After Jeranimo won the Grade II San Gabriel Stakes on turf Dec. 27, trainer Mike Pender allowed as to how it might have been his best race. Coming into the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita Saturday, Pender says the 5-year-old Florida-bred Congaree horse is doing at least as well, if not better.

“He’s training forwardly every day,” Pender said. “Each day is better than the day before.”

Pender has perused the past performances for the 1 1/8-mile race and feels there is enough speed in it to enhance Jeranimo’s stretch-running style, especially with committed front-runner Presious Passion breaking from the outside in the field of eight. “We’re hopeful the race sets up good for us,” Pender said.

Jeranimo’s San Gabriel win came on a “good” course, but with weather clear and dry, Pender is not concerned about firm going Saturday. “He ran over a hard Hollywood Park turf course (winning an allowance race by 1 ½ lengths on Nov. 27) and he seemed to relish it,” Pender said. “Either footing is suitable.”

Pender has retained the services of leading rider Rafael Bejarano, who was aboard for Jeranimo’s last two victories. “He’s hotter than a firecracker,” Pender said of the jockey. Jeranimo has a 5-3-2 record from 15 starts, with earnings of $429,400 for owner B.J. Wright of Pasadena.

Mike Machowsky, meanwhile, is confident that Caracortado will run his race in the Turf. The California-bred gelding is coming off a troubled third in the Grade I Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs on the main track Dec. 26, but won his turf debut sprinting at Hollywood Park on Nov. 11, in near-track record time for six furlongs. He’ll be ridden for the third time in a row by Joe Talamo on Saturday.

“It’s a tough race,” Machowsky said. “There’s not much more to say than that. I don’t think we’ll be that far off the pace. There’s enough speed in there to keep it honest. I think we’ll be tracking third, fourth, something like that.”


Warren’s Blossom, owned and bred in California by Benjamin Warren, gets tested for class and stamina when she runs in Saturday’s $300,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff at 1 1/16 miles on Santa Anita’s main track. Trainer Jorge Gutierrez feels she deserves the chance.

“We liked this filly a lot,” said Gutierrez of the 4-year-old California-bred daughter of the A.P Indy stallion Extra, who has won four of her five starts and was a troubled second in her only loss. “What surprised me is it took us so long to get a race for her. I tried to get her in those straight Cal-bred races a couple times at Del Mar, so I entered her in a straight maiden at Pomona. That race didn’t go either, so I entered her for $20,000 and I was glad I didn’t lose her.

“She was developing to the point that I’d thought she’d be a nice filly. I’ve only had a couple horses by this sire, and she’s one of the first ones. She’s kind of a well-put together filly. She’s real classy, does everything right and has done so right from the get-go. By far, this filly is the first of his progeny that kind of stands out.”

The 45-year-old Gutierrez, who has 40 head at Santa Anita, was born in Mexico City and has been training since 1996. His father, Juan, was contract rider for Laz Barrera and worked as an assistant to trainer Henry Moreno for more than 30 years. Jorge has four wins at Santa Anita this meet and finished second to Doug O’Neill at the Fairplex Park meet last September.

“Mr. Warren sent me a couple horses maybe six, seven years ago and it kind of worked out from there,” said Gutierrez, who employs a simple method to keep track of all his horse’s that have the first name of “Warren.”

”We slap the ‘W’ on all the barn doors,” Gutierrez said, “but we go by the horse’s last name.”


Steve Specht will be focused on winning the Sunshine Millions Distaff Saturday when he sends out Antares World and Lady Railrider, but no one could blame him if his mind drifts to memories of a landmark victory that occurred four years ago Thursday.

That was the day California-bred McCann’s Mojave stormed through the stretch to win the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park. The purse was $1 million back then.

“I’ll never forget that one,” the 61-year trainer said on a sun-filled Friday morning at Clockers’ Corner. “That was something special, for myself, the horse and for Mike, too,” referring to the horse’s owner, Mike Willman, who was and is Publicity Director at Santa Anita Park. “He was in desperate need of a McCann’s Mojave at that time, so it worked out really well.”

Despite the fact he was a 7-year-old shipping cross-country, Specht was confident the son of Memo-Joni U. Bar would run well on that day back in 2007. “I wouldn’t have taken him there if I didn’t think the horse had a chance,” Specht said. “He just kept getting better at the time and we decided to go ahead and give him a shot. For that kind of money, it was a little tough to turn down, especially in a restricted race where you didn’t have to face Kentucky-breds or foreign horses and stuff like that.

