- ‘WISE’ DECISION PROMPTS SOME CLASSIC OPINIONS
- SECRET CIRCLE TO DEFEND BREEDERS’ CUP SPRINT TITLE
- RICH TAPESTRY PROVES HE’S THE REAL DEAL TO BAFFERT
- CALIFORNIA CHROME FEELS LIKE OLD SELF, ESPINOZA SAYS
- DESORMEAUX RECOVERING WELL FROM KICK TO THE CHEST
FIVE COULD VIE FOR HORSE OF THE YEAR IN BC CLASSIC
With trainer Charlie LoPresti opening the door for a possible return to dirt in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Nov. 1 for turf specialist and two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan following the 7-year-old’s smashing triumph in Saturday’s grassy Shadwell Mile, interest in this year’s $5 million race at 1 ¼ miles reached its apex.
If Wise Dan runs, the potential field could not only include him, but undefeated male 2-year-old champion of 2013 Shared Belief; Kentucky Derby king California Chrome; front-running winner of the Haskell Invitational and the Pennsylvania Derby Bayern; and Belmont and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Tonalist.
“I’ll leave it up to (breeder and owner) Mr. (Mort) Fink,” LoPresti said when asked if Wise Dan might run in the Classic instead of seeking a third win the Breeders’ Cup Mile. “The way he trained on dirt (at Keeneland), the way he ran today, this is the kind of race I wanted for him.
“They ran 35 and change over a good turf. I’ll just leave it up to the boss, but I wouldn’t be afraid to run him anywhere, as long as he comes back good. You know he’s seven years old; how many races does he have left? Maybe now’s the time to do it. He’s trained well over the dirt this year at Saratoga and at Keeneland (that) I think if we’re ever going to try it, this would be the year. You just don’t know how many (races) he has in him, a horse of this age.
“And whether he’ll get a mile and a quarter, I don’t know. I guess the only way to find out is to try.” Only five of Wise Dan’s 31 career starts have come on dirt, where he has won once.
Striking while the iron is hot, private clocker Gary Young was asked his opinion on which might be Horse of the Year should one of the aforementioned quintet win the Classic.
“If Wise Dan wins the Classic, he’ll get Horse of the Year,” Young said between clocking workers from his Club House perch. “Plus, he carries such a huge sentimental vote. People just love that horse, and rightfully so.
“Shared Belief will be Horse of the Year if he wins the Classic. I know he overcame some obstacles in the Awesome Again. He’s a nice horse, but when he has to run a horse down in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, it will be a better horse than Fed Biz (second by a neck to Shared Belief in the Awesome Again), and that’s no disrespect to Fed Biz.”
“If California Chrome wins, he’s Horse of the Year, too.
“For Bayern, it depends on the pace of the race. If he won, he wouldn’t be as big a cinch to be Horse of the Year as the previous three, but he’d definitely have a chance.
“If you win the Belmont and The Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, like Tonalist would should he take the Classic, because of the Eastern bias, you can probably get Horse of the Year. I thought his race without blinkers in the Gold Cup was unbelievable.
“The biggest thing Tonalist had going for him, because of the way Joel (Rosario) rode him and how the race shook down, unlike Shared Belief, Tonalist only had to run about an eighth of a mile in the Gold Cup, and that’s just what you want before the Breeders’ Cup.
“If you win the Belmont, The Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, would you be Horse of the Year? I’d say you would be. Of the five mentioned, the least likely to be a slam dunk for Horse of the Year should he win the Classic would be Bayern.”
Your pick to win the Classic? “If I had a gun to my head and it’s a fair race track and I had to pick the winner, I’d probably go with Tonalist.”
SECRET CIRCLE, RICH TAPESTRY IMPRESS BAFFERT
Secret Circle finished worse than second for the first time in his 11-race career Saturday, running third behind Hong Kong invader Rich Tapestry and Goldencents in the Grade I Santa Anita Sprint Championship at six furlongs.
Breaking from the rail and pressing the pace until deep stretch, Secret Circle was beaten less than two lengths in his first race since Feb. 2, a span of eight months.
“He got a lot out of it and this race should tighten him (for the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 1),” Bob Baffert said Sunday morning. “I went to see him right after the race and you could tell he spent a little too much time on the couch.”
The Hall of Fame trainer was duly impressed with Rich Tapestry, who hung a nose defeat on Goldencents under French jockey Olivier Doleuze in the Irish-bred gelding’s first start since April 27.
“That’s a really good horse and a really good trainer,” Baffert said of the 6-year-old son of Holy Roman Emperor and conditioner Michael Chang, who flew back to Hong Kong last night, perhaps not even needing a plane, he and his entourage were so overjoyed with victory, the 200th training triumph of his career.
