Nothing against The Great Race Place, but if Kimbear wins the Santa Anita Derby a week from today, Eric Kruljac, trainer of the three-year-old colt, won’t be in the Winner’s Circle.

Family priorities in order, Kruljac will be at the Arizona Country Club in Scottsdale, attending the wedding of his daughter, Meghan.

Meanwhile, this morning Kimbear drew another step closer to the Santa Anita Derby, working five furlongs with Joe Talamo aboard in 59.40 on Santa Anita’s fast main track.

“I was happy with the work,” Kruljac said. “We took him with a pony and he broke off much more relaxed. We’re just thrilled the work. It was a second slower than last week (a bullet 58.40 on March 25), but he had more at the end and galloped out phenomenally.”

Kimbear had been scheduled to run in last Sunday’s Sunland Derby but a dicey weather forecast at the New Mexico track resulted in Kruljac opting out.

“They were forecasting 30 mile an hour winds, and that track gets so dry and loose, I decided to run here,” Kruljac said.

Kimbear’s first three races were on turf, as was his fifth, rallying to finish third going down the hill at about 6 ½ furlongs Jan. 16, before breaking his maiden impressively at seven furlongs on dirt Feb. 25.

“First time out he needed a race and he still just ran bonkers,” Kruljac said. Kimbear led until the final stages of that one mile turf race at Del Mar last Sept. 3.

“He doesn’t handle the grass, even though he’s bred for it top and bottom (by Temple City out of the Sky Mesa mare Sky Dreamer),” Kruljac noted.

Kimbear, a Kentucky-bred bay owned by a partnership that includes Kruljac and Rory Albert, is named for Albert’s daughter, Kim.

“Her nickname was Kimbear when she was growing up,” Kruljac said.

In other Santa Anita Derby news:

Bob Baffert named his three riders as he seeks to add to his record of seven wins in the West Coast’s major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby on May 6: Rafael Bejarano on American Anthem; Mike Smith on Reach the World; and Martin Garcia on West Coast.

Battle of Midway worked six furlongs in a bullet 1:11.80 for Jerry Hollendorfer under Corey Nakatani, who rides the Smart Strike colt in the Santa Anita Derby. “He went real well,” said Hollendorfer, who also sent Santa Anita Oaks contender It Tiz Well six furlongs under Nakatani in 1:12.20.

Midnight Pleasure worked five furlongs on the training track for Mick Ruis in 1:01.80 with Jamie Theriot aboard. The 38-year-old Louisiana native has the mount on the son of Midnight Lute next Saturday.

Probable for the 80th edition of the Santa Anita Derby: American Anthem, Rafael Bejarano; Battle of Midway, Corey Nakatani; Gormley, Victor Espinoza; Iliad, Flavien Prat; Kimbear, Joe Talamo; Midnight Pleasure, Jamie Theriot; Milton Freewater, Tiago Pereira; Reach the World, Mike Smith; So Conflated, Mario Gutierrez; Term of Art, Tyler Baze; and West Coast, Martin Garcia.



            When in doubt, go to the ex–ex-husband that is. Such was the case this past Thursday when trainer Michele Dollase and jockey Corey Nakatani combined to win the second race with 3-year-old filly Lady Espionage by a nose in a 6 ½ furlong maiden special weight down the hillside turf course.

Based at San Luis Rey Downs, Michele Dollase, the mother of three children from her previous marriage to Corey Nakatani, was understandably thrilled, as she posed for pictures with her primary assistant, daughter Brittany Nakatani, 26, and son, Matt Nakatani, 25, who serves has his father’s agent.

Michele’s late father, Wallace Dollase, who was a highly respected multiple Grade I winning trainer, passed away following a lengthy illness in Kentucky, in October, 2015.

“My Mom puts in a lot of time and effort in with her horses down at San Luis Rey,” said Matt. “She was raised in the business and she’s been around. To be able to able to put my Dad on her first winner this year . . . I was so happy for my Mom and to see how happy she was, it was really special.

“She told me, ‘Your dad’s one of the best riders here and I need him on my horses. We need to put the past aside. We’re here to win races.'”

Matt also noted that he and his father were looking forward to today’s 10th race, as his mother will saddle Californium, a 3-year-old maiden colt by Mizzen Mast, who is 6-1 on the morning line at a mile and one eighth on turf.

As for Michele, who won her first race as a licensed trainer with Batoutofhell on July 26, 1989 at Del Mar, ridden of course, by Corey Nakatani, life is good at San Luis Rey.

“I’ve got overflow horses for several trainers, so I’ve got about 28 horses in all,” she said. “I’ve got seven of my own and the rest are horses that we’re getting ready to come back to the track for guys like Richard Mandella, Dan Hendricks, Dan Blacker, Ron Ellis, Mike Machowsky and Matt Chew.”

As to why she sought the services of her ex? “How do you not ride Nakatani on the turf? It’s just business.”

Duly noted.



Those wishing to spend the morning at Santa Anita’s Clockers’ Corner on Santa Anita Derby Day next Saturday, April 8, are advised that Baldwin Ave. will be closed to vehicular traffic between the 210 Freeway and Huntington Drive from 7:45 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. in order to accommodate foot traffic related to the Santa Anita’s annual Derby Day 5k Run and Walk.

