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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• TEAM ACCLAMATION PONDERS OPTIONS AT SANTA ANITA
• STEADY COZI ROSIE SEEKS FIRST GRADE I WIN IN YELLOW RIBBON
• ASK THE MOON DRILLS FOR LADY’S SECRET STAKES
• MTV’S ROB DYRDEK ROOTING FOR WEEMISSFRANKIE IN OAK LEAF SUNDAY
• BASMATI EYES MAIDEN VICTORY IN GRADE I NORFOLK
HORSE OF THE YEAR CANDIDATE ACCLAMATION BETTER WITH AGE
Acclamation, who thrust himself into consideration for Horse of the Year honors with a courageous victory in the Grade I Pacific Classic on Del Mar’s Polytrack after winning two straight Grade I races on turf, will likely be entered in both the Grade I Goodwood Stakes Saturday at 1 1/8 miles on Santa Anita’s dirt main track and Sunday’s Grade II Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship at 1 1/4 miles. Trainer Don Warren and part owner Bud Johnston are mulling over where the front-running California-bred son of Unusual Heat will run.
Five Grade I stakes with major Breeders’ Cup implications highlight the first weekend: on Saturday, the $250,000 Norfolk Stakes for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles; the $250,000 Goodwood Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles; the $250,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes presented by Emirates Airline for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up at 1 ¼ miles on turf; and the $250,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up at 1 1/16 miles.
Each of those events is a “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race. The nominated winner will be entitled to automatic entry into the corresponding Breeders’ Cup race at Churchill Downs Nov. 4 and 5. The Grade I, $250,000 Oak Leaf Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on Sunday also is a “Win and You’re In” event. The Grade II, $150,000 Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship for 3-year-olds and up at 1 ¼ miles complements the Oak Leaf on Sunday.
“We’re probably going to enter in both races,” Warren said at Barn 66 Tuesday morning. “We’ll see who else enters, but I want to run in the turf race. It’s a better spot, I think.”
A 5-year-old bay horse, Acclamation has an 8-2-6 record from 27 starts, with earnings of $1,538,048, but has flown under the proverbial radar before winning the Grade II Jim Murray Handicap in May of 2010 and winning five of nine starts since, his last three in a row, all Grade I’s, two on turf before the Pacific Classic.
“They’ve been asking me all year how he’s improved so much,” Warren said with a chuckle. “I just think he’s matured this year into his full potential. It’s that and figuring out what he likes to do. He likes to be out there in front.”
But being in front and setting legitimate fractions and holding on to the wire takes an exceptional horse. “He must have a tremendous set of lungs,” Warren said, “because he can still come home in :23 and change in a mile and a half race. It’s amazing.”
Goodwood candidates include Acclamation, Coil, Game on Dude, Golden Itiz, Miss Match, Nijinsky’s Song and Preamble. Hirsch probables include Acclamation, Champ Pegasus and Imponente Purse.
COZI ROSIE HOPES TO END GRADE I DROUGHT IN YELLOW RIBBON
Cozi Rosie has one significant item missing on an otherwise impressive resume: a Grade I victory. John Sadler hopes to fill that void when the 4-year-old filly runs in Saturday’s Grade I Yellow Ribbon Stakes presented by Emirates Airline.
“Absolutely,” Sadler said when asked if he had designs on a Grade I win for the chestnut daughter of Pleasantly Perfect owned by Jerry and Ann Moss. “Cozi Rosie is doing really, really well. She comes off a nice win the (Grade II) John Mabee (at Del Mar on Aug. 14) and was unlucky at Hollywood. She had a few trips that weren’t very good (finishing third in the Grade I Gamely as the 19-10 favorite and second in the Grade I Beverly Hills Handicap at 9-10).
“But she’s been ultra-consistent all year,” Sadler continued. “She ran really well here last winter (winning the Grade II Buena Vista), then got beat a lip (a half-length) in the Santa Barbara, so this is her time, I’m hoping.” Cozi Rosie has a 5-3-2 record from 13 starts, with earnings of $477,280. Probable for the Yellow Ribbon: Cambina, City to City, Cozi Rosie, Dubawi Heights, Malibu Pier, Medaglia d’Amour and Well Monied.
