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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• PREMIER PEGASUS IN SHARP DRILL FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY
• BAFFERT NEARS NINTH SANTA ANITA TRAINING CROWN
PREMIER PEGASUS WORKS IN BULLET :59.20 FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY
Premier Pegasus enhanced his role as favorite for the Santa Anita Derby with a sizzling five- furlong workout Saturday morning at the 8 o’clock break on Santa Anita’s main track. The impressive winner of the San Felipe Stakes was timed in a bullet :59.20 under regular rider Alonso Quinonez.
The move was the fastest of 13 recorded works at the distance, the average time of which 1:00.56.
“We talked to Alonso before the work and told him to get a nice, easy work. We wanted a slower work but I don’t think we could get anything slower than that,” said Raxon Cho, 17-year-old son of owner/trainer/breeder Myung Kwon Cho, who was at his son’s side.
”I’m very happy with the horse,” the elder Cho said. “I liked the horse from his first race, but I didn’t expect him to accomplish as much as he’s had so far. I love him now.”
Raxon, an accomplished musician who plays saxophone, cello and piano, is enjoying the ride which he hopes will take Team Cho to the Kentucky Derby on May 7.
“Horse racing has always been exciting for me, but having a horse with this kind of capability is an amazing feeling, especially after how he ran in the San Felipe,” he said. “We always wondered if he could go two turns or not, because you never know until they do it.
“Now we know we have a good horse and we’re looking forward to next Saturday.”
Probable for the Santa Anita Derby: Anthony’s Cross, Joel Rosario; Bench Points, Rafael Bejarano; Celestic Night, Joe Talamo; Comma to the Top, Corey Nakatani; Indian Winter, Patrick Valenzuela; Mr. Commons, Mike Smith; Offlee Wild Boys, no rider; Premier Pegasus, Alonso Quinonez; and Silver Medallion, Garrett Gomez.
In other Santa Anita Derby news:
Jaycito, who could run in either the Santa Anita Derby or the Wood Memorial the same day, worked six furlongs at Santa Anita Saturday in 1:13.40. “He worked nice,” Bob Baffert said. “We’ll know (where he runs) tomorrow.”
Bench Points, third by nine lengths in the San Felipe, worked five furlongs in :59.80 for trainer Tim Yakteen.
David Hofmans said there is a “50-50” chance Quail Hill would run in the Santa Anita Derby.
At Hollywood Park, Celestic Night worked six furlongs in a bullet 1:12 under Joe Talamo for trainer Mike Mitchell.
Trainer Eoin Harty said Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner Anthony’s Cross was scheduled to have his final major drill for the Santa Anita Derby Monday, five furlongs, at Hollywood.
TRAFFIC RE-ROUTED ON SANTA ANITA DERBY DAY
In order to accommodate its annual Santa Anita Derby 5K Walk and Run, Santa Anita Park and the city of Arcadia have announced that Baldwin Ave., from the 210 Freeway to Huntington Drive, will be closed to vehicular traffic from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 9.
Accordingly, Santa Anita’s Gate 8, which adjoins the Westfield Shopping Mall on Baldwin Ave., will also be closed to vehicles during the same period.
Those wishing to visit Santa Anita’s popular Clockers’ Corner venue at the top of the stretch, will be able to enter on Santa Anita’s east end through parking lot Gate 5. Gate 5 will be open for easy access to Clockers’ Corner beginning at 5 a.m. and will remain open throughout the day.
Gate 5 is located on the east end of the racetrack at the confluence of Colorado Place and Huntington Drive. For additional information on the Santa Anita Derby and on the Santa Anita Derby 5K Walk and Run, fans are encouraged to visit www.santaanita.com, or call (626) 574-RACE.
BAFFERT HONES IN ON NINTH SANTA ANITA TRAINING TITLE
With the meet winding down to its close on April 17, Bob Baffert was seeking to go wire-to-wire in pursuit of his ninth Santa Anita training title. The 56-year-old Hall of Fame member won the crown for seven consecutive years from 1996 through 2003.
Through Friday, Baffert held a 35-32 lead over runner-up John Sadler.
“I think it’s been a good meet for us,” Baffert said. “Getting back to the dirt was a big plus, and I have a pretty strong barn now which we were able to build up again. I’ve got no complaints, and it’s been a very safe meet. I really haven’t had that many injuries except for Always a Princess, and I think that was just a freaky, fluky kind of incident.”
