- SMOKEY IMAGE, DANZING CANDY BREEZE FOR SAN FELIPE
- OCTOGENARIAN AGENT DEGREGORY FINE AFTER THROAT SURGERY
- TEXAS RED IN EASY WORK FOR HIS FOUR-YEAR-OLD DEBUT
QUARTET WORK FOR SAN FELIPE STAKES
Undefeated California-bred Smokey Image worked six furlongs Saturday morning under Victor Espinoza in a bullet 1:12.20 as he prepares to run against open company in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes on March 12.
The clocking was the fastest of 30 at the distance, the average time of which was 1:14.45. Smokey Image, a son of 2004 Santa Anita Handicap winner Southern Image, won the California Cup Derby at 1 1/16 miles by 8 ½ lengths on Jan. 30 in his first start for Gaines and his first at two turns.
Gaines was well satisfied with the drill by Smokey Image, as she was with Bolo’s five furlong workout on the main track in a minute flat.
Bolo, winner of the Grade II Arcadia Stakes a mile on grass Feb. 13, is being considered for either the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf or the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Handicap at 1 ¼ miles on dirt March 12.
“We still haven’t decided on a race,” Gaines said, adding that at this point it makes little difference except to the media, since both races are the same day, so it doesn’t alter Bolo’s routine from a training standpoint.
Smokey Image previously was trained by Greg James who is based in the Bay Area.
Also working for the San Felipe Saturday was Danzing Candy for Cliff Sise Jr., who called the six furlong drill under Mike Smith in 1:13 flat “Beautiful. I got him galloping out (seven furlongs) in 1:25 and one or two.”
Robert B. Lewis Stakes runner-up Uncle Lino also worked for the San Felipe, going five furlongs in 1:03 with Fernando Perez aboard for trainer Gary Sherlock.
“He does that all the time,” Sherlock said of the relatively slow time. “He was by himself, nobody around (at 6:45 a.m.) and he’ll do that 100 times. I’ll put another horse with him next week when he works again.”
San Vicente Stakes runner-up Exaggerator, also prepping for the San Felipe, worked five furlongs for Keith Desormeaux in 1:00.40.
Tomorrow, Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner Mor Spirit, Bob Baffert’s leading Triple Crown contender, is set to work under Martin Garcia for the San Felipe.
The son of Eskendereya was scheduled to breeze last Tuesday with regular rider Gary Stevens aboard but the drill was aborted when the colt “lost interest,” according to Baffert.
“He’ll work tomorrow and Martin will work him,” Baffert said. “He’ll either go out at 7:45 or nine (o’clock).” Baffert did not announce a distance for the workout.
AT 83, THE FUTURE IS NOW FOR AGENT DEGREGORY
Vince DeGregory turns 84 on Aug. 29, but he has a lot to celebrate today.
On Monday, the veteran agent who now calls the shots for jockey Tiago Pereira, underwent throat surgery for 90 minutes at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank to remove a growth attached to his thyroid gland that left a vertical scar of about three inches just below his Adam’s Apple.
If he’s vain about his looks, he can cover the scar with a bow tie. But that’s the least of his worries.
“The doctor (Warren Line) told me yesterday that when he first started the procedure he was expecting the growth to be the size of a pea, but as he went further, it became the size of a large grape,” DeGregory said. “He got it all out and thank God there’s no cancer. When I saw him yesterday he gave me a clean bill of health.
“I said to him, ‘The scar’s going to remind me that God doesn’t want me to die yet.'”
There are still plenty of leaves on the tree, even though the rings are growing.
“I started as an agent in 1959,” DeGregory said. “My first jock was Conn Errico at Belmont Park. I went to Aqueduct when it opened later that year. Sword Dancer trained by Elliott Burch won the opening day stakes.
“(Eddie) Arcaro was like a stepfather to me. He’s the one who got me to become a jockey’s agent. I had to go in front of (stewards) Marshall Cassidy and Cal Rainey at that time. “They were very, very strict and I remember Arcaro telling me, ‘Vince, never screw anybody at the draw.
“When you give a person a call, stand by that. I’ve used that as my motto my whole life.
“I’ve seen all the great horses of their day: Bold Ruler, Nashua, Tom Fool, Damascus, Sword Dancer, but the greatest one to me was Kelso (named Horse of the Year five consecutive years from 1960 through 1964).
“When I was a young guy coming up I didn’t know enough about Thoroughbreds to give an opinion, but as time progressed and from being around the game, I learned from other people. I paid attention to trainers, and an old man I never forgot was Sam Winninger, who was a private clocker.
“He would bet his own money and taught me how horses worked, how they traveled, so that when I got a rider, I could pick one horse from another. That helped throughout my career.”
DeGregory, born in Greenwich, N.Y., about 10 miles from Saratoga Springs where he was raised, served in the Army at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, with Dick Groat, a lifelong friend now 85 who would go on to play shortstop with second baseman Bill Mazeroski for the World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960 and be named National League MVP.
“My roommate in the service was (former catcher and longtime broadcaster and comedian) Bob Uecker,” said DeGregory. “He’s my buddy and I love him. He’s still kicking.”
As is DeGregory, a living treasure of racing history who has represented seven Hall of Fame jockeys: Angel Cordero Jr., Chris McCarron, Laffit Pincay Jr., Bill Shoemaker, Alex Solis, Jacinto Vasquez and Jorge Velasquez, in addition to Victor Espinoza, Darrel McHargue and Joel Rosario, each with Hall of Fame credentials as well.
If there’s room for DeGregory, there would be little argument that he deserves a spot, although he’d be the last to lobby for enshrinement.
He got all the glory he needed on Monday.
FINISH LINES: Texas Red, winner of the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita, worked five furlongs for his four-year-old debut on Santa Anita’s fast main track Saturday in 1:02.60. “I’m not pushing him too hard yet,” said trainer Keith Desormeaux. “He’s in a nice rhythm, but I have no race in mind for him right now.” Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Swipe worked four furlongs for Desormeaux in 51.60 . . . Friday’s Pick Six payoff of 124.20 to 337 winning tickets resulted from favorites capturing five of the races in the sequence, and the other by a horse that was almost favored, paying $7.20. Winners in the Pick Six races were Abets Abet ($5.80), Shortstormcoming ($7.20, second choice by a dime), Amazing Lady ($3), Howdy ($4.20), Hawkedon (5.40) and Herunbridledpower ($4.20) . . . Congrats to Daily Racing Form’s Brad Free who had all six winners on top. Five out of six paid $8.80 on 1996 tickets . . . El Camino Real Derby winner Frank Conversation worked four furlongs under Mario Gutierrez in 49 seconds flat for the UAE Derby in Dubai on March 26. Trainer Doug O’Neill plans to ship Frank Conversation “about two weeks before the race” with Gutierrez arriving later to ride the son of Quality Road . . . Tom Quigley‘s guest Sunday in the East Paddock Gardens at 11:25 a.m. will be UK racing commentator and this weekend’s announcer at Santa Anita David Fitzgerald . . . Of Santa Anita’s top 24 jockeys, Kent Desormeaux has the highest in-the-money percentage at 59 with an 11-21-12 mark from 74 mounts. Meet leader Rafael Bejarano, who won three races Thursday to break a tie for the top spot with Santiago Gonzalez, is second with 51 percent in the money.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Friday, Feb. 26)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||103||11||12||13||11%||35%||$647,839|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||33||6||5||8||18%||58%||$238,624|