Congaree Works, Won't Go to Donn After All

Eclipse Award finalist Congaree, gearing up for his first start as a 6-year-old, worked six furlongs in 1:12 3/5 over Santa Anita's fast main track Saturday morning.

The Stonerside Stables homebred hasn't started since winning the Nov. 29 Cigar Mile (gr. I) by 5 ΒΌ lengths.

According to trainer Bob Baffert, the chestnut son of Arazi won't ship to contest the Feb. 7 Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park as initially planned. Instead, he'll stay a lot closer to home for his 2004 debut.

"He worked awesome," Baffert said. "After his work today and if he throws in another good work next week, there's a really good chance he'll start in the San Antonio Handicap. The thing with Congaree is that we get him ready first and then start looking around for a spot."

Regular exercise rider Dana Barnes was aboard for Congaree's drill.

The $250,000 San Antonio Handicap is a nine-furlong main track test Jan. 31 that's also expected to draw Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Pleasantly Perfect, as well as Japan Cup Dirt (gr. I) hero Fleetstreet Dancer.

Originally Baffert had considered shipping as the best option for Congaree's next race, citing the heavy impost he'd likely draw from Santa Anita racing officials.

Kentucky-bred Congaree has earned $3,241,400 with a record of 23-12-2-4, including five grade 1 victories and five other graded stakes scores over four seasons.

Congaree was expected to use his first start of the year as a prep for the Mar. 27 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), but Baffert said those plans are up in the air.

"He may still go to Dubai, I don't know for sure yet," Baffert said. "I like to change my mind a lot."