- SHAM STAKES LURES TRIPLE CROWN HOPEFULS
- RING WEEKEND HOLDS FORM FOR SAN GABRIEL
- TVG’S ‘THE STARTING GATE’ TO DEBUT SATURDAY
- SANTA YNEZ HAS A GRADE I QUALITY: BAFFERT
- MIDNIGHT STORM LIKELY TO WAIT FOR BIG ‘CAP
- CHAMP SONGBIRD DUE AT SANTA ANITA JAN. 24
- ‘BOOGER’ AND BELVOIR TOGETHER AGAIN
WELL-TRAVELED COLONEL SAMSEN TRIES DIRT IN SHAM
Colonel Samsen, the Marco Polo of current Triple Crown candidates, makes his seventh start on his fifth different race track when he runs in Saturday’s Grade III Sham Stakes for three-year-olds at one mile.
The son of 2008 Santa Anita Derby winner Colonel John ran previously at Golden Gate, Del Mar, Kentucky Downs, Presque Isle Downs and Santa Anita, winning his last two, at Del Mar on grass and at Golden Gate on synthetic. The Sham will mark his first race on dirt.
“He doesn’t discriminate,” said Eoin Harty, who trained Colonel John. “He’s got Diamond
Status (top level for frequent fliers of Delta Airlines).
“I had the horse in Chicago, then ran in a $130,000 maiden race at Kentucky Downs. That kind of money would put anybody on a bus (Colonel Samsen finished second). He ran well there so I brought him to Santa Anita, and he ran well here.
“He broke his maiden at Del Mar (Nov. 13), then a stake came up in San Francisco (the Gold Rush on Dec. 3, which he won) and now it’s time to try him on dirt in the Sham.”
In other Sham news:
John Shirreffs is optimistic Gormley will perform well when the son of Malibu Moon makes his three-year-old debut in the Sham. Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, Gormley has not raced since finishing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last Nov. 5.
“Condition-wise and weather-wise, it’s a go,” Shirreffs said. “He’s trained very well. He came out of the Breeders’ Cup in great shape and has trained well since.
“As to strategy, we’ll let Victor (Espinoza) make that decision once the gates open. There’s enough speed in the race that maybe he doesn’t need the lead; I don’t know. He’s still kind of new at developing a style. Hopefully, he’ll pick a style that works.”
Big Hit goes from a maiden allowance win at Del Mar Nov. 19 to the Sham, a race Phil D’Amato hopes will lead to bigger and better things for the son of Super Saver owned by Gary and Mary West.
“He’s a big, good-looking horse and hopefully he’s on the improve,” the trainer said of the Kentucky-bred bay. “He has a good head on his shoulders and he had excuses in his first two races, which is why he didn’t run well.
“But he put it all together in his last race (winning by 3 ¼ lengths). We’re kind of testing the waters going long, but he should be ready to go.”
The field for the Sham, which offers 17 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, 10 to the winner: American Anthem, Mike Smith, 9-5; Term of Art, Joe Talamo, 5-1; Bird Is the Word, Kent Desormeaux, 20-1; Colonel Samsen, Flavien Prat, 12-1; Gormley, Victor Espinoza, 8-5; Big Hit, Santiago Gonzalez, 4-1; and Blabimir, Mario Gutierrez, 12-1.
RING WEEKEND TRAINING WELL FOR SAN GABRIEL
Team Motion hopes Ring Weekend continues his winning ways in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Gabriel Stakes for four-year-olds and up scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on turf.
The gelded son of Tapit won the Grade II Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar on Nov. 26 after a troubled trip in the Breeders’ Cup Mile in which he was seventh, but beaten less than four lengths, on Nov. 5. “He ran a great race in the Breeders’ Cup and he’s been training well since,” said Aimee Dollase, assistant to trainer Graham Motion.
