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Dec 31, 2009

Lava Man to receive rest after last place finish

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The much anticipated return to the races by veteran runner Lava Man proved to be less than satisfying. The multi- millionaire came up short in the San Gabriel Handicap on Sunday at Santa Anita Park.

"He had a gash on his hind right tibia when he came back," said trainer Doug O'Neill, "but I don't think that caused anything. It looks like he hit the side of the gate leaving there. He just got tired. That's what Tyler (Baze) commented on."

It certainly was a disappointing finish for the eight-year-old Lava Man in his first race in 17 months.

"He definitely disappointed me in his results," continued O'Niell, "but he really made me happy with the fact that he got back here and I thought he looked great striding out. Tyler, the last eighth of a mile just kind of took care of him. He didn't get after him once he knew he wasn't going to be in the top five. So he just wrapped up on him.

"I thought I had him more fit than that, but it's hard to simulate a mile and an eighth turf race in the mornings. When Tyler asked him to kick on, he said he gave him something, but he just couldn't sustain it."

O'Neill will confer with owners Steve, Tracy and Dave Kenly, and Jason Wood along with Dr. Doug Herthel on Lava Man's future.

"He looks fantastic," O'Neill said Monday morning from Hollywood Park. "He came out of the race in great shape. We're going to huddle up and figure out what to do.

"A decision could be made in maybe a week or so. I might send him up to Alamo Pintado (Equine Clinic in Los Olivos) and let them do a once-over on him, and then let us think about what they say and do what's right by Lava Man. We're going to play it by ear."

Lava Man has won more than $5.2 million in a Hall of Fame career. In the San Gabriel he set the pace for the first three-quarters of a mile, but faded in the 1 1/8 mile turf event to finish seventh in the seven horse field.



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