- BAFFERT HAS ‘ONE-TWO’ PUNCH IN SANTA ANITA DERBY
- BEST 3-YEAR-OLDS ARE IN CALIFORNIA, CLOCKER SAYS
- WILD AT HEART STEPS UP IN GRADE I SANTA ANITA OAKS
- GRAZEN SKY SHOULD FANCY DISTANCE OF ECHO EDDIE
- CAN CAN BABE MAKES LOCAL DEBUT IN EVENING JEWEL
- SPANISH QUEEN UP FROM MAIDEN RANKS TO GRADE III
- TALCO SEEKS FIRST U.S. STAKES WIN IN THUNDER ROAD
- MANDELLA MULLS VANITY AFTER BEHOLDER WORKOUT
- LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMP KOVALOV HERE DERBY DAY
BAFFERT HAS INSIDE TRACK IN SANTA ANITA DERBY
A one-two punch from the Bob Baffert barn drew the one-two post positions, and barring the rarity of a dead-heat for first, the Hall of Fame trainer would settle for a one-two finish from his two 3-year-olds in Saturday’s Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby, undefeated Dortmund and impressive 9 ¾-length last out winner One Lucky Dane.
“The post positions aren’t to my liking,” Baffert said Thursday morning, “but there’s nothing I can do about it.”
On record as saying he does not generally burden his riders with pre-race instructions, Baffert could alter his regimen prior to the Santa Anita Derby, the West Coast’s major steppingstone to the May 2 Kentucky Derby, which has been won by winners of the Santa Anita Derby two of the last three years in I’ll Have Another (2012) and California Chrome (2014).
“I have an idea of what I’ll tell my riders,’ Baffert said. “But the most important thing is we have the (quality) stock. These races are won and lost in the first turn.”
CALIFORNIA SOPHS GOLDEN, CLOCKER SAYS
With Dortmund and One Lucky Dane having won their last races leading gate to wire,it could conjure up thoughts of a pace compromise for the two Bob Baffert trainees and benefit a stalker like Prospect Park or Bolo in Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby.
Think again, says private clocker Gary Young.
“No, not at all,” he said when asked if there might now be too much gas on the front end of the mile and an eighth race. “Dortmund is a good horse. He looked very good Saturday (in his six furlong workout of 1:11.60).
“I thought last year after they ran the Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile) that the best 3-year-olds were in California, and I see nothing since then to make me alter my opinion. I felt the Derby winner would come out of California and I still feel that way.”
The field for the 78th Santa Anita Derby: Dortmund, Martin Garcia, 3-5; One Lucky Dane, Rafael Bejarano, 5-1; Cross the Line, Juan Hernandez, 15-1; Bolo, Mike Smith, 4-1; Prospect Park, Kent Desormeaux, 7-2; and Bad Read Sanchez, Mario Gutierrez, 30-1.
In other Santa Anita Derby news:
Cliff Sise Jr., trainer of San Felipe Stakes runner-up Prospect Park, who figures to get a good stalking trip behind the speed: “It looks perfect, but you know how these things go. In the San Felipe, there were five horses and they all had speed but nobody went (for the lead).
“But on paper on Saturday, you couldn’t ask for anything better.”
The first 15,000 THOROUGHBREDS members in attendance at Santa Anita on Saturday will be offered free an exclusive 2015 Santa Anita Derby Day T-shirt while supplies last. First post time for the 11-race program is 12 noon. Gates open at 10 a.m.
Santa Anita offers a $750,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4 pool and a $300,000 guaranteed Pick 6 pool on Santa Anita Derby Day.
WILD AT HEART STEPS UP IN GRADE I SANTA ANITA OAKS
Wild At Heart is light years away from two-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder in status, but Richard Mandella is hopeful Wild At Heart can follow in Beholder’s footsteps when she runs in her first stakes, Saturday’s Grade I, $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks at 1 1/16 miles.
