- BALTAS, D’AMATO READY FOR SANTA ANITA DUEL
- COLLECTED, DREFONG DRILL FOR BREEDERS’ CUP
- UNIQUE BELLA WORKS FROM GATE FOR RETURN
- DALLAS KEEN ON HAND FOR SANTA ANITA MEET
- ‘SO FAR, SO GOOD’ FOR BAFFERT AIDE JIM BARNES
- MORRIS CLASSIC GOLF TOURNEY TO BENEFIT PDJF
TRAINERS HOPE TO CONTINUE ON ROAD TO SUCCESS
Richard Baltas and Phil D ‘Amato, who finished in a flat-footed tie for the recent Del Mar training title at 18 wins each, hope to continue their success at Santa Anita when the Autumn Meet starts next Friday, Sept. 29.
Relative new faces at the top of the training echelon, the 56-year-old Baltas captured his first crown, while the 40-year-old D’Amato took his third.
“It was the first time ever winning a title, so I guess I have to cherish it, especially since it came at a major meet,” said Baltas, who, like D’Amato, directs a diverse barn ranging from claimers to Grade I stakes winners.
Baltas hopes to add to his resume in the Grade I Rodeo Drive Stakes on Saturday, Sept. 30, when he sends out multiple stakes winner Goodyearforroses in the mile and a quarter turf race for older fillies and mares.
It is one of five Grade I, “Win and You’re In” Challenge Races that day giving the winners fees-paid berths into their respective Breeders’ Cup races come Nov. 3 and 4.
“We’re optimistic,” Baltas said. “We’ll have a lot of young horses running and a lot of grass horses. We have a little bit of everything, including Cal-breds. It’s going to be busy.
“We took a little break during Los Al, but hopefully we can keep it rolling.”
D’Amato has a similar agenda.
“This meet I’m going to debut a lot of two-year-olds, horses I waited on to run here,” he said. “We’ve got a nice array of babies, grass horses and older horses, so we’re looking forward to getting started.”
D’Amato had not decided on whether he would enter versatile multiple graded stakes winner Midnight Storm in the Awesome Again Stakes, but does plan to run Grade I Bing Crosby winner Ransom the Moon in the Grade I, $300,000 “Win and You’re In” Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 7, and Michael House’s Del Mar Handicap winner Hunt in the Grade II, $200,000 John Henry Turf Championship on Oct. 1.
Both Baltas and D’Amato are a racing secretary’s dream. The former has “close to” 100 horses in training, both at Santa Anita and San Luis Rey Downs. D’Amato has about 80, split with 40 at each locale.
In addition to the Rodeo Drive, Santa Anita will showcase four other Grade I, $300,000
“Win and You’re In” Challenge Races: the Awesome Again for three-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles; the FrontRunner for two-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles; the Chandelier for two-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles; and the Zenyatta for fillies and mares, three and up, also at 1 1/16 miles.
First post time Sept. 30 will be 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m. On opening day, Sept. 29, first post time is 1 p.m., with admission gates opening at 11 a.m.
ARROGATE CONQUEROR COLLECTED WORKS TOWARDS BC CLASSIC
“Win Machine” Collected, triumphant in eight of his 11 career starts including the Pacific
Classic on Aug. 19 in which he defeated the King Midas of Thoroughbreds Arrogate by a half-length, worked four furlongs Tuesday morning in 49.80 with Mike Smith aboard.
Bob Baffert said he is likely to pass the Awesome Again Stakes with the four-year-old son of City Zip and train him up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 4.
Baffert also sent last year’s Eclipse Award-winning sprinter Drefong four furlongs in 48.20, in company with Irish Freedom, who was clocked in 49.20. Baffert plans to train Drefong up to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, also on Nov. 4.
UNIQUE BELLA POSSIBLE FOR LA WOMAN STAKES
Unique Bella, sidelined since last March with shin issues, worked five furlongs from the gate Wednesday morning under regular rider Mike Smith in 59 flat and could make her return to the races in the Grade III, $100,000 LA Woman Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs on Oct. 8.
