- LEXIE LOU TRIES THE DIRT IN GRADE II LA CANADA
- DANCINTHENIGHTAWAY IN TUNE FOR FIRST STAKES
- SHARED BELIEF IN GOOD FORM FOR SAN ANTONIO
- AND HORSE OF THE YEAR IS . . . CALIFORNIA CHROME!
CONSISTENT LEXIE LOU HOPES TO MAKE DIRT ‘MARK’
Lexie Lou, a consistent daughter of the Sadler’s Wells stallion Sligo Bay owned by Gary Barber and trained by Mark Casse, makes her main track debut in Saturday’s Grade II La Canada Stakes for 4-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.
The bay filly bred in Canada has seven wins, three seconds and a third in 16 career starts, all on grass or synthetic surfaces.
She was a solid second behind none other than Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome in the Grade I Hollywood Derby on turf at Del Mar on Nov. 29, beaten just two lengths by the finalist for Horse of the Year, which will be announced tomorrow night in Florida.
Corey Nakatani, who has ridden Lexie Lou in her last two races, including a win in the Grade III Autumn Miss Stakes at one mile on Santa Anita’s turf last October, is confident she can make a successful transition.
“We’ll look at the race and see what Mr. Casse and Mr. Barber want to do,” Nakatani said. “With seven wins, she’s the kind of horse you like to ride, no doubt.
“She’s got a lot of heart, she’s beaten the boys before (in the Queen’s Plate Stakes at Woodbine last July) and she ran against California Chrome last time in a tremendous try. We’re looking forward to seeing if she can transfer that form to the dirt.”
The field for the La Canada: Fleet of Gold, Alex Solis, 12-1; Sam’s Sister, Elvis Trujillo, 2-1; Lexie Lou, Corey Nakatani, 6-5; Thegirlinthatsong, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Jojo Warrior, Martin Garcia, 4-1; Une Cherise, Joe Talamo, 15-1; Ramona’s Wildcat, Kent Desormeaux, 15-1; and Colonel Joan, Gary Stevens, 12-1.
DANCINTHENIGHTAWAY STEPS UP IN MONDAY FEATURE
Dancinthenightaway, unbeaten and untested in three daylight victories, tackles stakes foes for the first time in Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday feature, the Grade II Santa Monica Stakes for older fillies and mares at seven furlongs.
Owned and bred in California by Al and Sandee Kirkwood, the 4-year-old daughter of 1998 Santa Anita Derby winner Indian Charlie has won her three starts by a combined margin of more than eight lengths.
Dancinthenightaway blew out four furlongs Thursday in a bullet 46.60, fastest of 90 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 49.01.
“She looks like a really good filly and she’s done nothing wrong to this point,” said trainer Mark Glatt. “I think she’s ready to step into stakes caliber company, and we’ll see if she’s as effective.
“I’ve been training for the Kirkwoods for a little over a year. I’ve been fortunate to get this opportunity and it’s good to see them with a real nice filly.”
The Santa Monica, which goes as race five: Master the Blues, Kent Desormeaux; Dancinthenightaway, Tyler Baze; Lexington Pearl, Victor Espinoza; Sam’s Sister, Elvis Trujillo; Harlington’s Rose, Joe Talamo; My Sweet Addiction, Gary Stevens; and Sweet Martini, Martin Garcia.
Fans can “buck up” thanks to another popular Dollar Day at Santa Anita Monday, the finale of a three-day holiday weekend at The Great Race Place.
On-track attendees can enjoy draft beers, hot dogs and sodas for a dollar each.
First post time is 12:30 p.m.
SHARED BELIEF ‘TRAINING REAL WELL’ FOR SAN ANTONIO
Shared Belief, who likely would have been a finalist for Horse of the Year had he not been victim of a rough start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, in which he suffered his only defeat, is doing very well for the $500,000 San Antonio Stakes Feb. 7 and a potential rematch with Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome in the Grade II race for older horses at 1 1/8 miles.
Shared Belief finished fourth in the Classic, beaten four lengths, while California Chrome was third, a neck and a nose behind front-running winner Bayern.
“He’s doing good; he’s training real well,” Jerry Hollendorfer said Friday morning of the Candy Ride gelding, winner of the Grade I Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26, who does his heavy lifting at Golden Gate Fields. “He’s very happy. I got a report on him this morning from Golden Gate that he was especially good today.”
Bob Baffert, meanwhile, left the San Antonio door ajar for Bayern, who could still make the race. Recovering from an abscess on a hind foot, the son of Offlee Wild owned by Kaleem Shah missed a scheduled work last Saturday but is on the track jogging.
