Precisionist 'Not Ready'--Trainer Scratches Him From $450,000 Santa Anita Handicap

Precisionist, who would have been the top-weighted starter in the Santa Anita Handicap, was scratched Thursday from the $450,000 race March 3.

"He'll stay in the barn," trainer Ross Fenstermaker said. "He's lost too much training time, and it wouldn't be fair to the horse to run him in such a tough spot if he's not ready."

Precisionist became only the fifth horse to sweep the three-race Strub series, but a week after winning the Strub Stakes Feb. 3, the 4-year-old colt developed a cough.

"He was the only one of my horses to get it, but it didn't go away for four or five days," Fenstermaker said. "It must have been a bronchial irritation, and all told, I lost two weeks with him. You'd want a horse to be in A-1 condition to run in a race like this."

The Big 'Cap weights were released by Santa Anita's racing department Thursday, and the top-weighted starters are expected to be Lord at War and Gate Dancer, who were both given 125 pounds. Lord at War, who won the San Antonio Handicap last Sunday for his fourth straight win, probably will be joined by Greinton and Hail Bold King from trainer Charlie Whittingham's barn.

Greinton, second by a narrow nose to Precisionist in the Strub, and Hail Bold King both got 120 pounds.

After winning the Breeders' Cup Classic last November, Gate Dancer has been third twice behind a victorious Precisionist this year.

Fenstermaker said that Precisionist's next start probably would be in the San Bernardino Handicap at Santa Anita April 13 or the Oaklawn Handicap in Arkansas April 20. Precisionist's sire, Crozier, won the Big 'Cap in 1963.

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