- RECORD SPEAKS FOR UNBEATEN CHAMP NYQUIST
- RELAXED OM IS READY TO GO IN GRADE II ARCADIA
- ‘TANGO’ DANCES TWO TURNS AGAIN IN SANTA MARIA
- SANTA ANITA JOCKEYS DEFEAT HOLY ANGELS, 43-34
NYQUIST MAKES THREE-YEAR-OLD DEBUT ON MONDAY
Nyquist is the Rodney Dangerfield of Thoroughbreds. He gets no respect, no respect at all. Critics say his time is too slow and his numbers are too low.
Doug O’Neill, of course, isn’t on board. He trains the unbeaten champion two-year-old male of 2015, winner of an Eclipse Award in that category and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in his last start on Oct. 31, his third straight Grade I victory and his fourth graded stakes win from five career starts.
Still, there are three horses listed ahead of him in Daily Racing Form’s Derby Watch as the countdown dwindles below 72 hours for the son of Uncle Mo’s three-year-old debut in Monday’s Grade II San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs.
“We’re just eager to see him compete at a high level on Monday and let that speak for itself,” said O’Neill, not in the least nonplussed by naysayers. “That’s what I love about this game, though; everyone has an opinion.
“I don’t always agree with people. Whenever you read something negative about your own horses, it’s like somebody saying something about your family members, so it does make you pause for a bit, but if he runs a big race Monday, we can write our own story.
“I actually don’t mind flying under the radar. I just want to keep flying.”
O’Neill’s stance is remindful of Lincoln’s when he told members of his Cabinet who criticized Grant for over-imbibing:
“I’m going to find out what he drinks and give it to all my Generals.”
In addition to the attractive racing card, Santa Anita will celebrate Presidents’ Day with another of its popular Dollar Days. Draft beers, hot dogs and sodas will be available for a buck apiece.
First post time is 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.
OM, BOLO IN GRADE II ARCADIA STAKES SATURDAY
Om has been a gem of consistency in a career of 10 races, winning five, with one second and two thirds for Dan Hendricks, who trains the four-year-old son of Munnings for the Sareen Family Trust.
Om is the 7-5 morning line second choice to continue his steady run in Saturday’s Grade II Arcadia Stakes at a mile on grass, a race Hendricks hopes will lead to the Grade I, $400,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on March 12.
“He’s been progressing since he came back last year, and I look forward to our mile turf races this year,” Hendricks said. “I think he’ll fit real well. He can be on the lead or just off it. The way he’s finally matured and started relaxing really helps him.
“He’s either going to be way out in front, or just a little in front, because we can keep up as much as Gary (Stevens) wants.
“We’ll be close to Obviously. It’s a matter of how they go the first part. The two of us are definitely the speed of the race, and it will be interesting to see how Om does against a classy older horse like Obviously.
“It will be a different type of race for Om.”
Meanwhile, Carla Gaines is hopeful that Bolo runs to his works in the Arcadia, his first race since last July 4 in the Grade I Belmont Derby. The four-year-old Temple City colt won the Eddie Logan at one mile last Dec. 27.
“He’s been away but he’s had some good works,” Gaines said. “He went through the whole Triple Crown thing, traveling and what-not, so we freshened him up and he’s back.”
Bolo was third in the Santa Anita Derby and an eventful 12th in the Kentucky Derby before winning an allowance race at Santa Anita last May 29.
The Arcadia field: Om, Gary Stevens, 7-5; Cape Wolfe, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; Yes Yes Yes, Brice Blanc, 20-1; Bolo, Flavien Prat, 4-1; and Obviously, Mike Smith, 6-5.
Big Cazanova and Prospect Park were scratched.
TARA’S TANGO STRETCHES OUT IN SANTA MARIA
Tara’s Tango was third by a neck in the seven furlong Santa Monica Stakes on Jan. 23, but Jerry Hollendorfer is optimistic that the four-year-old daughter of Unbridled’s Song can successfully go two turns when she runs in Saturday’s Grade II Santa Maria Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.
The Hall of Fame trainer bases that faith on his filly’s game second by a nose to Stellar
Wind in the Grade II Summertime Oaks at 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita last June.
Trained by John Sadler, Stellar Wind would go on to earn an Eclipse Award as outstanding older female of 2015.
“We feel she can stretch out, based on her second to Stellar Wind,” Hollendorfer said.
