Greeley's Galaxy, absent since finishing a distant seventh in the Preakness (gr. I) on May 21, returns to the races in the Malibu Stakes (gr. I) Monday at Santa Anita when the track begins an 86-day meeting that runs through April 23.
Kent Desormeaux, who rode the chestnut son of Mr. Greeley to a 9 ½-length victory in the Illinois Derby (gr. III) on April 9, is happy to be reunited with the colt trained by 84-year-old Warren Stute.
"He felt smooth as silk and I was excited to be on board," Desormeaux said of a seven-furlong drill in 1:27 on Monday. "It's a lovely feeling being on your (Kentucky) Derby mount. You develop a close relationship with him."
Greeley's Galaxy was 11th under Desormeaux in the Run for the Roses, but beaten only eight lengths after a sluggish start. David Flores was aboard in the Preakness, in which Greeley's Galaxy was beaten nearly 20 lengths. But that's in the past, in Desormeaux's eyes.
"He's a great talent," Desormeaux said. "I'm glad that he's back."
Greeley's Galaxy, owned by public storage magnate B. Wayne Hughes, was given an eight-month break.
"He had a minor bleeding problem," Stute said, "and we fired his ankles before we turned him out at San Luis Rey Downs. Mr. Hughes has had him scoped every time he's worked since he's come back and no blood has shown, so that's a good sign. Generally when you turn a horse out he gets over it. He's been back with us now for about three months."
Opening day at Santa Anita is old hat to Stute, the older brother of trainer Mel Stute. Warren began a public stable in 1948.
"You always look forward to Santa Anita opening," he said. "It's like a re-awakening and it perks everybody up. We got a little rest in between (the closing of Hollywood Park on Dec. 19). Not for me, but for the gamblers."
Probable for the 54th running of the Malibu for 3-year-olds: Actxecutive, no rider; Attila's Storm, Pat Valenzuela; Diligent Prospect, Jon Court; Fusaichi Rock Star, Shinji Fujita; Greeley's Galaxy, Desormeaux; Lumbre, Aaron Gryder; Ninety Fine, Javier Santiago; Osidy, Alex Solis; Seattles Best Joe, no rider; Shamoan, Jose Valdivia Jr.; Thor's Echo, Victor Espinoza; Ulistnintome, no rider; Unbridled Energy, no rider; and Wilko, Corey Nakatani.
Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Wilko, seeking his first victory after six losses since winning that race on Oct. 30, 2004, breezed four furlongs at Hollywood Park Thursday in :49 1/5. "He did it real easy," trainer Craig Dollase said. "We're all set."
Ninety Fine, who rallied to finish fourth in the six-furlong California Cup Sprint Handicap, worked five furlongs for Mel Stute in 1:00 3/5.
Ulistintome worked four furlongs in a bullet :45.40. "It was a little quicker than we expected," Richard Mandella said, "but obviously it's a sign that he's doing pretty good."
Mandella, who owns the son of Wild Rush with the Diamond A Racing Corporation of Jerry Ford, explained how the colt got his name: "I named the horse that because I ask my people (at the barn) that all the time: Are you listening to me? I know they aren't, so I named my horse that."