- HAVANNA BELLE TACKLES MALES IN SAN LUIS REY
- ESPINOZA TO RECEIVE WOOLF AWARD ON SUNDAY
- PENWITH INVADES FOR GRADE I SANTA MARGARITA
HAVANNA BELLE SEEKS DISTANCE REPEAT IN SAN LUIS REY
Havanna Belle takes on male rivals in Sunday’s Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes at a mile and a half on turf. Jockey Brice Blanc, who rode the Irish-bred filly to a 10-1 upset win by 2 ¼ lengths in the restricted Astra Stakes at the same distance on a “good” turf course Jan. 17, feels she’s up to the task.
“She ran awesome,” Blanc said of the bay filly trained by Phil D’Amato for owner Michael House. “The distance seemed to be a plus for her.
“I worked her last week, she worked great, so I’m looking for a similar effort. We just need the right trip. She’s doing good and I expect her to run as well as she did in the Astra.”
The lineup: Southern Freedom, Martin Garcia, 12-1; Quick Casablanca, Tyler Baze, 6-1; Power Foot, Gary Stevens, 8-1; Going Somewhere, Mike Smith, 5-1; Life’s Journey, Jose Verenzuela, 50-1; Energia Fribby, Drayden Van Dyke, 15-1; Havanna Belle, Brice Blanc, 6-1; Highball, Flavien Prat, 12-1; Generosidade, Tiago Pereira, 30-1; Gaga A, Mario Gutierrez, 4-1; Big John B, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1; and Patentar, Alonso Quinonez, 20-1.
ESPINOZA TO RECEIVE WOOLF AWARD SUNDAY
As America’s first Triple Crown champion jockey in 37 years, Victor Espinoza helped Thoroughbred racing project a positive image far beyond the confines of the Thoroughbred industry throughout 2015, thus elevating the sport’s exposure and acceptance to a level perhaps not seen since the 1970s.
Accordingly, Espinoza, a 43-year-old native of Mexico City, has been selected by a vote of jockeys nationwide as the winner of Santa Anita’s highly coveted 2016 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award and he will accept the award in a Winner’s Circle ceremony following Sunday’s sixth race.
“It’s quite an honor for any rider to be selected by his peers as the winner of such a prestigious award,” said Terry Meyocks, National Manager of the Jockeys’ Guild. “And I would like to congratulate Victor on this great achievement.”
In addition to numerous national television appearances through the 2015 Triple Crown and last fall’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Espinoza also remained tireless in his efforts on behalf of cancer-stricken youth, donating 10 percent of his winnings to support pediatric cancer research at City of Hope, in nearby Duarte.
Espinoza also has been nominated to racing’s Hall of Fame for the second straight year.
With the Bob Baffert-trained American Pharoah providing the horsepower, Espinoza gleefully proclaimed himself “The luckiest Mexican on earth,” on national television following their win in the Belmont Stakes June 6.
In addition to winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, Espinoza and Santa Anita-based American Pharoah won last year’s Grade II Rebel Stakes, Grade I Arkansas Derby, Grade I Haskell Invitational and, in a performance for the ages, the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic by 6 ½ lengths on Oct. 31–all the while elevating the profile of jockeys nationwide and generating tremendous ratings on a consistent basis.
Born on a dairy farm near Mexico City, Espinoza is the 11th of 12 children. A three-time ESPY Award winner, Espinoza has three career Kentucky Derby wins, three Preakness victories, three Breeders’ Cup wins and has captured 11 Southern California riding titles.
First presented by Santa Anita in 1950, Espinoza is the 67th winner of the Woolf Award, which seeks to honor riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and Thoroughbred racing. The remaining four finalists for this year’s award, which can only be won once during a rider’s career, were Joe Bravo, Javier Castellano, Gerard Melancon and Joe Steiner.
FINISH LINES: Cupid, scratched from today’s San Felipe Stakes, runs in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park for Bob Baffert March 19. Agent Tony Matos has Martin Garcia booked to ride the Tapit colt, who broke his maiden going a mile and a sixteenth at Santa Anita by 5 ¼ lengths on Feb. 7. Garcia will ride Collected for Baffert in the Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes the next day, Sunday, March 20 . . . Mike Smith rides Godolphin Racing’s Penwith in next Saturday’s Grade I, $500,000 Santa Margarita Stakes at 1 1/8 miles for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. A five-year-old Bernardini mare, Penwith won the Grade II Royal Delta at Gulfstream on Feb. 13 . . . Texas Red, winner of the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and Swipe, runner-up to undefeated champion Nyquist in last year’s Juvenile, each worked on Santa Anita’s fast main track Saturday morning for Keith Desormeaux, who said he had no race in mind for them now, “but we’re getting close.” Texas Red went four furlongs in 49.20, while Swipe went six furlongs under Kent Desormeaux in 1:12.80 . . . Friday’s San Pedro Stakes, cancelled due to weather conditions, will be redrawn from the original nominations and be run on Sunday, March 20 . . . Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday. Set your clocks ahead one hour tonight.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Friday, March 11)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||125||13||15||18||10%||37%||$785,184|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||37||6||6||8||16%||54%||$246,014|