- MAJESTIC HARBOR FRESH FOR THE SAN PASQUAL
- FLORIDA INVADER DEBUTS FOR O’NEILL IN SHAM
- MAIDEN CALCULATOR MAKES SENSE TO JON WHITE
- FATHER AND SON MANDELLA VIE IN PASEANA
- CALIFORNIA CHROME HONORED HERE SATURDAY
IMPROVEMENT DUE FOR MAJESTIC HARBOR IN SAN PASQUAL
Fresh, fit and formidable, Majestic Harbor is expected to return to the form that enabled him to win the Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita last June when he runs in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes for older horses at 1 1/16 miles.
The 7-year-old horse failed to fire in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 1, finishing a distant 13th in a field of 14, but Sean McCarthy is hopeful that the son of the late Rockport Harbor does his thing in the San Pasqual.
“It wasn’t his day in the Breeders’ Cup . . . He came out of the race fine and everything was good,” the trainer said. “I turned him out for a while, let him roll and play in the sand a little bit, brought him back and he’s been working really well for this race.
“Hopefully, if he runs to his works, he should go well.”
The field for the San Pasqual, race eight of nine: Quadrivium, Mike Smith, 6-1; Hoppertunity, Martin Garcia, 9-5; Majestic Harbor, Tyler Baze, 9-2; Big Cazanova, Elvis Trujillo, 5-1; Baccelo, Tiago Pereira, 30-1; Bronzo, Gary Stevens, 8-1; Salto Del Indio, Joe Talamo, 20-1; Mr. Commons, Brice Blanc, 10-1; Blue Tone, Kent Desormeaux, 12-1; Appealing Tale, Victor Espinoza, 10-1; and Tonito M., Rafael Bejarano, 10-1.
ROCKINATTEN DEBUTS FOR O’NEILL IN SHAM STAKES
Team O’Neill hopes to make another contentious run in the Triple Crown classics this year with recent acquisition Rockinatten, who is entered in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds at one mile, the first in a series of important sophomore steppingstones at Santa Anita that could lead to greater gold and glory capped by the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 4.
Rockinatten will be making his West Coast debut, having raced three times at Gulfstream Park in Florida, breaking his maiden by nearly nine lengths at seven furlongs on Oct. 26.
“Steve Rothblum (O’Neill assistant and bloodstock guru) and a couple of our owners made the connection for us,” said Leandro Mora, assistant to trainer Doug O’Neill. “Hopefully, we can put the horse in the major leagues. The timing is right to try and see if we have another I’ll Have Another or Goldencents.”
Each of those horses won the Santa Anita Derby, in 2012 and 2013, respectively. I’ll Have Another went on the capture the first two jewels of the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, before a last-minute injury forced him to abort his try for the elusive Triple in the Belmont Stakes.
Rafael Bejarano will be riding Rockinatten competitively for the first time in the Sham, but the meet’s leading rider has worked the Florida-bred gelding twice at Santa Anita.
“He’s doing really well and I really like him,” Bejarano said.
The field for the Sham, which goes as race six: St. Joe Bay, Martin Pedroza, 8-1; Pioneerof the West, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Rockinatten, Rafael Bejarano, 7-2; Unblunted, Joe Talamo, 6-1; Rock Shandy, Victor Espinoza, 8-1; Papacoolpapacool, Fernando Perez, 8-1; Calculator, Elvis Trujillo, 8-5; and Hero Ten All, Tyler Baze, 4-1.
CALCULATOR GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN IN SHAM
Santa Anita oddsmaker Jon White has installed Calculator, a maiden, as the morning line favorite in Saturday’s Grade III Sham Stakes. The In Summation colt will be making his 2015 debut in the one mile test for 3-year-olds.
“Not only did I make Calculator the morning line favorite, but I made him a strong favorite at 8-5,” White said. “He is certainly not your typical maiden. He finished second in two Grade I races last year. He ran second in both the Del Mar Futurity and the FrontRunner here at Santa Anita. And it’s not as if those were weak editions of those races, either. American Pharoah won those two races, earning an excellent 101 Beyer Speed Figure each time.
“American Pharoah is an Eclipse Award finalist for champion 2-year-old male. Texas Red finished third, behind Calculator, in the FrontRunner and went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by 6 ½ lengths. Texas Red also is one of the three Eclipse Award finalists in his division, along with Hootenany (who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf).
“I did some research on the Sham and found that not only is Calculator going against the grain in that he is a maiden running against winners, he also is going against the grain in terms of something nine of the last 10 winners of the Sham have had in common. Nine of the last 10 winners went into it off a victory, the only exception being Colonel John, who won the 2008 Sham after having finished second in the CashCall Futurity.
