- ARROGATE TO WORK FOR PEGASUS SUNDAY OR MONDAY
- SONGBIRD DUE JAN. 24; LAS VIRGENES FOR UNIQUE BELLA
- MANDELLA HOPES TO PULL SOME STRINGS IN LA CANADA
- SADLER ON A ROLL AT SANTA ANITA, WEATHER OR NOT
ARROGATE COULD WORK ‘SUNDAY OR MONDAY’ FOR PEGASUS
Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Arrogate, a leading contender for Horse of the Year along with arch-rival California Chrome, likely will work on Santa Anita’s main track “Sunday or Monday” as he prepares for a widely anticipated rematch with the popular California-bred in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28.
“The horse is doing good,” said Bob Baffert, who trains Arrogate for Juddmonte Farms. “Everything looks positive.”
Arrogate had been entered in the San Pasqual Stakes on Jan. 1 as a prep for the Pegasus, but a wet track caused Baffert to scratch the four-year-old gray son of Unbridled’s Song. Arrogate’s most recent workout came before last Sunday’s first race, when he went six furlongs in 1:11.80 under Martin Garcia.
California Chrome, the 2014 Horse of the Year who was overtaken in deep stretch to fall a half-length short in the Classic, has been in Florida since Jan. 6 to prepare for the inaugural running of the Pegasus at 1 1/8 miles.
Trainer Art Sherman plans to work California Chrome five furlongs at Gulfstream tomorrow.
The Horse of the Year will be announced Jan. 21 at Gulfstream Park, along with other Eclipse Award winners.
HOLLENDORFER FEASTING ON ‘FILLY MIGNON’
Jerry Hollendorfer is sitting pretty with his fillies.
Songbird, champion two-year-old female of 2015 and a lock to be named champion three-year-old filly of 2016, is due back at Santa Anita Jan. 24 from a 10-week respite at WinStar Farm in Kentucky, while the just-turned-three Unique Bella, a dominating 7 ½-length winner of the Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes last Sunday, is ticketed for the Grade II Las Virgenes Stakes at one mile on Feb. 5.
“Songbird is getting on a plane on the 24th (of January) and coming to Santa Anita,” said
her Hall of Fame trainer. “She’ll dictate to us when she’s ready to run.
“We’ll go cautiously and carefully with her, and when she’s ready to run, we’ll get her running. Everything is good. WinStar has been in contact with me quite a bit and I with them, so she’s getting ready to come back.”
As to Unique Bella, if all goes well the imposing three-year-old daughter of Tapit will take the logical steps, starting with the Las Virgenes, followed by the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks at 1 1/16 miles April 8 and the Grade I Kentucky Oaks May 5.
“I think we have a nice program right here at Santa Anita,” said Hollendorfer, who captured the Las Virgenes and Santa Anita Oaks with Songbird last year en route to an unbeaten string of triumphs that reached 11 before her crushing nose defeat by Beholder in an unforgettable edition of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita on Nov. 4.
MANDELLA SEEKS LA CANADA UPSET WITH WILD AT HEART
Barring something short of a Beholder-like performance, Richard Mandella realizes he’ll need some luck if Wild At Heart is to turn the tables on Vale Dori in Saturday’s Grade II La Canada Stakes for fillies and mares, four and up, at 1 1/16 miles.
Vale Dori, trained by Bob Baffert, defeated Wild At Heart by three lengths last out in the Grade II Bayakoa at Del Mar, spotting her rival five pounds in the process.
“Vale Dori won easy,” Mandella said. “We have to hope her shoelace comes untied or something.”
The field for the La Canada, race five of nine: Vale Dori, Mike Smith, 1-5; Show Stealer, Tyler Baze, 12-1; Wild At Heart, Flavien Prat, 9-2; Enduring Erin, Corey Nakatani, 8-1; and Autumn Flower, Drayden Van Dyke, 12-1.
‘SHOW’ ME THE MONEY SADLER DQ AWAY FROM PERFECTION
John Sadler would be batting 1.000 in the money at Santa Anita through nine racing days, had it not been for a disqualification.
The 60-year-old trainer, soon embarking on his fourth decade as a successful mainstay in California, has sent out 13 runners, winning with five, with four seconds and three thirds, a 92 percent in the money average.
When St. Reno was disqualified from third to fifth in the second race on Dec. 29, it ruined what would have been a perfect in the money mark for Sadler.
“Even with the rainy weather, we’ve been very selective with what we run on off tracks,” Sadler said in explaining his consistency. “That’s probably why the percentage is so good.
“We’ve been lucky we’ve had a few horses that have handled it well (foremost was the Argentine-bred Infobedad, who won by 26 ½ lengths on a wet/fast track Jan. 1, believed to be the largest winning margin ever at Santa Anita).
“Like everybody else, the big picture is it’s good for the state (which has long been drought-stricken). The rain brings a lot of water, but this being California, it won’t last that long.”
Meanwhile, Stellar Wind, champion three-year-old filly of 2015, continues to prepare for her 2107 debut despite minor bumps in the road due to the inclement weather.
“She’s on the track every day,” Sadler said. “She’s had a little setback in that she should be galloping more instead of jogging, which is what she’s been doing, but when we get good weather, we’ll be fine.”
FINISH LINES: When Mike Machowsky sends out Southern Keys in Saturday’s seventh race, it will be the first horse he’s run for the late Donald J. Blahut since his long-time owner died last June 20 at the age of 87. “He was a great man; everybody loved him,” said Machowsky, who trained 22 years for Blahut, part owner of 2004 Santa Anita Handicap winner Southern Image and stakes-winning turf star Caracortado. “Southern Keys’ mother (Dixie Image) is a full sister to Southern Image,” pointed out Machowsky. A resident of Newhall, Blahut was born in Emporia, Kansas, and had horses with the late Leonard Dorfman prior to joining up with Machowsky . . . The Voice of Santa Anita, Michael Wrona, and horse player Sebastian Piscuskas will be Tom Quigley‘s guests, Saturday and Sunday, respectively, in the East Paddock Gardens at 11:20 a.m. . . . Santa Anita presents holiday racing on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It will also be Dollar Day, with beer, sodas and hot dogs on sale for a buck apiece. First post time is 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, Jan. 9)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||38||7||2||0||18%||24%||$303,780|
|Drayden Van Dyke||37||4||6||0||11%||27%||$234,060|