“For a horse that just shipped over here from Hong Kong, he looked so healthy,” Baffert said. “He looked pretty impressive in the paddock.”
Chang, meanwhile, was controllably thrilled and gracious after the exciting victory. “He’s got a big heart,” he said of his charge, which will remain at Santa Anita with trainer Leonard Powell for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
“He won a race in Ireland, in Hong Kong, Dubai and now America . . . The horse travels well. It never affects him. He was here three or four days and is like an American horse already. He settled in extremely well.”
Asked of the horse had ever raced under such extremely hot temperatures (104) as he did Saturday, Chang said, “In my country, it’s hotter than here. It’s very hot and humid.”
‘CHROME’ STARTING TO SHINE AGAIN FOR BREEDERS’ CUP
Victor Espinoza’s confidence was buoyed after he piloted Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome to a four furlong workout at Los Alamitos Saturday in 47 2/5, galloping out five furlongs in 1:01 in preparation for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
It was the California-bred’s first breeze since his sixth-place finish in the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 20.
“Excellent. It feels like he’s coming back to his old self,” Espinoza said. “I was really impressed with his work yesterday. He hadn’t worked like that in a long time, even before the Derby. Hopefully, he’ll do the same in his next work and we’ll be in good shape.”
KENT DESORMEAUX: ‘THE VEST SAVED MY LIFE’
Looking fit enough to ride and keen of mind and spirit, Kent Desormeaux was at Clockers’ Corner this morning, just a week after suffering five fractured ribs and a bruised lung when kicked in the chest by his mount in the post parade of last Sunday’s eighth race.
“I’m up and about and I’m comfortable with a little help, not that I need it,” said the 44-year-old Hall of Fame rider and three-time Kentucky Derby winner, whose career has surged since he returned to ride full time in Southern California five months ago.
“The pain has dissipated enough for me to get around without being worried about coughing or sneezing anymore, so I’m happy about that. I feel like I’m ready to ride, but it’s day-to-day. I know one thing: the (safety) vest saved my life.”
The vests are made from materials similar to those used in bullet proof vests.
“The impact of a fall is probably going to cause a break anyway,” said veteran jockey Aaron Gryder. “But if you’re wearing the vest when another horse clips you and hits your spine, maybe it will keep you walking.
“If the vest only helps 10 percent of the time, it helps. The padding certainly made a difference for Kent. For him to fracture five ribs on top of that protection, I can’t imagine what the damage would have been from the hooves without it. Kent was very, very fortunate.”
FINISH LINES: Well before sun up at Santa Anita Sunday morning, Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable worked four furlongs for Steve Asmussen in 51.80 for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Oct. 31, while West Virginia Derby winner Tapiture, a candidate for the Dirt Mile, went the same distance in 49.20 . . . Citation Handicap winner Silentio worked six furlongs in company with Macaabra in 1:12.40 for Gary Mandella, who is considering both the Sprint and the Mile for Silentio . . . Mile contenders Tom’s Tribute and Obviously worked on the turf, the former going five furlongs in 1:03 for Jim Cassidy and the latter six furlongs in 1:13 for Phil D’Amato . . . Ron McAnally had stakes winners Suggestive Boy and Miss Serendipity in grass drills, going three furlongs in 36.20 and four furlongs in 49.20, respectively . . . Agent Jim Pegram reports jockey Alex Canchari is recovering from surgery on a broken collar bone suffered in a riding mishap Friday. “They put a plate in and he’s mending,” Pegram said of the 20-year-old rider. “He’ll probably be in the hospital (Huntington Memorial) two or three days and start rehab when he gets out. He’s in good spirits.” . . . The inside was the place to be in yesterday’s races, be they turf or dirt. Three horses won from the No. 1 post position; two from No. 2; three from No. 3; and one from No. 4. The lone exception was Compulsive, who won wearing the No. 12 saddle cloth in the 10th race . . .
Jockey Agapito Delgadillo has been suspended three racing days (Oct. 11, 12 and 13) for failing to maintain a straight course, causing interference on Really a Princess, in Saturday’s first race . . . Next Sunday, Oct. 12, Santa Anita will host the Road Kings of Burbank Car Show in the Infield. Approximately 400 vehicles will be on display from 11 a.m. through the last live race, including Muscle Cars, Sports Cars, Restored Classics, Modified Hot Rods and Street Rods.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Saturday, Oct. 4)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||40||6||3||4||15%||$196,082|
|Robert Hess, Jr.||7||2||1||1||29%||$78,160|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||7||2||0||2||29%||$107,770|