- SANTA MONICA AN OPEN RACE SANS SUNDAY RULES
- ESPINOZA PUTS KIBOSH ON RETIREMENT REPORTS
- SPECIALIST BENCH WARRANT IN CLOCKERS’ CORNER
- DORTMUND IN BULLET DRILL FOR RICH SAN ANTONIO
SANTA MONICA FIELD GROWS WITHOUT BIG FAVORITE
Saturday’s Grade II Santa Monica Stakes drew nine entrants, thanks in no small part to the unexpected absence of Sunday Rules, who would have been the odds-on favorite in the seven furlong test for older fillies and mares.
One horse entered that had been on the fence is Kyriaki, a 6-year-old Scat Daddy mare coming off a head victory in the mud at Delta Downs.
“That’s why there’s such a big field,” said Peter Eurton, trainer of Kyriaki. “We fooled around with Kyriaki on the turf for 12 starts, but she’s been on dirt and won three and she’s gotten better with age.
“I’m not 100 percent sure sprinting is her best gig. I think she wants a mile, but seven-eighths is not so bad.”
Also set for the Santa Monica is Ben’s Duchess, fourth in the Grade I La Brea at seven furlongs on Dec. 26.
“She had her prep Monday morning at 6:30 with Joe Talamo up,” trainer John Sadler said. “She went perfect. Hopefully, we’re going to rebound from her fourth-place finish in the La Brea. She missed getting a prep race for that race, but now she’s had a race and trained steadily with two good works going into the Santa Monica.”
Ben’s Duchess worked five furlongs Monday in 1:00.20.
Sunday Rules was not entered due to a skin infection in a hock, but it was minor and the front-running Tribal Rule mare will be pointed to the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint at about 6 ½ furlongs a week from tomorrow, on Jan. 30.
“It was just a two-day deal,” said Phil D’Amato, atop the trainer standings through 16 days with eight victories. “She’s back training full force. It was just one of those things that happen, and now we’re looking to run in the Cal Cup.”
The Santa Monica: Prize Exhibit, Santiago Gonzalez, 4-1; Ben’s Duchess, Joe Talamo, 5-2; Kiss At Midnight, Gary Stevens, 12-1; Lost Bus, Fernando Perez, 20-1; Tara’s Tango, Mike Smith, 6-1; Room for Me, Martin Garcia, 3-1; Living The Life, Flavien Prat, 6-1; Kyriaki, Mario Gutierrez, 12-1; and Finest City, Corey Nakatani, 10-1.
VICTOR ESPINOZA NOT READY TO RETIRE
Reports of Victor Espinoza’s retirement have been greatly exaggerated.
In fact, the Triple Crown-winning jockey, just back from an awards ceremony in London, said at Clockers’ Corner Friday morning that contrary to a recent news report, he is not retiring, and a few hours later, his agent, Brian Beach, confirmed that.
“There’s nothing to it,” Beach said. “People have to understand that after a grueling last six months and actually, the last two years, it takes a mental toll and it wears you down.
“Victor is working a horse tomorrow morning at 6:30. He’s as hungry as ever. He’s not ready to retire.”
Espinoza was in London where he participated in Longines World’s Best Racehorse ceremony at which American Pharoah was honored. “I got there Monday and left Wednesday,” said Espinoza, who is named to ride 6-1 chance Aguacate for Vladmir Cerin in today’s fifth race. “It was great. They gave me the best watch ever.
“Longines designed it with the words ‘Triple Crown No. 5’ engraved on the back. That was American Pharoah’s saddle cloth number in the Belmont Stakes.”
SADLER HAPPY WITH DRAW IN CLOCKERS’ CORNER
Trainer John Sadler is looking forward to Sunday’s $75,000 Clockers’ Corner Stakes at about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf, in which he has entered Bench Warrant for the Doubledown Stables of Chicago’s Richard Templer.
“The horse is kind of a specialist,” Sadler said. “He runs well down the hill every time. He was kind of unlucky in the Daytona last out on Dec. 26. When you look at the chart and where he came from and how far he got beat, it was a pretty good race.
“We got a good draw, so we’re looking forward to it.”
The Clockers’ Corner: Rocket Heat, Edwin Maldonado, 7-2; Holy Lute, Victor Espinoza, 6-1; Cape Wolfe, Flavien Prat, 10-1; County Lineman, Alonso Quinonez, 8-1; Fleet Eagle, Tiago Pereira, 30-1; Silentio, Mike Smith, 8-1; Coastline, Tyler Baze, 4-1; Home Run Kitten, Joe Talamo, 4-1; Ocho Ocho Ocho, Santiago Gonazlez, 8-1; and Bench Warrant, Drayden Van Dyke, 12-1.
FINISH LINES: Santa Anita Derby winner Dortmund, prepping for the $500,000 San Antonio Stakes on Feb. 6, worked six furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Friday in 1:12 under regular rider Martin Garcia. Dortmund’s fractional times were 23.80, 35.60, 47.80 and 1:00.40, according to clocker Dane Nelson . . . Trainer Doug O’Neill has unbeaten Eclipse champion Nyquist set to work Sunday towards his three-year-old debut in the San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 15 . . . San Pasqual Stakes runner-up Imperative, also ticketed for the San Antonio, went four furlongs with Mario Gutierrez up for Richard Baltas Thursday in a bullet 46.40, fastest of 43 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 48.90. “It was a great work,” said Baltas, who has a busy weekend, with two horses entered today, five on Saturday and one on Sunday . . . David Jacobson, who has two horses entered today in quest of his first win this meet, is happy to date with the transition from the East Coast to California. “Everything’s great,” said Jacobson, who has 6-1 morning line chance You Know I Know in the third and 7-2 Caldera in the eighth. Jacobson also has entered horses at Golden Gate Fields in the Bay Area. “Wherever I think I can win a race,” he said, “I’ll go there.” Jacobson started 646 horses last year, winning with 128, a respectable 20 percent average . . . Geoff Shackelford, horse player and writer for Golf World & Golf Digest, and track announcer Michael Wrona, will be Tom Quigley‘s guests Saturday and Sunday respectively in the East Paddock Gardens at 11:20 a.m. . . . Agent Vince DeGregory has Tiago Pereira booked to ride Power Foot for Neil Drysdale in the Grade III John B. Connolly Turf Cup at 1 ½ miles at Sam Houston Jan. 30 . . . Santa Anita, home to America’s biggest winter betting pools, is currently handling on average more than $920,000 in its weekend Late Pick Four pools and more than $570,000 in the weekday Late Pick Four.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Monday, Jan. 18)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||39||5||5||5||13%||38%||$304,214|