- NO QUIT IN PEDROZA, PRIVATE ZONE FOR BC SPRINT
- SPEEDY MORENO CONCERN FOR BAYERN IN CLASSIC
- BALTAS CONFIDENT BIG MACHER WILL RUN BIG RACE
- HRTV TO TELEVISE BREEDERS’ CUP PRE-ENTRY SHOW
PEDROZA HOLDS KEY TO COURAGEOUS PRIVATE ZONE
Martin Pedroza has never won a Breeders’ Cup race. He figures his best chance comes Nov. 1 when he rides Private Zone in the $1.5 million Xpressbet Sprint at six furlongs.
“Pretty much all his races, it looks like he’s beat,” said the resilient and resolute 49-year-old jockey, who has had only seven Breeders’ Cup mounts. “Private Zone likes to fight.”
That would account for his two most prestigious victories, in the Grade I Vosburgh Invitational at Belmont Park, last year and this, each coming by a neck while racing on the inside and appearing beaten when challenged through the homestretch, only to dig in with zeal-like ferocity to gain the victory.
Asked how Private Zone is able to fend off his rivals, Pedroza wasn’t about to tip his hand. “I can’t tell you my secret,” he said with a smile. “I’ll leave it in the good Lord’s hands. The horse just likes to fight. He’s very competitive.”
Ditto for Pedroza.
The King of Pomona, where he won more riding titles than any other jockey, 14, including a string of 13 straight, until Fairplex Park ended racing this year after a run of 75 years, Pedroza now faces the world undaunted despite the demise of his bread and butter track, where he won close to 700 races
“It is what it is,” said Pedroza, winner of more than 3,600 races since he began his career more than three decades ago. “Now I’m going to try and take control of Los Alamitos. You’ll see.”
Private Zone, a 5-year-old Macho Uno gelding bred in Canada by Adena Springs, has but one other victory in the U.S. besides the two Vosburghs, that coming in the restricted Pirate’s Bounty at Del Mar in 2013.
He is winless in four starts on Santa Anita’s main track, finishing second three times. He was 10th by 6 ¼ lengths behind victorious Secret Circle in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita.
“Believe it or not,” Pedroza said, “Private Zone was training better for this race last year,” when the bay was trained by Doug O’Neill for Good Friends Stable, LLC, which is managed by Pedroza’s lifelong friend and fellow Panamanian, former jockey Rene Douglas. Alfredo Velazquez now conditions Private Zone.
“His Breeders’ Cup race last year was very disappointing for all of us,” Pedroza said. “He was training better than ever, especially for that race. He didn’t even show his tactical speed; he showed me nothing.
“It was one of those days. If horses could only talk, maybe we’d know. We picked the wrong day. Hopefully, this year will be different.”
BAFFERT TAKES CAUTIOUS APPROACH AS BREEDERS’ CUP NEARS
Bob Baffert won’t be surprised if Bayern is challenged early on for the lead in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
On paper, it would appear the speedy 3-year-old son of Offlee Wild is the one to catch in the $5 million, mile and a quarter Classic, based on impressive front-running scores in the Grade I Haskell Stakes and the Grade II Pennsylvania Derby.
But that doesn’t mean Bayern will get an easy lead. Not in Baffert’s mind, anyway.
“You’ve got Moreno,” said Bayern’s Hall of Fame trainer, referring to the winner of the Grade I Whitney Stakes which Moreno won from gate to wire, as he did in last year’s Grade II Dwyer Stakes. “He’s got a lot of speed.”
Suggested that Moreno may not have Bayern’s unabashed zip, Baffert dismissed that with the notion that if it’s not Moreno, another horse will pop up. “There’s always some crazy speed in a race,” he said.
Addressing the Breeders’ Cup World Championship races at Santa Anita on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, Baffert opted not to count his chickens before they hatch.
“I’m not really thinking about that until later,” he said. “We’ve still got a way to go. Things can happen. Right now, I’ve got a strong group of 2-year-olds, but things change overnight.”
BALTAS LOOKS FOR BIG (MACHER) IMPROVEMENT IN BREEDERS’ CUP
Richard Baltas is confident Big Macher can rebound from his disappointing sixth-place performance in the Pat O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 24 when he runs in the $1.5 million Xpressbet Breeders’ Cup Sprint at six furlongs on Nov. 1.
The California-bred son of Beau Genius, claimed for $20,000 last July, defeated Santa Anita Derby and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents one race before the Pat O’Brien, in the Grade I Bing Crosby.
Baltas attributes the O’Brien dud to a poor blood count on the horse’s part and ill timing between the Crosby and the O’Brien on the trainer’s part. Big Macher worked six furlongs at Santa Anita Monday in a bullet 1:11.60 under regular pilot Tyler Baze.
