- ALL SYSTEMS GO FOR CHAMP SONGBIRD SATURDAY
- CAT BURGLAR TIPTOES INTO SAN ANTONIO STAKES
- I WILL SCORE TACKLES MOR SPIRIT IN ROBERT LEWIS
- FLAMBOYANT OUT TO PROVE HE’S THE REAL DEAL
- SANTA ANITA RIDERS’ CHARITY GAME NEXT THURSDAY
SONGBIRD MAKES THREE-YEAR-OLD DEBUT SATURDAY
The countdown to the much-anticipated three-year-old debut of undefeated champion Songbird is underway in earnest.
The Eclipse Award winner as the best two-year-old filly of 2015 drew post position six in a field of seven for Saturday’s Grade II, $300,000 Las Virgenes Stakes for three-year-old fillies at one mile, one of four graded stakes on an attractive and challenging nine-race card set to unfold in summer-like weather with temperatures in the 80s.
“It seems like she drew a good post and we’re excited about getting her back to the races,” said Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains Songbird for the Fox Hill Farm of Rick Porter.
“We got everything in with her training that we wanted; we were lucky with the weather in that regard.”
The Las Virgenes: She’s a Warrior, Flavien Prat, 20-1; Land Over Sea, Mario Gutierrez, 8-1; Street Fancy, Victor Espinoza, 6-1; Jade Princess, Martin Garcia, 10-1; Decked Out, Kent Desormeaux, 20-1; Songbird, Mike Smith, 1-5; and Merirosvo, Drayden Van Dyke, 30-1.
CAT BURGLAR A SLEEPER IN SAN ANTONIO STAKES
Cat Burglar sneaks in to Saturday’s $500,000 San Antonio Stakes under the radar in quest of his first stakes win for owner Michael Lund Petersen and trainer Bob Baffert.
The six-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song doesn’t have the glowing credentials of Santa Anita Derby winner Dortmund, who was not entered in the Grade II San Antonio for older horses at 1 1/8 miles, or even those of Hoppertunity, who was entered, but assuredly Cat Burglar is better than an empty stall.
Dortmund and Hoppertunity are both trained by Baffert.
The chestnut Cat’s Burglar won an overnight race under Rafael Bejarano on Jan. 8, his first start in nearly five months, and has knocked on the door in graded stakes. Twice he was third in the Grade III Pimlico Special and ran third in the Grade II Brooklyn at Belmont in 2014.
“He’s got speed and I think he can go the distance,” Bejarano said. “He was beaten less than a length in the Brooklyn, and that was at a mile and a half. He should be all right, and he should move forward off his last race.”
In 14 career starts, Cat Burglar has won four, with four seconds and three thirds, with earnings of $334,400.
The field for the San Antonio, race seven: Cat Burglar, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; Donworth, Mario Gutierrez, 6-1; Cyrus Alexander, Martin Garcia, 6-1; Hard Aces, Joe Talamo, 10-1; Hoppertunity, Flavien Prat, 3-1; Blingo, Alex Solis, 20-1; Imperative, Mike Smith, 5-2; and El Kabeir, Gary Stevens, 6-1.
SONGBIRD STABLEMATE I WILL SCORE IN LEWIS
I Will Score has two things in common with Songbird: he’s unbeaten and he’s trained by Jerry Hollendorfer.
Other than that, the three-year-old son of Roman Ruler has much to prove to be mentioned in the same breath with the champion Songbird, but Hollendorfer is optimistic about the colt’s future.
“We think he’s a horse with some promise, so we look for him to run a good race,” Hollendorfer said, speaking of Saturday’s Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes.
I Will Score, who has won his only two starts, both sprints, will go two turns for the first time in the Lewis. He has two bullet works at Santa Anita since taking a first condition allowance here on Jan. 3.
The field for the Lewis, which goes as race four: Let’s Meet in Rio, Kent Desormeaux, 6-1; I Will Score, Mike Smith, 5-2; Dressed in Hermes, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; Laoban, Tyler Baze, 12-1; Mor Spirit, Gary Stevens, 8-5; Path of David, Joe Talamo, 8-1; and Uncle Lino, Fernando Perez, 5-1.
FLAMBOYANT NO LONGSHOT THIS TIME IN SAN MARCOS
Flamboyant lit up the tote board when he got up by a neck at 46-1 under Brice Blanc in the Grade II San Gabriel Stakes on Jan. 2.
The French-bred son of Peer Gynt will be a substantially shorter price when he runs in Saturday’s Grade II San Marcos Stakes for older horses at a mile-and-a-quarter on turf.
Flamboyant worked six furlongs on the main track Jan. 29 in a bullet 1:13.20 with French-born Blanc aboard.
“He’s a nice work horse,” Gallagher said of the five-year-old gelding. “He didn’t go too fast or too slow and he acts like he’ll go a mile and a quarter.”
