Effinex, the probable favorite for the 79th running of the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita

Handicap presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino a week from Saturday, March 12, arrived safely from Florida early Thursday evening and was bedded down in trainer Eoin Harty’s barn to prepare for the prestigious mile-and-a-quarter classic.

“We left Palm Meadows at 6:30 a.m. our time (Eastern Standard Time) and got in the barn about 6:30 (Pacific Time),” said Kent Sweezey, assistant to Jimmy Jerkens, who trains Effinex.

“It made for a long day for him but he ate up everything last night and looks good. I had him walking this morning and bouncing around, so he shipped good.”

Sweezey, who recently turned 30, is a native of Lexington, Ky. He worked with Harty until parting company two years ago at Del Mar and has been with Jerkens for 18 months. Prior to that, he was with Christophe Clement for a bit, then came to Southern California where he was with Harty for three years.

“The horse hasn’t run since November 27 (when he won the Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs),” Sweezey said. “Initially, we were going to give him a break after that. Then the World Cup was considered but we felt he wouldn’t be ready to go all the way to Dubai (for the March 26 race), so we decided the Santa Anita Handicap was the next-best option.”

Effinex, a five-year-old full horse by Mineshaft bred in New York by Dr. Russell S. Cohen, a veterinarian, is owned by the Tri-Bone Stables. The horse has won seven of 20 starts and earned $2,112,950.

“Effinex will breeze here for sure, but rain is supposed to come the next couple days, so it puts us in a predicament,” Sweezey said. “We gave him a little breeze Wednesday before we left Palm Meadows–I’m not sure it even went down as a breeze–but he blew out a little bit.

“He jogged today, will gallop tomorrow, breeze in the next couple of days and then go straight into the race. Maybe Jimmy will be here for the race. I’m not sure. We’ve got a bunch of good young horses in Florida one of which might run there the same day Effinex runs here, so Jimmy will have to make a decision if he’s going to come out or not.”

Probable for the Santa Anita Handicap: Donworth, Mario Gutierrez; Effinex, Mike Smith; General A Rod, Rafael Bejarano; Hard Aces, no rider; Imperative, Santiago Gonzalez; and Melatonin, no rider.

In other Big ‘Cap news:

According to Santa Anita’s work tab, Donworth worked four furlongs Friday on Santa Anita’s fast main track in 48 seconds flat under exercise rider Jonny Garcia. Trainer Doug O’Neill, however, had the son of Tiznow going a mile in 1:45, the last eighth of a mile in 11:60.

“He went super,” O’Neill said. “All systems are go.”

Trainer Phil D’Amato said turf marathon specialist Big John B would pass the race in favor of the Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes at a mile and a half on grass Sunday, March 13.

Havana Belle, a four-year-old filly that won the $75,000 Astra Stakes at a mile and a half on grass Jan. 17, also is ticketed for the San Luis Rey for D’Amato. Brice Blanc, who was aboard the Irish-bred filly in the 2 ¼-length Astra upset at 10-1, retains the mount.

Bob Baffert said Cat Burglar, who also is nominated to the Grade II San Carlos Stakes at seven furlongs March 12, would not run in the Handicap.

Gold Cup at Santa Anita winner Hard Aces is scheduled to work tomorrow for John Sadler at 6:45 or 7:45 a.m.

Team Hollendorfer also is likely to have a starter, although Dan Ward, assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, said they were waiting on “the weights and the weather” before rendering a final decision. Hollendorfer has three horses nominated: Cyrus Alexander, Point Piper and Southern Freedom.

Fans at Santa Anita on Big Cap Day will receive a free Santa Anita Fleece Blanket

presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino with paid admission while supplies last.

            First post time will be 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.


Mor Spirit, Bob Baffert’s primary Triple Crown contender, is scheduled to work Saturday at a time and distance the trainer did not reveal for the San Felipe Stakes on March 12.

Baffert said Martin Garcia would be aboard for the workout.

Also scheduled to breeze Saturday for the Grade II San Felipe at 1 1/16 miles are undefeated California-bred Smokey Image for Carla Gaines, Robert B. Lewis Stakes runner-up Uncle Lino, five furlongs at 6:45 under regular rider Fernando Perez for trainer Gary Sherlock, and Danzing Candy for trainer Cliff Sise Jr.

Probable for the San Felipe: Danzing Candy, Exaggerator, Mor Spirit, Smokey Image and Uncle Lino.



Kobe’s Back, on the winning track again after wearing blinkers to capture the Palos Verdes Stakes on Feb. 7, worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Friday in 47.20 for Peter Eurton under regular rider Gary Stevens.

Kobe’s Back is headed for the Grade II San Carlos Stakes at seven furlongs on March 12. Also working for the San Carlos Friday was Salutos Amigos for trainer David Jacobson. Salutos Amigos was second in the Palos Verdes, beaten only a half-length.

Probable for the San Carlos: Calculator, Flavien Prat; Kobe’s Back, Gary Stevens; Outside Nashville, Martin Garcia; Salutos Amigos, Mike Smith; San Onofre, no rider; and 2015 San Carlos winner Wild Dude, Rafael Bejarano.



Multiple graded stakes winner Om is at the ready for the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf March 12.

“He just breezed two days ago, so we’re all set in that regard,” trainer Dan Hendricks said. “He got his work in and we’ll get a good strong gallop in Wednesday or Thursday. He’s doing good and we’re ready to roll.”

Om was third behind Bolo and Obviously in the Grade II Arcadia Mile on grass Feb. 13, but won three of his previous four starts before that.

Probable for the Kilroe: Bal a Bali, Flavien Prat; De Treville, Bolo, Mike Smith; Kenjisstorm, Edwin Maldonado; Ocho Ocho Ocho, no rider; Om, Gary Stevens; and What a View, Kent Desormeaux.



