 for the opening quarter mile and :43.61 for the half—is unlikely to materialize again this time. Comma to the Top, who breaks from the rail in the San Carlos, will not have to deal with Private Zone and could be in a position to dictate the tempo with Edwin Maldonado aboard once again.
Comma to the Top, owned by Gary Barber and partners and trained by Peter Miller, paid for those quick fractions when fading to fourth in the Palos Verdes. Prior to that, the 5-year-old Bwana Charlie gelding won the off-the-turf Daytona Stakes (gr. III) Dec. 29 at 6 1/2 furlongs.
One to watch in the San Carlos is Warren B. Williamson's stakes winner Midnight Transfer, a sharp allowance/optional claiming victor Jan. 12 at 6 1/2 furlongs in his first start since the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) last April. Midnight Transfer, sent off as the 6-5 choice in the non-winners of two allowance test, posted a San Carlos best last-out Beyer speed figure of 103.
Trained by Carla Gaines, the 4-year-old Hard Spun colt has turned in four published drills since then, most recently traversing five furlongs in 1:01 flat Feb. 17.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has entered both Drill, who was sixth after a slow beginning in the Palos Verdes, and Capital Account, fourth as the favorite last time in the Daytona.
Drill's last three stakes wins—the 2011 Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) and last year's San Vicente (gr. II) and Laz Barrera (gr. III)—all came at seven furlongs. Capital Account has won his only start at the San Carlos distance, taking last summer's Pat O'Brien Stakes (gr. II) at Del Mar. He has dropped four races in a row since, however.
Baffert won the San Carlos for the first time last year with The Factor .
Also coming out of that Palos Verdes are third-place finisher Justin Phillip, trained by Steve Asmussen for Zayat Stables, and Canonize, who was fifth for trainer Ron Ellis and Jay Em Ess Stable.
The San Carlos is the eighth race on the Saturday card at Santa Anita with a 4:07 p.m. PST scheduled post.
$200,000 San Carlos Stakes (gr. II, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), 4 & Up, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Comma to the Top (FL), E A Maldonado, 118, P Miller
2. Capital Account (KY), D R Flores, 123, B Baffert
3. Justin Phillip (KY), M E Smith, 118, S M Asmussen
4. Canonize (KY), J Valdivia Jr., 118, R W Ellis
5. Midnight Transfer (KY), R Bejarano, 118, C Gaines
6. Sahara Sky (FL), J Talamo, 123, J Hollendorfer
7. The Lumber Guy (NY), G K Gomez, 123, N D Drysdale
8. Drill (KY), J R Leparoux, 118, B Baffert