So Gallagher wouldn’t mind a French-bred horse winning for an Irish-bred trainer?
“No,” he said. “Winning is all I want to do.”
The field for the San Marcos: Gaga A, Mario Gutierrez, 10-1; Class Leader, Kent Desormeaux, 10-1; Chiropractor, Drayden Van Dyke, 4-1; Southern Freedom, Martin Garcia, 12-1; Power Foot, Tiago Pereira, 15-1; Ganesh, Flavien Prat, 15-1; Flamboyant, Brice Blanc, 4-1; Hay Dude, David C. Lopez, 5-2; Abbey Vale, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Quick Casablanca, Tyler Baze, 15-1; and Big Cazanova, Santiago Gonzalez, 15-1.
JOCKEYS ANNUAL CHARITY GAME ON FEB. 11
The 49th annual Santa Anita Jockeys vs. Holy Angels Elementary School Charity Basketball Game will be played a week from tonight on Thursday, Feb. 11, at La Salle High School in Pasadena, with proceeds to benefit Holy Angels athletic program, the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) and the Eye on Jacob Foundation.
Sponsored by Thoroughbred owner J. Paul Reddam’s CashCall and Santa Anita Park, tip off is scheduled for 7:15 p.m., with admission doors opening at 6:15 p.m.
Hall of Fame jockeys Kent Desormeaux, Laffit Pincay, Jr., Mike Smith, Alex Solis and Gary Stevens will all be available at center court for an autograph session at 6:30 p.m.
With Pincay serving as honorary team captain, a number of active riders are expected to participate, including: Saul Arias, Tyler Baze, Rafael Bejarano, Brice Blanc, Desormeaux, Victor Espinoza, Martin Garcia, Santiago Gonzalez, Mario Gutierrez, Abel Lezcano, Kayla Stra, Chantal Sutherland, David Lopez, Edwin Maldonado, Gonzalo Nicolas, Martin Pedroza, Geena Lattanzio, Fernando Perez, Tiago Pereira, Flavien Prat, Iggy Puglisi, Alonso Quinonez, Joe Talamo, Drayden Van Dyke and perhaps others.
TVG’s Kurt Hoover, who will be reporting live from Santa Anita on Thursday, will coach the jockeys for the 15th consecutive year.
“We’ve got Desormeaux back,” said Hoover. “And as good as Drayden Van Dyke was last year, that’s all we need, believe me.”
The PDJF helps assist permanently disabled jockeys nationwide, while the Eye on Jacob Foundation, named for Jacob Desormeaux, the 17-year-old son of Hall of Fame jockey Kent, benefits those suffering from Usher’s Syndrome. An extremely rare neurological disorder, Usher’s Syndrome causes progressive loss of hearing, imbalance, and eventual loss of sight in approximately 14,000 children in the United States.
Tickets are $5 per person, and for every two tickets purchased, individuals receive one free admission ticket to The Great Race Place.
La Salle High School is located at the southwest corner of Michillinda Ave. and Sierra Madre Blvd. in Pasadena, approximately four miles northwest of Santa Anita. Admission tickets and promotional tee shirts are on sale now at Champions! Gifts and Apparel in Santa Anita’s East Paddock Gardens, or through Holy Angels Elementary School in Arcadia.
FINISH LINES: Multiple graded stakes winner Om worked five furlongs on the main track Thursday in a minute flat under Gary Stevens for Dan Hendricks, who has his sights on the Grade II Arcadia Stakes at one mile on grass Feb. 13 . . . Three-time champion Beholder galloped on the main track Thursday for Richard Mandella . . . Trainer Carla Gaines reports that undefeated Cal-bred Smokey Image came out of his smashing 8 ½-lenghth triumph in the California Cup Derby in excellent shape and at this stage is being pointed to the Grade III, $400,000 San Felipe Stakes against open company on March 12 . . . Jockeys Santiago Gonzalez and Tiago Pereira have been suspended an additional day (Feb. 6) for riding in more than one designated race while under suspension . . . A reminder about previously made announcements that on Super Bowl Sunday, Santa Anita will not offer guaranteed pools. However, the lucrative guarantees will continue today and Friday, as the Late Pick 4 both days has guaranteed pools of $300,000. Saturday, the Late Pick 4 will be guaranteed at $500,000 and the Pick Six pool at $150,000 . . . DRF/NTRA National Handicapping champion Paul Matties, who won $800,000 and an Eclipse Award, will be Tom Quigley‘s guest Saturday, 11:20 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens. There will be no seminar on Super Bowl Sunday. First post time Sunday is 11 a.m.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, Jan. 31)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||65||7||7||9||11%||35%||$429,824|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||23||5||1||6||22%||52%||$147,390|
|J. Eric Kruljac||21||3||2||5||14%||48%||$78,560|