Perennial California leading sire Unusual Heat has passed the $50 million mark in cumulative progeny earnings, becoming the first sire in the history of California breeding to achieve this while standing his entire career in the Golden State.

Unusual Heat has sired 18 crops, and his 16th crop of two year olds will hit race tracks this year. As of Thursday, he boasted $50,158,241 in earnings.

It was only fitting that the race putting Unusual Heat over the milestone was the stirring stretch drive victory by his son Boozer in the Sensational Star Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Feb. 27.

Unusual Heat is the all-time leading sire in California in total progeny earnings, California-bred earnings and career progeny turf earnings. He set the all-time single-season California record for progeny earnings in 2008 with over $5.8 million and was again the California earnings champion for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, becoming the leading sire in California for an unprecedented six consecutive seasons in the modern era.

In 2015 Unusual Heat achieved an unmatched ninth consecutive season of over $3 million in progeny earnings and also won his 12th consecutive California-bred North American Turf earnings championship. He has sired one Eclipse Award winner and 15 California champions, including 2015 two-year-old filly champion Pacific Heat.

Unusual Heat has also started to make his mark as a broodmare sire, adding eight new stakes winners since 2015, including Grade I winners Masochistic and Spanish Queen.

Unusual Heat is 26 years old and currently standing his 19th season at stud in California and his sixth at Harris Farms in Coalinga, CA.

For more information about Unusual Heat, contact Harris Auerbach at or go to .


FINISH LINES: Congrats to seven-pound apprentice rider Bruno Panicucci on winning his first race at Santa Anita yesterday aboard Icona for trainer Phil D’Amato. “He earned it,” D’Amato said. “He works hard.” Icona won by a length-and-a-half and paid $7.60 as the second choice. Panicucci now has eight career wins, his first four coming in his native France . . . Retired Hall of Fame riding great Laffit Pincay Jr. was a visitor to Clockers’ Corner Friday, looking fit enough to ride again. “I visited my native country of Panama a few times, I’ve also spent some time with my mother, Rosario, who is 93 and in an assisted living facility, and I recently returned from a Jockey and Jeans event in Ft. Lauderdale benefiting the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund,” said Pincay, who turned 69 last Dec. 26 and retired in 2003 . . . Rosie Ybarra celebrates her 64th birthday next Thursday, March 10. “I came to Santa Anita 37 years ago for the Strub Stakes and never left,” said the popular grub and grog hostess at Clockers’ Corner. “I’ve been at Clockers’ Corner now for 20 years.”


(Current Through Thursday, March 3)          
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won  
Rafael Bejarano 193 42 37 20 22% 51% $1,898,377  
Santiago Gonzalez 205 38 29 24 19% 44% $1,507,469  
Flavien Prat 184 33 26 27 18% 47% $1,944,601  
Edwin Maldonado 130 25 11 12 19% 37% $849,205  
Tyler Baze 195 20 31 28 10% 41% $1,077,416  
David Lopez 116 20 8 16 17% 38% $600,811  
Mario Gutierrez 146 19 25 21 13% 45% $1,135,369  
Joseph Talamo 173 18 20 22 10% 35% $968,014  
Martin Garcia 94 16 9 9 17% 36% $905,399  
Drayden Van Dyke 112 13 13 15 12% 37% $741,724  
Kent Desormeaux 84 12 21 16 14% 58% $1,024,990  
Fernando Perez 132 11 13 19 8% 33% $642,344  
Martin Pedroza 74 10 9 4 14% 31% $282,700  
Gary Stevens 50 10 6 7 20% 46% $1,113,803  
Agapito Delgadillo 73 9 8 6 12% 32% $251,607  
Victor Espinoza 61 8 9 6 13% 38% $681,135  
Mike Smith 68 7 6 13 10% 38% $944,075  
Abel Lezcano 54 6 2 4 11% 22% $254,764  
Alonso Quinonez 61 4 8 4 7% 26% $206,150  
Brice Blanc 46 4 5 7 9% 35% $451,940  
Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won  
Doug O’Neill 135 22 19 21 16% 46% $1,130,473  
Philip D’Amato 96 21 16 16 22% 55% $1,100,485  
Bob Baffert 79 17 12 12 22% 52% $1,263,570  
Jerry Hollendorfer 99 15 9 14 15% 38% $981,546  
Richard Baltas 80 14 12 10 18% 45% $980,394  
Peter Eurton 69 12 16 11 17% 57% $743,317  
Peter Miller 97 11 9 12 11% 33% $476,435  
John Sadler 62 11 8 5 18% 39% $507,619  
Steven Miyadi 49 9 11 8 18% 57% $304,544  
Vladimir Cerin 33 9 3 5 27% 52% $307,630  
Mark Glatt 65 8 8 3 12% 29% $369,025  
Kristin Mulhall 36 7 6 2 19% 42% $306,520  
William Spawr 29 7 5 3 24% 52% $187,687  
George Papaprodromou 39 7 3 6 18% 41% $213,890  
Jeff Bonde 28 7 2 4 25% 46% $168,010  
Mike Puype 58 6 11 3 10% 34% $301,130  
J. Keith Desormeaux 35 6 5 8 17% 54% $241,069  
Patrick Gallagher 28 6 3 5 21% 50% $468,023  
Carla Gaines 37 6 2 2 16% 27% $453,015  
Jeff Mullins 24 5 6 0 21% 46% $164,634  
Clifford Sise, Jr. 18 5 4 1 28% 56% $196,540  
Hector Palma 30 5 3 5 17% 43% $134,547  
Ron Ellis 22 5 2 2 23% 41% $164,730  
Steve Knapp 27 5 1 3 19% 33% $153,830