- ARROGATE DRILLS, COULD RUN IN SAN PASQUAL
- BAFFERT ENTERS THREE FOR GRADE I MALIBU
- WALL CALENDAR AND MORE ON OPENING DAY
- CHAMPAGNE ROOM TARGETS FEB. 5 LAS VIRGENES
- CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY FOR EDWIN MALDONADO
- FRENCH FRIES RIDING CART AND WALKS WITH CANE
ARROGATE COULD RUN AT SANTA ANITA JAN. 1
Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Arrogate worked seven furlongs shortly after 9 a.m. at Santa Anita Wednesday morning in 1:24.80 with jockey Martin Garcia aboard.
“I’m still on the fence as to what to do with him,” trainer Bob Baffert said before the drill, although the Jan. 1 San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita has been mentioned as a possible steppingstone to the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28.
Santa Anita clockers gave Arrogate fractional times of 24, 36, 47.40, 59.80 and 1:12, with a one-mile gallop out of 1:39.60.
After the work, Baffert said Arrogate definitely would have one more breeze before the Grade II San Pasqual at 1 1/16 miles, and that depending on circumstances, Arrogate could run there or possibly wait and train up to the Pegasus.
Arrogate overtook California Chrome in deep stretch to win the Classic in dramatic fashion by a half-length, thus establishing himself as a leading contender for Horse of the Year along with Chrome, so the Pegasus could set up a possible rematch between the two, although it would have no bearing on Horse of the Year, since the deadline for voters is Jan. 3.
Chrome was a 12-length winner of the Winter Challenge at his home base of Los
Alamitos last Saturday and is scheduled to ship from California Jan. 6 for the inaugural running of the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus.
BAFFERT ENTERS THREE FOR GRADE I MALIBU
Undefeated Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Drefong was not entered in the Grade I Malibu Stakes on opening day due to a recent fever, but his trainer, Bob Baffert, entered three other horses in the prestigious and traditional opening day headliner for three-year-olds at seven furlongs: Jazzy Times, Mor Spirit and Ten Blessings.
“He got a little temp last week so I had to treat him,” Baffert said of Drefong, a son of Gio Ponti. “He had worked very well for the race but he’s just going back to the track now.”
The trio of Jazzy Times, Mor Spirit and Ten Blessings, meanwhile, are better than the proverbial empty stall.
Jazzy Times was third to Baffert trainee Lord Nelson in the Grade I Santa Anita Sprint Championship last October and has never been out of the money in seven starts; Mor Spirit, making his first start since the Kentucky Derby last May 7, won the Grade I Los Alamitos Futurity a year ago; and Ten Blessings has been firing bullets for his first stakes start.
Jazzy Times, under Martin Garcia, and Mor Spirit, with Rafael Bejarano up, worked four furlongs today in company in a bullet 46.20.
SANTA ANITA OFFERS POPULAR WALL CALENDAR AND MUCH MORE OPENING DAY
In addition to four graded stakes, Santa Anita will treat fans to its popular 2017 wall calendar and much more with the beginning of its traditional Winter Meet next Monday.
A fan favorite for decades, the Santa Anita 2017 wall calendar will be given free of charge to all attendees with paid admission.
The 2017 calendar is not only bucolic and picturesque, but contains information on Thoroughbreds so profound even a hard-core race tracker can learn something new.
Themed “Anatomy of a Champion,” the calendar contains a veterinarian’s glossary in layman’s terms.
In short, it’s a keeper!
First post time Monday is 12 noon; admission gates open at 10 a.m.
Here’s a schedule of opening day events:
–Grade I, $300,000 Malibu Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.
–Grade I, $300,000 La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs
–Grade II, $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile (turf) for 3-year-olds
–Grade III, $100,000 San Simeon Stakes for 3-year-olds and up, at 6 ½ furlongs down hillside turf
–Free 2017 Santa Anita Wall Calendar
–Free Mathis Brothers plush Thoroughbred toy to first 5,000 kids 12 and under
–A Mathis Brothers Gift Certificate, free with paid admission
–Craft Beer and Cider Festival on Grandstand Apron (packages available at santaanita.com/events)
–Guest Chef Series in the Chandelier Room featuring a catered menu from one of LA’s hottest restaurants, delicious whiskey tastings, live music and more, visit santaanita.com/events for details
–Infield Family Fun Zone featuring pony rides and much more, visit santaanita.com/events
–Bud Light Lounge, all you can eat buffet, first beer included, racing program and more, visit santaanita.com/events
For more racing and event information, visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
EURTON EYES LAS VIRGENES FOR CHAMPAGNE ROOM
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Champagne Room, favored to win an Eclipse Award in the two-year-old filly division, is scheduled to make her three-year-old debut in the Grade II, $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes at one mile on Feb. 5, trainer Peter Eurton said.
“As far as getting the Eclipse, I think she’s a stone favorite,” Eurton said of the Kentucky-bred Broken Vow filly, who registered a 33-1 upset under Mario Gutierrez in the Juvenile Fillies.
“But I don’t take anything for granted until I hear them call her name and we walk up there.”
Voting deadline for the Eclipse Awards is Jan. 3. The 46th annual Eclipse Awards dinner will be held Jan. 21 at Gulfstream Park.
EDWIN MALDONADO BACK AFTER FOUR MONTHS
Edwin Maldonado was back at the races Wednesday for the first time in nearly four months after suffering horrifically painful injuries in a morning accident at Del Mar on Sept. 4.
“I had six broken ribs and a collapsed lung,” said the Ohio native who turned 34 Dec. 1.
“I’m ready to ride. I’ve never been more ready. I’m like a little kid. This is my first day back. I’m excited.”
Maldonado will be represented by agent Joe Griffin.
NEIL FRENCH PROGRESSES FROM SERIOUS INJURY
Neil French was a sight for sore eyes at Clockers’ Corner Wednesday. He was walking with the aid of only a cane.
The 64-year-old trainer had been using a riding cart to traverse through Santa Anita’s vast stable area since suffering an injury to his left leg in a fall at his barn in September of 2014.
“A new doctor and new medication,” French said in explaining his shucking of the cart.
French also has endured rheumatoid arthritis for years and at one point was bedridden for seven months, three months in a hospital and four in a rest home.
Flying beneath the national publicity radar throughout his career of 41 years, French has five horses in training at Santa Anita, where he is making the rounds slower these days but assuredly happier.
DRESS YOUR VERY BEST ON OPENING DAY MONDAY
Opening day Monday, Santa Anita will host a contest to discover how many of its loyal fans have true enthusiasm for prize-worthy, race-day attire. Males and females 18 and over are eligible and encouraged to partake in this FREE trackside event.
The Grand Prize winner will take home a $2,500 Gift Certificate to Mathis Brothers Furniture and gain entrance into the VIP seating area of the Craft Brew & Cider Trackside event for the remainder of the day.
Nine runners-up will each receive a $250 Gift Certificate to Mathis Brothers Furniture.
FINISH LINES: Shane’s Girlfriend, 13 1/4-length winner of the Delta Princess on Dec. 4 in track record time of 1:37.98 for a mile at Delta Downs, could face males in the Sham Stakes on Jan. 7. “Either that or the Santa Ynez (for fillies on Jan. 8),” said Dennis O’Neill, brother of Doug, who trains Shane’s Girlfriend for his brother, W.C. Racing and ERJ Racing, the latter nom de course of Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson, currently sidelined with a broken right fibula . . . Santa Anita will be dark Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 27 and 28, and resume live racing Thursday, Dec. 29 at 12:30 p.m.