Crafty C. T., winning the 2001 San Rafael.

Crafty C. T., winning the 2001 San Rafael.


Crafty C. T. Working Toward San Carlos

Carl Grether's Crafty C. T., who ended 2002 with back-to-back third-place finishes in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) and Cigar Mile (gr. I), is gearing up for his return to action as a 5-year-old and worked five furlongs in :58 4/5, handily, at Santa Anita Tuesday morning. The move was the second-fastest of the 40 who worked at the distance on the day.

The son of Crafty Prospector has been officially on vacation since the end of November, but was never really given a break, trainer Howie Zucker explained.

"He didn't really need a freshener, but we thought it was best so we have something saved for the rest of the year, especially since the Breeders' Cup is right here at Santa Anita this year," Zucker said. "He walked the shedrow for two weeks, tack-walked for a week and then jogged for another before I put him back into full training. So getting him ready to go again won't take much. In his work today, he never even broke a sweat or really ever took a deep breath."

Crafty C. T. only reached the winner's circle two times from seven starts in 2002, but ran a handful of winning races anyway, according to Zucker. In addition to capturing two optional claiming events, the horse placed in four Grade 1s -- the Met Mile, Cigar Mile, Breeders' Cup and Ancient Title Breeders' Cup - and one other non-graded stakes. Zucker is looking forward to some better racing luck in 2003 for the barn's sprinting star.

"He really faced a tough bunch of horses last year and just couldn't get lucky a lot of the time. In the Breeders' Cup he ran very well to finish third. Second money would have been better, but how can I not be happy with finishing third by a length to the sprint champion?

"In the Cigar Mile, he was really moving at the end and I think, had he gone with Congaree early, might have been right there at the wire. But Patrick (Valenzuela) made a decision and thought the pace was too fast, so he took back off and after that, got pushed back behind a wall of horses and never really had a chance. Pat made the decision he thought was best at the time and unfortunately it didn't work out the best for (Crafty C. T.) In the Met Mile (gr. I) he was forced to race so wide. Everyone was coming off the rail and pushing Crafty C. T outward while at the same time letting others through along the rail. Any time you let a good horse like Swept Overboard (the winner of the Met Mile) a clean run like that, you're usually running for second-place money."

If all goes well Zucker said Crafty C. T. will be in the starting gate for the March 2 San Carlos (gr. I), which is set at seven furlongs. Though accomplished at three-quarters of a mile, Zucker believes Crafty C. T. to be at his best from 6 ½ furlongs to a mile.

"He's no slouch at six furlongs, but he may be at his best a bit farther. He's definitely the most unlucky of the quality sprinters, but we hope to turn that around this year."