ASK THE MOON WORKS IN :49.40 FOR LADY’S SECRET
Rags-to-riches mare Ask the Moon worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Tuesday in :49.40 for Saturday’s Grade I Lady’s Secret Stakes.
“I didn’t want to go too fast,” trainer Marty Wolfson said by telephone from Miami. “She has a tendency to put in some really fast works but the last five or six, she’s been able to relax.”
Ask the Moon was claimed for $75,000 at Belmont Park on June 15. She was third in her next start, the ungraded Sky Beauty, but posted back-to-back Grade I wins after that at Saratoga, winning the
Ruffian Handicap at 18-1 and the Personal Ensign at nearly 2-1.
Probable for the Lady’s secret: Ask the Moon, Martin Garcia; Blind Luck, Garrett Gomez; Great Hot, Chantal Sutherland; Switch, Ultra Blend and Zazu.
Blind Luck worked four furlongs at Hollywood Park Tuesday in :47.60 for Jerry Hollendorfer.
O’NEILL SEEKS NORFOLK UPSET WITH MAIDEN BASMATI
If Basmati wins Saturday’s Grade I Norfolk Stakes for 2-year-olds, he will break his maiden in the process. The son of Borrego trained by Doug O’Neill was fifth in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity at seven furlongs in his most recent race on Sept. 7, finishing a length and a half behind victorious Drill, who established himself as one of the early favorites for the 2012 Kentucky Derby.
“He’s built and bred to run long, so we’re hoping he moves up quite a bit on Saturday,” said Dennis O’Neill, Doug’s brother and associate. “He trains like he wants to run long, so we’re hoping the farther he goes, the better he gets.” Norfolk probables include Basmati, Creative Cause, Drill, Majestic City, Ruler of Dubai and Sheer Talent.
WEEMISSFRANKIE EYES GRADE I WIN IN OAK LEAF, CO-OWNER DYRDEK TO ATTEND
Weemissfrankie goes for her second straight Grade I victory from only three starts in Sunday’s Grade I Oak Leaf Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles. It will mark her first race on traditional dirt, having won her first two starts on Del Mar’s synthetic Polytrack.
The 175,000 New York-bred daughter of Sunriver won the Grade I Del Mar Debutante on Sept. 3, rallying from seventh in a field of 10 to score by 1 1/4 lengths. She came from seven lengths off the pace to win her maiden race at five furlongs by a half-length, each time with Rafael Bejarano aboard.
“She seems to handle the dirt (at Santa Anita) well,” trainer Peter Eurton said Tuesday morning. “We’ll see how she runs, but I love the way she’s moving over the dirt right now.”
Eurton expected Weemissfrankie to be closer to the lead when she broke her maiden on July 20. “I thought she’d show more speed than that,” he said. “But she was so relaxed that she broke, kind of watched things unfold and then made a run that was quite surprising.”
Weemissfrankie is owned in part by Rob Dyrdek, who hosts “Ridiculousness,” “Rob and Big,” “Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory” and other shows on MTV. Dyrdek, who counts more than 3.3 million “Likes” on FaceBook and more than 1.9 million followers on Twitter, is expected to attend on Sunday.
Probable for the Oak Leaf: Charm the Maker, Garrett Gomez; Egg Drop, no rider; My Gi Gi, Chantal Sutherland; Regal Betty, no rider; Sister Moon, no rider; and Weemissfrankie, Rafael Bejarano.
ESPN TO TELEVISE THREE GRADE I RACES FROM SANTA ANITA SATURDAY
ESPN will televise the Norfolk, Lady’s Secret and Goodwood Saturday, part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series. The primary host location for the show will be Belmont Park, and will include stakes races from the New York oval.
Jay Privman, national correspondent for Daily Racing Form and co-host of “Thoroughbred Los Angeles,” on AM 830, will be the reporter at Santa Anita.
NONOGENERIAN VISITS SANTA ANITA AFTER MORE THAN 65 YEARS
Old soldiers never die, they just cherish their memories. With apologies to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Paul C. Graf fulfilled a decades-old wish on Monday when he visited Santa Anita.
The 90-year-old former Army Staff Sergeant made the rounds at the historic Arcadia track for the first time since 1944, when he departed following a tour of nearly two years at the track after his troop train landed an Ordnance Corps from Aberdeen, Md., here in November of 1942, early during World War II.
