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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
Blund Luck with Rafael Bejarano aboard
• BEJARANO HAS SIGHTS SET ON ALWAYS A PRINCESS IN LA CAŇADA
• ST TRINIANS SET FOR DEFENSE OF HER SANTA MARIA TITLE
• THIRTYFIRSTSTREET TRIES TWO TURNS IN ROBERT LEWIS STAKES
BLIND LUCK NEEDS PACE HELP IN SUNDAY’S GRADE II LA CAŇADA STAKES
A leopard can’t change its spots and Blind Luck can’t change her running style. She’s a stone closer who has trailed early in 10 of her last 11 starts, and that could pose a problem for Rafael Bejarano when he rides the 3-year-old filly champion of 2010 in Sunday’s Grade II La Caňada Stakes for 4-year-old fillies.
Even though the La Caňada at 1 1/8 miles is a sixteenth of a mile longer than the El Encino Stakes, in which Blind Luck was beaten 3 ½ lengths by the front-running Always a Princess, who is back for the La Caňada, Bejarano understands he must overcome a tried and true racing adage: “pace makes the race.”
“Always a Princess is the only speed, and it doesn’t look like she’ll get much pressure up front early,” said Santa Anita’s leading rider through 29 days of the meet’s 76-day session with 43 victories, nine more than runner-up Joel Rosario. “I can’t change my filly’s running style.”
Rosario had ridden Blind Luck in her last five races, but Bejarano is back aboard for the La Caňada. He had ridden the Kentucky-bred daughter of Pollard’s Vision in six straight races before Rosario began his skein of five in a row with a nose victory in the Delaware Oaks last July 10. Rosario rides Harmonious for trainer John Shirreffs in the La Caňada.
“The longer the better for Blind Luck,” said Bejarano, who piloted her to a nose victory in the prestigious Kentucky Oaks at 1 1/8 miles last April 30. “The problem is there’s no speed in the race except for Always a Princess.”
Bejarano worked Blind Luck four furlongs on Santa Anita’s dirt training track Thursday in :49.20, a time that may have been compromised by an unforeseen incident.
“She worked good, but she lost a shoe (right front),” Bejarano said. “That’s why she went a little slow at the end.”
The field for the La Caňada, the eighth of nine races Sunday: Fashion Trend, Victor Espinoza; Harmonious, Joel Rosario; Always a Princess, Martin Garcia; Blind Luck, Bejarano; and Life Well Lived, Patrick Valenzuela.
ST TRINIANS, SANS ZENYATTA, SET FOR SANTA MARIA STAKES
St Trinians ran perhaps the race of her life in defeat when she finished second to eventual Horse of the Year Zenyatta in the Grade I Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park last June. Like many of Zenyatta’s foes, St Trinians appeared on her way to victory before the champion mare unleashed her signature late run to win by a half-length.
With no Zenyattas in the field, trainer Mike Mitchell is confident that St Trinians will make a successful return to the races after an absence of eight months when she runs in Saturday’s Grade II Santa Maria Stakes, a race she won last year before finishing sixth as the 3-1 favorite next out against males in the Santa Anita Handicap.
“She runs well fresh, so that doesn’t bother me at all,” Mitchell said from his Hollywood Park headquarters. “I mapped out everything to run in this race. The track’s been super at Hollywood and she’s been working great. The fact that they gave her a ‘b’ (for breezing in a six furlong drill Feb. 5 that was clocked in 1:12) shows how good the work was.
“The race against Zenyatta was hard on her, and she came out of it kind of body-sore. Otherwise, there was nothing wrong with her, but I felt it was a good opportunity to give her some time, and it’s worked out well. I couldn’t be more pleased with how she’s coming into the race.”
St Trinians, a 6-year-old English-bred mare owned by Dan Capen and Laura Chavers, will be ridden by Joe Talamo for the first time in a race in the Santa Maria, a Grade II event at 1 1/16 miles. It will mark her first time racing on traditional dirt.
“Joe has worked her three times and he knows her pretty well,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think dirt will bother her at all. She can run over pavement, snow, you name it.”
The field for the Santa Maria: St Trinians, Joe Talamo, 8-5; Vision in Gold, Joel Rosario, 8-1; Washington Bridge, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; Miss Match, Garrett Gomez, 15-1; Zardana, Victor Espinoza, 5-1; Mona de Momma, Alonso Quinonez, 4-1; and It Tiz, David Flores, 12-1.
O’NEILL GOES FOR UPSET IN SATURDAY’S ROBERT B. LEWIS STAKES
Doug O’Neill, in a flat-footed tie with Bob Baffert for Santa Anita’s training lead through Thursday at 22 wins each, goes for an upset in Saturday’s Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes with Thirtyfirststreet.