Accordingly, Santa Anita’s Gate 8, which adjoins the Westfield Shopping Mall on Baldwin Ave., and Gate 7, at the track’s northwest end, will also be closed to vehicles during the same time frame.

Those wishing to visit Clockers’ Corner on Derby Day morning will be able to enter the track on Santa Anita’s northeast perimeter, via Gate 5, or on the track’s southern perimeter, via Gate 3 at Holly Ave. Gates 3 & 5 will be open for easy access to Clockers’ Corner beginning at 5 a.m. and will remain open throughout the day. Santa Anita’s main track will be closed for training at 7:30 a.m.

Gate 3 is located at the intersection of Holly Ave. and Huntington Drive.  Gate 5 is located at the confluence of Colorado Place and Huntington Drive.

For additional information on the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby and the Derby Day 5k Run and Walk, fans are encouraged to visit, or call (626) 574-RACE.


FINISH LINES: Unbeaten China Doll Stakes winner Sircat Sally is nominated to three stakes next weekend, the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks, the $200,000 Evening Jewel Stakes for Cal-bred or sired fillies, and the Grade III Providencia Stakes. Jerry Hollendorfer plans to run the daughter of Surf Cat in one of them, but didn’t name which on Saturday . . . Probable for the Oaks are Abel Tasman, It Tiz Well, Meanie Irenie, Mopotism, Paradise Woods, Tapped and Union Strike. Mike Smith rides Abel Tasman for Bob Baffert . . . Union Strike worked six furlongs on the training track for Mick Ruis in 1:13.60 . . . Beau Recall goes after her second U.S. win in the Providencia for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf, one of six stakes that day, two of them Grade I’s and four of them graded. The Irish-bred daughter of Sir Prancealot won her first U.S. start, then was a fast-closing second in the restricted China Doll at a mile on grass March 11. “She’s doing really well,” said Simon Callaghan, who trains the bay filly for Slam Dunk Racing. “She breezed well yesterday (five furlongs in 1:02.80), came out of it good and she’s ready to go.” Also due for the Providencia is East Coast invader Emphatically, winner of her last two starts at one mile on grass for trainer Tom Proctor. Leading rider Flavien Prat has the mount on the daughter of Scat Daddy . . . Prat rides Miss America winner Lady Valeur for Paddy Gallagher in Saturday’s Royal Heroine Stakes, which also is expected to attract Enola Gray, Hillhouse High, Juno, Pretty Girl, Prize Exhibit and Sweet Charity . . . Dr. Troutman is a supplemental nominee at a cost of $25,000 to next Saturday’s $200,000 Echo Eddie Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs on dirt. One in The Golden State Series for California-bred or sired horses, the Echo Eddie could lure B Squared, California Diamond, Elwood J, Green With Eddie, Mr. Hinx, Ninety Nine Proof, Tribal Storm and Will Tell . . . There is a single ticket Pick Six Jackpot carryover today of $534,552.


(Current Through Friday, March 31)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Flavien Prat 243 54 41 45 22% 58% $3,359,100
Tyler Baze 283 47 50 34 17% 46% $2,634,722
Rafael Bejarano 166 33 25 30 20% 53% $2,022,682
Kent Desormeaux 162 33 20 18 20% 44% $1,833,381
Joseph Talamo 187 25 20 26 13% 38% $911,266
Norberto Arroyo, Jr. 111 21 12 12 19% 41% $947,016
Martin Pedroza 138 19 26 29 14% 54% $874,837
Stewart Elliott 175 19 20 26 11% 37% $930,381
Tiago Pereira 131 18 16 17 14% 39% $640,152
Mike Smith 59 18 6 15 31% 66% $1,886,092
Corey Nakatani 89 16 10 12 18% 43% $945,476
Santiago Gonzalez 155 15 23 21 10% 38% $768,651
Edwin Maldonado 92 14 13 12 15% 42% $467,381
Jamie Theriot 89 11 9 8 12% 31% $518,870
Mario Gutierrez 111 10 20 12 9% 38% $850,133
Luis Contreras 89 10 10 23 11% 48% $487,537
Trainer Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Jerry Hollendorfer 140 32 20 24 23% 54% $1,861,449
Peter Miller 112 31 23 13 28% 60% $1,514,811
Richard Baltas 141 25 23 23 18% 50% $1,364,567
Philip D’Amato 107 22 17 14 21% 50% $1,386,635
Doug O’Neill 162 21 32 23 13% 47% $1,771,212
Bob Baffert 68 18 9 11 26% 56% $1,703,596
Vladimir Cerin 65 14 12 11 22% 57% $627,279
Peter Eurton 66 13 7 9 20% 44% $679,507
William Spawr 36 13 5 5 36% 64% $426,945
John W. Sadler 72 11 15 14 15% 56% $686,320
Mark Glatt 87 10 13 14 11% 43% $527,225
J. Keith Desormeaux 47 10 5 6 21% 45% $533,650
Steven Miyadi 70 9 18 9 13% 51% $428,866