The San Gabriel: Blue Tone, Kent Desormeaux, 12-1; Point Piper, Mario Gutierrez, 8-1; Flamboyant, Flavien Prat, 4-1; Itsinthepost, Tyler Baze, 10-1; Conquest Daddyo, Luis Contreras, 15-1; A Red Tie Day, Corey Nakatani, 6-1; Quick Casablanca, Gonzalo Ulloa Perez, 15-1; Twentytwentyvision, Mike Smith, 4-1; Perfectly Majestic, Victor Espinoza,
8-1; Ring Weekend, Drayden Van Dyke, 5-2; and Some in Tieme, Tiago Pereira, 20-1.
TVG TO DEBUT ‘THE STARTING GATE’ ON WEEKENDS
Starting this Saturday, TVG will debut The Starting Gate, a new hour-long show that will air Saturday and Sunday mornings, providing an in-depth look at the horse racing industry, emerging prospects, current stars in training personalities behind the races.
Hosted from TVG’s Los Angeles studios, TVG2’s The Starting Gate will feature an inside look at first-time starters at major U.S. racing venues with a focus on the breeding, pedigree, farms and people who brought them to the races. With reporting from racing analysts Caton Bredar, Christina Blacker and Britney Eurton, The Starting Gate will also feature stakes previews and recaps from across the country and live interviews with breeders, owners, trainers and jockeys.
“Along with the wagering that we focus on every day, Thoroughbred breeding and sales is a major economic engine that drives participation in horse racing and The Starting Gate will shine the spotlight on this important aspect of our sport,” said Kip Levin, CEO of Betfair TVG. “There are people and stories behind every horse that reaches the starting gate and we want to bring those stories to racing fans everywhere.”
The new show will debut Saturday, Jan. 7 and a new episode will air each Saturday at 7:30 a.m. and Sunday at 8 a.m. PST on TVG2. The Starting Gate will be produced by Becky Witzman-Somerville, former producer of HRTV’s Race Day America, The Horizon and First Call.
Additionally, to benefit racing industry stakeholders and bring more attention to the sales and breeding segment of the racing industry, TVG and TVG2 will air live coverage of the Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale.
“Keeneland applauds TVG’s efforts to provide fans a comprehensive view of the horse industry, and we look forward to their coverage of the January Horses of All Ages Sale,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. “In order for fans to really appreciate the economics and excitement of racing, they have to understand a horse’s journey from the breeding farm and sale to the racetrack.”
TVG2 will air gavel to gavel coverage for the first two days of the sale, Monday, Jan. 9 and Tuesday, Jan. 10, with additional coverage on Wednesday, Jan. 11. Christina Blacker will be on-site at Keeneland Monday and Tuesday to provide reports and interviews for both TVG and TVG2. The sale concludes Jan. 13.
The January Sale includes broodmares, broodmare prospects, yearlings, horses of racing age and stallions. Prominent January sales grads include Mind Your Biscuits, who recently won the Grade I Malibu Stakes and Miss Temple City who captured this year’s Matriarch, Shadwell Turf Mile and Maker’s 46 Mile, each a Grade I race.
NOTED AND QUOTED ENTERED IN ‘TOUGH’ SANTA YNEZ
Noted and Quoted is entered to make her first start of the new year on Sunday in the Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes for three-year-old fillies at seven furlongs. It would mark her first start since Nov. 5, when the gray daughter of The Factor finished seventh after leading in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/16 miles.
“The Santa Ynez is a very tough spot,” said Bob Baffert, who trains Noted and Quoted for Speedway Stable, LLC. “That should be a Grade I; it’s a really tough race.”
Baffert would be seeking his fifth win in the Santa Ynez, having captured it with Queen of Money for Mike Pegram in 1997; Yearly Report for Golden Eagle Farm in 2004; Indian Blessing for Patti and Hal Earnhardt in 2008; and Awesome Baby for Kaleem Shah in 2013.
The Santa Ynez, race eight of nine: Resilient Humor, Kent Desormeaux, 30-1; Sandy’s Surprise, Mario Gutierrez, 15-1; Unique Bella, Mike Smith, 8-5; Carrie, Modesto Linares, 50-1; Princess Karen, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Noted and Quoted, Martin Garcia,
5-1; Go On Mary, Jamie Theriot, 20-1; Shane’s Girlfriend, Flavien Prat, 9-5; and It Tiz Well, Drayden Van Dye, 6-1.
