- BLINKERS ON SECRET CIRCLE IN PALOS VERDES
- CASSE DUO STEPS UP IN GRADE I LAS VIRGENES
- TALCO SEEKS FIRST U.S. STAKES WIN IN ARCADIA
- BENCH WARRANT TRIES THE DIRT IN SAN VICENTE
- SUNDAY’S ‘BIG GAME’ BRINGS VARIED OPINIONS
BAFFERT TRIES TO TEACH OLD DOG OLD TRICK
With a bankroll of $2,430,790 from only 14 career starts, Secret Circle has more than paid his way for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman,
But equine or human, the aging process eventually creeps up, which is why Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will have blinkers on Secret Circle when he runs in Saturday’s Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes for older horses at six furlongs.
Secret Circle, a 6-year-old Eddington horse bred in Kentucky, is coming off a fourth-place finish as the odds-on favorite in the Grade III Midnight Lute Stakes on Dec. 27. He won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 2013 and was second in the race last year. The only previous time he ran in blinkers was as a 2-year-old, when he captured the defunct Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint in 2011.
Last year, Secret Circle was second in the Palos Verdes, beaten a neck by Wild Dude, who’s back for another go Saturday.
“We worked him the other day with blinkers on and we thought he worked better with them,” Baffert said of Secret Circle. “He was a little bit more focused. Sometimes when they get older they lose a little interest.
“I don’t know if it made a big difference, but put it this way; it’s not going to hurt him. When he was a 2-year-old, he’d go too fast early. Now he’s not going fast enough early.”
Trainer Jeff Bonde on committed front-runner and 2-1 morning line favorite Distinctiv Passion, who has failed to make the lead at some point only once in 13 career starts: “He’s a very quick horse. He makes his own race.”
The field for the Palos Verdes, race six of nine: Distinctiv Passion, Mike Smith, 2-1; Big Macher, Tyler Baze, 5-2; Conquest Two Step, Joe Talamo, 4-1; Secret Circle, Martin Garcia, 5-2; Wild Dude, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; and Chief Lion, Martin Pedroza, 15-1.
CASSE SENDS OUT TWO IN GRADE I LAS VIRGENES
Mio Me and Miss Mandate face their greatest challenge yet when they run in Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Las Virgenes Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile.
Mio Me is coming off a maiden win in only her second start, while Miss Mandate was second last out in an overnight race.
“It’s definitely a step up, but I kind of feel at least our fillies have two turn races under their belt, which is going to be a help,” trainer Mark Casse said. “They’re definitely going to have to step up their game to be competitive, but that’s why they’re Grade I races.”
The field for the Las Virgenes, which goes the eighth race: Glory, Mike Smith, 4-1; Maybellene, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1; Lutine Belle, Alex Solis, 12-1; Achiever’s Legacy, Drayden Van Dyke, 8-1; Mio Me, Corey Nakatani, 15-1; Majestic Presence, Gary Stevens, 7-2, Callback, Martin Garcia, 4-1; Suva Harbor, Martin Pedroza, 8-1; Miss Mandate, Joe Talamo, 12-1; and Light the City, Kent Desormeaux, 6-1.
SADLER SEEKS BETTER TRIP FOR TALCO IN ARCADIA
John Sadler will be a busy man tomorrow. He has horses entered in five of the nine races, including Talco in the Grade II Arcadia Stakes for older horses at one mile on turf.
The stretch-running French-bred was a close fifth in the Mathis Brothers Mile last out, but was compromised breaking from the extreme outside post position (10) and steadying at the three-eighths marker.
“He had a lot of trouble the other day,” Sadler said of Talco, who has made up ground late in each of his four U.S. starts, all graded stakes. “We hope he gets a good trip this time.”
Sadler also sends out Suva Harbor in the Las Virgenes, in which he’ll fly solo against five entered by Jerry Hollendorfer and two each by Bob Baffert and Mark Casse.
“She’s doing good,” Sadler said of the daughter of the late Rockport Harbor, in her first stakes race after two straight victories against lesser, one a maiden allowance test on turf, the other a one-mile overnight race on dirt.
“She’s going up in class but she’s run well every time. We’re ready to go.”
On Sunday, Sadler sends out Bench Warrant in the Grade II San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs against Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red and five other 3-year-olds with Triple Crown aspirations.