“We were here until some time in 1944,” said Graf, whose recall hasn’t diminished through the years. He rattled off the names of old pals and old horses, including Seabiscuit, with the alacrity of a teenager.
“I told my family that my one wish before I died was to visit Santa Anita again,” Graf said. “My niece and nephew (Susan and Don Miller) were nice enough to bring me to Santa Anita from my home in New Albany, Indiana, just across from Louisville, Ky. Things have changed a lot at Santa Anita, but my memories are evergreen.”
Graf is featured prominently in a front-page feature story by Brenda Gazzar in Tuesday’s Pasadena Star News. Graf is shown standing atop the Santa Anita grandstand on Monday, holding a copy of “Man o’ War,” a U.S. Army publication printed at Santa Anita, that he saved from 1944.
Gazzar’s story can be accessed by linking to the Star News’ website at www.pasadenastarnews.com.
DENMAN FETED AT LIFE CELEBRITY EVENT
Popular Santa Anita track announcer Trevor Denman was among four sports celebrities who participated in a roundtable panel during post-tournament festivities at the third annual Sowing Seeds for Life Celebrity Tournament for Charity at Sierra La Verne Country Club last Thursday, Sept. 22. Sowing Seeds for Life is a non-profit charity that provides food for some 8,000 needy people per month.
Denman made the short drive to Sierra La Verne from Fairplex Park, where he had called that day’s races, arriving just before the start of a live auction.
Asked if he would OK a visit to his broadcast booth at Santa Anita added as an auction item, Denman readily agreed. The caveat: the minimum bid would be $250.
“If there are no takers at that price, I will donate the $250,” Denman said.
He had no worries. When bidding reached $1,100, Joe Feinberg of the Feinberg Shuler financial management group, the event’s title sponsor, said he too would also pay $1,100 if Denman would agree to do it twice.
The voice of Santa Anita gladly did.
“You didn’t know you were that popular, did you?” a tournament official later told Denman, who appeared to be taken aback by the whole thing. “Make sure they know that is for four people, not just two,” Denman said.
Also on the panel was former Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Frank Hamblen, who won seven NBA championships (two in Chicago, five in Los Angeles) while assisting Phil Jackson. The others were Los Angeles Times sports columnist and former sports editor Bill Dwyre and former Laker George Lynch, a first-round pick in 1993 after leading the North Carolina Tar Heels to a national championship.
But it was Denman who seemed to get the most attention.
Among other things, he talked about the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic and his signature call of Zenyatta’s remarkable rally to become the first female to win the Classic.
“There’s no question that is my all-time most memorable race,” Denman said.
FINISH LINES: The Factor, who holds Santa Anita’s six-furlong track record of 1:06.98 set Dec. 27 last year, worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Tuesday in :59.40 under regular rider Martin Garcia. The Factor is on course for the Grade I Ancient Title Stakes on Oct. 8 . . . Trainer Barry Abrams hopes the best is yet to come for the remarkable stallion Unusual Heat, who turns 22 on Jan. 1 and stands at Harris Farms for $20,000. “His best years are still ahead of him,” Abrams said. “He’s been bred to the best mares yet in recent seasons, so we’re looking forward to the future.” . . . Trainer Bob Hess Jr.’s son, Christian, has caught the eyes of small college football scouts. “He’s a wide receiver at St. Francis High in La Caňada, which is 3-0 so far this season,” Hess said. “He’s fast. He has four touchdown receptions this year and a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.” As for Hess, he expects a workmanlike campaign at Santa Anita. “Just a bunch of hard-knocking horses,” he said. “Nothing outstanding.” . . . HBO viewers who watch the first “Boardwalk Empire” episode of Season-Two Sunday night will see the new 45-second promotional spot for the upcoming “Luck,” which was filmed in large part at Santa Anita. The pilot episode for “Luck,” which was primarily shot at Santa Anita in March and April of 2009, is scheduled to air in late January, 2012. The promo is set to run either just before or after “Boardwalk Empire,” which airs at 9 p.m. Sunday . . All residents of Arcadia, home of Santa Anita, will be admitted free to the Club House opening day with proof of residency. Gates open Friday at 11 a.m. First post time is 1 p.m.