Weather played an unexpected role when turf standout Gio Ponti won the Dec. 26 Sir Beaufort Stakes (gr. III), a race transferred from the grass to Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface. Given a freshening since then, he takes the next step on the main track in the $250,000 Strub (gr. II) Feb. 7.
Colonel John, who ran sixth after a poor start as the second choice in the 2008 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), makes his first start in 10 weeks in the $350,000 Swaps Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) at Hollywood Park July 12.
An easy winner of the Lazaro Barrera Memorial (gr. III) in his last start, Two Step Salsa tries two turns for the first time in the $100,000 Affirmed Handicap (gr. III) for 3-year-olds on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track June 15.
West Point Thoroughbreds' El Gato Malo puts his unbeaten record on the line against Colonel John and five others in the $200,000 Sham Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita March 1. Another entrant, Coast Guard, will be scratched due to a minor ankle injury.
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