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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• GOMEZ GAINS RESPECT WITH GEORGE WOOLF AWARD
• SUTHERLAND OPTIMISTIC IN SAN LUIS REY STAKES
• IT TIZ NEEDS BETTER LUCK IN SATURDAY’S SANTA ANA
• TEENAGE SHOWVIVOR WINNER TELLS ALL
WOOLF AWARD HOLDS SPECIAL MEANING FOR GARRETT GOMEZ
Ron Anderson has a realistic view on what it takes to win Santa Anita’s George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. The veteran agent has represented two former winners, Jerry Bailey (1992) and Gary Stevens (1996), both members of racing’s Hall of Fame.
“You have to be well-respected by everybody,” said Anderson, now calling the shots for likely future Hall of Famer Garrett Gomez, the 2011 Woolf winner who will be honored between races Sunday in Santa Anita’s winner’s circle.
“Yes, it is a bit of a popularity contest, since it’s voted on by your peers, but more than that, it’s a matter of earning respect from your peers. It’s different from awards in other sports in the sense that the Woolf winner is in the ring every day fighting with the guys who vote for you, doing whatever you can do to beat them on the race track.
“Then you have to go back in the jocks’ room with the guys you were just trying to beat. Winning an award like this, it’s on the record forever. It’s very special, to Garrett in particular, because of his background.
“He overcame substance abuse and alcohol addiction, and people who have gone through that generally have low self-esteem, so this award, to me, shows Garrett he’s really made it back all the way.
“I’m sure he feels respected now and realizes deep down inside that he’s accomplished something he thought might never be possible.”
SUTHERLAND SET FOR SUNDAY’S MARATHON SAN LUIS REY STAKES
Chantal Sutherland reunites with Imponente Purse in Sunday’s Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes and the 35-year-old rider is optimistic about her chances in the mile and a half turf marathon.
“I really like him,” said Sutherland, who finished fourth on the 5-year-old gelding in the Grade II San Marcos Stakes at 1 ¼ miles on turf Jan. 17. “He’s cool.”
“It’s also nice to have Bourbon Bay and Champ Pegasus out of the race (running in Dubai March 26),” pointed out Brian Beach, Chantal’s agent.
Imponente Purse is owned by Luiz Fernando Dannemann and his daughter, Denize F. Dannemann of Rio de Janeiro, who race as Jessica Coudelaria. The Brazilian-bred bay is trained by A.C. Avila.
“We’re hoping for a good pace,” Avila said. “The distance should be no problem for the horse.” Imponente Purse won at that distance on Hollywood Park’s turf course last Dec. 9.
The field for the San Luis Rey, which offers $150,000 in purse money: Haimish Hy, Garrett Gomez; Romp, Alonso Quinonez; Falcon Rock, Brice Blanc; Imponente Purse, Sutherland; Buenos Dias, Martin Pedroza; Restless Soul, Joe Talamo; Juniper Pass, Rafael Bejarano; and Dahoud, Joel Rosario.
GLATT HOPES IT TIZ IS ON THE MARK IN GRADE II SANTA ANA
Trainer Mark Glatt expects a better trip and added distance will benefit It Tiz in Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 Santa Ana Stakes for older fillies and mares scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on turf.
The 4-year-old daughter of Tiznow hopped and bobbled at the start when she finished ninth in the one-mile Buena Vista Handicap on Feb. 21.
“I think a mile and an eighth suits her well,” Glatt said. “At times in some of her races she has a tendency to not relax real well early. Going a mile and an eighth, she needs to do that. Hopefully, David (Flores) will be able to get her to settle back into a decent position when they’re not on the bit early.
“She’s capable, but she had a bad start the other day and then just kind of threw in a bad race, but we’re looking forward to bouncing back tomorrow.” It Tiz has a 5-1-1 record from 15 starts, with earnings of $259,295 for owners Allen and Susan Branch of Los Gatos.
The field for the Santa Ana: Malibu Pier, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1; Church Camp, Brice Blanc, 20-1; Turning Top, Joel Rosario, 3-1; Washington Bridge, Mike Smith, 8-1; It Tiz, David Flores, 5-1; Éclair de Lune, Chantal Sutherland, 5-2; and Lilly Fa Pootz, Corey Nakatani, 9-2. Blue Maiden was scratched.
TALES OF HOFFMAN: HOW TO WIN A SHOWVIVOR CONTEST
The winner of Santa Anita’s popular on-line handicapping contest ShowVivor earlier this year was Washington State native Tyler Hoffman, who currently is visiting The Great Race Place. Now 19, Tyler took time to explain how he got his start in racing and how he won ShowVivor:
“I got into horse racing thanks to my dad and grandfather who brought me out to Santa Anita on April 3, 1992, when I was six weeks old. (It was the day before the Santa Anita Derby so that's how I remember it). Horse racing has been in the family for three generations and it's something we are all passionate about.
