- EFFINEX HIGHWEIGHT FOR SANTA ANITA HANDICAP
- SONGBIRD ‘PERFECT’ AFTER SANTA YSABEL ROMP
- BAFFERT SEEKS FIFTH WIN IN GRADE II SAN FELIPE
- MIDNIGHT STORM YES, OBVIOUSLY NO FOR KILROE
- DAUGHTER TRIES TO EMULATE DAD IN SAN CARLOS
EFFINEX GALLOPS AS HE PREPARES FOR BIG ‘CAP
East Coast invader Effinex, the probable favorite for Saturday’s $1 million Santa Anita Handicap presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino, was assigned highweight of 123 pounds for the Grade I classic at a mile and a quarter and is expected to have his first and only breeze over the track Tuesday or Wednesday, weather permitting.
“He galloped this morning,” said Kent Sweezey, assistant to Jimmy Jerkens, who trains the five-year-old Mineshaft horse for the Tri-Bone Stables. “He’ll probably work a half mile Tuesday or Wednesday. Being highweight is no surprise. We figured he would be.”
Effinex has not raced since winning the Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 27. He had been working at Palm Meadows in Florida before arriving at Santa Anita early Thursday evening.
The New York-bred horse was second to Triple Crown champion American Pharoah in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Oct. 31 prior to his victory in the Clark. He has earned $2,112,950 thanks to a 7-2-3 record from 20 lifetime starts.
Probable for the Big ‘Cap: Effinex, Mike Smith, 123; Imperative, Santiago Gonzalez, 120; Hard Aces, no rider, 118; Donworth, Mario Gutierrez, 117; General A Rod, Rafael Bejarano, 116; Cyrus Alexander, Martin Garcia, 115; and Melatonin, Joe Talamo, 114.
Fans at Santa Anita on Big Cap Day will receive a free Santa Anita Fleece Blanket
presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino with paid admission while supplies last.
First post time is 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.
SONGBIRD: ‘PERFECT’ IS AS PERFECT DOES
Songbird, perfect in six races after her front-running, 3 ¾-length victory in the Grade
III Santa Ysabel Stakes Saturday, was fittingly “perfect” Sunday morning.
That was the succinct description offered by her trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer. Now it’s on to the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks April 9 for the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, who has won her six career starts by a combined margin of more than 32 lengths, an average of slightly over five lengths per victory.
Just call her American Pharoah in a skirt.
“What a beast she is,” said trainer Doug O’Neill, who has saddled Land Over Sea to finish second to the undefeated Eclipse Award champion five straight times, including Saturday’s Santa Ysabel, in which she was 3 ¾ lengths behind, the closest any horse has ever been to Songbird at the end of a race.
“Running second to her shows how good our filly is, too,” O’Neill said. “Songbird was definitely geared down, but Mario (Gutierrez) said our filly was geared down, too.
“It was a super race by Songbird, but we’re super-proud of Land Over Sea, too.”
After five consecutive losses to Songbird, O’Neill said Land Over Sea would head east
for her next race on March 26 in the Fair Grounds Oaks, a Grade II test at 1 1/16 miles offering a $400,000 purse.
Songbird, meanwhile, will remain at home for the Santa Anita Oaks, a race Team
Hollendorfer hopes will lead to the $1 million Kentucky Oaks on May 6.
BAFFERT EYES FIFTH SAN FELIPE WIN ON SATURDAY
Bob Baffert will seek his fifth win in the San Felipe Stakes next Saturday when he sends out likely favorite Mor Spirit and stablemate Cupid in the Grade II, $400,000 race for Triple Crown aspirants at 1 1/16 miles.
Baffert won last year with Dortmund; in 2009 with Pioneerof the Nile; 2005 with Consolidator, in 2001 with Horse of the Year Point Given; and in 1999 with Prime Timber.
Probable for the San Felipe: Cupid, Martin Garcia; Danzing Candy, Mike Smith; Exaggerator, Kent Desormeaux; Mor Spirit, Gary Stevens; Smokey Image, Victor Espinoza; and Uncle Lino, Fernando Perez.
