For the past several years, Victor Espinoza has experienced a ride most jockeys can only dream about.

American Pharoah and California Chrome have carried him down the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City.

But now, those champions have been retired, and the 44-year-old jockey looks to the future. Maybe he’ll find one in Royal Mo or Gormley, two promising three-year-olds with Triple Crown potential trained by John Shirreffs for Jerry and Ann Moss

“I had the best years of my life and it was an awesome ride,” said Espinoza, who piloted Royal Mo to an impressive front-running victory in Saturday’s Robert B. Lewis Stakes. “Being associated with American Pharoah and California Chrome was a great experience. I met a lot of awesome people and we created a lot of new fans for racing.

“But that’s over and I’m looking forward to the next star, the next champion. It could be Gormley or it could be Royal Mo. I believe young horses like that have a good future ahead of them. Hopefully everything goes right; I’m working to find the next champion.”



            With four victories Saturday, all in a row from races six through nine, Flavien Prat put daylight between himself and runner-up Tyler Baze in Santa Anita’s jockey race, 28-21.

The Prat Late Pick 4 paid $421.45 to 1,645 winning tickets, and was comprised of Fabozzi ($16.20), Avicii ($7.40), Hoppertunity ($7) and Isotherm (17.20).

“His success doesn’t surprise me,” said Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, an enthusiastic supporter of the 24-year-old Frenchman since he first came to America as a visitor in September, 2014.

“I thought he was great when I first got him here. I’m just proud that he’s holding up to his potential so well.”

Added his agent, Derek Lawson: “It was one of those days you rarely experience, but we were optimistic. Flavien was confident on every horse he rode.”



With rain due to rear its ugly head again Monday, there were 247 recorded workouts at Santa Anita Sunday morning, 227 on the fast main track and 20 on the dirt training track, among them a four furlong move by Grade I Gamely winner Illuminant for Mike McCarthy.

Heading the heavy hitters on the main track were Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner and Eclipse Award champion Finest City, who went four furlongs for Ian Kruljac in 50.20.

“She looked fabulous, went easy, just cruising,” Kruljac said. “The Santa Margarita (Grade I, $400,000 at 1 1/8 miles March 18) looks pretty enticing.”

Midnight Storm, prepping for the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 11, went six furlongs in 1:13.60 for Phil D’Amato, who called it a “good” work.

Sheer Pleasure, nominated to the Santa Maria, worked five furlongs for D’Amato in 1:01.60, while Big Hit, ticketed for next Sunday’s Grade II San Vicente Stakes for three-year-olds at seven furlongs, went five furlongs in 1:00.60, also for D’Amato.

Impressive maiden winner Iliad, set to make his first start for Doug O’Neill in the San Vicente since being transferred from Bob Baffert’s barn by Kaleem Shah, breezed four furlongs in a bullet 47.60, fastest of 71 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 49.54.

Unbeaten Mastery, winner of the Grade I Los Alamitos Futurity, worked five furlongs in company for Baffert in 1:00.20. Mastery is nominated to the San Vicente, but Baffert said the Candy Ride colt would make his next start in either the Grade II, $900,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park March 18 or the Grade II, $400,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita March 11.

Each race will be decided at a mile and one sixteenth. Mastery workmate Cat Burglar was clocked in 1:00.60.

Streaking Vale Dori worked four furlongs in 49.80 after which Baffert proclaimed the five-year-old Argentine-bred mare “ready” for Saturday’s Grade II Santa Maria Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles. Vale Dori’s last two wins came in the Bayakoa Handicap and the La Canada Stakes, each a Grade II.

American Anthem, yet another in Baffert’s seemingly endless crop of Triple Crown hopefuls, worked five furlongs in company with Diva La Mousse, each clocked in 1:02.60.

Multiple graded stakes-winning sprinter Masochistic, with designs on the Grade I Triple Bend at seven furlongs on March 11, went six furlongs in a bullet 1:12.40 for Ron Ellis. It was the fastest of 20 drills at the distance. Stakes-winning sprinter Kobe’s Back, also set for the Triple Bend, went five furlongs in 1:01 for Peter Eurton.

Probable for the Grade II Arcadia Stakes for four-year-olds and up at a mile on turf: Bolo, Mike Smith; Conquest Enforcer, Flavien Prat; He Will, no rider; Ohio, T.J. Pereira; Ring Weekend, Rafael Bejarano; and What a View, no rider.

Probable for the Santa Maria for fillies and mares, four and up at 1 1/16 miles: Autumn Flower, no rider; Constellation, Flavien Prat; Lady Tapit, no rider; Midnight Toast, no rider; Show Stealer, no rider; and Vale Dori, Mike Smith.

Probable for the San Vicente for three-year-olds at seven furlongs: Aquamarine, Stewart Elliott; Battle of Midway, Mike Smith; Big Hit, Santiago Gonzalez; and Iliad, Rafael Bejarano.


FINISH LINES: Gary Stevens is scheduled to see his doctor tomorrow for a progress report after having his right hip replaced on Dec. 21 “Hopefully,” the Hall of Fame rider said, “he’ll give me the OK to get on horses in 10 days.” . . . John Sadler said Stellar Wind‘s three furlong breeze Saturday was “just easy” and the Eclipse Award champion three-year-old filly of 2015, twice conqueror of four-time champion Beholder last year, will work again next Saturday. “All the obvious big races are options for her,” the trainer said.


(Current Through Saturday, Feb. 4)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Flavien Prat 108 28 12 19 26% 55% $1,764,957
Tyler Baze 110 21 23 9 19% 48% $1,024,767
Kent Desormeaux 75 15 10 9 20% 45% $1,053,558
Rafael Bejarano 86 14 14 16 16% 51% $840,073
Norberto Arroyo, Jr. 64 9 5 4 14% 28% $458,830
Stewart Elliott 75 8 7 14 11% 39% $356,188
Martin Pedroza 58 7 9 10 12% 45% $285,148
Luis Contreras 65 7 8 18 11% 51% $353,779
Santiago Gonzalez 60 7 8 6 12% 35% $327,746
Joseph Talamo 68 7 5 12 10% 35% $264,520
Mike Smith 26 7 2 6 27% 58% $724,965
Tiago Pereira 48 6 5 5 13% 33% $185,535
Trainer Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Peter Miller 51 14 13 6 27% 65% $856,800
Richard Baltas 66 11 13 9 17% 50% $618,228
Jerry Hollendorfer 64 11 9 14 17% 53% $984,424
Philip D’Amato 37 9 4 6 24% 51% $599,215
Doug O’Neill 75 8 17 11 11% 48% $704,548
Mark Glatt 38 8 6 5 21% 50% $292,820
Bob Baffert 32 7 4 5 22% 50% $683,716
Peter Eurton 26 7 3 1 27% 42% $336,169
J. Keith Desormeaux 24 7 2 5 29% 58% $416,520
William Spawr 16 7 0 2 44% 56% $181,551
John Sadler 29 5 7 8 17% 69% $371,369
Gary Sherlock 23 5 3 2 22% 43% $135,110