- BAFFERT CROSSES LAST DERBY BRIDGE WITH GOOD DRAW
- SATURDAY IS PARTY TIME AT SANTA ANITA FOR THE DERBY
- STREAKING WARREN’S VENEDA IN SHARP WORK FOR VANITY
- FURY KAPORI DEFENDS CROWN IN PRECISIONIST STAKES
CLOCKER SAYS IT’S PHAROAH OVER DORTMUND IN DERBY
Private clocker Gary Young has been watching horses train in Southern California for 35 years, betting on them, buying them and recommending them to others based both on his keen insight and eyesight.
In all that time, Young has rarely been as mesmerized by a 3-year-old about to run in the Kentucky Derby as he is with American Pharoah, the 5-2 morning line favorite who drew post position 18 in the 141st Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
“Pharoah, Pharoah, Pharoah,” Young repeated via phone from Kentucky when asked which of trainer Bob Baffert’s horses he thought was better, American Pharoah or the undefeated Santa Anita Derby winner, Dortmund, the 3-1 second choice on Mike Battaglia’s well-defined morning line. Dortmund drew post position eight.
“I love Dortmund as a horse,” Young said. “You have to admire his physique and everything else. I could see Baffert running one-two very easily, especially after the draw.
“Some of his key opposition like Carpe Diem didn’t get a good draw (No. 2 post). There was a lot of tension in the air when there were a lot of big names in the (entry) box and there weren’t that many good post positions left.
“But when Pharoah drew 18, that was awfully big. There’s no such thing as cinches, but barring anything unforeseen, this horse is going to be awful tough to beat.”
The last year two horses trained by the same man ran one-two in the Derby was 1948 when Jimmy Jones sent out Citation and Coaltown to run first and second.
In those days, they ran coupled as a wagering entry, a bet on one being a bet on both. They were sent off at 40 cents to the dollar.
While 5-2 on American Pharoah seems an obscenely generous price–a post time number of 8-5 or lower appears more realistic, with 5-2 a likely going-off number for Dortmund–the preponderance of action on the two Baffert trainees should present appealing overlays on the rest of the field for use in exotic wagers.
“Firing Line’s looked terrific here,” Young said of the 12-1 morning line chance who will be ridden by three-time Derby winner Gary Stevens. “The horse looked terrific galloping at Santa Anita every day. Frosted (15-1) looks OK. Bolo (30-1) has looked OK although the jury is still out on whether turf or dirt is his favorite surface.
“But when all’s said and done, the post position draw was the last bridge Baffert had to cross, and he did it. American Pharoah will be very, very, very tough to beat.
“I’ll leave it at that.”
In other Derby news:
If Dortmund wins, it would mark the third time in the last four years the winner of the
Santa Anita Derby went on to capture the Run for the Roses, the others being I’ll Have Another in 2012 and eventual Horse of the Year California Chrome in 2014.
If Victor Espinoza wins the Derby on American Pharoah, he would become only the sixth jockey in history to take back-to-back runnings. The others were Isaac Murphy (1890-91), Jimmy Winkfield (1901-02), Ron Turcotte (1972-73), Eddie Delahoussaye (1982-83) and Calvin Borel (2009-10).
Espinoza won last year on California Chrome.
KENTUCKY DERBY GALA AT SANTA ANITA SATURDAY
Fans can join the biggest Derby party west of Kentucky at Santa Anita Saturday, an afternoon filled with world-class racing, hat contests, mint juleps and live racing.
Festivities include an Infield Beer-fest with live music from Seedless, and a party in the Premium Gallop Out in the Club House East. Fans can purchase a Trackside Package for a prime seat and their first drink in a commemorative cup featuring Santa Anita Derby winner Dortmund, plus all the fun and excitement of racing’s best 3-year-olds in the Kentucky Derby.
First post time Saturday is 11:30 a.m. Gates open at 7:30 a.m. Tickets can be purchased at santaanita.com.
LEWIS ‘HAPPY’ WITH WORK BY WARREN’S VENEDA
Warren’s Veneda worked five furlongs in a rapid 59.20 Thursday morning in preparation for the Grade I Vanity Stakes and a possible meeting with two-time Eclipse Award champion Beholder on May 9.
Trainer Craig Lewis said he was “happy” with the move, just a tick off the bullet times of 59 flat recorded by Sailor’s Cry and Tossin Bullets, the latter two trained by Gary Stute and Bob Baffert, respectively.
Warren’s Veneda, winner of three straight stakes for owner/breeder Benjamin Warren including the Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes March 14, had exercise rider Manny Rotela up.
Beholder worked six furlongs Tuesday in a bullet 1:10.60 for Richard Mandella.
FURY KAPCORI SEEKS SECOND STRAIGHT PRECISIONIST WIN
Team Hollendorfer expects Fury Kapcori to move forward from his fifth-place finish in an allowance race at Golden Gate Fields March 29 when he runs in Saturday’s Grade III Precisionist Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles.
It was the first race in nine months for the 5-year-old Tiznow horse, who won the Precisionist a year ago by nearly six lengths in front-running fashion under Rafael Bejarano, who is back aboard Saturday.
“He didn’t run too well at Golden Gate,” said Jerry Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward. “We’re hoping he runs better on Saturday, because this is a track he likes.”
Fury Kapcori has four wins, a second and a third in seven starts at Santa Anita. Two of the victories came in stakes, the aforementioned Precisionist and the Santana Mile on March 30 of last year.
The field for the Precisionist, race 10 of 11: Sammy Mandeville, Alex Solis, 6-1; Fury Kapcori, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; Rousing Sermon, Corey Nakatani, 8-1; Appealing Tale, Edwin Maldonado, 15-1; Catch a Flight, Flavien Prat, 5-2; Mystery Train, Santiago Gonzalez, 8-1; Blue Chip, Abel Cedillo, 3-1; Magic Mark, Fernando Perez, 15-1; and Motown Men, Tyler Baze, 6-1.
DENMAN AMONG LA’S TOP ANNOUNCERS
Santa Anita track announcer Trevor Denman has been named one of the top three sports broadcasters in the Los Angeles area according to CBS Los Angeles, along with the late Chick Hearn of the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Dodgers’ legend Vin Scully.
CBS Los Angeles goes on to say, ” . . . The dark horse here is horse racing’s Trevor Denman, who does not
get the credit he deserves. You don’t have to be into racing to get excited for a race he calls . . .
“Many people may disagree in putting him over Bob Miller, but Trevor Denman is one of the most exciting and smoothest callers in sports. People don’t realize how difficult it is to call horse racing. He is perfect for calling the ‘Sport of Kings.’
“It’s certainly an honor to be named with Hearn and Scully,” Denman said. “They are more than family names. They are household names. They’re icons. I’m happy to receive the recognition, but more importantly, happier that horse racing was recognized.”
FINISH LINES: Fans can listen to Sounds LA, 89.9 FM, for tales of Santa Anita horn blower Jay Cohen and starter Jay Slender. The website link is http://www.souondsla.com . . . TVG analyst Kurt Hoover and horse player Jeff Munson will be Tom Quigley’s handicapping guests, Saturday and Sunday, respectively, in the East Paddock Gardens. Saturday’s session starts at 10:20 a.m. due to the early post, while Sunday’s goes as usual at 11:20 a.m. . . . Trainer Simon Callaghan sat down with Aaron Vercruysse and discussed his first Kentucky Derby contender, Firing Line. To see this video and many more interviews plus workout footage, visit Xpressbet’s YouTube page athttps://youtu.be/UIV_tK04zec.