Santa Anita News
STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• CENTRALINTELIGENCE MAKES STAKES DEBUT IN GRADE I MALIBU
• COMMA TO THE TOP: WHITHER THOU GOEST?
• HESS BASKS IN SATISFACTION OF TRAINING WIN NO. 1,000
CENTRALINTELIGENCE ON THE IMPROVE FOR MALIBU NEXT MONDAY
Encouraged by his impressive victory on Santa Anita’s new conventional dirt main track three months ago, Ron Ellis plans to run Centralinteligence in his first stakes race a week from today in the Grade I, $300,000 Malibu Stakes for 3-year-olds, opening day main event of Santa Anita’s winter/spring meet. “He ran well over the track and he’s an improving horse,” Ellis said of the chestnut gelding owned by a group headed by Amerman Racing Stables, LLC, Bongo Racing Stable, and Gary Finder.
“He’s a good-looking horse. He was a $90,000 (Keeneland sales) yearling. He’s been working at Hollywood and he’ll stay there till he’s finished training for the race and ship to Santa Anita to run.
A son of 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones, Centralinteligence broke his maiden at Hollywood last July, then took an allowance test at Santa Anita on Sept. 30 by 3 1/4 lengths. In his most recent race, on Nov. 27, he was second to Smash, another Malibu nominee, beaten only a half-length going 6 ½ furlongs.
Probable for the Malibu: Associate, Casper’s Touch, Centralinteligence, Hoorayforhollywood, Light Up the Score, Luckaruck, Racing Aptitude, Rothko, Smash, The Factor and Wine Police.
Wine Police worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Monday in 1:01.40 for Steve Asmussen, while Rothko went five furlongs Sunday in 59.80, also for Asmussen, who plans to run yet a third horse in the Malibu, Light Up the Score.
MILLER WEIGHS MALIBU, SIR BEAUFORT FOR COMMA TO THE TOP
Peter Miller is on the fence for Comma to the Top’s next race, considering both the Grade I, $300,000 Malibu at seven furlongs on the dirt and the Grade II, $150,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes at one mile on turf. Both races are for 3-year-olds on opening day, next Monday.
“We’re nominated to both races,” Miller said. “I’m going to talk with the owners and see if we can’t come up with a consensus on where we should run. We’ll make a decision on entry day, this Wednesday. We’ll try and see who’s going where and then decide.”
Comma to the Top, a Florida-bred gelding by the Indian Charlie sire Bwana Charlie, won an allowance race by 3 ½ lengths in his most recent start, Dec. 11, on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track. Earlier this year he was second by a head to Midnight Interlude in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby, leading until the shadow of the wire.
A committed front-runner, Comma to the Top won his only grass start, the Grade III Generous Stakes, at Hollywood on Nov. 27 last year. In 16 starts, Comma to the Top has seven wins and two seconds, with earnings of $812,200 for owners Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum and Kevin Tsujihara.
Probable for the Sir Beaufort: Irish Art, Joes Blazing Aaron, Mr. Commons, Northern Causeway, Pathfork, Thirtyfirststreet and Venomous.
OPENING DAY FLASHBACK: SOUTHERN IMAGE WINS 2003 MALIBU
Southern Image showed his versatility when he won the 2003 Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs by a head at 13-1. He would go on to win the 2004 Santa Anita Handicap at 1 ¼ miles the following year at even-money.
“The Malibu was one of my favorite wins of all time,” trainer Mike Machowsky said. “It was my first Grade I and being opening day at Santa Anita is always a big thing. Southern Image was coming off quite a long layoff for the Malibu, too. He hadn’t run since Del Mar.
“His Malibu win is always a race I’ll relish and remember. The race has been won by a lot of great horses and to be part of that club is an honor.” Southern Image currently stands at Rancho San Miguel for $2,500 live foal.
HESS CELEBRATES MILESTONE VICTORY 1,000 AS TRAINER
Bob Hess Jr. was proud and modest after winning the 1,000th race of his career Sunday when So Tempted took the first race at Hollywood Park by nearly three lengths under jockey Garrett Gomez.
