Mistical Plan figures to be part of the pace scenario in Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile Santa Maria Handicap, coming off a fourth-place finish after a troubled start in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint at six furlongs. The 5-year-old California-bred mare also figures to benefit from that race, her first in five months.

“She’s doing great,” trainer Doug O’Neill said of the daughter of Game Plan, who won the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks at 1 1/16 miles in March of 2007. “She’s proven at two turns. The only thing she’s not proven at is the distance on synthetics. But she’s training great and this race fits well into her schedule, so we’re going to give it a go.”

Owned by J. Paul Reddam, Mistical Plan has a 5-1-2 record from 16 starts, with earnings of $814,290.

In other Santa Maria news:

Garrett Gomez is looking forward to reuniting with Visit, who finished third under the Eclipse Award-winning rider in the Grade I Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park last Nov. 30.

“I was very excited about her,” Gomez said of the Matriarch performance. “It was a paceless race and she was at the back of the pack. There were some nice horses in there (winner Cocoa Beach and runner-up Precious Kitten, to name two).

“She can be a little closer (to the pace). That day, we kind of let her settle in and try to find herself and see if she could get home, but like I said, it was a paceless race, yet she was never very far off of it. She was still quickening faster than anything else, but with a slow pace, she couldn’t make it up.”

Visit, owned and bred by the Juddmonte Farms and trained by Bobby Frankel, has a 2-2-2 record from nine starts, with earnings of $356,014.

The field for the Grade I Santa Maria, which goes as race No. 9 on a 10-race program: Briecat, Jose Valdivia Jr., 15-1; Tizfiz, Agapito Delgadillo, 20-1 Country Star, Joel Rosario, 6-1; Mistical Plan, Victor Espinoza, 12-1; Marzelline, Tyler Baze, 15-1; Roshani, Patrick Husbands, 20-1; Bsharpsonata, David Flores, 8-1; Santa Teresita, Joe Talamo, 8-1; Visit, Garrett Gomez, 3-1; Leah’s Secret, Eibar Coa, 7-2; and Model, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1. Island Hop was scratched. FRANKEL STILL PRO-ACTIVE ON PRO-RIDE; STARDOM BOUND SET FOR OAKS

Despite more than four inches of rain that has hit Santa Anita so far this meet, and with more in the immediate forecast, the Pro-Ride main track has held up well and training has not been interrupted.

There were 128 recorded workouts on Pro-Ride Friday morning, nine from horses trained by Bobby Frankel, who gave the surface an unqualified and unsolicited endorsement before the meet began on Dec. 26, and continued to give it a thumbs up through 36 days of the 84-day winter/spring meet.

“Yeah, very good,” the Hall of Fame conditioner said on a drizzly Friday when asked if he was still satisfied with the track’s performance. “If it was a dirt track, we wouldn’t be able to train over it.”

Meanwhile, Frankel has Eclipse Award champion Stardom Bound pointing to the Santa Anita Oaks on March 7 in quest of her fifth consecutive Grade I victory, and, while not committing to it, would not rule out facing males in the Santa Anita Derby on April 4.

“One race at a time,” said Frankel, who saddled Honest Lady to a seventh-place finish against colts in the 2000 Santa Anita Derby won by General Challenge. DELAHOUSSAYE EXCITED TO CO-CAPTAIN RIDERS IN ANNUAL BASKETBALL GAME

The 42nd annual Holy Angels-Santa Anita Jockeys charity basketball game will be played Thursday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m., at La Salle High School in Pasadena. Proceeds will benefit the Holy Angels athletic department. Legendary Hall of Fame jockeys Eddie Delahoussaye and Laffit Pincay Jr. will serve as honorary captains, and will be available to sign autographs from 6 to 7 p.m. in the La Salle High gymnasium.

Delahoussaye is looking forward to the experience.

“I played back in the 80s against the kids, and back then, they were about as short as we were,” Delahoussaye said. “Nowadays, they’re six-foot tall. No wonder the jocks can’t beat them.

“I played baseball when I was young. I never could play basketball (like Hall of Fame rider Kent Desormeaux, a Louisiana native who aspired to be an NBA player until lack of height ended those dreams), but it’s going to be fun.”

La Salle High School is located at the southwest corner of Michillinda Ave. and Sierra Madre Blvd. in Pasadena, approximately four miles from Santa Anita. Admission is $5. FREE UMBRELLAS AT SANTA ANITA THIS MONDAY, PRESIDENTS’ DAY

With rain currently prominent in the Los Angeles area, free umbrellas will be a timely free gift to all THOROUGHBREDS members at Santa Anita with general admission while supplies last this Monday, Presidents’ Day.