‘BOOGER’ & BELVOIR REUNITE FOR VICTORY
Memories of years past in Seattle filled the air at Santa Anita following this past Monday’s sixth race, as a pair of former Emerald Downs leading riders, Gallyn (Booger) Mitchell and Vann Belvoir, combined on a $21.00 win mutuel with $12,500 claimer, Jimmy the Juice.
Trained by Belvoir, Jimmy the Juice, who won by 1 ¾ lengths, registered his second career win from 13 starts.
“He’s a good gate rider and he always gives you an honest effort,” said Belvoir, who led all Emerald riders prior to retiring from the saddle following the track’s inaugural season in 1996. “We’ve had good luck together. He’s a hard-working guy with a lot of experience and he’s a good horseman.”
Emerald’s all-time leading rider and a member of the Washington Racing Hall of Fame, Mitchell, 54, overcame a heart attack in April 2013, and, following the death due to heart and kidney failure of his young daughter, Samantha Jo, this past June, decided to come out of a 13-month retirement in November.
“Sami Jo was amazing, the strength and courage she showed . . . ” said Mitchell in an interview with the Auburn (WA) Reporter that was published Nov. 17. “I’ve got my weight down to 115 (pounds) and I’m feeling really good. I started getting on horses three months ago and took my time getting ready. I’ll keep riding as long as I’m having fun.”
Safe to say, there’ll be plenty of fans and horsemen wishing “Booger” all the best this winter at Santa Anita.
FINISH LINES: In a prelude to the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park Jan. 28, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will be available to sign a beautiful free color poster of Arrogate tomorrow beginning at 10:45 a.m. in the Santa Anita saddling paddock…Midnight Storm, front-running winner of Sunday’s Grade II San Pasqual Stakes, likely will pass the $12 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28 and train up to the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 11. “I think we’re leaning towards waiting for the Big ‘Cap,” trainer Phil D’Amato said Friday morning . . . Jerry Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward said champion filly Songbird, a finalist for 2016 Horse of the Year along with Arrogate and California Chrome, is due at Santa Anita Jan. 24 from WinStar Farm in Kentucky where she has been since suffering her first loss, by the narrowest of noses, after a memorable stretch duel with victorious Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Nov. 4 . . .
Argentine-bred Infobedad, the “Secretariat of Claimers” who won Sunday’s sixth race by 26 ½ lengths, believed to be the largest winning margin ever at Santa Anita, didn’t necessarily shock John Sadler with the runaway victory over the wet/fast (sealed) track. “Usually South American horses like the mud, so we thought he’d like the track,” the trainer said. “We thought it (the margin) was a combination of him liking it and some of the others hating it, so it kind of sorted itself out.” Sadler didn’t lose the six-year-old horse that was in for a $25,000 claiming tag, but might keep an eye on the sky before deciding on his next race. “We’ll follow around the radar map and look for rain again,” he said . . . Caesar Dominguez, taking a break from training, has taken the book of apprentice Austin Solis, son of Hall of Fame jockey Alex Solis . . . Agent J.R. Pegram now represents Martin Garcia, formerly with Tony Matos, who now has Santiago Gonzalez . . . Trainer Matt Chew and Santa Anita morning line oddsmaker Jon White will be Tom Quigley‘s guests, Saturday and Sunday respectively, in the East Paddock Gardens at 11:20 a.m. . . . Jockey Fernando Perez, injured in a mishap at Del Mar Dec. 2, was in good spirits at Clockers’ Corner Friday morning but is months away from returning to the saddle. “It’s unfortunate that I was injured,” Perez said, “but it feels good to have a vacation.”
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Monday, Jan. 2)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||28||4||2||0||14%||21%||$218,490|
|Drayden Van Dyke||28||3||4||0||11%||25%||$157,388|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||9||2||1||2||22%||56%||$249,915|