It would behoove anyone who doubts that Mike Puype can get a horse
ready to win off a long layoff to look at his success with Mizdirection.
The 46-year-old trainer registered his most noteworthy
achievement when he sent out the now 5-year-old mare to defeat males
after a five-month absence in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint
at about 6 ½ furlongs on Santa Anita’s unique downhill course.
But getting a horse to win going short after such a lengthy
sojourn might be a considerably lesser accomplishment, to wit: winning a
race at a mile and a half after being away from the races for a period
approaching five months.
Case in point: Calidoscopio in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000
Tokyo City Cup for four year olds and up at a mile and a half on the
“You just hope he’s ready,” Puype said with a laugh when asked
about his preparation for Calidoscopio in his first race since winning
the mile and a half Breeders’ Cup Marathon at Santa Anita last Nov. 2.
Initially, Puype had hoped to have Calidoscopio ready for the March 2
Santa Anita Handicap at a mile and a quarter, but a wrenched ankle put a
kibosh on those plans.
“I pretty much have shown I can get horses ready off layoffs, so
I’m not too worried about it,” Puype continued. “The key to the race,
going that far after a layoff, is, Aaron (jockey Aaron Gryder) has to
sit on him forever and run him late, just like he did in the Breeders’
That day, Gryder had the Argentine-bred son of Luhuk 13th and
last early on, then rallied six wide to win going away by 4 1/4 lengths
under 126 pounds. Now 10, Calidoscopio carries 123 in the Tokyo City
Cup. In 10 career victories from 40 starts with earnings of $803,282,
Calidoscopio has won carrying as much as 137 pounds, in a Group 2 race
in Argentina in 2009.
“He’s one of the very few horses in the Breeders’ Cup that closed
over a track that wasn’t favoring that kind of a horse at all,” noted
Puype, who has had Calidoscopio since just after the Breeders’ Cup, when
he was trained by Guillermo Frankel. “So that speaks well for us, I
think, and sometimes going further (after a long absence) isn’t as much a
concern as when they’ve got to go faster (in a sprint), because they
loaf going a mile and a half. It is a long way, but they’re not exactly
going as fast.”
Let the record show that the six furlong time in Calidoscopio’s
Marathon win was 1:12, while the mile fraction was a pedestrian 1:38
1/5. More important, perhaps, was that the bay horse won the race in his
first start in more than five months.
Puype or no, a precedent does exist.
The field for the Tokyo City Cup: Dreamcatcher, Joe Talamo; Sky
Kingdom, Martin Garcia; Batti Man, Brice Blanc; Oilisblackgold, Edwin
Maldonado; Richard’s Kid, Tyler Baze; Calidoscopio, Aaron Gryder;
Jaycito, Alonso Quinonez; and Dhaamer, Rafael Bejarano.
Saturday Santa Anita salutes Ohi Racecourse in Tokyo with the Tokyo City
There will be traditional Japanese drum ceremonies, great exhibitions, family fun activities and delicious Japanese cuisine.