“This begs the question, ‘Who is going into this year’s Sham off a victory?’ And the answer is Rockinatten and Hero Ten All.”
Rockinatten is coming off an 8 ¾-length maiden victory at Gulfstream Park West, while Hero Ten All is coming off a 1 ¾-length maiden win at Los Alamitos.
“Four of the last five winners of the Sham went into it off a win in a maiden race,” White noted. “So perhaps that also will bode well for Rockinatten and Hero Ten All. Midnight Hawk (the 2014 Sham winner) and Out of Bounds both were coming off a maiden win at Hollywood Park. Tapizar (2011) was coming off a maiden win at Churchill Downs. And Alphie’s Bet (2010) was coming off a maiden win on the grass at Santa Anita.”
MANDELLAS SQUARE OFF IN SUNDAY’S PASEANA
The apple won’t fall far from the tree when Valiant Emilia and Zilber run in Sunday’s $75,000 Paseana Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.
Gary Mandella saddles Valiant Emilia who breaks from post position two, while his Hall of Fame father, Richard, sends out Zilber, who breaks from post position three.
It’s not the first time the two have raced horses against one another.
“You can’t be any better than your horses are, but he does a great job,” papa Mandella said of his son. “I’m very proud of him.”
The Paseana, named for the champion older filly or mare of 1992 and 1993 trained by Ron McAnally, goes as race seven on a nine-race program.
The field: Legacy, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1; Valiant Emilia, Rafael Bejarano, 10-1; Zilber, Tiago Pereira, 20-1; Tiz Midnight, Victor Espinoza, 8-5; Warren’s Veneda, Tyler Baze, 3-1; My Sweet Addiction, Mike Smith, 3-1; Eblouissante, Gary Stevens, 10-1; and Taste Like Candy, Kent Desormeaux, 9-2.
‘PEOPLE’S CHOICE’ WINNER ‘CHROME’ HONORED TOMORROW
Santa Anita will proudly honor California Chrome as the fifth annual recipient of the Secretariat “Vox Populi” Award (the People’s Choice Award) on Saturday.
The California Chrome team will be available for an autograph session at 11 a.m. in Santa Anita’s East Paddock Gardens. The first 2,000 fans who arrive at the autograph tent will receive a free California Chrome poster, which will be available only at the autograph tent, one per fan, while supplies last.
Scheduled to attend the autograph session will be Chrome’s regular rider, Victor Espinoza; his trainer, Art Sherman; and owners/breeders Steve Coburn and Perry Martin.
California Chrome, who basked in the national spotlight throughout the year after winning the Santa Anita Derby, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, was the clear favorite among the record number of voters in the Vox Populi online poll.
He was one of a select group of nominees submitted by the Vox Populi committee and Mrs. Penny Chenery, owner of beloved Triple Crown champion Secretariat, in whose name she established the award in 2010.
FINISH LINES: Bob Baffert on how he thinks the Eclipse Awards will shake out now that the voters have named the finalists: “It’s the only time in our sport where it becomes figure skating.” . . . Chitu worked in company Friday morning with American Pride for Baffert, going five furlongs under Martin Garcia. Each horse was clocked in 1:01.40 . . . Stakes winners Tamarando and Wild Dude worked in company for Jerry Hollendorfer, each timed in 1:12.60 for six furlongs. Corey Nakatani was aboard Tamarando . . . California Chrome is scheduled to work at 8 a.m. Saturday at Los Alamitos in preparation for the $500,000 San Antonio Stakes on Feb. 7, and a possible Breeders’ Cup Classic rematch with Bayern and Shared Belief. The latter breezed four furlongs at his Golden Gate base Tuesday in 50.60 . . . Jockey Joe Steiner is two wins away from career victory No. 1,000 . . . Jockey Alonso Quinonez has been suspended three days (Jan. 15, 16 and 17) for causing interference on Persuasive Paul in Thursday’s second race . . .Richard Mandella reports two-time champion Beholder doing well at Julie Adair-Stack‘s Chino facility as she prepares for her return to the races. “She’s jogging there and getting legged up a bit,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “She’ll be in here before long.” . . . Santa Anita offers Dollar Day next Monday, Jan. 19, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which completes a three-day weekend at The Great Race Place. Fans can enjoy draft beers, hot dogs and sodas for just a buck. First post time is 12:30 p.m.. . . High fives: Show Stealer makes her fifth start in today’s fifth race. She has finished fifth each time.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Thursday, Jan. 8)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||43||3||3||6||7%||$209,206|
|J. Eric Kruljac||7||2||1||0||29%||$72,550|
|A. C. Avila||7||2||0||0||29%||$30,210|