Stable Notes

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February 11, 2010

ST TRINIANS FACES GRADE II CHALLENGE IN SANTA MARIA

St Trinians is perfect in three United States starts, but the 5-year-old English-bred mare faces her sternest test Saturday in the Grade II, $150,000 Santa Maria Handicap for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.

St Trinians, a daughter of Piccolo trained by Mike Mitchell, has climbed the class ladder in the U.S., winning an optional claiming race, an allowance race and the restricted Paseana Handicap by a combined margin of nearly 15 lengths.

February 10, 2010

TEAM ZENYATTA EYES RETURN OF THE CHAMPION

“Reunited and it feels so good.” The chorus of the 1979 hit by Peaches and Herb is an appropriate theme for Mike Smith these days, since the Hall of Fame jockey will soon get together again with the best horse he’s ever ridden, undefeated Breeders’ Cup Classic champion Zenyatta.

The 6-year-old mare owned by Jerry and Ann Moss and trained by John Shirreffs was retired after she made history by defeating males with a breathtaking last-to-first victory in the Classic at Oak Tree last Nov.

February 7, 2010

HORSEMEN ADJUST TO HAYMAKER FROM WEATHERMAN

Despite heavy rain that forced cancellation of Saturday’s stakes-laden card, horsemen made whatever adjustments were necessary and moved forward towards next Saturday, when the Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes, the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes and the Grade II Strub Stakes have been rescheduled.

“Blind Luck will have an easy work Tuesday,” said Jerry Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward of the Eclipse Award finalist for champion 2-year-old filly of 2009, a prohibitive favorite for the Las Virgenes. “She’s very smart.

February 5, 2010

COLTS OR SAINTS: SUPER BOWL PICKS APLENTY AT SANTA ANITA

There is no shortage of opinions at the race track, no matter the sport. With Super Bowl 44 set for Sunday in Miami between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints, horsemen at Santa Anita were at the ready with their thoughts on which team would win the big game, as the following random sampling attests:

Barry Abrams: Indianapolis. They have the experience. They’ve been there.

Ron Anderson: Under the total (of 56).

February 4, 2010

ZENYATTA-RACHEL ALEXANDRA SHOWDOWN LOOMS AT OAKLAWN PARK

The connections of undefeated Breeders’ Cup Classic champion Zenyatta would be willing to meet 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in a race for the ages at Oaklawn Park on April 3, if all goes well. Tentative plans call for Zenyatta to make her comeback race at Santa Anita on March 13 in the Grade I $250,000 Santa Margarita Handicap. If all went smoothly after that, she could face Rachel Alexandra in the Apple Blossom Handicap.

February 3, 2010

SHIRREFFS WEIGHS SANTA MARGARITA RETURN FOR ZENYATTA

Undefeated Horse of the Year finalist Zenyatta could make her eagerly anticipated return to the races in the Grade I $250,000 Santa Margarita Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on March 13.

“It’s a possibility,” trainer John Shirreffs said by phone from his Hollywood Park headquarters Wednesday morning after the 6-year-old mare worked five furlongs in 1:01.60, breezing. “We’ll see what the weights are.

January 31, 2010

CRISP RIVAL FOR BLIND LUCK IN SATURDAY’S GRADE I LAS VIRGENES

Blind Luck, Eclipse Award finalist for top 2-year-old filly of 2009, is at the ready for her 3-year-old debut in Saturday’s Grade I $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes at one mile. Rival trainer John Sadler has the utmost respect for the impressive winner of the Grade I Hollywood Starlet on Dec. 20, but still plans to run the promising Crisp in the Las Virgenes.

“She worked at Hollywood this morning,” Sadler said of the daughter of El Corredor owned by Michael Talla of Los Angeles.

January 29, 2010

ESPINOZA, THE USUAL Q.T. IN ‘CLASSIC’ FORM

A resurgent Victor Espinoza, in a three-way battle for the lead in Santa Anita’s jockeys’ race, hopes to continue his surge on Saturday when he rides streaking winner The Usual Q.T. in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic presented by Pepsi Cola.

“Victor’s riding great,” said agent Tony Matos, “even though we haven’t ridden that many horses.

January 28, 2010

LEGENDARY ACTOR/OWNER JACK KLUGMAN TO ATTEND SUNSHINE MILLIONS

Legendary actor and enthusiastic horse owner Jack Klugman will be at Santa Anita Saturday to watch Pretty Unusual run in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino. The 87-year-old star of sitcoms, movies, television and Broadway shows owns one-third of the El Encino Stakes winner, along with Madeline Auerbach and Murray Goda.

“He’s a great fan of racing,” trainer Barry Abrams said of Klugman, a native of Philadelphia who now resides in Malibu.

January 27, 2010

FRESHENED UNUSUAL SUSPECT RETURNS IN SUNSHINE MILLIONS CLASSIC

Unusual Suspect is the exception to the rule in the training regimen of Barry Abrams, who has been known to race his charges at uncharacteristically frequent intervals. Unusual Suspect will be making his first start in nearly three months when he runs in Saturday’s $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic presented by Pepsi Cola at Santa Anita.

“His race in the Cal Cup Mile (Oct. 3, in which he finished sixth) didn’t set up well for him,” Abrams said.