“Although it wasn’t a soft race, there were some good horses in there. Sweetnorthernsaint ran third in the Derby and second in the Preakness, and won the Illinois Derby, so it wasn’t like it was a bunch of bums or anything.

“But the horse was training so well and just seemed to be coming around. He got really good at the right time, so it all worked out.”

McCann’s Mojave, who was Grade I stakes-placed and a multiple graded stakes winner, retired with 12 wins from 35 starts, with earnings of $1,513,565.

McCann’s Mojave, now 11, currently stands at Rancho San Miguel for $3,000 live foal.

“His first group are yearlings,” Specht said. “The second crop will be born in the next few months. This is his third year as a stallion. You don’t know until they start running, but I think he’s going to be a good stallion. He was basically a sound horse, and in this day and age when these horses can’t make it to their 3-year-old year, this horse was still running in graded stakes at age eight. That’s something to be said. And he could sprint or route.”


Juan Garcia will have more than a rooting interest when Cayambe runs in Saturday’s $200,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint Saturday at Santa Anita. The former trainer, whose friends call him “King Juan,” retired in 2008. He is the father of trainer Victor Garcia, who will saddle Cayambe in the six furlong race.

“He’ll be coming on strong at the end,” predicted Juan, who turns 68 on Feb. 3. “The horse is doing good. I’m in town just for the race and to see old friends.”

Garcia owns horses and has some business and real estate dealings in Tijuana. “Training was easier,” Garcia said. “As an owner, you have to pay the bills.”


Tim Conway Jr., host of the popular Tim Conway Jr. Show, heard weeknights, 7 to 10 p.m., on KFI, AM 640, will be at the first-ever Gourmet Food Truck Festival on Sunshine Millions Day Saturday in the East Infield. Conway will be on hand to assist his high-profile board operator at KFI, Randy Wang, as Wang will be hosting a live internet podcast throughout the afternoon.

Conway, who previously worked at 97.1 FM, has been at KFI for over a year now and is generating the highest ratings of any show the station has ever run in that time slot. Irreverent, bold and impulsive, Conway is a lifelong devotee of Thoroughbred racing, as his father, famous comedian Tim Sr., began taking the younger Conway to the races at a very young age.

It is expected that Conway will offer his handicapping prognostications on the 10-race program—for better or worse!!

Wang and Conway can be heard on Saturday at

Admission to the Food Truck Festival is $5, in addition to regular admission. Food charges are also separate and will vary according to the vendor.

The Spazmatics will entertain in Santa Anita’s infield Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m., while Steel Rod will perform at Sirona’s Bar after the races from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

First post time on Saturday’s 10-race card is 12 noon.

FINISH LINES: Trainer John Sadler reports that Grade I Malibu Stakes winner Twirling Candy will drill seven furlongs Sunday morning at Santa Anita in preparation for the Grade II Strub Stakes on Feb . . . Dan Ward said Team Hollendorfer is considering a turf start for champion Blind Luck’s next race. “We’d prefer the La Caňada (Stakes, 1 1/8 miles on the main track Feb. 13), but we’ll look at the Buena Vista, too,” said Ward, assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. “Our ultimate goal is the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park (April 15). She’s already won over that track and the Apple Blossom is a Grade I worth $500,000.” The Buena Vista is a Grade II handicap at one mile on the grass Feb. 21. Ward added that San Pedro Stakes winner Indian Winter is ticketed for the Grade II San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 20 and a possible meeting with Bob Baffert’s up-and-coming The Factor . . . With owners Marty and Pam Wygod on hand, Queen Elizabeth II winner Harmonious worked six furlongs for John Shirreffs on Santa Anita’s main track Friday in a bullet 1:10.80 for a possible start in the La Caňada . . . M One Rifle, the 2009 Malibu winner, worked six furlongs in 1:14.60 for Bruce Headley, while promising maiden winner Rumor went five furlongs in 1:00.40 for Richard Mandella. “I have no plans for a race,” Mandella said of the filly owned by Ramona Bass, Dell Hancock and Adele Dilschneider, “but she galloped out (six furlongs) in (one) 13 and couldn’t have looked any better.”