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January 9, 2011

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 9, 2011) – Trainer Bob Baffert beseeched jockey Rafael Bejarano to put his “one-dimensional” filly May Day Rose on the lead in Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes, and once he did, the 1 1/16-mile event for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita was pretty much over.

The field for the 44th running of Santa Ysabel had been pared to three starters with the late scratches of Zazu and Plum Pretty, which sent the even-money morning line on May Day Rose tumbling to 1/9 at post time.

May Day Rose was hustled to the front and never looked back while crossing the line in 1:42.81. But it wasn’t quite as easy as the scenario might have implied.

January 8, 2011

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 8, 2011) – Aggie Engineer proved Saturday that he did not need to be on or near the lead to be a stakes winner as the 6-year-old rallied from off the pace to dominate Santa Anita’s 74th running of the Grade II, $150,000 San Pasqual Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.

With Joe Talamo in the irons, Aggie Engineer was victorious by 3 ¼ lengths over Spurrier in a sprightly 1:40.94. It was the third straight victory for Ward and Roberta Williford’s 6-year-old homebred gelding and his first over a natural dirt surface.

January 7, 2011

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 7, 2011) – Bob Baffert, with eight training victories through the first eight days of Santa Anita’s winter/spring meet, added No. 9 on Friday when he had the 8th running of the $81,150 Kalookan Queen Handicap virtually surrounded. His Mother Ruth held off stablemate Gilded Gem to prevail by one-half length in the competition for fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs.

Bet down to 6-5 favoritism in the field of five and ridden for the first time by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, Mother Ruth took command at the outset, discouraged longshot U R All That I Am through fractions of 21.66, 44.12 and 1:07.98, and finally withstood the closing surge of Gilded Gem under Joel Rosario in 1:14.61.

January 6, 2011

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 6, 2011) – The progeny of standout California sire Unusual Heat completed a most unusual Superfecta in Thursday’s fifth race at Santa Anita when the stallion’s offspring finished first, second, third and fourth among nine entrants in the $55,600 maiden event for fillies and mares at one mile on turf.

Phi Beta Heat, with Corey Nakatani aboard, won by 1 ¼ lengths while timed in 1:36.84 and paid $43.60. She was followed across the finish line by even-money favorite Bitt a Heat, 9-2 shot Unknown Heat and 5-1 Favoloso, the only one of the quartet whose name did not reveal her sire. The $1 Superfecta, which requires selection of the first four finishers in order, paid $614.90.

January 2, 2011

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 2, 2011) – California-bred Unzip Me, whose zip is maximized on grass, registered her fourth win in five starts over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course Sunday with a handy wire-to-wire triumph in the 44th running of the Grade III, $100,000 Monrovia Stakes for fillies and mares.

With Rafael Bejarano at the controls, the 7-10 favorite led from start to finish while running 6 ½ furlongs in 1:12.72. Unzip Me crossed the wire 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Broken Dreams, ridden by Garrett Gomez. Reba Is Tops, with Patrick Valenzuela aboard, wound up third, another half length back.

January 1, 2011

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 1, 2011) – Garrett Gomez, whose working 39th birthday had begun by riding Spring Style to a major upset in the earlier Grade II, $150,000 Robert J. Frankel Stakes, returned later on Santa Anita’s Saturday program to score with 8-1 upsetter Dilemma in the Grade III, $100,000 Daytona Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs on turf.

The result in the eighth of nine New Year’s Day races ensured a Pick Six carryover of $120,599 into Sunday’s nine-race program that begins at 12:30 p.m.

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 1, 2011) – It seemed such a perfect fit that Santa Anita would rename the 42nd running of the San Gorgonio Handicap to honor the memory of eight-time winner Bobby Frankel, the track’s all-time training leader who died in November of 2009, but Saturday’s running of what has become the Grade II, $150,000 Robert J. Frankel Stakes was anything but fitting.

December 31, 2010

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 5, 2011) – One month after recording his first stakes victory, 6-year-old gelding Aggie Engineer was expected to be well positioned on Saturday to snare another, Santa Anita’s Grade II, $150,000 San Pasqual Stakes, the first major steppingstone to the March 5 Santa Anita Handicap.

But after Bob Baffert took a look at the projected field for the 74th San Pasqual, the trainer of Spurrier commented, “I might be in trouble.” So Baffert entered speedier stablemate Red Door Drive along with Spurrier.

December 30, 2010

ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 30, 2010)—Shortening up out of four consecutive routes, Cayambe, a 6-year-old gelding by Helmsman, relaxed well in the early stages and finished with a rush to provide jockey Rafael Bejarano with his third win on the afternoon in Thursday’s 6 ½ furlong, $68,000 allowance feature at Santa Anita.

“He broke good, but I wanted him to be in a comfortable position,” said Peruvian sensation Bejarano. “I knew there was a lot of speed in the race, especially the favorite (Earnednevergiven), and he relaxed really well.