“It’s almost humbling,” the 46-year-old trainer said at Santa Anita Monday morning. “Such a great game and to be able to get to a thousand . . . You get to meet so many great horses and great people in this game. It’s a lot of fun.”
Hess, who began his career in 1983 as an assistant to his father in the Bay Area, began training on his own in 1987. The Chula Vista native graduated from Stanford that year, along with Ruben Amaro Jr., now general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. Bob’s two sons, Christian, 18, and Garrison, 20, have not followed in their father’s and grandfather’s footsteps to date. Right now, college is the priority.
“Christian is at Cal Berkeley where he’ll play rugby, and Garrison is at Seattle University (alma mater of basketball legend Elgin Baylor),” Hess said. “Garrison’s not into sports, but he’s getting all A’s.”
Hess has 25 head on hand for the Santa Anita meet, and a division of 15 at Gulfstream Park.
PENDER SITTING PRETTY WITH JERANIMO, ULTIMATE EAGLE
Mike Pender has designs on a repeat win in the Grade II San Gabriel Stakes on Jan. 16 for versatile campaigner Jeranimo, who won last year’s San Gabriel on grass and the Grade II Strub Stakes on synthetic.
The son of Congaree trained by Pender for owner B.J. Wright won the Grade II Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park in his most recent start three weeks ago. Prior to that, he was seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Mile on Nov. 5. >“Jeranimo came out of his last race like he does every other time, which is perfect,” Pender said, alluding to the Citation. “He’s like the little Energizer bunny. He’s stepping forward with eyes on a repeat in the San Gabriel.”
Another versatile Pender stakes winner, Ultimate Eagle, is scheduled to go from turf to dirt in his next start. A son of Mizzen Mast also owned by Wright, Ultimate Eagle won the Grade II Oak Tree Derby at Santa Anita last October and the Grade I Hollywood Derby last out, both on grass.
“Ultimate Eagle is pointing for the (Grade II) San Fernando (Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on dirt on Jan. 14),” Pender said. “He’ll run on the dirt, which is a surface he seems to like more than the grass. He’s four for seven lifetime. His three losses came on Hollywood’s synthetic. Had we been running him on dirt, he’d be undefeated. That’s how good he’s been.”
Pender has made the most of his limited chances in his relatively brief career. “I have about 20 head here for this meet,” he said, “and I don’t want any more. “The ones I have are quality horses. Mr. Wright owns about 25 percent of them, about a quarter of the barn. The rest are for a variety of different owners.
“I’ve only been training for five years and until recently, haven’t had that many shots to run in stakes. For three years I was just a claiming trainer. The last two years we’ve had a couple nice horses and we’ve made the most of the opportunities.”
FINISH LINES: Agent Joe Ferrer has booked Rafael Bejarano on Motown Men for trainer Doug O’Neill in next Monday’s $100,000 California Breeders’ Champion Stakes for 2-year-old California-breds at seven furlongs. Other probables include Exotic Slew, La Mano Nera, Passing Game and Ruler of Dubai . . . Ferrer said he will represent 19-year-old newcomer Kieber Coa when the son of jockey Eibar Coa makes his debut at Santa Anita this meet. Ferrer, who currently enjoys great success with Bejarano, had no starting date at Santa Anita for Kiebar, who graduated from the Laffit Pincay Jr. Jockey School in Panama on Dec. 2. In his first race in Panama, Kiebar finished third in a race against his fellow graduates . . . Santa Anita Handicap winner and Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Game on Dude worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Sunday in 49.40 for Bob Baffert, while multiple graded stakes winner Caracortado went five furlongs in 1:00.20, breezing, for Mike Machowsky. “He went real nice,” the trainer said. “He’ll probably run in the Daytona; that’s what I’m thinking right now.” The Daytona is Grade III test for older horses at about 6 ½ furlongs on the turf on Jan. 8.