Bench Warrant will be making his first start on dirt, having won at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf on Jan. 15 before running a distant fourth to Dortmund in the Grade I Los Alamitos Futurity at 1 1/16 miles last Dec. 20.
“He wasn’t really ready for that,” Sadler said of the Los Al race. “But it’s good for him to be in the San Vicente, going under a mile.”
The Arcadia field: Home Run Kitten, Joe Talamo, 3-1; Baccelo, Tiago Pereira, 20-1; Kaigun, Corey Nakatani, 5-2; Edge of Reality, Flavien Prat, 8-1; El Nino Terrible, Fernando Perez, 12-1; Talco, Drayden Van Dyke, 8-1; Za Approval, Mike Smith, 3-1; and Avanzare, Gary Stevens, 4-1.
Play Hard to Get was scratched.
The San Vicente field: Lord Nelson, Rafael Bejarano, 2-1; Serbian Syclone, Elvis Trujillo, 3-1; Jazzy Josh, Flavien Prat, 15-1; Texas Red, Kent Desormeaux, 9-5; Punctuate, Martin Garcia, 9-2; Magic Taste, Omar Santos, 50-1; Bench Warrant, Tyler Baze, 12-1; and Sir Samson, Joe Talamo, 15-1.
HORSEMEN NOT AT ODDS WITH THE BIG GAME: IT’S CLOSE
With Sunday’s Big Game in Phoenix expected to be one of the most contentious and competitive ever, according to oddsmakers, who have the match between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots anywhere from Pick ‘Em to one or two points favoring New England, and the total points hovering around 48, depending on the moment, following is a random sampling of opinions from Santa Anita:
Barry Abrams: “New England and over.”
A.C. Avila: “I’m a soccer fan.”
Bob Baffert: “I’ve always been a Bill Belichick fan. He presented the Eclipse Award to us when Point Given was Horse of the Year in 2001.”
Richard Baltas: “Patriots. I can’t stand Seattle, that’s why.”
Brian Beach: “I’m a Seattle fan. I attended the first game the Seahawks played there as a new franchise.”
Ray Bell: “If I had to, I’d pick New England, but I’m rooting for New England. (Seattle coach Pete) Carroll bailed on USC and was fired by New England.”
Vann Belvoir: “Seattle. I’m a Northwest guy.”
David Bernstein: “Seattle. My kids (Darryl and David Jr.) live up there. And I like their little quarterback (Russell Wilson).”
Jeff Bonde: “The Seahawks have the edge but Brady is the X-factor.”
Simon Callaghan: “New England.”
Jim Cassidy: “Either the Bills or the Redskins.”
Caesar Dominguez: “New England by 10 points.”
Neil Drysdale: “I’m going to take the points.”
Victor Espinoza: “My agent (Brian Beach) is a fanatic for the Seahawks so I’m going to go against him.”
Jerry Fanning: “I think it will be a great game. I’m rooting for New England.”
Mark Glatt: “Seattle . . . defense.”
Jorge Gutierrez: “New England but I have a side bet with Gary Stevens.”
Dan Hendricks: “Seattle. I think karma will catch up to New England.”
Steve Knapp: I’m pulling for Seattle, but it’s kind of up in the air. I always like to see a fired coach win.”
Eric Kruljac: “I just hope it’s not over in the first five minutes, but the game sure has the media tied up for now.”
Craig Lewis: “It should be a helluva game. I agree with the odds. I can’t pick it. It’s too close. It’s like trying to pick between two real good horses.”
Richard Mandella: “Seahawks.”
Ron McAnally: “New England. They took so much heat on the deflated footballs.”
Derek Meredith: “Seattle in a close game.”
Corey Nakatani: “I think Tom Brady’s got something to prove. He’s one of the best quarterbacks. Maybe Seattle can beat them by passing, because I think New England will stop the run.”
Doug O’Neill: “Seattle. I’m going with my head and saying defense wins.”
Tom Proctor: “I don’t care. I’m worried about the next horse I run.”
John Sadler: “The Patriots. I’m not rooting for them but I think they’re the better team.”
Gary Sherlock: “Seahawks.”
Cliff Sise Jr.: “It should be a good game. Whichever team is best that day will win.”
Bill Spawr: “Seattle, but I like Brady and Belichick.”
