While those of us in the East huddle up in the cold biting weather, the California west coast circuit rolls on.

What I found most interesting about recent races was the performance, or should I say weakening performance, of Lava Man.

Lava Man came in last in  Sunday’s $150,000 San Gabriel Handicap at Santa Anita. This, after an 18-month break.

His owners, obviously disappointed in the result, might now decide to retire the 8-year-old gelding.

Oddly enough, Lava Man led to the final turn, but faded through the stretch to finish 6 1/4 lengths behind race winner Proudinsky, the defending champion.

Asked about Lava Man’s future, the horse’s  trainer said, “I don’t know. He’ll go back to the track in three or four days if we decide to go on with it.”

O’Neill reserved making a decision on Lava Man’s future until he confers this week with Wood and co-owners Steve, Dave and Tracy Kenly. The options include a 9-year-old campaign in 2010 or retirement.

Ridden by Tyler Baze,  Lava Man set fractions of 24.06 and 48.14 seconds, leading by as much as 1 1/2 lengths.

Lava Man returned to the unsaddling area with blood visible on both his hind legs. It was unclear how the apparent cut occurred. Speculation is that Lava Man struck the side of the starting gate.

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