MIDNIGHT STORM SET FOR GRADE I KILROE
If trainer Phil D’Amato wins the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf Saturday, it will be with Midnight Storm and not the speedy Obviously.
“The horse is fine,” D’Amato said of Obviously, a committed front runner who missed by a neck as the 9-10 favorite in the Grade II Arcadia Stakes Feb. 13.
“But I like to space his races and give him only five or six a year to keep him fresh. I will be running Midnight Storm, however.”
A son of Pioneerof the Nile, Midnight Storm captured the Grade II Seabiscuit Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on Del Mar’s turf course Nov. 27 under Victor Espinoza, who retains the mount for the Kilroe.
Probable for the Kilroe: Bal a Bali, Flavien Prat; Bolo, Mike Smith; De Treville, no rider; Kenjisstorm, Edwin Maldonado; Ocho Ocho Ocho, no rider; Om, Gary Stevens; and What a View, Kent Desormeaux.
LIKE FATHER LIKE DAUGHTER IN SAN CARLOS?
Karen Headley will try to emulate her father, Bruce, when she sends out San Onofre in Saturday’s Grade II San Carlos Stakes for older horses at seven furlongs.
Bruce, who was 82 on Feb. 14, won the San Carlos five times, with Surf Cat (2008 and 2006), champion Kona Gold (2001), Son Of a Pistol (2000), and Softshoe Sure Shot (1995).
Karen will attempt to win with San Onofre, a 6-year-old California-bred son of Surf Cat owned by Karen’s mother and Bruce’s wife, Aase, who campaigns as Matson Racing.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, meanwhile, will seek to win the San Carlos for the fourth consecutive year, either with Wild Dude or Outside Nashville. He won with Wild Dude last year and Sahara Sky in 2014 and 2013.
Probable for the San Carlos: Calculator, Flavien Prat; Kobe’s Back, Gary Stevens; Mystery Train, no rider; Outside Nashville, Martin Garcia; Salutos Amigos, Mike Smith; San Onofre, no rider; and Wild Dude, Rafael Bejarano.
Trainer Phil D’Amato said Clockers’ Corner winner Coastline could start in either the San Carlos or the Kilroe.
FINISH LINES: Santa Anita’s main track was sealed after Saturday’s last race, and an inch and one-fifth of rain had hit as of 7:30 Sunday morning, according to Track Superintendent Dennis Moore, but by 8 o’clock the sun was out in all its glory, reproducing the picturesque setting with the San Gabriel Mountains as its backdrop familiar to fans worldwide . . .Happy birthday to Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens. A native of Caldwell, Idaho, Stevens puts up number 53 today…The $75,000 Aboretum Stakes scheduled to be run today at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf, was not drawn when rain was forecast for this weekend. The race for older fillies and mares will be run Friday, March 18, as Arboretum II. All original nominations will automatically be honored, but new nominations also will be accepted . . . Santa Anita is dark Monday through Wednesday. Racing resumes Thursday at 1 p.m. with free Grandstand admission and free general parking . . . First post time on Big ‘Cap Day, this Saturday, is at 12 noon. On-track fans will receive a free (with paid admission) Santa Anita Fleece Blanket presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino . . . On Saturday, March 19, Santa Anita presents the biggest Michelada Contest in Southern California, featuring live horse racing, live music, a car exhibition and an art show in its spacious Infield. For further information, visit www.micheladarumble.com . . . Through 42 racing days, favorites at Santa Anita were winning at a 36.94 percent clip, 133 out of 360. The average on dirt was higher, 39.47 (105 of 266), but lower on turf, 29.79 (28 of 94) . . . Talk about living on the rail: Johns Journey, a five-year-old gelding trained by Paul Aguirre that was scratched from today’s second race, had the No. one post position in nine of his last 12 races, the last three in a row and six times in his last seven races, never winning from the one hole in any of them. He had drawn post position five today.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Saturday, March 5)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||118||13||13||15||11%||35%||$745,224|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||36||6||5||8||17%||53%||$241,414|
|Clifford Sise, Jr.||18||5||4||1||28%||56%||$196,540|