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SANTA ANITA : Ankle Injury Forces Hishi Amazon Out of Much-Awaited U.S. Debut


Hishi Amazon, the Japanese filly who has earned $4.7 million, more than any distaffer in the world, won't run Saturday in the $150,000 Santa Ana Handicap at Santa Anita because of a wrenched ankle.

The injury was discovered Wednesday morning at Santa Anita, where Dent Caton, a Northern California-based trainer, was preparing Hishi Amazon for her American debut.

Caton said Hishi Amazon galloped 1 3/4 miles Tuesday and had been scheduled to work six furlongs Wednesday. But there was swelling in her left foreleg.

"She's lame," Caton said. "X-rays were negative, but she's got a wrenched ankle. This is a major disappointment. There had been no trouble since she came here. Her legs had been fine--they were cold every day--and she had been eating good."

Veterinarian Rick Arthur will continue to monitor Hishi Amazon's condition and work to reduce the swelling. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Theatrical was scheduled to return to Japan after the Santa Ana, and it hasn't been determined how the injury will affect her career.

Bred and raced by Masaichiro Abe, a Tokyo lumber executive, Hishi Amazon arrived at Santa Anita on March 6. In 12 starts in Japan, she was never beaten by fillies, winning eight races and finishing second four times.

Hishi Amazon was a Japanese champion as a 2-year-old and last year, thanks to Japan's enormous purse structure--a mere maiden race is worth $59,000 to the winner--her earnings dwarfed the $3.2 million total of Dance Smartly, who is the leading money-winning distaffer for North America.

Caton has trained horses for Abe for the last few years.

"Everybody who had seen this filly train since she got here was impressed," he said. "She has an immense stride, and the presence of a champion."

Horse Racing Notes

Serena's Song, winner of last Sunday's Santa Anita Oaks, will face colts in the Jim Beam Stakes at Turfway Park on April 1, but trainer Wayne Lukas still does not consider her a candidate for the Kentucky Derby. "If Bob Lewis (who races Serena's Song with his wife, Beverly) wasn't one of the owners of Timber Country, he might be pushing to run the filly in the Derby," Lukas said. "But because of his interest in Timber Country, that's not the case. We're still pointing Serena's Song for the Kentucky Oaks (a race for fillies at Churchill Downs on May 5). The Jim Beam makes sense because it's a $600,000 race, it's five weeks before the Oaks, it's an easy ship from Turfway to Churchill and she shouldn't be overmatched. In fact, she might even go off a heavy favorite." . . . Timber Country and Afternoon Deelites might be the only horses running Sunday in the San Felipe Stakes. The trainers of Jumron and Petionville might enter their 3-year-olds, but aren't expected to run against two of the leading Kentucky Derby candidates. "It doesn't cost anything to enter," said Gary Lewis, Jumron's trainer, "So it's worth entering just to take a look." . . . Thunder Gulch, winner of last Saturday's Florida Derby, is back at Lukas' barn at Santa Anita. He'll train locally and be shipped to Kentucky just a day or two before the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 15. . . . Queens Court Queen, winner of three stakes at Santa Anita this winter, was injured in the Santa Margarita Handicap and has been retired. She'll be bred in Kentucky to Seeking The Gold or Irish Ruler.

Bee El Tee, running on turf for the first time, won the $65,600 Pirate Cove Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths over Fine N' Majestic at Santa Anita. Ridden by Kent Desormeaux and carrying 116 pounds, Bee El Tee covered 1 1/8 miles on the grass in 1:50 4-5 and paid $12.80, $6.20 and $5. The win was the fourth in as many mounts on the day for Desormeaux, who moved into a tie with Corey Nakatani for the Santa Anita riding lead at 71 wins each. Desormeaux trailed Nakatani, 62-45, on Feb. 22. Fine N' Majestic, ridden by Eddie Delahoussaye and carrying 116 pounds, crossed the finish line a head in front of Awesome Thought and returned $3.80 and $3.20. Awesome Thought was ridden by Chris McCarron.

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