STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN – SUNDAY MARCH 20, 2016

   

  • COUNTDOWN ON FOR NYQUIST-MOHAYMEN MATCH
  • ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE AND WAR FOR CUPID IN REBEL
  • CHAMPION SONGBIRD WORKS WEDNESDAY FOR OAKS

 

INTEREST AMPS UP FOR FLORIDA DERBY SHOWDOWN

The racing world awaits the multi-story lined showdown April 2 in the $1 million Florida Derby between the two undefeated favorites for the Kentucky Derby, Santa Anita-based Nyquist, champion two-year-old male of 2015 trained by Doug O’Neill, and Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Mohaymen, winner of the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth at his home track of Gulfstream Park, site of the Florida Derby.

One with a vested interest is Steve Rothblum, a trainer in his own right for 30 years and an integral part of Team O’Neill’s success during his nine-year run with them. Call him an advisor, racing manager, it doesn’t really matter to Rothblum, who took time Sunday morning to scope the Florida Derby, which, for all intents and purposes, looks like a match race on paper.

“It has all the ingredients to create major fan interest, for sure,” said Rothblum, whose business card reads, ‘Team O’Neill: Steve Rothblum.’

“It’s an East-West rivalry and it’s great for racing, it’s fantastic, two unbeaten three-year-olds hooking up.

“We’re taking a little the worst of it having to ship down to a race track Mohaymen has already won on going two turns a couple times, so he has a definite advantage.

“But as far as the race unfolds, I believe we’re going to be in front of him, and if you’ve watched Nyquist run at all, he just doesn’t like horses to go by him. That’s just him.

“If and when he does get beat, it’s going to be by a horse that’s going six-wide that he doesn’t catch in his sights. It will be interesting to see when Mohaymen comes to him, if he can get by him.

“That’s the whole race. You’ll find out who’s who.”

 

GOTTA LOVE CUPID’S REBEL VICTORY

Despite briefly losing focus in mid-stretch, Cupid quickly gathered himself together and

went on to an impressive length-and-quarter victory under Martin Garcia in Saturday’s Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, thrusting himself into the top echelon of Triple Crown contenders.

            “There were people on the outside rail and it’s a sharp turn,” Bob Baffert said Sunday morning at Santa Anita, defining the incident involving the promising gray son of Tapit, who broke his maiden by 5 ¼ lengths at Santa Anita Feb. 7.

“I think it was a combination of both that caused him to duck in. (American) Pharoah did it last year, Victor (Espinoza) told me, because the crowd’s right there, and the turn is narrow.

“Fans are yelling and they’re lined up all the way to the end. Cupid just saw them for a few seconds, but he was so quick on his feet he got right back on track.

“It was a strong performance, and he galloped out strong, too.”

While Baffert did not commit to Cupid’s next race, the Blue Grass Stakes or the Arkansas Derby would seem likely options. Each is a Grade I, $1 million race at 1 1/8 miles, the Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 9 and the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn on April 16.

 

FINISH LINES: Undefeated champion Songbird is scheduled to work at 6:45 a.m. Wednesday for the Grade I, $500,000 Santa Anita Oaks on April 9, Jerry Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward said. Ward also reported that Tara’s Tango came out of Saturday’s one-length victory over 9-10 favorite Taris in the Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes in good order and will be nominated to the Grade I, $600,000 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park April 15. “We’ll take a look at that,” Ward said . . . Carla Gaines has previously unbeaten California-bred Smokey Image ticketed for the Santa Anita Derby on April 9 despite his disappointing fifth-place finish in the San Felipe Stakes March 12. “He was a little off in his grain,” the trainer said, “but he scoped clean and his blood count was good, so it’s pretty puzzling.” . . . Trainer David Hofmans had no word Sunday morning on where Santa Anita Handicap winner Melatonin would run next . . . Stellar Wind, champion 3 year old filly of 2015, is set to have her first workout this week since finishing an eventful second by a neck in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last Oct. 30, trainer John Sadler said . . . Rafael Bejarano rides Agustina de Aragon and Martin Garcia pilots Handfull in next Sunday’s March Madness Starter Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on turf. Handfull, a seven-year-old mare and winner of 14 of 33 career starts, won the race last year for Hollendorfer, who plans to enter Glory in next Saturday’s Grade II Santa Ana for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf in quest of her first stakes victory . . . Brice Blanc (Flamboyant), Victor Espinoza (California Chrome), Mario Gutierrez (Frank Conversation) and Flavien Prat (Hoppertunity) will be MIA at Santa Anita this week for their engagements in Dubai next Saturday . . . Ross Fenstermaker, trainer of the great Precisionist for Fred W. Hooper, was a visitor to Clockers’ Corner Sunday. Now 76 and 60 percent paralyzed on his left side from an aneurism that struck in 2006, Fenstermaker resides in nearby Monrovia and enjoyed visiting with old friends and associates on a glorious Southern California morning.