“I’ll make the call that week,” Baffert said Friday morning on Bayern’s status for the San Antonio. “He’s pretty fit. I’ll know more in a few days.”
Baffert ruled out the San Antonio for Hoppertunity, impressive winner of the San Pasqual Stakes on Jan. 10. “It’s too soon,” he said.
CALIFORNIA CHROME GETS CLOCKER’S ‘VOTE’
Horse of the Year for 2014 will be announced along with other Eclipse Award recipients Saturday night at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale, Florida.
The three finalists in the most coveted category are Bayern, California Chrome and Main Sequence. Here’s how private clocker Gary Young, who does not have an official vote, sees it:
“In a year with no dominant older horse, for Main Sequence to go undefeated and win four Grade I’s is an awfully big accomplishment. But being a turf horse and not facing grass horses that have been better in recent years probably eliminates him.
“You can’t knock Bayern’s body of work at all, but whether it’s right or wrong, people are going hold what happened in the Breeders’ Cup Classic against him.
“When you throw everything into the machine and spit out the answer, any horse that wins two-thirds of the Triple Crown in a year with all these variables, California Chrome is probably going to get it.
“To see a horse win it for a trainer (77-year-old Art Sherman) who isn’t a huge name and has been around all this time would be pretty popular. The (co) owner (Steve Colburn) lost some fans when he went from Wilfred Grimley to Yosemite Sam in about 30 seconds there (in a nationally televised rant after Chrome lost the Belmont Stakes).
“But it’s a great story. The horse couldn’t have had a more under-the-radar pedigree. If I did have a vote, by no means would it be a slam-dunk, but I’d probably vote for California Chrome.”
Meanwhile Sherman and Coburn accepted the NTRA’s Moment of the Year Award this
morning at Gulfstream during the annual ThoroFan Awards breakfast.
California Chrome was an “easy winner” for his Kentucky Derby triumph, decided by an online fan vote.
JOCKEYS’ NUMBERS DON’T LIE FOR ECLIPSE FINALISTS
Purely on statistics, Javier Castellano, Joel Rosario and John Velazquez are worthy of being the three finalists for an Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding jockey of 2014. So says Ron Anderson, agent for Rosario, in a rational rebuttal to the disappointment expressed by agent Brian Beach recently on his rider, Victor Espinoza, not making the cut.
The winner will be announced tomorrow night at the Eclipse Awards dinner at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino.
“There’s something to all that,” Anderson said, referring to Espinoza’s near-miss with California Chrome in the Triple Crown races and helping thrust the popular California-bred into the mainstream.
“But when it comes to the statistics, it’s not even close. It’s pretty much black and white,” to wit: In stakes wins, Castellano, Rosario and Velazquez were the top three with 54, 48 and 42, while Espinoza won 25.
Velazquez and Castellano each had 30 graded stakes wins and Rosario 29. Espinoza had 19. In purse earnings, Castellano was first with $25,056,464; Rosario second with $21,558,485; and Velazquez fourth with $19,486,658. Espinoza was eighth with $12,116,015.
FINISH LINES: Undefeated Los Alamitos Futurity winner Dortmund, a candidate for the Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 7, worked six furlongs Thursday in a bullet 1:12.20, fastest of 28 at the distance, while Lord Nelson, ticketed for the San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 1, went the same distance in 1:12.60. “He’s relaxing,” Bob Baffert said of Dortmund. “He’s not there yet. We’ve got a ways to go.” . . . Correction: A Celebration of Life for the late Dr. Jack Robbins will be held Tuesday, Jan. 27, from 2 to 5 p.m., at Del Mar’s Turf Club, not Santa Anita’s . . . Toby Turrell‘s Winners Card not only picked Thursday’s early double of $14 and the last-race winner of Pocketball ($4.80), it tabbed Feline Forum on top at a $26.20 payoff under Flavien Prat for trainer Vladimir Cerin in the fifth race . . Agent Tony Matos has Corey Nakatani booked on Tamarando for Jerry Hollendorfer in the $250,000 California Cup Turf Classic and on Heaven’s Stairway for Marty Jones in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint, both on Jan. 24 . . . Tom Quigley‘s guest handicapper in the East Paddock Gardens Monday at 11:20 a.m. will be HRTV analyst and co-owner of NationsalTurf.com Jeff Siegel . . . Aces wild: the running time for Thursday’s first race at six furlongs was 1:11.11.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Thursday, Jan. 15)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||62||6||5||10||10%||$341,636|
|A. C. Avila||10||3||0||0||30%||$65,980|