In an abbreviated career of three starts, Wild At Heart has a maiden win and two seconds for owner Ramona Bass of Fort Worth, Texas.
“Wild At Heart makes us think she’s good enough to run here,” said Mandella, who has two Santa Anita Oaks wins, with Beholder in 2013 and Golden Treat in 1992.
“We’ll find out.”
The field for the Santa Anita Oaks: Light the City, Kent Desormeaux, 5-1; Glory, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Curlin’s Fox, Mike Smith, 4-1; Singing Kitty, Aaron Gryder, 12-1; Luminance, Martin Garcia, 5-2; Stellar Wind, Victor Espinoza, 9-5; Wild At Heart, Flavien Prat, 8-1; and She’s a Big Winner, Brice Blanc, 12-1.
ECHO EDDIE DISTANCE SHOULD BENEFIT GRAZEN SKY
Grazen Sky tests the stakes waters for the first time when he runs in Saturday’s $200,000 Echo Eddie Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs on the main track.
Restricted to 3-year-olds bred or sired in California, the Echo Eddie is a lucrative race, offering $110,000 to the winning owner.
Grazen Sky, a gray son of the proficient stallion Grazen trained by Steve Miyadi for owner/breeder Nick Alexander, has shown a good finishing kick in three of his races, none further than six furlongs.
“I don’t think 6 ½ will hurt him,” Miyadi said. “I wish it was seven-eighths, how’s that? But he’s doing good, so we’ll see if we can get it done.”
The field for the Echo Eddie: Rocko’s Wheel, Joe Talamo, 8-1; Pay the Fine, Mario Gutierrez, 15-1; McHeat, Flavien Prat, 10-1; Richard’s Boy, Fernando Perez, 3-1; Run Like a Million, Kent Desormeaux, 8-1; Chief of Staff, Mike Smith, 6-1; Grazen Sky, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; Over Par, Elvis Trujillo, 15-1; and Gimme Da Lute, Martin Garcia, 3-1.
GREAT EX-SPECHT-ATIONS FOR CAN CAN BABE
Trainer Steve Specht is hopeful Can Can Babe can maintain her consistent form in Saturday’s $200,000 Evening Jewel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 6 ½ furlongs.
The daughter of the late McCann’s Mojave owned and bred by Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams has a 3-3-1 record from nine starts, but will be making her first start at Santa Anita after a string of seven in a row at Golden Gate Fields.
“We really don’t have any other place to run her, and there’s nothing up there until the end of the month,” Specht said, alluding to the Bay Area. “She runs hard every time. She’s no superstar but I didn’t see any standouts in the race. It looks like a pretty even bunch.
“I ran second by a nose to Lutine Belle and she came down and won here (the Blue Norther Stakes), and was second to Seduire, and she won a stakes here, too (the Grade II Santa Ynez). My filly shipped down yesterday and I galloped her this morning, so at this point in time, everything’s good.”
The field for the Evening Jewel: Long Hot Summer, Joe Talamo, 7-2; Niassa, Martin Garcia, 8-1; Desert Thief, Agapito Delgadillo, 12-1; Ashley’s Sassy, Mike Smith, 8-1; Bad Ju Ju, Kayla Star, 4-1; Can Can Babe, Elvis Trujillo, 20-1; Tribal Express, Alonso Quinonez, 50-1; Alwazabridesmaid, Drayden Van Dyke, 12-1; Sheer Pleasure, Tyler Baze, 5-1; Jenna’s Faith, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Grand Yodeler, Kent Desormeaux, 12-1; Princess Bertrando, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1; and Easter Fever, Victor Espinoza, 8-1.
MATURING SPANISH QUEEN SET FOR GRADE III PROVIDENCIA
Spanish Queen looked like royalty winning her maiden race by nearly six lengths on March 5. Whether the California-bred daughter of the late Tribal Rule is good enough to handle Grade III company in Saturday’s Providencia Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf remains to be seen.
