- GONZALEZ ATTEMPTS TO DETHRONE BEJARANO
- TOEWS ON ICE PREPS FOR ROBERT B. LEWIS
- BALTAS HAS THREE FOR GRADE III MEGAHERTZ
GONZALEZ CONTINUES ON A ROLL AT SANTA ANITA
It’s not a stretch to call Santiago Gonzalez an overnight sensation, at least since he began riding in the United States just over a year ago.
The 32-year-old native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, has made an impact with bettors and horsemen alike, and early on is giving perennial Southern California kingpin Rafael Bejarano a run for the money nine days into Santa Anita’s Winter Meet where he is second behind Bejarano in the standings with 10 victories, only two behind the front-runner.
“This kid will ride the card,” said his agent, former trainer Craig Stephen, alluding to the fact that Gonzalez will ride all eight races if the opportunity presents itself. To date, he leads all jockeys in mounts accepted this meet with 51, six more than Bejarano.
“And,” Stephen was quick to add, “he’ll work 10 horses in the morning. He’s that hungry. The success we’ve had together so far has been a huge surprise to me. When he first came out here, I thought I was really up against it.
“I thought the odds were stacked so far against me. He wasn’t a bug boy, he didn’t speak English, and nobody knew his name. He had a great reputation in Venezuela, but that doesn’t transfer to the U.S.
“Thanks to all the trainers and owners who have helped us along the way, especially Jim Cassidy. We couldn’t have done it without them.”
TOEWS ON ICE WORKS FOR THREE-YEAR-OLD DEBUT
Toews On Ice (pronounced Taze), winner of three straight stakes for Bob Baffert before running second to stablemate Mor Spirit in the Grade I Los Alamitos Futurity, worked five furlongs in company Saturday morning in 1:01.20 for his three-year-old debut in the Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 6.
With Martin Garcia up, Toews On Ice worked with Undeniable U and set fractions of 24.80, 37.40 and 49.20, with a six furlong gallop-out time of 1:14, according to Santa Anita clocker Dane Nelson.
Undeniable U was given the identical time of 1:01.20.
Also prepping for the Lewis Saturday was Delta Jackpot and Saratoga Special winner Exaggerator for trainer Keith Desormeaux. The Curlin colt was timed in 1:01.40 under Keith’s brother Kent Desormeaux.
Beset with an erratic weather pattern that has brought recent rains, horsemen took advantage of a fast track Saturday morning, with 262 recorded workouts, including 11 on the dirt training track.
FINISH LINES: Dressed in Hermes, 7-2 second choice on the morning, was scratched from today’s Sham Stakes due to a fever . . . Leading trainer Richard Baltas plans to enter three horses in the Grade III Megahertz Stakes on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday card Monday, Jan. 18: Beat of the Drum (Flavien Prat), Journey On (Mario Gutierrez) and Tiz a Kiss (Santiago Gonzalez). Named for the diminutive stretch-running mare trained by the late Bobby Frankel, the Megahertz is for older fillies and mares at one mile on turf . . . Triple Crown-winning jockey and Eclipse Award finalist Victor Espinoza hopes he’s on another Triple Crown candidate next Saturday at the Fair Grounds when he pilots impressive maiden winner Z Royal in the Grade III LeComte Stakes at a mile and 70 yards for D. Wayne Lukas and Ahmed Zayat, who campaigned American Pharoah to Triple Crown glory last year . . . Award-winning author Gary West will be on hand at Clockers’ Corner Sunday morning to sign “Ride to Win, An Inside Look at the Jockey’s Craft.” Proceeds from the sale of the book go to the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund (PDJF) . . . On Monday, Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Santa Anita offers another of its popular Dollar Days, with draft beers, hot dogs and sodas on sale for just a buck.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Friday, Jan. 8)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||18||2||1||0||11%||17%||$86,360|
|Clifford Sise, Jr.||6||1||2||1||17%||67%||$53,340|