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March 31, 2010

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 31, 2010) – Lookin At Lucky, trainer Bob Baffert’s near-perfect Kentucky Derby prospect, is the 4-5 morning line choice among 10 entrants to the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, the West’s premier steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby.

A victory in the 73rd running would move last year’s 2-year-old champion alongside Affirmed, who in 1978 became the only juvenile kingpin to win the Santa Anita Derby, en route to becoming racing’s last winner of the Triple Crown.

Lookin At Lucky also could extend Baffert’s record of Santa Anita Derby victories to six, increase his earnings to $1,873,000 for owners Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, and entrench his tug-o-war with Eastern-based Eskendereya for pre-Kentucky Derby favoritism.

ALPHIE’S BET – Powered to a 2 ¼-length victory in the Grade III Sham Stakes on March 6 while preparing for the Derby. “He’s big, he’s strong, and he’ll run all day,” jockey Alex Solis said of the California-bred son of Tribal Rule who is trained by Alexis Barba for Peter O. Johnson Sr. and breeder Teresa McWilliams. Barba, who runs a small stable, could join Jenine Sahadi, who saddled The Deputy in 2000, as the only female trainers to win a Santa Anita Derby. Solis has ridden in 13.

March 30, 2010

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 31, 2010)—In order to accommodate its annual Santa Anita Derby 5K Walk and Run, Santa Anita Park and the city of Arcadia have announced that Baldwin Ave., from the 210 Freeway to Huntington Drive, will be closed to vehicular traffic from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

March 29, 2010

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 29, 2010)—Lookin At Lucky, champion 2-year-old colt of 2009 and the West’s number-one Kentucky Derby hopeful, will run in Saturday’s Gr. I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, according to his Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert.

The 3-year-old Kentucky-bred colt by Smart Strike, who breezed six furlongs at Santa Anita on Sunday in 1:12 flat, will attempt to become the first 2-year-old champion since the great Affirmed in 1978 to win the Santa Anita Derby.

“We were considering the (Gr. I) Arkansas Derby on April 10 because that would have given us a week more from his last race (a win in the Gr. II, 1 1/16 miles Rebel at Oaklawn Park on March 13), but he worked really good here on Sunday and he’s ready to run,” said Baffert, who has won a record five Santa Anita Derbies, along with three triumphs in the Kentucky Derby.

March 28, 2010

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 28, 2010) – At 5-1 the longest shot in a field of five, Tanda burst through an opening along the rail under jockey Alex Solis to run away from her better fancied competition Sunday in Santa Anita’s 25th running of the Grade III, $100,000 Santa Paula Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 6 ½ furlongs.

Tanda’s eye-catching stretch move propelled her to a 4 ¼-length victory over La Nez while her final time of 1:14.36 did away with the former stakes record of 1:14.61 set by Magnificence in 2007. Sister Dawn, the 2-1 favorite, finished a neck behind La Nez.

It was the third victory in five starts for the Florida-bred daughter of Sweetsouthernsaint trained by Dan Hendricks for Tommy Hutton’s Dream Stable, and her first win on a surface other than turf.

March 27, 2010

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 27, 2010) – Trainer Mike Mitchell, who has enjoyed enormous success converting claimed horses into winners of graded stakes marathons, turned the feat once again on Saturday when 9-1 shot Tap It Light captured Santa Anita’s Grade III, $100,000 Tokyo City Cup at 1 ½ miles before a festive on-track crowd of 12,796.

After tracking early leader Eagle Poise, jockey Tyler Baze sent Tap It Light to the lead rounding the far turn. They safely withstood the late bid of Rendezvous to score by three-quarters-of-a-length in 2:62. Eagle Poise faded to third, another half-length back, in the field of eight.

Tap It Light had won going 1 3/8 miles at Fairplex Park in Sept of 2008 after Mitchell claimed the gelded son of General Meeting at Del Mar one race previous for $40,000 on behalf of Scott Anastasi, Dan Capen and James Ukegawa.

March 26, 2010

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 26, 2010) – While providing leading trainer John Sadler with his third Santa Anita feature victory in as many days, Distorted Dave just may have run himself into the Kentucky Derby with a 4 ¼-length victory in Friday’s $48,400 allowance event for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.

“We’re going to try to backdoor our way into the Derby by running in the Coolmore at Keeneland,” Sadler said afterward in reference to the Grade II, $300,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes on April 17.

Nominated to the Triple Crown races, 4-1 shot Distorted Dave gave evidence of his budding potential on Friday by overhauling the dueling favorites in midstretch and drawing off to win in 1:43.16.

March 25, 2010

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 25, 2010) – Irish-bred Minute Limit stormed home on the extreme outside under jockey Joel Rosario Thursday to defeat 3-2 favored Irish-bred Manhattan Beach by one length in Santa Anita’s $49,400 allowance feature for fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs on turf.

The result provided leading trainer John Sadler with his 33rd victory of the meet and a seven-win lead over Bob Baffert. It deprived Mike Mitchell, who trains Manhattan Beach, of his third winner of the afternoon.

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 25, 2010)--Zenyatta’s emergence as a presence in the public spotlight, in addition to being perfection personified on the race track, did not happen overnight.

“That’s what I tell people,” John Shirreffs said of the undefeated 6-year-old mare who gave the trainer his fifth Santa Margarita Handicap victory March 13 with a scintillating last-to-first burst for her 15th straight win.

March 24, 2010

ARCADIA, Calif. (March 24, 2010) – Four-year-old gelding Bolinas provided Santa Anita’s leading trainer John Sadler with his 32nd victory of the season Wednesday when scoring a wire-to-wire win under jockey Tyler Baze as the 13-10 favorite in the day’s $28,080 starter allowance feature at one mile on turf.

The result gave Sadler, who is seeking a second successive training title at the winter/spring meet, a six victory lead over Bob Baffert with 19 days remaining in the meet.

After racing somewhat erratically when challenged at the head of the stretch, Bolinas was straightened away by Baze to score by a comfortable length over fast-closing Devil On the Roof while covering the distance in 1:34.91.