Joe Talamo and his agent, Scotty McClellan: “We’re very patriotic, so we’ve got to go with the Patriots.”
Eddie Truman: “I already have lunch bet with two guys. I took New England with one guy and Seattle with the other. But personally, I’m for New England.”
Private clocker Gary Young: “The best defense usually wins the Super Bowl and Seattle’s got the best defense, so I’d probably go with them.”
Howard Zucker: “I’m rooting for the Patriots.”
FINISH LINES: Santa Anita invites fans to its Big Game Party Sunday in the Bud Light Lounge & Sirona’s. Enjoy a buffet, program, big screen HDTV’s, two full-size pool tables, and $3 Budweiser and Bud Light brews all day for only $20. Tickets are available online at santaanita.com/events. Must be 21 or older to enter this area on a first come, first served for seating. Call 626-574-6400 for group rates. First post time Sunday is 11 a.m. . . . Oklahoma Derby winner Tonito M., a candidate for the San Antonio Invitational on Feb. 7, worked six furlongs for Jerry Hollendorfer Friday on a main track dampened by light rain in 1:14 under Rafael Bejarano . . . California Chrome is scheduled to work 8 a.m. Sunday at his Los Alamitos base for the San Antonio . . . Bob Baffert has not ruled out the San Antonio for San Pasqual winner Hoppertunity. “It’s either that or the Donn,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “The San Antonio would set him up for the Santa Anita Handicap (on March 7).” . . . Kalookan Queen winner Harlington’s Rose went four furlongs in 48 flat Friday morning. Trainer Steve Knapp is considering two races for the 3-year-old daughter of Harlington, the $75,000 Wishing Well Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf Feb. 8 and/or the Grade III Las Flores Stakes at six furlongs on the main track March 8 . . . Trainer Craig Lewis has designs on the Grade II Santa Maria Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 14 for Paseana Stakes winner Warren’s Veneda . . . Congrats to Daily Racing Form selector Rich Wroble for tabbing six winners on top Thursday, including Humorista ($19.40) in the fifth race and North Pacific ($39.60) in the sixth, triggering a Pick Six carryover into Friday of $39,891 . . . Humorista is an impeccably-bred daughter of Distorted Humor out of Halfbridled, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2003. Humorista was making the first start of her career at the age of four. “She was a big, coarse filly growing up and had a lot of little problems, but she’s good now,” said Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella in explaining the belated debut. Halfbridled won the Grade I Del Mar Debutante, the Grade II Oak Leaf Stakes and the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies under Julie Krone en route to an Eclipse Award. Halfbridled finished with four wins and two seconds from six starts with earnings of $959,400 . . . The Breeders’ Cup has announced that Bryan Pettigrew has been named Senior Vice President, Marketing and Sponsorship. Pettigrew will oversee marketing, business development and sponsorship sales for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-ending international event, which will be held Oct. 30-31 at Keeneland. Pettigrew, who will be based in Lexington, officially begins his duties on Feb. 2. Pettigrew comes to the Breeders’ Cup from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) where he was Senior Vice President of NTRA Advantage for the past three years. During this period, Pettigrew was responsible for soliciting and developing national sponsorships for the NTRA’s member racetracks and affiliates within the U.S. horseracing industry. Pettigrew increased sponsorship revenues for the NTRA since 2012 by forging new partnership agreements with Lockton Insurance Brokers, Valvoline, Tito’s Vodka, and Nationwide Insurance. His division also oversaw the partnerships with Office Depot, Sherwin Williams Paints and John Deere, among others. “We are proud to have selected a very talented, hardworking and proven sponsorship sales professional in Bryan Pettigrew,” said Craig Fravel, Breeders’ Cup President and CEO . . . Delta Jackpot winner Ocho Ocho Ocho worked four furlongs for trainer Jim Cassidy Thursday in 47.60 as the son of Street Sense prepared for the Grade II San Felipe Stakes on March 7 . . . Congratulations to jockey Santiago Gonzalez on winning his first race at Santa Anita, aboard 12-1 shot Fabulous Fit for Cassidy last Friday. Former trainer Craig Stephen represents Gonzalez.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Thursday, Jan. 29)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||85||9||8||13||11%||$525,266|
|A. C. Avila||14||4||0||1||29%||$83,160|