“I was the kid in elementary school on Friday afternoons in the fall who would sprint to my dad's car at the 2:30 bell so we could catch the Friday race card at Oak Tree, which had a 2 p.m. start time. When I was about 10, my dad taught me how to handicap the Racing Form and I immediately fell in love with it. It took a while to get used to it but I used basic principles of analyzing a race that he taught me and it became my formula.
“When I look at a race, I'm always looking for an advantage on the front end. I'm most definitely a speed handicapper and if horses are going wire to wire, I'm going to have a very nice day at the track. I live by the principle that my dad taught me, which is ‘let price be your guide.’ When I was about 13, we switched over to Brisnet racing form because of the extra pedigree information it provided. Using Brisnet has really enhanced my ability to hit maiden races and turf races. My favorite bets now are first-time starters that show a quick three furlong work, preferably 35 and change, are bred to sprint, the trainer is above 10 percent first time out and the dam has thrown out multiple winners.
“As for turf races, I love to bet horses running on turf the first time when the dam has produced multiple turf winners. Usually you can catch these horses at nice prices. The protected claiming angle in California is also a common play of mine.
The ShowVivor contest I won involved as much luck as skill. The main reason I signed up was that I was going head to head with my dad and we were just trying to have some fun to see who could stay alive the longest. I believe we had a $5 side wager on it, but now that I think about it, my dad hasn't paid up and I don't think he will, but it's OK since I won the prize money ($3,000). It took 25 days for me to win the contest and I finally won on a horse called Mutually Benefit ridden by Garrett Gomez. The other guy remaining had a Sadler trainee named Tiz a Bud Girl, ridden by Joel Rosario, which ran out of the money.
“Since I won I've been asked several times about my strategy. Basically, I just looked for what I call ‘ShowVivor races’ which are races with eight horses or less excluding starter allowance races since they are by far my worst races. That usually leaves me with three or four races and then I just handicap as I normally do. I find my best bet from those races and put in my pick. My theory was always, ‘if I like the horse to win, I got to like it to show.’
“After that it just involves a lot of luck, and you have to win a couple photos here and there. My closest victory came with Smiling Tiger who actually got passed for third a step before the wire, but got his nose back down on the wire to snag third. Other than that, I didn't have too many other close calls.
“Towards the end of the contest though, I did get a little superstitious. I know that I’m a terrible favorite better. Whenever I need a favorite for a Pick 3 or Pick 4 I seem to always run out. Thus I decided I would try to jinx the other horses I was rooting against in the contest. When there were only four people left, I played California Nectar to show and sure enough it ran out of the money. The other show bet I made was Tiz a Bud Girl which knocked out the only other person left. It's pretty ironic that I won a ShowVivor contest, yet the only two live show bets I made during the contest both ran out. Even more coincidental was I hit 25 straight show bets of horses 3-1 or less to win the contest.”
LA NEZ SET FOR SATURDAY’S IRISH O’BRIEN, TURF OR DIRT
With wet weather forecast this weekend, races scheduled for the turf are at risk of being moved to Santa Anita’s dirt main track. Either way, trainer Eric Kruljac plans to run La Nez in Saturday’s $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes set for about 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course. La Nez was third last out in the Valentine Dancer Handicap at one mile on dirt. The race originally had been scheduled for turf.
“It was wet the day she ran down the hill,” pointed out Kruljac, referring to the Grade III Monrovia Stakes on Jan. 2, when La Nez finished sixth behind win machine Unzip Me. “My filly didn’t handle the track, and because it was wet, I’m thinking maybe that was the reason. I would run on dirt, but it will depend on how hard the track is. There’s a good chance I would run. We’ll see.”
La Nez, a 4-year-old California-bred daughter of Storm Creek, has a 4-3-4 record from 15 starts. She has earned $333,000 for owner Joe Masino of Class Racing Stable.
The field for the Irish O’Brien, which goes as the fifth race: West Ruler, Mike Smith, 4-1; Logical Single, Chantal Sutherland, 15-1; Chalula One, Victor Espinoza, 8-1; Park Time Luck, Rafael Bejarano, 12-1; Strawberry Tart, Joel Rosario, 6-1; Saanneen, Corey Nakatani, 7-2; Quisisana, Joe Talamo, 3-1; La Nez, Martin Pedroza, 9-2; and Ms. G.I. Jane, Brice Blanc, 15-1.
SADLER SEEKS NINTH STAKES WIN OF MEET IN SANTA PAULA STAKES
John Sadler hopes to win his ninth stakes win this meet with maiden winner Hout Bay in Sunday’s $100,000 Santa Paula Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
If he wins the 6 ½ furlong race, it would mark the first non-graded stakes win this meet for the 54-year-old Sadler. The previous eight have come in graded races.
“Hout Bay is doing great,” Sadler said Friday morning. “She had a good maiden win (on Jan. 22) and then we couldn’t really get her into a prep (allowance) race, so we just held her for this one.”