Winner of her last four races by a combined margin of nearly 29 lengths, the once-beaten Unique Bella also is nominated to the Zenyatta Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Sept. 30.
“The work was very nice and smooth,” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said of the gray daughter of Tapit, who was given fractional times of 24.40, 35.20 and 47 flat by Santa Anita clockers. “She came out of the gate well and galloped out well. If we get a couple more works in her, we could look at the LA Woman.”
“The work was really nice, especially since it was her first gate work in her comeback,” said Smith, who leaves along with Drayden Van Dyke Friday morning for stakes engagements at Parx on Saturday.
“It was nice and easy, nothing exciting. She moved beautiful and was really happy coming off the track.”
TRAINER ‘KEEN’ ON RACING AT SANTA ANITA
Veteran trainer Dallas Keen is a fresh face at Santa Anita this meet with 14 head, led by Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies candidate Terra’s Angel, who worked five furlongs Tuesday in 1:01 with Sasha Risenhoover aboard. Keen could use the Chandelier Stakes as a prep for the Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 3.
“She worked great,” Risenhoover said.
“We hope to get a few more horses here the next few days,” said Keen, who had been campaigning at Lone Star Park in Texas.
“The ‘Ship In and Win’ and the Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ programs were attractive reasons for coming to Southern California,” Keen said.
Terra’s Angel won the $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf on Labor Day under the 27-year-old Risenhoover, who makes her Santa Anita debut this meet under the tutelage of agent Vince DeGregory. Keen is hopeful the filly can make a successful transition from turf to dirt, but no decision on her next race was rendered as of Wednesday morning.
“We contacted Vince about coming out here,” Keen said. “He’s been our friend forever (22 years, according to DeGregory, who turned 85 on Aug. 29). He started watching Sasha ride about six months ago, tutored her, and told her things she needed to work on.
“Vince is pretty sharp.”
BAFFERT AIDE BARNES RECOVERING FROM INJURY
Bob Baffert said Tuesday morning his valued assistant of nearly two decades Jim Barnes is “doing well” after undergoing surgery for a fractured pelvis suffered in a training mishap Sunday.
“So far, so good,” Baffert said of the 58-year-old Barnes. “He underwent an hour and half of surgery Monday night (at Huntington Memorial Hospital).”
Baffert, meanwhile, heads east to Parx in Bensalem, Pa., outside of Philadelphia, where he runs Abel Tasman in the Grade I Cotillion and West Coast in the Grade I Pennsylvania Derby, both $1 million races on Saturday.
PROMOTIONAL ITEM FREE TO SANTA ANITA ‘THOROUGHBREDS’ MEMBERS
In addition to a world class racing menu that will include five Grade I Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” Challenge stakes, Santa Anita will for the first time, offer fans a free Santa Anita Windshield Sunshade on Saturday, Sept. 30, day two of the track’s 2017 Autumn Meet.
This one-of-a-kind item, which features a full-color image of fillies and mares (including four-time Eclipse Champion Beholder) breaking from the starting gate in the 2015, Grade I Zenyatta Stakes, will be available to Santa Anita THOROUGHBREDS Club members, free with paid admission.
Fans are encouraged to register to become a THOROUGHBREDS Club member in person free of charge at Santa Anita at any THOROUGHBREDS Center located throughout the facility.
In addition to the Windshield Sunshade giveaway, Santa Anita will also stage a two-day Trackside Oktoberfest, on Sept. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 1. To purchase tickets, visit http://www.santaanita.com/events/oktoberfest/ .
Additionally, Santa Anita will also be offering an upscale Chandelier Room Party that includes gourmet faire, cocktails, fine wines (including a wine tasting that embraces nine different red and whites), live entertainment, and more on Sept. 30.
Steeped in tradition with a glamorous, modern appeal, the legendary Chandelier Room has attracted Hollywood’s elite and the stars of Thoroughbred racing dating back to the 1930s. To purchase tickets for the Chandelier Room Party, fans are encouraged to visit http://www.santaanita.com/events/chandelier-room-party/.
