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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• GOMEZ SEEKS DERBY GOLD WITH SILVER MEDALLION
• ‘PEGASUS’ EARLY MORNING LINE CHOICE FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY
GOMEZ COULD RIDE SANTA ANITA DERBY CONTENDER TO LOUISVILLE
Garrett Gomez has one significant omission on his otherwise impressive resume: a Kentucky Derby victory.
It’s every jockey’s fondest wish to win the Run for the Roses, and Gomez is no exception. He hopes to fill that void come May 7, when the 137th Kentucky Derby is run at Churchill Downs.
But first things first. At the moment, Gomez hasn’t committed to a Derby horse. He could find it on April 9, if he deems that his Santa Anita Derby mount, Silver Medallion, deserves his pledge.
Gomez has ridden the son of Badge of Silver twice, winning the Eddie Logan Stakes on Santa Anita’s turf course Dec. 31, and finishing third in a Grade III grass race at Saratoga last September after an eventful trip.
“The horse has a lot of potential,” said Gomez of the bay colt that won the Grade III El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 12 in a 6-1 upset under Russell Baze. “When we won the Eddie Logan, he was laying second but he was pulling my rear off the whole way,” Gomez said. “He was really into his game that day and he ran a really, really nice race for us. He came back and ran a good race up north in the El Camino Real.
“He looks like he’s coming into his own and he’s been doing things real well since they’ve had him at Santa Anita and hopefully it continues.”
Silver Medallion is trained by Steve Asmussen for Steven Marshall, who recently bought a majority interest, and original owner Michael Ryan, who retains a minority interest. With three wins from six starts, Silver Medallion has earned $212,904. A victory in the Santa Anita Derby would make him eligible for a $5.5 million Preakness bonus.
“We picked up a few rides in upcoming 3-year-old preps, but we haven’t committed to a Derby horse yet,” continued Gomez, fresh from changing agents. He and Ron Anderson parted company last Tuesday. Gomez signed on with veteran Tony Matos on Thursday and will ride To Honor and Serve under Anderson’s arrangement for Graham Motion in Saturday’s Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.
“I’m excited about all of the 3-year-olds I’m going to ride, and hopefully one of them will step up to the plate for my Kentucky Derby horse. If that happens, it will be with Tony. My deal with Ron ends with the Santa Anita Derby.
“Like I said before, my plan was to retire with Ron Anderson (as my agent). I don’t like change and I was quite comfortable with Ron the last five years. He did a great job. But we just had some conflicts in our relationship and things have to change sometimes, even when you don’t want to.”
Probable for the Santa Anita Derby: Anthony’s Cross; Bench Points; Comma to the Top, Corey Nakatani; Indian Winter; Mr. Commons, Mike Smith; Offlee Wild Boys; Premier Pegasus, Alonso Quinonez; and Silver Medallion, Garrett Gomez.
Indian Winter worked seven furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Sunday in 1:23.80 under Corey Nakatani. “Sensational” is how Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward termed the drill.
At Hollywood Park Sunday, Celestic Night worked six furlongs in 1:13.60 under Joe Talamo, after which trainer Mike Mitchell said the son of Vindication is possible for the Santa Anita Derby, depending on how he fares after one more workout. “We claimed him for grass races at Hollywood, but with the Will Rogers and Cinema gone, we thought we’d take a look at the Derby here,” Mitchell said.
PREMIER PEGASUS STRONG EARLY SANTA ANITA DERBY FAVORITE
Premier Pegasus, a 7 3/4-length winner of Santa Anita’s Grade II San Felipe Stakes, will be a strong favorite on Jon White’s morning line for the Grade 1, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 9 based on the current expected field.
“In making a preliminary line based on the eight horses considered probable for the race at this time, I have Premier Pegasus as a 6-5 morning line favorite,” White said. “He was so dominant in the San Felipe that I don’t think there is any question he will be a strong Santa Anita Derby favorite, especially since the San Felipe had what was considered to be the best field of any of the graded stakes races for the age group in California so far this year.
“Premier Pegasus has lost only once in five career starts. And even the one time he lost, when he ran third in the San Vicente, that doesn’t look all that bad considering he hadn’t raced in three months. Plus, the San Vicente looks even stronger now in that The Factor won it and then took the Rebel at Oaklawn Park by a big margin (6 ¼ lengths).”
White said that as it stands at this time, Silver Medallion, winner of Santa Anita’s Eddie Logan Stakes on the turf and Golden Gate’s Grade III El Camino Real Derby, would be the second choice on the Santa Anita Derby morning line.
“I have Silver Medallion at 9-2 on my preliminary line,” White said. “The only reason I don’t have him lower than that is he’s never won or even raced on the dirt. But those wins in the Eddie Logan and El Camino Real Derby are an indication that he’s a pretty talented colt.”
VALENZUELA KEEPS ON ROLLING WITH ‘GRAND SLAM’Patrick Valenzuela has discovered the Fountain of Youth. At age 48, the veteran rider is in peak form, as his four victories on Saturday’s card at Santa Anita would attest.
“I think Patrick’s riding as well as ever,” said his agent, Tom Knust. “He’s just taking it day by day. He’s putting the horse in the right position and we’re riding for the right people. The people we are riding for are winning. That’s what the game’s about, and we’re very happy with where we’re at right now.”
Valenzuela’s 48 wins this meet have him in third place. Ten have come in the day’s last race. Added trainer Vladimir Cerin, who gave Valenzuela a leg up on Kahlua Mist, game front-running winner of the third race: “He’s riding as well as he was 29 years ago, 25 years, 20 years ago and some of the years that he missed in between. If he hadn’t been incapacitated for a few years and injured, he would have been one of the all-time greats.”
FINISH LINES: Fans at Santa Anita Saturday donated $10,375.25 to the Japan Relief Fund. The figure does not include on-line contributions or those made by the Los Angeles Turf Club . . . Ron Valenta’s La Caňada Stables, leading owner at last year’s Santa Anita meet with 14 wins, already has surpassed that total this meet with 15. “Everything’s been good,” said Jack Carava, who trains exclusively for Valenta. “We’re happy with the meet. We’re kind of clipping along and trying to stay consistent.” . . . Probable for next Sunday’s Grade II, $150,000 Potrero Grande Stakes for older horses at 6 ½ furlongs: Amazombie, Mike Smith; Bet on Victor, Patrick Valenzuela; Captain Cherokee, Joe Talamo; Chocolate Candy, Corey Nakatani; Crown of Thorns, Rafael Bejarano; Don Tito, no rider; and M One Rifle, Chantal Sutherland . . . A casino night fund-raiser will be held in Santa Anita’s Chandelier Room next Saturday at 7 p.m., sponsored by The Derby Restaurant, which is raising money for Kay Brownfield, long-time bartender at the famous eatery. Brownfield recently lost her husband and dog in a house fire. Major prizes such as TV’s and iPods will be available at the event through a raffle. Contact Dustin Nicolarsen at The Derby (626 447-2430) for further information . . . Agent Alex Procel Crowley has taken the book of Christian Santiago Reyes, who recently parted company with Tony Matos . . . Track superintendent Richard Tedesco said no measurable rain hit Santa Anita into early Sunday, “just a cold drizzle.” The main track was open and there were 84 recorded workouts . . . Best wishes to long-time trainer Leonard Dorfman, 88, and his wife, Marlene, who flew to the Dallas-Ft. Worth area this morning where they will relocate to be closer to their daughter, Lisa . . . Santa Anita is dark Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Racing resumes Thursday at 1 p.m.