The Santa Maria: Star Act, Tyler Baze, 15-1; Gas Total, Flavien Prat, 6-1; Birdatthewire, Mike Smith,5-2; Big Break, Edwin Maldonado, 20-1; Kyriaki, Rafael Bejarano, 12-1; Living the Life, Gary Stevens, 6-1; Yahilwa, Joe Talamo, 7-2; and Tara’s Tango, Martin Garcia, 2-1.
BONNET LEADS SANTA ANITA JOCKEYS WITH 17 POINTS
Santa Anita’s jockeys led from start to finish in last night’s 49th annual charity basketball game against Holy Angels Elementary School at La Salle High School in Pasadena, winning 43-34 under the direction of Coach Kurt Hoover of TVG.
“We led throughout and were always in control,” said Hoover, coaching the riders for the 15th consecutive year. The riders led at halftime, 28-15.
Newcomer Chester Bonnet led the riders with 17 points, followed by Drayden Van Dyke with 11; Kent Desormeaux’s son, Josh, with seven; Omar Figueroa with four; and Kent and Edwin Maldonado with two each.
Kayla Stra, Tiago Pereira and Bruno Panicucci played but did not score.
“It could not have been any better,” said Nancy Dollase, who chaired the event for the ninth straight year. “It was a packed house. We’re looking forward to our 50th next year.”
Proceeds benefit Holy Angels athletic program, the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and the Eye on Jacob Foundation. The game was sponsored by Thoroughbred owner J. Paul Reddam’s CashCall and Santa Anita Park.
FINISH LINES: Leading rider Rafael Bejarano has been suspended three days (Feb. 21, 25 and 26) for careless riding on All That Heat in Sunday’s first race . . . Prospect Park, winner of the Grade III La Jolla Handicap last August, was scratched from Saturday’s Grade II Arcadia Stakes at one mile on turf to run in an allowance race at a mile and a sixteenth on the main track Sunday in preparation for his major goal, the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 12. “Sunday’s race is ideal for his comeback,” said Cliff Sise Jr., who trains the son of Tapit for owners/breeders Marty and Pam Wygod. “We’re trying to set him up for the Santa Anita Handicap. He’s training well. I don’t want Sunday’s race to take a lot out of him, but I want him to run good, too.” . . . Gary Sherlock has Lost Bus ticketed for the $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course on March 19. “There’s the Grade III Las Flores the next day, but it’s also $100,000, so I may as well run her against Cal-breds for the same purse,” the trainer reasoned . . . Richard Baltas had every confidence Jose Verenzuela could get the job on 7-1 shot Tale of Papa Nick in Thursday’s fifth race, and he was right. The five-year-old California-bred daughter of Papa Clem hadn’t raced since last Aug. 28, but won the $58,000 allowance race at about 6 ½ furlongs on the hillside turf course by a comfortable 2 ½ lengths for owner/breeder Nick Cafarchia. “Jose had been working the horse and I told him she had some issues in the gate,” Baltas said. “He did the right thing. You’ve got to ride those hungry guys.” . . . Agent Tony Matos has Martin Garcia booked to ride Sham Stakes winner Collected for Bob Baffert in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Monday . . . Hall of Fame jockey and three-time Kentucky Derby winner Kent Desormeaux and his wife, 31-year-old jockey Rosie Higgins, have 5,713 career wins between them, thanks to Rosie’s first-ever victory from only her fourth mount in Thursday’s second race aboard favored Blue Law ($4.40) for trainer Bob Hess Jr. “I wasn’t worried,” Rosie said. “I just didn’t want them to close the door on me. Last time, I hung in there and Kent told me, ‘Don’t be hanging there too long,’ but this time, I knew I had enough horse. My very first race, I was stuck back there for a bit, but I knew I had horse this time. He just exploded (winning by three lengths). Hopefully, this helps my career a little bit. I understand that I’m new, still green and what trainers think, too, because I’ve been in that situation. Hopefully, this builds my career and I keep moving up.” Kent, meanwhile, played second fiddle Thursday despite his 5,712 career wins. “Just call me Mr. Higgins,” he said.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Thursday, Feb. 11)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||82||8||8||11||10%||33%||$510,219|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||26||5||2||6||19%||50%||$153,280|
|J. Eric Kruljac||23||4||2||5||17%||48%||$91,100|