- SMITH COUNTS HIS BREEDERS’ CUP BLESSINGS
- STEVENS NON-COMMITAL ON BREEDERS’ CUP
- DESORMEAUX RESUMES RIDING ON SUNDAY
- FRENCH CONNECTION TEAMS UP IN AUTUMN MISS
- VETERAN JOCK OUZTS IN PURSUIT OF EDDIE D. ON SATURDAY
SMITH HOPES TO ADD TO BREEDERS’ CUP RECORD
Mike Smith has 20 Breeders’ Cup victories, more than any jockey. Retired Hall of Fame riding great Jerry Bailey has 15, and John Velazquez 12, second to Smith among active riders.
Smith, inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in 2003, attributes his success to more than skill, luck and longevity. How about favorable circumstances?
“It’s getting the opportunity to ride great horses, that’s the key,” the 49-year-old New Mexico native said, just hours before losing Distaff favorite Beholder, who was declared Sunday from the $2 million race on Oct. 31 after developing a fever.
Santa Anita hosts the 31st Breeders’ Cup World Championships for an unprecedented third straight year on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, but as soon as the big event is over, Smith and his agent of 10 years Brad Pegram will have their eyes peeled for next year’s Breeders’ Cup prospects.
“As soon as this one’s over, you start looking for horses you think belong next year,”
Smith said. “Brad’s been doing a great job in that respect. It’s not a coincidence when you wind up on live horses every year. The Breeders’ Cup takes planning. You work for it and you go after it, and he’s been doing a pretty good job.”
Smith, willow-trim and oak-strong, rarely deviates from his personal training regimen, which accounts for his UFC-like condition as he nears the mid-century mark, which he will reach on Aug. 10 of next year.
“Good Lord willing, I’m healthy and staying strong and fit,” he said. “Hopefully that will continue for future Breeders’ Cups.”
There’s more to just staying physically strong, of course. It’s important to have your head in the game and do your homework, watching film and perusing past performances.
“At this point, you pretty much know who’s running and what their style is,” Smith said. “There are no secrets other than when it comes to a younger horse. We kind of know who the older horses are and what they can do.
“We’ve been watching them all year, but you don’t really begin strategizing and handicapping until the races are drawn. That’s a big part of it, seeing where the horses draw and what you think they might do or might not do.”
Smith’s former stakes winners read like a Who’s Who of racing, and he does his best to stay in contact.
“I try to see Zenyatta as often as I can when I ride at Keeneland,” said the regular rider of the great mare. “I didn’t get to see her last year, but hopefully this year when we head down to Kentucky, at some point I’ll get a chance to stop by and see her. Holy Bull, Lure, and now Game On Dude and Amazombie. That’s pretty neat.
“I saw a picture of Game On Dude playing in the paddock the other day. He had a ball in his mouth and was throwing it in the air.”
The old gelding was just living up to his name.
In other Breeders’ Cup news:
Gary Stevens, asked whether he’d ride in Breeders’ Cup races, had an ambivalent response: “I can’t confirm or deny it,” said the 51-year-old Hall of Fame rider, who has not ridden in a race since undergoing replacement surgery on his right knee July 25.
Trainer George Papaprodromou termed Imperative’s six furlong bullet work Thursday in 1:12.20 “great” and said he has engaged Lanfranco Dettori to ride the Charles Town Classic winner in the Classic, replacing Kent Desormeaux. Imperative worked in company with Mr. Sexy, who was timed in 1:12.40.
Goldencents (Dirt Mile) and Moreno (Classic) are scheduled to work Friday, while Private Zone (Sprint) likely will work Monday under regular rider Martin Pedroza.
“This will be the last tune up and he’ll be ready,” trainer Leandro Mora said of Goldencents, who won the Dirt Mile last year after taking the Grade I Santa Anita Derby in April.
Richard Baltas said Big Macher (Sprint) came out of Sunday’s five furlong bullet breeze in 58.60 in great shape.
Tuesday at Golden Gate Fields, undefeated male 2-year-old champion of 2013 and Classic favorite Shared Belief worked six furlongs in 1:14 2/5, handily. Russell Baze was aboard for Jerry Hollendorfer, going in splits of 25 2/5, 37 1/5, 49 3/5 and 1:02 3/5.
“It was a great work,” Hollendorfer said. “We had him come up the rail and we’re very pleased with how everything went.”
The Hall of Fame trainer said Shared Belief would have his final work (four furlongs) for the Classic next Tuesday at Golden Gate and then ship to Santa Anita.
Sean McCarthy reported Gold Cup at Santa Anita winner Majestic Harbor (Classic) doing well after his six furlong workout Monday in 1:11.60. “He worked super and came out of it in great shape,” the trainer said.
Cavorting has been declared out of the Juvenile Fillies by Kiaran McLaughlin. “She’s fine,” the trainer said, “but she’s just not 100 percent and needs some time off. We’re hoping for a big year in 2015.”
‘MIRACLE MAN’ DESORMEAUX BACK IN THE SADDLE SUNDAY
Kent Desormeaux resumes riding Sunday, a month to the day after suffering five fractured ribs and a bruised lung in a post parade mishap on Sept. 28.
