ARCADIA, Calif. -- A graded stakes winner co-owned by Frank Stronach and trained by Bobby Frankel might not run in a Grade 1 stakes Sunday at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meet because of the trainer's displeasure with the speed of the Cushion Track surface at Stronach's flagship track.
Frankel is the new trainer of Silent Name, whose three U.S. wins for Gary Mandella include Grade 2's on turf and Polytrack. Silent Name was transferred to Frankel last month and is working so well at Hollywood Park that Frankel will consider supplementing him for $6,000 to the six-furlong Ancient Title.
Only one problem - Frankel does not like the new Santa Anita racing surface.
"Unless that track changes in the next few days, [Silent Name] will not run," Frankel said Tuesday, citing the speed of the track, which Stronach's Magna Entertainment just spent $10 million to install.
Frankel said he believes that running horses repeatedly on fast surfaces can be hard on them.
"Injuries don't start they day they pull up lame," Frankel said.
Few trainers have been openly critical of the new surface, which has been lightning fast mornings and afternoons - 1:08.98 was the slowest of four maiden special weight races run Saturday and Sunday at six furlongs (including three for 2-year-olds). Every six-furlong sprint was won by a horse that was forwardly placed.
"It's too speed-favoring," Frankel said. "On a track like that, what chance would I have?"
A presser at seven furlongs, Silent Name would be outrun early at six, and rally from behind. If Silent Name skips the Ancient Title, the Grade 1 Citation on turf during the autumn Hollywood meet is another option.
Silent Name is owned by Stronach Stables and the Wertheimer brothers. A 5-year-old sired by Sunday Silence, he has won 6 of 21 races and $639,431. He is scheduled to retire to stud at the end of the 2007 racing season.
Greg's Gold works faster than expected
A blazing 1:09 six-furlong work by Greg's Gold was not what the trainer wanted on Monday, six days ahead of the Ancient Title.
"It was too fast," David Hofmans said Tuesday, "but he looks good this morning, and 1:09 on this track is like 1:11. That's how you have to look at it."
The work was the fastest by more than a second.
Greg's Gold has thrived this summer on synthetic racing surfaces. He won the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes in April on Cushion Track at Hollywood, and the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien in August on Polytrack at Del Mar. Greg's Gold will make his first start on Cushion Track at Santa Anita when he runs Sunday in the Ancient Title.
Sise expects Idiot Proof to improve
Idiot Proof sailed through an easy half-mile Tuesday in 46 seconds, the fastest half-mile of the morning, and could be setting the pace Sunday in the Ancient Title. Idiot Proof finished a distant third in his most recent start Aug. 10 at Del Mar, but trainer Cliff Sise calls that race an aberration.
"He's a totally different horse now," Sise said. "He didn't like that [Polytrack] down there. Secondly, he thought he was on vacation, he was so laid back. Now, he's bucking and playing again."
A win by Idiot Proof in the Ancient Title would catapult him into the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Monmouth Park, where two starts back he won the Grade 3 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup by more than seven lengths with a 113 Beyer Speed Figure.
BC Distaff still on Balance's schedule
Balance returned Monday to Santa Anita, none the worse after a distant fourth-place finish Sunday in the Grade 1 Beldame at Belmont Park. Trainer David Hofmans said the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Monmouth was still in the plans, and believes that Balance can be excused for her effort in the Beldame.
"I didn't realize how tough the detention barn would be; it was really bad for her," he said.
Hofmans also said Balance was compromised by the one-turn configuration of Belmont.
"She looks good," he said. "We'll try the next step."
The Distaff is on dirt at Monmouth. The last time Balance ran two turns on conventional dirt she won the Grade 1 Santa Margarita during the winter meet at Santa Anita.
Georgie Boy gets extended vacation
The top 2-year-old this summer in California is done for the year. Georgie Boy, who defeated Norfolk Stakes one-two finishers Dixie Chatter and Salute the Sarge in the Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 5, will not race again until the winter meet at Santa Anita.
"We're not going to the Cal Cup," trainer Kathy Walsh said Tuesday. "We're going to pull his shoes off, walk for a couple weeks, and point for a winter campaign."
Walsh said she and owner George Schwary decided Monday to forsake a fall campaign after a busy Del Mar during which Georgie Boy raced in three stakes, winning twice.
"I knew if I ran in the Del Mar Futurity I would have to give him time," Walsh said.
The Futurity was his third start in six weeks, and though Walsh and Schwary considered the $125,000 California Cup Juvenile on Nov. 3, they decided to freshen Georgie Boy and point for the seven-furlong Cal Breeders' Stakes early in the Santa Anita winter meet.
Dixie Chatter's injury not serious
Dixie Chatter grabbed a quarter when he stumbled at the start of the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes on Sunday, but the superficial injury is not expected to detour the improving 2-year-old from the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
"He'll get a few extra days, that's all," trainer Richard Mandella said. "It should heal right up."
Dixie Chatter won the Norfolk by 1 1/4 lengths over Salute the Sarge.
Veteran Louisiana rider arrives
Carlos Gonzalez, 42, who has been a leading rider at Louisiana Downs for most of the last 20 years, made his first visit to the Santa Anita stables on Tuesday and will begin riding here this weekend.
"I wanted to come here and take a shot," Gonzalez said. "My wife Paula has wanted me to try it for years."
It was not just to get Gonzalez out of the house. Paula soon will join Gonzalez, who is represented by agent Jim Pegram.