“It’s a tough spot,” said trainer Richard Baltas, just back from Dubai where he saddled Big Macher to a fifth-place finish in Saturday’s Golden Shaheen. “The owners wanted to go and the horse is doing really well, so here we are. It’s going to be a very tough race, but she’s doing excellent.
“Brice (Blanc, who rode her in her debut, a one mile turf race in which she rallied from eighth and went five wide into the stretch) said she’s even matured more in her last couple works and she’s better mentally, but you never know.”
The field for the Providencia: Lutine Belle, Alex Solis, 12-1; Ol’ Fashion Gal, 12-1; Miss Boom Boom, Kent Desomreaux, 12-1; Entrechat, Flavien Prat, 4-1; Jaded Glory, Drayden Van Dyke, 20-1; Spanish Queen, Brice Blanc, 6-1; Frosty Friday, Mike Smith, 6-1; Prize Exhibit, Victor Espinoza, 7-2; Havanna Belle, Rafael Bejarano, 12-1; Spirit of Xian, Joe Talamo, 6-1; Lady Zuzu, Tyler Baze, 6-1; Sister of Mercy, Fernando Perez, 30-1; and Show Stealer, Aaron Gryder, 20-1.
ESPINOZA SEEKS SECOND STRAIGHT WIN ON TALCO
Victor Espinoza is looking forward to a return engagement on Talco in Saturday’s $75,000 Thunder Road Stakes, one of six added-money events on the rich 11-race program.
Espinoza guided Talco to his first U.S. win from six starts in a one-mile overnight turf race on March 12. The Thunder Road, for 4-year-olds and up, also is at one mile the grass.
“He ran big last time,” Espinoza said. “I think he’ll be OK on Saturday.”
The Thunder Road field: Quick Casablanca, Tyler Baze, 12-1; Enterprising, Drayden
Van Dyke, 5-1; Baccelo, Martin Garcia, 30-1; Winning Prize, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; Si Sage, Agapito Delgadillo, 15-1; Talco, Victor Espinoza, 4-1; Pure Tactics, Kent Desormeaux, 7-2; Fleet Eagle, Fernando Valdez, 30-1; Ganesh, Flavien Prat, 8-1; County Lineman, Elvis Trujillo, 10-1; Mr. Commons, Alex Solis, 20-1; Moulin de Mougin, Mike Smith, 8-1; and also eligibles Cummings Road, Joe Talamo, 15-1; and Gabriel Charles, Tyler Baze, 4-1.
VEHICULAR TRAFFIC REROUTED ON DERBY DAY
Those wishing to spend the morning at Santa Anita’s Clockers’ Corner on Santa Anita Derby Day Saturday are advised that Baldwin Ave. will be closed to vehicular traffic between the 210 Freeway and Huntington Drive from 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. in order to accommodate foot traffic related to Santa Anita’s annual Derby Day 5K Run and Walk.
Accordingly, Santa Anita’s Gate 8, which adjoins the Westfield Shopping Mall on Baldwin Ave., and Gate 7, at the track’s northwest end, will also be closed to vehicles during the same time frame.
Those wishing to visit Clockers’ Corner Derby Day morning will be able to enter the track on Santa Anita’s northeast perimeter, through Gate 5, or on the track’s southern perimeter, through Gate 3. Gates 3 & 5 will be open for easy access to Clockers’ Corner beginning at 5 a.m. and will remain open throughout the day. Santa Anita’s main track will be closed for training at 7:30 a.m.
Gate 3 is located at the intersection of Holly Ave. and Huntington Drive. Gate 5 is located at the confluence of Colorado Place and Huntington Drive.