The Hall of Fame jockey and his agent are excited about the return.
“It feels great to have him back,” agent Mike Ciani said of the 44-year-old Desormeaux, a three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby. “He’s been working hard the last three days, but mentally, he’s been back since Day One. Physically, he needed to wait a while, but now he’s ready to go.”
Added Desormeaux: “I’m very anxious yet glad to be able to be up and about and playing the game I love to play.”
FRENCH CONNECTION DANGEROUS IN AUTUMN MISS
Brice Blanc has never ridden Zindaya but he will have precedent going for him when he is given a leg up for Saturday’s $100,000, Grade III Autumn Miss Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on turf.
Frenchman Christophe Clement trains the daughter of More Than Ready for Regis Racing and fellow countryman Blanc has ridden for Clement in the past.
“I’ll talk to Christophe before the race and he’ll tell me what to do,” Blanc said of Zindaya, who will be making her first stakes start and her first start beyond six furlongs.
“She has a good a bit of natural speed, but she is stretching out,” Blanc said. “I went to see her this morning (at trainer Leonard Powell’s barn). She’s a good-looking filly.
“I’ve ridden for Christophe many times in the past. We’ve done well together.”
The Autumn Miss: Thegirlinthatsong, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; On the Backstreets, Joe Talamo, 6-1; Sheza Smoke Show, Martin Garcia, 8-1; Famous Alice, Drayden Van Dyke, 12-1; Lexie Lou, Corey Nakatani, 5-2; Diversy Harbor, Mike Smith, 9-2; Alexis Tangier, Victor Espinoza, 7-2; Zindaya, Brice Blanc, 6-1; Wonderfully, Perry Ouzts, 20-1; Tiz Kissable, Tyler Baze, 15-1; andalso-eligibles Burning Arch, Alex Solis, 10-1; Kool Kat, Nakatani, 10-1; Gender Agenda, Talamo, 9-2; and Maibaby, Keiren Fallon, 8-1.
‘KING OF RIVER DOWNS’ OUZTS TO MAKE SANTA ANITA DEBUT SATURDAY
Veteran jockey Perry Ouzts, who won his record 30th riding title this past Sunday at the former River Downs near Cincinnati, will realize a longtime goal when he gets a leg up to ride 3-year-old filly Wonderfully for Tom Proctor in Saturday’s Grade III Autumn Miss Stakes–as it will mark his first-ever mount at Santa Anita.
With a record 164 winners at what is now known as Belterra Park Gaming and Entertainment Center, Ouzts, 60, finished an astonishing 91 wins in front of his nearest competitor, 39-year-old Edgar Paucar.
While Irish-bred Wonderfully is listed at 20-1 on the morning line, she is a Group III winner in Ireland and has broken slowly in her last two starts, one at Del Mar and the most recent here, in the Unzip Me Stakes, run at 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course Sept. 27.
Ouzts, who broke his maiden in March, 1973, at Beulah Park in Ohio, is also at the threshold of a significant milestone, as he now has 6,383 wins–just one shy of legendary Hall of Famer Eddie Delahoussaye’s 6,384, which ranks 14th on racing’s all-time list of leading jockeys.
A joint native of Riverdale, Arkansas, along with his cousin, retired Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires (11th leading jockey all-time with 6,470 wins), Ouzts recently stated that his career objective is to now get win number 6,471. “That would give me bragging rights as the winningest jockey in Riverdale,” he quipped.
Here’s hoping Perry, Eddie and Earlie get together soon!!
FINISH LINES: Santa Anita mourns the passing of horse racing and oil magnate Nelson Bunker Hunt, who died Tuesday at the age of 88 in Dallas. Winner of an Eclipse Award as Outstanding Breeder in 1976, 1985 and 1987, Hunt had horses trained by the late Hall of Famer Charlie Whittingham and raced Thoroughbreds in Europe and North America, among them Vaguely Noble, Dahlia, Empery, Youth, Exceller, Trillion, Glorious Song, Dahar and Estrapade . . . Martin Pedroza, sixth in Santa Anita’s standings with 10 wins, rides at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday . . . Tonight, viewers can watch the Los Angeles Kings during their recent visit to Santa Anita with the Stanley Cup on @foxsportswest TV show “Kings Weekly” after the Kings’ post-game show “Kings Live.” . . . War Alert, a War Front coltowned by Qatar Racing and trained by David Brown, is probable for the $100,000 Juvenile Turf Sprint Stakes at Santa Anita Nov. 1, while Flying Jib, a chestnut filly owned by Juddmonte and trained by Dermot Weld, is probable for the $200,000 Goldikova Stakes closing day, Sunday, Nov. 2 . . . Samantha Sachs, 7-year-old granddaughter of agent Tom Knust, stopped the show with her rendition of the National Anthem before Tuesday’s San Antonio-Lakers game at the Honda Center . . . Tom Quigley‘s guest handicappers at 11:50 a.m. in the East Paddock Gardens will be handicapper and contest player Emily Gullickson, Saturday, and Ken Kirchner, Manager of Breeders’ Cup Wagering, Sunday.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, Oct. 19)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||85||11||8||11||13%||$395,222|
|Robert Hess, Jr.||17||4||1||3||24%||$107,490|