The single defection was the Bobby Frankel trainee Hello Sunday, one of three original entrants by the Hall of Fame conditioner. Frankel plans to start Thousand Words and Racketeer, the 5-2 morning line favorite in the San Pasqual previously.
Added to the line-up for the 1 1/16-mile Cushion Track test, a leading local prep for the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) on March 1, was Arson Squad, starting from the far outside for trainer Bruce Headley. A field of seven is expected to go in the San Pasqual, one of three graded races on Santa Anita's 11-race card. All of the starters were able to put in timed workouts this week in preparation for the race.
The Brazilian-bred Molengao, a two-time grade II winner last year for trainer Paulo Lobo, returns from a six-month layoff as the 120-pound high weight.
Molengao's five lifetime victories include wins last year in the San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita in February and the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (gr. II) by 4 1/2 lengths at Hollywood Park May 5. He was off for seven weeks before running fourth, five lengths behind Lava Man, while backed at odds of 8-5 in the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) June 30. That was his last start.
The 7-year-old Molengao ran second to Lava Man in the 2007 Big 'Cap. The son of Royal Academy has earnings of $618,477 for T N T Stud of Rio de Janeiro.
WinStar Farms' homebred Well Armed is expected to set the pace for trainer Eoin Harty in the San Pasqual, his U.S. stakes debut. The 5-year-old gelded son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Tiznow is coming off a front-running 4 1/4-length allowance win over Hollywood Park's Cushion Track Nov. 11.
Well Armed has won three of 13 lifetime starts on three continents, breaking his maiden on the all-weather track at England's Linfield as a 2-year-old. He went to the sidelines with an injury that kept him out of action for 18 months following an 11th-place finish in the UAE Derby (UAE-II) at Nad Al Sheba in March 2006. That was his last start for English conditioner Clive Brittain.
Heatseeker and Racketeer were the one-two finishers in the Native Diver Handicap (gr. III) for Frankel. The Irish-bred Heatseeker, a 5-year-old son of Giant's Causeway owned by William de Burgh, won the Native Diver by 1 1/4 lengths at odds of 30-1 for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
Stronach Stables' Racketeer, a 5-year-old horse by Awesome Again , seeks his first stakes win for Frankel, who also starts Thousand Words, a British homebred for leading client Juddmonte Farms making his initial U.S. start.
The 4-year-old son of Dansili--Verbose, by Storm Bird, won a group III event as a juvenile in England, but was winless in six starts in 2007.
Zappa, a one-length allowance winner at Hollywood Park Dec. 14 for trainer John Sadler, should provide Well Armed with his biggest challenge on the front end.
Arson Squad slumped in 2007 after winning the Strub (gr. II) in February but could get back in form with a return to his favorite surroundings. The 5-year-old Brahms gelding, with back-to-back bullet works at Santa Anita since Jan. 1, ran fifth in the Native Diver in his last start.
$150,000 San Pasqual Handicap (gr. II, Race 7, 2:45 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Thousand Words (GB), 114, David R. Flores
2. Molengao (BRZ), 120, Victor Espinoza
3. Heatseeker (IRE), 117, Michael C. Baze
4. Zappa (KY), 114, Joel Rosario
5. Racketeer (KY), 114, Rafael Bejarano
6. Well Armed (KY), 113, Aaron T. Gryder
7. Arson Squad (PA), 118, Alex O. Solis
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