Weight to Keep Kona Gold Out of San Carlos

Trainer Bruce Headly declared champion Kona Gold from consideration for Sunday's San Carlos Handicap (gr. I) after the 9-year-old gelding was assigned top weight of 121 pounds for the seven-furlong test.

"The horse who beat (Kona Gold) by six lengths last time was only given 117," Headley said, referring to Palos Verdes Handicap (gr. II) winner Avanzado. "The horse who beat him in the Breeders' Cup (Crafty C.T.) was only given 116. Disturbingthepeace and D'wildcat both beat me and were given 116, too. And Grey Memo, who won a million-dollar race in Dubai, was given less weight."

Avanzado, a multiple grade II winner who won the Palos Verdes by 4 1/2lengths, will bypass the San Carlos, according to trainer Doug O'Neill, and will train for the $2-million Dubai Golden Shaheen on the Dubai World Cup undercard at Nad al Sheba racecourse on Mar. 29 instead.

Kona Gold, the Eclipse Award winner as the country's top sprinter in 2000 after winning the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) and four other graded stakes that year, finished sixth and last in the Palos Verdes under top weight of 124 pounds. He won the El Conejo Handicap (gr. III) in his first start of 2003, but hadn't visited the winner's circle before that since taking the Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III) at Hollywood Park in June.

"He's three years older than he was in 2000 and they just can't keep giving him weight like that," Headley said. "It doesn't look good for the public and it doesn't look good for me. But what can I do? The public really wants to see this horse, but unless they're fairer in the weights I'm going to have to retire him. I don't want to, but I may have no choice."

Headley said he'd consider running Kona Gold in the Protrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at 6 ½ furlongs on Mar. 29 if the gelding receives a better impost than the one given for the San Carlos.

Overall Kona Gold owns a career line of 28-14-7-1 for earnings of $2,262,984.