“She had a good half-mile workout Wednesday (in :46 4/5),” added Larry Benavidez, long-time Sadler assistant. “She’s had plenty of time since her last race and should be ready.”
The Kentucky-bred daughter of Harlan’s Holiday owned and bred by Keith Abraham won her maiden allowance test at 5 ½ furlongs by a length and a half, rallying from ninth and last after a slow start.
The field for the Santa Paula, the eighth of nine races: Tiz the Route, Brice Blanc; Joe Ja, Corey Nakatani; Dawnie Macho, Victor Espinoza; California Nectar, Patrick Valenzuela; Hout Bay, Joel Rosario; Justenufappeal, Joe Talamo; Top Debutante, David Flores; and Mildly Offensive, Rafael Bejarano.
$1 MILLION HORSESHOE PITCH TOMORROW AT SANTA ANITA
All fans attending Santa Anita Saturday will have a chance to “get their Irish up,” as The Great Race Place again stages its popular $1 million St. Patrick’s Horseshoe Pitch between races.
History was made at Santa Anita three years ago when John Placzankis of Rancho Cucamonga tossed a perfect ringer and became the first-ever winner of the $1 million competition, touching off a wild scene that was captured live on HRTV.
All fans attending Saturday will be eligible to sign up for the competition and five lucky finalists will have their entry cards drawn randomly earlier in the day.
Fans are encouraged to enter the St. Pat’s Horseshoe contest, free of charge, when they arrive. Entries must be submitted by fifth race post time. Further instructions and contest information will be available on designated television monitors.
As an instructional prelude, a group of Santa Anita jockeys will participate in an exhibition horse shoe pitch following the third race. Santa Anita will donate $1,000 to the Disabled Jockeys Fund on behalf of the rider who “comes closest to the pin.”
Additionally, if the winning jockey-toss is within 24 inches of the target stake, HRTV will donate an added $1,000 to the Disabled Jockeys Fund.
GET ON TRACK TO BEAT CANCER AT SANTA ANITA APRIL 17
City of Hope and Santa Anita Park invites everyone to join in on-track after the final race on closing day, April 17, to beat cancer and support the Women’s Cancers, Women’s Cures program. Jockeys, trainers and celebrities are scheduled to participate.
Following the last race on closing day, Santa Anita employees, family and friends can take a quarter mile walk down the Santa Anita stretch and walk into the homestretch and winner’s circle that hosted Zenyatta, John Henry, Seabiscuit and a host of other champions.
Participants are encouraged to raise their banners, bring their cameras, shoot video, get autographs, run like a racehorse, and proudly honor those battling cancer and those who have succumbed. This will be a walk in memory of loved ones and those who love Thoroughbred racing.
In conjunction with the activity, trainer Carla Gaines, jockey Chantal Sutherland and owner Jill Baffert, wife of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, rendered a public service announcement at Santa Anita today promoting the event.
FINISH LINES: Martin Garcia leaves early Saturday to ride The Factor tomorrow afternoon in the $300,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. “I’m really happy the way things are going,” said the personable 26-year-old, who recently returned from resolving a lengthy visa issue in his native Mexico. “I’m still trying to do better, but I’m excited about being able to ride a horse like The Factor.” The Grade II Rebel will be The Factor’s first race around two turns. Garcia is confident the son of War Front can handle the mile and one-sixteenth distance. “I work the horse all the time, and his last two were excellent. He really galloped out strong. He’s still a baby, still maturing, still learning. When he worked (six furlongs March 12) in 1:12 (and one-fifth), he really relaxed.” . . . Santa Anita-based The Factor is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the Rebel. Sway Away, also based at Santa Anita, is the 5-2 second favorite in the field of 13. The Factor and Sway Away finished first and second, respectively, in Santa Anita’s Grade II San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 20. The same day The Factor worked six furlongs in a bullet 1:12 1/5 for trainer Bob Baffert, Sway Away turned in a sparkling 1:23 3/5 work for seven furlongs at Santa Anita for trainer Jeff Bonde. “That’s the fastest of 112 seven-furlong works since the start of the meet on Dec. 26 through Thursday,” noted Jon White, who makes Santa Anita’s morning line and provides paddock commentary for the track’s simulcast network. “That 1:23 3/5 work was two-fifths faster than the second-best clocking of the 112 works. Thiskyhasnolimit worked seven furlongs in 1:24 on March 7 before he was shipped to Oaklawn to finish second in last Saturday’s Grade II Razorback Handicap for Steve Asmussen. Capital Account, a Closing Argument colt who’s two-for-two for Baffert, also worked the distance in 1:24 on March 8.” Capital Account is entered in Santa Anita’s fifth race Sunday . . . Rafael Bejarano, having withdrawn an earlier appeal of a suspension dated Jan. 21, will serve a three-day ban on March 31, April 1 and 2.