Opening weekend promotions and amenities, including Santa Anita’s Infield Family Fun Zone, Forty Dollar Handicapping Contest, Bud Light Lounge, Turf Terrace, FrontRunner dining packages and more are available at santaanita.com, or by calling (626) 574-RACE.
JOHN MORRIS GOLF CLASSIC BENEFITS PERMANENTLY DISABLED JOCKEYS’ FUND
The sixth annual John Morris Golf Classic, originally staged in Lexington, Ky., will be held for the first time at Santa Anita Golf Course in Arcadia on Tuesday, Oct. 10. Proceeds will benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund (PDJF), Easter Seals Cardinal Hill and Project Walk (Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Center). One hundred percent of the charity proceeds will go to benefit these three charities.
Tournament registration is at 10:30 a.m., with an 18-hole shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. Fees also include cart, lunch, refreshments, prizes and there will be a reception (that includes a silent auction) immediately following the tournament. Prices are $175 per player or $600 per team. All fees must be paid by Oct. 10 in order to participate.
For more information on the John Morris Golf Classic or to purchase tickets now, please visit: http://www.santaanita.com/events/johnmorrisgolfclassic/, or contact Santa Anita Park, Marketing, at (626) 574-RACE.
FINISH LINES: Attention all horseplayers: Beginning opening day, Sept. 29, the L.A. Times will not only be carrying Santa Anita entries and results, but will also provide readers a free email newsletter with news and analysis provided by Times deputy sports editor and horse racing fan John Cherwa. Fans are encouraged to go to lat.ms/2wVt9oq…Assistant starter Huey Barnes, one of Santa Anita’s living treasures, starts his seventh decade at The Great Race Place this meet. Still full of vim and vinegar, Barnes celebrates his 84th birthday on Oct. 3. He came east to Santa Anita in 1954 with Charlie Whittingham and Liz Tippett‘s Llangollen Farm . . . Popular apprentice Laura Werner, who has made a significant impact during her brief run in Southern California, will have an operation Wednesday at the Miracle Mile Surgery Center in Los Angeles on her broken left collar bone suffered in a riding accident Sunday at Los Alamitos. Werner will have screws and a plate inserted and is expected to be out approximately eight weeks, according to her agent, Carolyn Conley . . . Multiple graded stakes winner Vale Dori, nominated to the Zenyatta Stakes, worked five furlongs Wednesday with Rafael Bejarano up for Bob Baffert in 1:00.60. Also working for Baffert were Metropolitan Handicap winner Mor Spirit and Woodward runner-up Mubtaahij, both nominated to the Awesome Again and both clocking in 1:00.20 for five furlongs from the gate. Baffert’s late-running multiple stakes specialist Hoppertunity (not nominated to the Awesome Again) went four furlongs in 47.60 . . . Bill Spawr, 77, returns to his first love, training at Santa Anita, next Wednesday after serving a 30-day suspension. “I’ve been working with Bill for 30 years,” said assistant Darryl Rader, “and this was his first suspension during that time.” . . . Delaware Oaks winner It Tiz Well left last night for the Cotillion at Parx Saturday after working four furlongs Tuesday in 50 flat for Jerry Hollendorfer. Drayden Van Dyke rides . . . Trainer Dan Hendricks plans to run Om in either the Eddie D Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf opening day here or the Shadwell Turf Mile, a “Win and You’re In” race at Keeneland on Oct. 7. Om, runner-up by a nose to Obviously in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, worked six furlongs Monday in a bullet 1:12 . . . For a noteworthy interview conducted four years ago by veteran Los Angeles-based sportscaster Ted Sobel with the recently deceased racing icon Penny Chenery on Vox Populi Day at Santa Anita, please go to the following link: www.sportsusamedia.com/ted-sobel/ . . . Congrats to Santa Anita clocker John Malone, who turns 64 on Thursday . . . Santa Anita will offer complimentary shuttle service to and from the Metro Arcadia Gold Line Station each live racing day during the Autumn Meet. Service will not be offered on dark and/or simulcast days. The shuttle will regularly make stops at all admission gates, with service offered approximately every 25 minutes.