Omega Code faces his most serious test Saturday, trying two turns for the first time in the one-mile San Rafael Stakes (Gr. III) at Santa Anita. But trainer Wesley Ward continues to express utmost confidence in the Florida-bred 3-year-old son of Elusive Quality who won the San Miguel Stakes (gr. III) on Jan. 12."He can rate and he can relax; there's a lot of speed in the race," Ward said. "We can pop the gate and be in front, or we can lay second or third."After the San Miguel, 75 percent ownership of the horse was sold to Team Valor, Ward retaining the other quarter interes. Omega Code has two other victories from five starts, including a record-setting six-furlong win at Fresno last Oct. 5.He worked seven furlongs Friday under jockey Mike Smith in 1:23.60, in company with the 5-year-old Kudos, who was prepping for the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I). "It was a little faster than I wanted," Ward said of the drill. "I would have preferred to keep him on a seven-day schedule and work him (Sunday), but I wanted to work back with Kudos because Kudos doesn't put a lot of effort into his works. Hopefully, it would have turned out like last week (when the pair worked in much slower time). Unfortunately, (Richard) Mandella used a little wild card when he put Julie Krone on (Kudos), which I didn't know he was going to do. She was 30 pounds lighter than the (exercise) boy who worked Kudos last week."That's why Kudos worked a lot better (on Friday). Julie is 15 pounds lighter than Smith. When a 3-year-old is spotting 15 pounds to a 5-year-old, it makes a big difference, although my horse still worked very good. He worked right with Kudos, and Mike didn't want to ask my horse down the lane because he knew they were rolling. The work was faster than I wanted to begin with, but everything worked out great. I scoped the horse after the last work and this work. He doesn't use Lasix for his workouts and he never bled, so that's very positive."In other San Rafael developments, trainer Bobby Frankel said if Peace Rules doesn't run, the Florida-bred son of Jules would go in either the March 9 Louisiana Derby (gr. II) or the March 8 El Camino Real Derby (gr. III).
Trainer Bob Baffert is taking a wait-and-see approach with Panamanian invader Indian Express, a son of 1998 Santa Anita Derby winner Indian Charlie who won his only two starts in Panama by 10 ¾ lengths."He worked good yesterday (one mile in 1:39.60 on Saturday)," Baffert said. "He'll go all day, I think, but we can't get a line on him until he runs."Probable for the San Rafael: Excessivepleasure, no rider; Indian Express, David Flores; Just Wonder, Kent Desormeaux; Omega Code, Mike Smith; Spensive, Julie Krone; and Sum Trick, Tyler Baze.