- HONORS AT STAKE FOR SHARED BELIEF IN MALIBU?
- TARIS MAKES CALIFORNIA DEBUT IN GRADE I LA BREA
- GOODBYE GOLDENCENTS, HELLO DOUG O’NEILL
- CHAMPION BEHOLDER RETURNS TO SANTA ANITA
SHARED BELIEF HEADS GRADE I MALIBU ON OPENING DAY
The Malibu Stakes, for more than half a century recognized as one of racing’s most
prestigious sprints, will grow even greater in stature at Santa Anita on opening day when Shared Belief runs in the Grade I fixture that could have a bearing on determining 2014 Horse of the Year and the Eclipse Award-winning male 3-year-old.
The male 2-year-old champion of 2013, Shared Belief is coming off his first defeat, a fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 1 when a rough start compromised his chances of victory. The gelded son of Candy Ride, who no doubt will be among the finalists in both aforementioned categories, worked six furlongs at Golden Gate Monday in a bullet 1:15, fastest of seven drills at the distance over the Tapeta surface.
“He’ll work again this Monday (at Golden Gate) and ship to Santa Anita Tuesday,” Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said by phone Thursday morning.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who has ridden Shared Belief in his last four starts, including the mile and a quarter Classic, had little concern about the gelding coming back nearly two months later at seven furlongs.
“He’s won sprinting several times,” Smith said. “The good ones, they can do it all.”
Won in the past by equine elites such as Round Table (1957), Native Diver (1962), Buckpasser (1966), Damascus (1968), Ancient Title (1974), Spectacular Bid (1980), Precisionist (1984), Ferdinand (1986) and Rock Hard Ten (2004), the Malibu is one of two Grade I races on Dec. 26 as storied Santa Anita begins its 78th season.
The Grade I La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs also will be featured on the nine-race program that starts at 12 noon and is expected to draw a dynamite lineup.
The Grade II, $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile, formerly run as the Sir Beaufort Stakes, also will be decided at one mile on turf for 3-year-olds.
While many with an official voice likely have already made up their minds, Eclipse Award voting doesn’t close until Jan. 4, allowing ballots to be counted for races through 2014. Eclipse Award finalists will be announced Jan. 7, with the winners revealed on the evening of Saturday, Jan. 17, at Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino.
Asked about Shared Belief’s chances for a 2014 Eclipse Award, Hollendorfer said that since he didn’t have a say in the matter, he would “leave that up to the voters.”
Probable for the Malibu: Chitu, Joel Rosario; Conquest Two Step, Joe Talamo; Eddie’s First, no rider; Indianapolis, no rider; Midnight Hawk, Victor Espinoza; and Shared Belief, Mike Smith.
IMPRESSIVE TARIS MAKES SANTA ANITA DEBUT IN LA BREA
Taris, smashing winner of four of five career starts including the Grade II Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland Oct. 18, will make her first start since being purchased for $2,350,000 at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale when she runs in the Grade I La Brea Stakes on Dec. 26.
“Her works have been really good and we’ve not missed a day with her,” trainer Simon Callaghan said of the 3-year-old daughter of Flatter out of the Theatrical mare, Comedy. “Training has gone as well as we could have hoped leading up to the race.
“The distance of the La Brea seemed logical, coming off the seven-furlong Raven Run,” Callaghan noted. “Down the road we might look to stretch her out but she’s done very well at this distance and we’re looking forward to the race.”
Winner of four races by a combined margin of more than 34 lengths, Taris suffered her only defeat after setting the pace in the Grade III Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park going a mile and a sixteenth last March.
“She came back with a slight issue after that race,” Callaghan said of the Honeybee. “I can’t quite remember what it was, but there was some issue. Aside from that, she’s got a very good record.”
Rafael Bejarano rides Taris for new owners Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and John Magnier in the La Brea. The filly is scheduled to work four furlongs on Saturday.
FULL BOOK FOR GOLDENCENTS; DOUG O’NEILL BACK ON FRIDAY
Goldencents went out in style, capturing the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile for the second straight year before being retired as a stallion at Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, Ky.
