Crown of Thorns is seeking his first win since the 2008 Robert B. Lewis Stakes.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Crown of Thorns is seeking his first win since the 2008 Robert B. Lewis Stakes.
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Comebacks Highlight Potrero Grande Lineup

Crown of Thorns, M One Rifle, and Atta Boy Roy among 10 entrants in Santa Anita tilt.

There are some classy horses making their comebacks in the $150,000 Potrero Grande Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita April 3, including Crown of Thorns, M One Rifle, and Atta Boy Roy .

The 6 1/2-furlong main track test also attracted a few that are in sharp recent form, including Captain Cherokee and Amazombie, as well as the 2010 Potrero Grande winner Ventana.

Crown of Thorns, now 6, hasn't won a race since capturing the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) more than three years ago, but the son of Repent can be a major player in the Potrero Grande, which is the eighth race with a 4:07 p.m. (PDT) post. He was the morning line favorite in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I) last November at Churchill Downs before being declared because of a knee problem that would require minor surgery.

Trained by Richard Mandella for Spendthrift Farm, Crown of Thorns has had a number of such interruptions in his eight-race career. But he merited favoritism in the Breeders’ Cup with impressive tries in two grade I events in Southern California. He was second to Richard's Kid  in Oak Tree’s Goodwood Stakes in October after a runner-up effort to El Brujo in Del Mar’s Pat O’Brien Stakes. This will be his first start since the Goodwood.

In 2009, Crown of Thorns missed by a nose when second in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) and also was the runner-up in the Ancient Title Stakes (gr. I).

Other than his first start, Crown of Thorns has fired every time, posting a record of 2-4-1 and earnings of $687,080.

Rafael Bejarano will ride Crown of Thorns, who faces nine rivals.

Atta Boy Roy has been freshened since being pulled up in distress after finishing 10th in the 2010 Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I).

Initial fears of something more serious were unfounded, according to trainer Valorie Lund, who said that the Washington-bred 6-year-old ridging suffered only some superficial cuts and bone bruises in his hind ankles.

Atta Boy Roy, winner of the Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II) last May, has captured 10 of his 23 lifetime starts while finishing second six times for earnings of $479,696. He has raced at nine different tracks. His only previous start at Santa Anita resulted in a seventh-place finish behind Gayego and Crown of Thorns in the 2009 Ancient Title. Atta Boy Roy will be ridden by Vicky Baze. 

Bruce Headley, who has saddled the Potrero Grande winner a record six times, has M One Rifle. The 5-year-old California-bred son of One Man Army has been on the shelf since last July following a fourth-place finish in the Triple Bend Handicap (gr. I) at Hollywood Park.

M One Rifle defeated Misremembered  by 2 ½ lengths in winning Santa Anita’s 2009 Malibu Stakes (gr. I). He has been working swiftly for his return, including a :45 3/5 half-mile move on Santa Anita’s main track March 30. Chantal Sutherland will be in the saddle. M One Rifle has earnings of $405,872 from a 4-1-4 record in 11 lifetime starts.

Craig Family Trust's Chocolate Candy has been away since June and this race figures to be only a tightener for the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained 5-year-old son of Candy Ride . Chocolate Candy won the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) in 2009 and finished second in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), later competing in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

The comebackers will have to contend with Captain Cherokee, who has had the misfortune of running into Euroears and Smiling Tiger  in his two starts this year. He finished second in both the Palos Verdes Stakes (gr. II) and the San Carlos Handicap (gr. II). Joe Talamo rides the 5-year-old trained by Steve Asmussen.

Amazombie won the Sunshine Millions Sprint in January for trainer and co-owner Bill Spawr. In his most recent try, the 5-year-old California-bred gelding ran a close second in the Sensational Star Stakes Feb. 27 on turf. Mike Smith will be aboard the son of Northern Afleet .

Trainer Bob Baffert will send out Ventana, who nosed out Gato Go Win as the 8-5 favorite in 2010 Potrero Grande. In his three subsequent races, however, the son of Toccet chased Atta Boy Roy in the Churchill Downs Stakes and Captain Cherokee in both the Palos Verdes and San Carlos. Martin Garcia will be aboard the 5-year-old owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman.

$150,000 Potrero Grande Stakes (gr. II, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), 4 & Up, 6 1/2 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Atta Boy Roy (WA), V Baze, 120, V Lund
2. Amazombie (CA), M E Smith, 118, W Spawr
3. Chocolate Candy (KY), C S Nakatani, 118, J Hollendorfer
4. Don Tito (FL), J Rosario, 118, J W Sadler
5. Captain Cherokee (KY), J Talamo, 118, S M Asmussen
6. M One Rifle (CA), C Sutherland, 118, B Headley
7. Crown of Thorns (FL), R Bejarano, 118, R E Mandella
8. Colgan's Chip (CA), B Blanc, 118, J Sahadi
9. Ventana (KY), M Garcia, 120, B Baffert
10. Bet On Victor (KY), P A Valenzuela, 118, V Cerin