It would behoove anyone who doubts that trainer Mike Puype can get a horse ready to win off a long layoff to look at his success with Mizdirection.
The 46-year-old conditioner registered his most noteworthy achievement when he sent out the now 5-year-old mare to defeat males after a five-month absence in last November's Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (gr. I) at about 6 1/2 furlongs on the downhill course at Santa Anita Park.
But getting a horse to win going short after such a lengthy sojourn might be a considerably lesser accomplishment compared to winning a race at 1 1/2 miles after being away from the races for a period approaching five months.
Case in point: 10-year-old Calidoscopio in the March 23 Tokyo City Cup (gr. III) for 4-year-olds on the main track.
"You just hope he's ready," Puype said with a laugh when asked about his preparation for Calidoscopio in his first race since winning the Breeders' Cup Marathon (gr. II) at Santa Anita last Nov. 2. Initially, Puype had hoped to have Calidoscopio ready for the March 2 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), but a wrenched ankle put a kibosh on those plans.
"I pretty much have shown I can get horses ready off layoffs, so I'm not too worried about it," Puype continued. "The key to the race, going that far after a layoff, is, Aaron (jockey Aaron Gryder) has to sit on him forever and run him late, just like he did in the Breeders' Cup."
That day, Gryder had the Argentine-bred son of Luhuk 13th and last early on, then rallied six wide to win going away by 4 1/4 lengths under 126 pounds. Now 10, Calidoscopio carries 123 in the Tokyo City Cup.
In 10 career victories from 40 starts with earnings of $853,154, Calidoscopio has won carrying as much as 137 pounds, in a group II race in Argentina in 2009.
"He's one of the very few horses in the Breeders' Cup that closed over a track that wasn't favoring that kind of a horse at all," noted Puype, who has had Calidoscopio since just after the Breeders' Cup, when he was trained by Guillermo "Bebe" Frenkel. "So that speaks well for us, I think, and sometimes going further (after a long absence) isn't as much a concern as when they've got to go faster (in a sprint), because they loaf going a mile and a half. It is a long way, but they're not exactly going as fast."