Passinetti Back in Training for Capistrano Defense

Gary Tanaka's grade I winner Passinetti has returned to trainer Ben Cecil's Santa Anita base after several months at a nearby farm and will aim at a defense of his title in the $400,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap (gr. IT) at the end of the meeting on Apr. 18.

The 7-year-old gelding has been jogging for about three weeks and is set to resume galloping on New Year's Day.

In early summer, a suspensory injury that had kept the son of Slew o'Gold -- Cloelia (by Lyphard) sidelined previously for more than three years flared up again, so Cecil sent him to the sidelines with the strong possibility of retirement. Well enough to return to training, Cecil has mapped out some preliminary plans for Passinetti.

"If all goes well he'll have one race before the San Juan Capistrano," Cecil said. "We'll look for a non-winners of three 'other than' about three weeks or a month out. It won't take much to get him ready; he's not carrying a lot of weight. He almost looks like we could work him three-eighths tomorrow morning.

"So far everything looks good, but if any of it changes we'll stop on him right away and he'll be my stable pony."

Kentucky-bred Passinetti began his career in France in 1998, placing third in a non-graded stakes event before being shipped back to America in 1999. Retired later that year after suffering the suspensory injury and only managing a third-place finish in the Virginia Derby from five stateside starts, he was gelded and spent two years doing little more than standing in a field. Brought back earlier this year, he rewarded his connections with an allowance win and his first grade I victory in the Capistrano.

Passinetti has captured three of his 17 career starts, with two seconds and five thirds, for earnings of $387,983.

Ringaskiddy, the 2002 Capistrano winner, is set for his return after a 17-month break in Thursday's seventh race at Santa Anita, a one-mile turf test that carries a purse of $70,000. Eight other 3-year-olds and up are scheduled to go postward.

Ringaskiddy, who is owned by the partnership of Leonard Scofield and his trainer, Juan Garcia, will have apprentice Mick Ruis aboard. Ringaskiddy has accumulated a lifetime record of 47-6-11-7 for a bankroll of $592,571.