For additional information on the Santa Anita Derby and on the Derby Day 5K Run and Walk, fans are encouraged to visit santaanita.com/events, or call (626) 574-RACE.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMP KOVALEV TO ATTEND ON DERBY DAY
Russian born undefeated WBO, IBF and WBA Light Heavyweight Champion Sergey Kovalev will make his first-ever visit to The Great Race Place on Saturday and he will present a Winner’s Circle trophy at some point during the afternoon. Born April 2, 1983 in Chelyabinsk, Russia, Kovalev is a devastating puncher who has 24 knockouts from 28 fights.
Currently based in Sherman Oaks, Kovalev was named Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year for 2014 after he defeated former champion Bernard Hopkins by unanimous decision on Nov. 8 in Atlantic City, retaining his WBO Light Heavyweight title and winning the IBF and WBA Light Heavyweight titles. In his most recent bout, Kovalev defeated Jean Pascal via TKO in the eighth round on March 14 in Montreal.
Kovalev, who is currently represented by Main Events, will watch the Derby Day races from one of Santa Anita’s Luxury Suites and will present a trophy for one of Saturday’s six stakes races.
FINISH LINES: Disappointed in her workout at Santa Anita Thursday morning, Richard Mandella has scrubbed consideration of running Beholder in the Grade I Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park next Friday and likely will look at the Grade I Vanity Stakes at Santa Anita on May 9. “I was kind of half-thinking of going to Oaklawn,” Mandella said after Beholder worked seven furlongs under Gary Stevens in 1:26.80, “but now I’m going to back down a little bit and point to the Vanity.” A two-time Eclipse Award winner, Beholder has not raced since winning the Grade I Zenyatta Stakes last Sept. 27. She worked in company with Gentle Humor, who was given 1:14.80 for six furlongs . . . Trainer Craig Lewis has California-bred Warren’s Veneda, winner of her last three starts, all stakes, including the Grade I Santa Margarita, headed for the Vanity . . . Stevens will be at Keeneland Saturday to ride Sam’s Sister in the Grade I Madison, Kobe’s Back in the Grade III Commonwealth, and Frammento in the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes, which also drew Santa Anita invaders Ocho Ocho Ocho and Santiago Gonzalez . . . There were 116 horses entered on Saturday’s 11-race card, an average of just over 10.5 per race . . . Leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has 15 horses entered this weekend, 12 at Santa Anita, one at Keeneland, one at Aqueduct and one at Oaklawn Park . . . Golden Gate Fields offers a $100,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4 on April 25, the day of the Grade III, $100,000 San Francisco Mile . . .Millie Ball will be co-hosting Santa Anita’s simulcast signal beginning today. The popular Ball, who was with HRTV since December 2003, returns with her unique insider access (she is the wife of trainer Tim Yakteen) and analysis for those watching on track and on Santa Anita’s simulcast signal . . . Congrats to former HRTV analyst and host Peter Lurie (as in Murray) on joining the broadcast teams at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino and Indiana Grand Racing & Casino . . . Richard Saber, handicapper for Gaming Today, and Jay Privman, national correspondent for Daily Racing Form, will be Tom Quigley‘s guests Saturday and Sunday, respectively, 10:50 a.m. and 11:20 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . The Bill Hartack Charitable Foundation, honoring the late five-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey, will present the 2015 Hartack and Neiman Award honoring Victor Espinoza and Art Sherman following today’s last race in Santa Anita’s Directors’ Room, Club House level 4. The public is invited. Details on the Foundation are available at Billhartackfoundation.org . . . Espinoza, just back from Dubai where he rode Horse of the Year California Chrome to a second-place finish in the World Cup after winning the $2 million Golden Shaheen on Secret Circle for Bob Baffert earlier on the card, will be at Keeneland next Friday to ride Summer Front for Christophe Clement in the Grade I Maker’s 46 Mile, then journey to the Oaklawn Park next Saturday to ride a horse named American Pharoah for Bob Baffert in the Arkansas Derby.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, March 29)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||199||23||25||24||12%||$1,434,097|
|A. C. Avila||25||7||2||3||28%||$208,298|