The California-bred son of Good Journey will be trying two turns for the first time after three sprints, including a half-length triumph in the California Breeders Championship Stakes at seven furlongs on Dec. 26.
“We’ve been excited about him going two turns,” O’Neill said. “He’s built like he wants two turns and he’s bred to go two turns. I think he’s going to run a big race. I know he’ll be an outsider because there are horses in there that have already done well going two turns, but we think we’ve got a chance.”
The Lewis is part of the Preakness 5.5 Bonus program, which also includes the Grade II San Felipe Stakes, to be run on March 12, and the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 9. The owner of any horse that wins either the Lewis, San Felipe, Holy Bull Stakes, El Camino Real Derby, Fountain of Youth Stakes, and either the Santa Anita Derby or the Florida Derby and then the Preakness Stakes on May 21, would win a bonus of $5.5 million, with $5 million going to the owner and $500,000 to the winning trainer.
The field for the Lewis, which goes as race six on a 10-race program: Wegner, Rafael Bejarano, 10-1; Anthony’s Cross, Joel Rosario, 6-1; Comma to the Top, Corey Nakatani, 5-2; Tapizar, Garrett Gomez, 4-5; Ten Devils, Joe Talamo, 6-1; Riveting Reason, Victor Espinoza, 4-1; Quail Hill, Martin Pedroza, 20-1; and Thirtyfirststreet, Patrick Valenzuela, 10-1.
Anthony’s Cross also was entered in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields Saturday, but Eoin Harty said the son of Indian Charlie would run in the Lewis. “It might be an easier spot,” the trainer said.
PAIN IN THE NECK SIDELINES HORNBLOWER JAY COHEN
Popular Santa Anita horn blower Jay Cohen expects to be gone from Santa Anita for about two weeks for surgery on a painful neck ailment.
“Sunday is my last day,” the 54-year-old Cohen said Friday. “I have to have a piece of bone taken out of my neck. About a month ago, the pain got to be too much. I couldn’t take it any more, and I just thought, ‘I’m not going to make it till summertime.’
“The doctor is giving me about a two-week recuperation. I was trying to get the surgery scheduled on Monday but they can’t do it until Thursday, so that cost me three days right there. This is my third neck surgery. It’s just bad luck. It wasn’t an accident. It’s just genetic. There’s a lot of arthritis in the family and I just don’t have a good neck, that’s all.”
Cohen’s replacement will be Kevin Brown. “He’s an excellent player,” said Cohen, who hopes to be back on the job by Santa Anita Handicap Day, March 5.
FINISH LINES: Agent Tony Matos said Victor Espinoza would honor his four riding commitments Friday after being involved in a first-race spill Thursday. Apprentice jockey Abel Cedillo was at home Friday after suffering a minor fracture in his back in the incident, according to his agent, Roger Olguin, who said Cedillo could be out “one or two weeks.” . . . Outrider Blake Heap, 54, was recovering at his Monrovia home from serious injuries suffered in a training mishap at Santa Anita on Jan. 30 and could make his first trackside visit since the accident on Saturday. “He’s going to the doctor today to be checked out and if his leg is OK, maybe they’ll let him get out of the house for the first time since the accident and get to the barn tomorrow,” said friend and associate Rick Bassett, an owner and former pari-mutuel clerk. “He’s got a long way to go, but he’s definitely making progress. He’s got cabin fever and like a caged animal, because he’s been in his house ever since he got hurt. He won a race Saturday (with 7-1 shot Circa’sgoldengear) and that was uplifting. It helped him a lot. He’s hanging in there. He’s tough. He’s coming back. I don’t know about outriding for a while, but he’ll be back training horses.” . . . Triple Crown candidate Astrology worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Friday in :51.20 for Steve Asmussen . . . Rumor, scratched from today’s seventh race in which the filly would have been running against males, is re-entered in Sunday’s second race against her own sex. The impressive maiden winner blew out four furlongs Friday in :51.80 for Richard Mandella . . . 2009 Malibu winner M One Rifle, who could give trainer Bruce Headley his seventh win in the Potrero Grande Stakes on April 3, worked five furlongs in a bullet :57.60 Friday . . . San Marcos Stakes runner-up Champ Pegasus worked one mile on the main track for Mandella in 1:40.20 for the Grade II San Luis Obispo Stakes at a mile and a half on turf Feb. 19 . . . Agent Brian Beach reports that Chantal Sutherland will be at the Fair Grounds next Saturday to ride Inglorious for trainer Josie Carroll in the $150,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles . . . John Sadler, Santa Anita’s leader in stakes wins this meet with seven (all graded),” is delighted with results thus far. “We’re happy where we are right now,” said Santa Anita’s training leader the past two seasons. “The horses are running really well.” . . . Congratulations to Laffit Pincay Jr. on being named one of the 50 Coolest Athletes in Southern California by the Los Angeles Times.