The winner of the El Encino Stakes and the La Caňada Stakes continues to recover from sesamoid surgery at a Chino equine hospital. Always a Princess suffered the injury in deep stretch of the Santa Margarita Invitational on March 12. “She’s doing very well,” Baffert said. “I don’t know if they’ll be able to breed her this year because right now the timing is a little late.” Owner Arnold Zetcher added that she would not be bred this year.
STEINER SECOND BY A HEAD IN COMEBACK RACE
In his first race in some six years, veteran jockey Joe Steiner finished second by a head on 34-1 shot Woodland Flood in Friday’s sixth race.
“It felt great,” said the 46-year-old Steiner, who had not ridden in a race since he was injured in a spill. “I thought I had enough horse to hang on and win it. She was a big price, but I knew we were ‘live’ today.
“I think I’m pretty fit for only riding one horse. I feel better than ever and now I have the opportunity to prove it. I (retired) because the doctors said, ‘You’re done.’ I had no more options and for four years, I was out of racing.
“I’ve been back for the last two years, mainly working horses for Bob (Baffert). I just realized that this is where my heart is. From the time I was a 5-year-old kid, this is all I wanted.”
SANTA ANITA, FANS RAISE $19,324 FOR JAPAN RELIEF FUND
As a result of fund-raising efforts on Tokyo City Cup Day, March 26, Santa Anita and its fans raised $19,324 for the Japan Relief Fund, which has responded with aid to the victims of the devastating 9.0 earthquake which struck the island nation on March 11.
“Santa Anita Park, with the help of its generous racing fans, is happy to announce that we were able to raise a significant amount of money on Tokyo City Cup Day,” said Santa Anita President George Haines. “We’re honored, on behalf of the horse racing industry in California, to help in any way we can.
“We cherish our relationship with Ohi Race Track and our friends in Japan. Horse racing is immensely popular there and given our geographic location and the relationship we’ve built with Japanese racing officials over the years, we truly consider them to be kindred spirits.
“Our hearts go out to those who have been victimized by this horrific natural disaster and we salute the Japanese people for the way they have come together and reacted to this unprecedented situation. We hope to be able to continue to grow and develop the Tokyo City Cup and to be of further assistance to the relief effort,” continued Haines.
The Grade III Tokyo City Cup, initiated in 2005, was originally run as the San Bernardino Handicap, beginning in 1957.
FINISH LINES: Bob Baffert said The Factor galloped today and will work Monday at Santa Anita for the $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 16. “He’s doing good,” the Hall of Fame trainer said of the Rebel winner, who set a six furlong track record of 1:06.98 at Santa Anita on Dec. 26 . . . Sunshine Millions Turf winner Caracortado is scheduled to work five furlongs on Santa Anita’s turf course Sunday under Joe Talamo for next Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 Arcadia Stakes at one mile on turf . . . Santa Anita Director of Community Services and Special Projects Pete Siberell reminds that entries are filling fast for the Santa Anita Derby Day 5K Run & Walk next Saturday morning, April 9. “We expect our biggest race ever, with over 5,000 participants, led by jockeys Chantal Sutherland and David Flores,” Siberell said. “The Masters’ Race (over 40) goes off at 7:45 a.m., the Open Race (under 40) goes at 8:15 a.m. and the Walk will start at 8:20 a.m. Santa Anita employees are invited to run or walk the 3.1 mile course for free with permission from their department head. For more details, contact Siberell at 626 574-6373 . . . Agent Brad Pegram reports that Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will be at Oaklawn Park Sunday to ride Honeybee winner Joyful Victory for trainer Larry Jones in the Grade II Fantasy Stakes at 1 1/16 miles . . . In an attempt to answer questions as to how and when HRTV will achieve broader distribution, racing fans are encouraged to contact Time Warner Cable at http://www.timewarnercable.com/SoCal/support/email.ashx to request that it carry HRTV and its award-winning coverage of wall-to-wall horse racing . . . Toby Turrell of Winners Card picked four of the first five winners on top on Friday’s card: Beautiful Sunday ($4.20) in the first race; Fandino ($9) in the third; first time starter Closer to Love ($28.20) in the fourth; and Red Alert Day ($5) in the fifth.