“We’ll be tough in the Breeders’ Cup,” Baltas said. “I don’t worry about anybody else’s horse. You can’t. Goldencents isn’t running and he’s the one that would concern me most.
“Private Zone? He’s never won at Santa Anita. His best races were in New York. I wouldn’t trade places with anybody.”
HRTV TO AIR BREEDERS’ CUP PRE-ENTRY SHOW OCT. 22
HRTV, the Network for Horse Sports, will provide fans their first look at the horses pre-entered for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships when it airs a live Breeders’ Cup Pre-Entry show from Santa Anita on Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 8 a.m. Pacific Time.
The one-hour program will be hosted by Laffit Pincay, III and Christina Blacker, and along with Scott Hazelton, they will announce the pre-entered fields for all 13 Breeders’ Cup Grade I races. The two-day extravaganza offering $26 million in purses and awards will be presented at Santa Anita on Friday, Oct. 31, and Saturday, Nov. 1.
The informative trio will give their initial reactions and analysis of the pre-entries. HRTV will also provide interviews around the country with some of the top trainers in Thoroughbred racing for comments and reaction on their pre-entered horses.
The program will also be streamed live at www.breederscup.com.
SANTA ANITA HONORS FALLEN RIDERS WITH MOMENT OF SILENCE
Santa Anita will take a moment of silence after Thursday’s third race to acknowledge the tragic death this past Tuesday at Indiana Grand Race Track in Shelbyville, Indiana, of 17-year-old jockey Juan Saez, who died that night from injuries sustained in a spill earlier that day.
To further underscore the dangers inherent in the sport of horse racing, two additional jockeys, based in Australia, Caitlin Forrest and Carly-Mae Pye, also died this week as a result of racing accidents.
Members of Santa Anita’s jockey colony will assemble in the winner’s circle following the third race winner’s circle photo to pause for a moment of silence honoring their fallen comrades.
Additionally, fans will be encouraged to donate to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) in memory of Saez, Forrest and Pye.
FINISH LINES: Undefeated Eclipse Award champion Shared Belief worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 Tuesday morning at Golden Gate Fields for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. The early favorite for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, Shared Belief worked in company under Russell Baze . . .Santa Anita Derby and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents is scheduled to work Friday morning, likely for the Dirt Mile on Oct. 31. Trainer Leandro Mora, however, left the door ajar for the $1.5 million Xpressbet Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 1. “Right now,” Mora said, “we’re still going for the Dirt Mile, but the last call is going to be made by the owners.” . . . Carlo Vaccarezza said Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf Sprint candidate Little Alexis had an uneventful trip from Louisville, arriving at Santa Anita Tuesday. “So far, everything is good,” the trainer said. “She had a nice little gallop this morning.” . . . Richard Mandella plans an important work for two-time Eclipse Award champion Beholder this weekend . . . Charles Town Classic winner Imperative worked five furlongs Wednesday in 59.80 for trainer George Papaprodromou, who is readying the son of Bernardini for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Apprentice Amelia Green was aboard for fractions of 24.20, 48 flat and a gallop out of 1:12.20 for six furlongs. “He was just cruising,” Papaprodromou said of the drill. Imperative was ridden by Kent Desormeaux in the Charles Town upset, but Papaprodromou said Thursday morning the mount was still open for the Classic as Desormeaux is “day to day” recovering from injuries suffered in a post parade mishap on Sept. 28 . . . A good start would benefit Heat Flash in Saturday’s $100,000 California Flag Handicap at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf. Off slowly in three of his last four races, the son of Unusual Heat makes his stakes debut against 5-2 morning line chance Boozer and four others. “I expect him to run a good race,” trainer Barry Abrams said. “He beat Boozer back in May.” The field for the California Flag, race three of nine: Ain’t No Other, Elvis Trujillo, 4-1; Super Ability, Martin Garcia, 7-2; Heat Flash, Fernando Perez, 15-1; Boozer, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; Tamarando, Mike Smith, 3-1; and unbeaten (five for five) Red Outlaw, Edwin Maldonado, 2-1 . . . Jockey Martin Garcia has a new agent, Saul Marquez, who takes over for Brad Pegram . . . Assistant starter Huey Barnes reports jockey agent and ex-Marine Ivan Puhich doing well as he recovers from a broken hip. Puhich turns 88 on Dec. 22 . . . Brando the Birdman, nominated to Sunday’s $75,000 Uniformity Stakes for 3-year-olds at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf, is not named for the late actor Marlon Brando, but for former basketball superstar Larry Bird. “One of the owner’s kids is a big basketball fan, and he named the horse after Bird,” said Vann Belvoir, who trains the gelded son of the late Tribal Rule.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Monday, Oct. 13)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||64||8||8||9||13%||$308,392|
|Robert Hess, Jr.||13||3||1||2||23%||$92,830|