Two stakes highlight the racing program, the Grade II San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs, and the Grade II Buena Vista Handicap for older fillies and mares at one mile on turf.


Churchill Downs’ 2009 Kentucky Derby Future Wager began its 11th year Thursday when the first of its three betting pools opened with the mutuel field, or “all others,” as the favored betting interest for the May 2 Kentucky Derby. Wagering is available at Santa Anita.

Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia installed the “all others” betting interest as the 5-2 favorite in Pool 1, which concludes at 6 p.m. this Sunday. That’s hardly a surprise as the mutuel field has been favored in the opening pool in each of the first 10 years of the Derby Future bet. Fans often opt for the “all others” bet rather than make a commitment to an individual horse so early in the Derby campaign and this year’s group of contenders seems more wide-open than most.

Among individual horses, Old Fashioned, winner of last fall’s Remsen at Aqueduct, and Capt. Candyman Can, winner of the recent Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park and the Iroquois at Churchill Downs, were co-favored individual interests on Battaglia’s morning line at 10-1. They were followed at 12-1 by 2008 2-year-old champion Midshipman; Stardom Bound, the only filly among the individual betting interests; Lecomte and Risen Star winner Friesan Fire; CashCall Futurity and Robert B. Lewis winner Pioneerof the Nile; Champagne winner Vineyard Haven; and This Ones for Phil, winner of the Sunshine Millions Dash. This Ones For Phil is the lone member of Pool 1 that is not yet nominated to the Kentucky Derby and the Triple Crown.

Other major contenders include Beethoven and Giant Oak, the 1-2 finishers in last fall’s Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs. Both were listed at odds of 15-1. FINISH LINES: A multi-year agreement was reached last night between TrackNet Media and Nevada casinos, restoring racing signals effective today. With the agreement, signals from Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park, Golden Gate Fields, Laurel Park and Oaklawn Park are again available in Las Vegas casinos. TrackNet, which markets signals for Churchill Downs Inc. and Magna Entertainment Corp., in addition to other tracks, sought a new deal on signal fees after its contract with the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association expired on Jan. 1. An extension was granted, but the signals were terminated after Jan. 25 . . . Motto Mondo, 6-1 winner of last Saturday’s Grade III Thunder Road Handicap, which was taken off the turf and run on Pro-Ride due to weather conditions, is a candidate for both the Grade I Kilroe Mile on grass and the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap at 1 ¼ miles on Pro-Ride. Each race is March 7. “I’m considering both and I’ll do that until probably a week before, something like that,” trainer Richard Mandella said. “I was surprised he ran that good (one mile on Pro-Ride in 1:34.61, fastest time of the meet for the conditions). We always thought he’d run well on the main track, but he ran awesome.”. . . Trainer Ron Ellis still has the Big ’Cap in mind for the undefeated Rail Trip, but now has thrown the $6 million Dubai World Cup at 1 ¼ miles and the $1 million Godolphin Mile on March 28 into the equation. “We’ll take a look (at the Santa Anita Handicap) and see how it comes up,” Ellis said. “We’re nominated to Dubai, but the Big ’Cap comes up first. We’ll see how he’s training.” . . . Colonel John, prepping for the Big ’Cap, worked seven furlongs after Thursday’s third race in 1:25.87 under Garrett Gomez. The colt’s fractional times were :26.26, :50.15, 1:14.10. He galloped out a mile in 1:37 3/5. “He hadn’t run since the Malibu (Dec. 26), but he did what we were looking for,” Gomez said. “He continually picked it up, and I think he went the last half in :47.” . . . Doug O’Neill reports Square Eddie “doing great, he looks fantastic,” as he recovers from an ailing left shin that has sidelined the Triple Crown hopeful. “We’re still waiting to X-ray him again, probably not for a few more weeks, to give us clearance to go on with him,” O’Neill said. “His legs are ice cold; he’s going sound.” . . . Los Angeles Times staff writer Eric Sondheimer has a feature on Santa Anita’s ‘Free Fridays’ which he shot and produced, now available on the paper’s website, . . Sunday's Gr. II La Canada Stakes will be shown live on CBS SportsCentral, at approximately 4:05 p.m. Hosted by Jim Hill and Steve Hartman, SportsCentral airs on KCBS 2, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. -30-