Saturday, July 18, 2009

Spring House a marathon man

Steve Andersen, Daily Racing Form

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The details of Spring House's career have eluded trainer Julio Canani.

Reminded that Spring House will become a millionaire if he wins Sunday's $150,000 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park, Canani seemed surprised. "Really?" he said.

Told that Spring House has won six stakes, Canani asked, "How many stakes have I won with him?"

Canani has guided Spring House to five graded stakes wins, all in turf marathons, and will be favored for a sixth in the Grade 2 Sunset Handicap at 1 1/2 miles. The race is the feature of a nine-race program on the final day of the spring-summer meeting. The Del Mar meet begins Wednesday.

Spring House has three rivals in the Sunset Handicap - Black Astor, Obrigado, and Porfido. Of those, only Obrigado is a stakes winner this year, in the Grade 3 Round Table Handicap at 1 3/4 miles on turf here on June 13. Porfido was second in the Round Table, while Black Astor, the expected pacesetter, has not started since finishing fifth in the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita in January.

Spring House is the most accomplished runner in the field. Owned by former Hollywood Park chairman R.D. Hubbard, Spring House won the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on turf at Santa Anita in February, lost his next two starts, and rebounded to win the Grade 3 Golden Gate Fields Turf Stakes at 1 3/8 miles on May 30.

"He always runs his race," Canani said.

Spring House has won 3 of 8 starts at 1 1/2 miles on turf. He was third in the 2007 Sunset Handicap, when he made the lead and was passed late. In his recent wins, he has taken over in the final furlong.

Spring House has the respect of trainer Neil Drysdale, who starts Obrigado. "He'll be the heavy favorite," he said.

Black Astor, starting at 1 1/2 miles for the first time, and Porfido, who is winless in his last eight starts, will contribute to the pace. Porfido also has the ability to stalk the pace. He was third in the 2008 Sunset Handicap.

Obrigado is more of a closer. The Round Table was his first win in 15 starts, dating back to the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo Handicap at Santa Anita in February 2007. "I'm happy with him," Drysdale said.

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