 

SANTA ANITA STATISTICS
(Current Through Saturday, March 19)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Rafael Bejarano 248 58 48 25 23% 53% $2,732,877
Santiago Gonzalez 266 47 34 32 18% 42% $1,894,356
Flavien Prat 239 40 43 40 17% 51% $2,571,481
Edwin Maldonado 161 30 16 15 19% 38% $1,015,620
Joseph Talamo 215 27 23 26 13% 35% $1,876,589
Tyler Baze 235 23 35 34 10% 39% $1,282,171
David Lopez 149 22 12 18 15% 35% $671,431
Mario Gutierrez 174 20 31 23 11% 43% $1,246,549
Martin Garcia 114 18 11 11 16% 35% $1,008,949
Kent Desormeaux 111 17 24 20 15% 55% $1,492,410
Fernando Perez 160 16 17 22 10% 34% $843,439
Drayden Van Dyke 145 13 15 23 9% 35% $875,472
Gary Stevens 59 12 10 8 20% 51% $1,549,548
Agapito Delgadillo 90 11 11 8 12% 33% $327,712
Victor Espinoza 85 11 10 7 13% 33% $843,805
Martin Pedroza 92 11 10 7 12% 30% $323,510
Mike Smith 89 11 8 16 12% 39% $1,590,680
Abel Lezcano 67 7 3 4 10% 21% $497,464
Tiago Pereira 98 6 10 7 6% 23% $413,704
Alonso Quinonez 76 6 9 6 8% 28% $302,330
Brice Blanc 58 6 6 7 10% 33% $521,350
Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Philip D’Amato 125 27 21 22 22% 56% $1,457,225
Doug O’Neill 167 26 23 25 16% 44% $1,358,833
Jerry Hollendorfer 126 20 12 15 16% 37% $1,528,276
Bob Baffert 92 19 15 13 21% 51% $1,438,485
Richard Baltas 102 17 15 14 17% 45% $1,165,794
Peter Eurton 88 15 22 12 17% 56% $1,051,137
Peter Miller 119 13 12 18 11% 36% $598,990
John Sadler 78 13 9 6 17% 36% $793,069
Steven Miyadi 61 11 12 10 18% 54% $357,172
Kristin Mulhall 47 11 7 3 23% 45% $397,955
Mark Glatt 84 9 10 8 11% 32% $433,545
Vladimir Cerin 45 9 6 5 20% 44% $337,224
William Spawr 36 8 5 4 22% 47% $227,242
George Papaprodromou 47 8 4 6 17% 38% $237,220
Carla Gaines 45 8 3 3 18% 31% $598,465
Mike Puype 74 7 12 5 9% 32% $356,760
J. Keith Desormeaux 46 7 6 10 15% 50% $317,329
Michael Machowsky 36 7 6 4 19% 47% $283,106
Jeff Mullins 28 7 6 1 25% 50% $195,099
Jeff Bonde 38 7 4 5 18% 42% $186,525
Ron Ellis 29 7 2 3 24% 41% $191,505