“He left after the Breeders’ Cup (Oct. 31),” said Dennis O’Neill, brother of trainer Doug O’Neill. “He couldn’t be any better. We actually have quite a few breedings, 10 mares in fact, so we’re going to support him as a stallion. We’re really excited.
“The breeding season starts Feb. 15 and it looks like they’ve got 160, 170 mares already, so he’s got a full book. Initially he was to stand for $12,500, but after he won the Breeders’ Cup again, they bumped it up to $15,000.”
Meanwhile, Doug O’Neill returns from serving a 75-day suspension on Friday and horses will begin running in his name as trainer again on opening day, Dec. 26.
BEHOLDER RETURNS TO MANDELLA BARN AT SANTA ANITA
Two-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder arrived at Santa Anita today after being turned out at Peacefield Farm in Temecula recovering from a fever which forced her to miss the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita on Oct. 31.
“We’ll look her over for a couple days and X-ray her lungs to make sure everything is good,” Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella said Thursday morning. “If it is, then I’ll send her to Julie Adair’s facility in Chino for a couple of weeks where she can start trotting and get into a little shape, and then I’ll bring her back to Santa Anita.
“We expect everything to be fine, but if not, we’ll regroup.”
FINISH LINES: Bob Baffert says American Pharoah is undergoing massage treatment at his Santa Anita barn and is expected to resume training next month. Favored to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last Nov. 1, the son of Pioneerof the Nile was scratched four days before the Juvenile due to a deep bruise in his left front leg . . . Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, pointing to the $500,000 San Antonio Stakes on Feb. 7, is scheduled to work at his Los Alamitos headquarters Friday morning at 8 a.m. under regular rider Victor Espinoza . . . Eclipse Award-winning trainer Bill Mott plans to run Twilight Derby winner Long On Value in the Mathis Brothers Mile (turf) on opening day . . . Entries for next Friday’s opening day card will be taken on Sunday. There will be a double draw Monday for the racing programs next Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 27 and 28 . . . Versatile millionaire Clubhouse Ride, who worked five furlongs Monday in 1:01, is a candidate for the Grade III Daytona Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf, pending another scheduled breeze on Monday. “If he comes out of that good, he might run in the Daytona,” trainer Craig Lewis said. “He hurt his back in the Pacific Classic and had some soft tissue damage near his pelvis, but he’s such a tough horse we didn’t know anything was wrong until we did a nuclear scan.” . . . Rain or shine, Santa Anita’s new dirt track is being well-received by horsemen. “It’s a very safe track, even with all the rain. It responds real well and horses are getting over it great,” trainer Mike Machowsky said … There were 331 recorded workouts on Santa Anita’s main track Monday as trainers scurried to get in their licks prior to heavy early morning rains Tuesday which brought breezes to a virtual standstill on Wednesday when there were only 10 recorded drills, a 97 percent drop . . .Santa Anita offers a $500,000 guaranteed pool on the Late Pick 4 on opening day . . . David Flores, a fixture on the Southern California circuit for more than three decades, will ride at Santa Anita early on after plying his trade in Singapore the past year. “I came home for Christmas and hopefully I’ll get to ride something here the first weekend,” Flores said. “I’ll go back to Singapore after the New Year.” . . . Capping an extraordinary career as one of North America’s premier race track announcers and one of the most popular personalities in Thoroughbred racing, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters announced that Tom Durkin, longtime voice of the New York Racing Association tracks, the Breeders’ Cup and the Triple Crown, will be honored with the Eclipse Award for Merit for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in the Thoroughbred industry. Durkin, 64, who retired on Aug. 30 after a 43-year career, will be presented the award at the 44th annual Eclipse Awards ceremony on Jan. 17 . . . Veteran horseman Dennis Yokum, whose resume includes working as a groom under Charlie Whittingham and Richard Dutrow and as an assistant to John Gosden, is the new agent for Edwin Maldonado, while Vince DeGregory now represents Mario Gutierrez in addition to Gonzalo Nicholas . . . Jockey Joe Talamo, back from a brief sojourn to Las Vegas, on Sunday welcomes his parents who will arrive for a holiday visit . . . Better late than never: 2014 is the Year of the Horse on the Chinese calendar.