Rafael Bejarano and Caracortado will be introduced for the first time Sunday. The meeting will take place in Santa Anita’s walking ring prior to the Daytona Stakes where Bejarano will prepare to climb aboard the 5-year-old gelding for the first time in the Grade III event at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf.

“He’s never been on him,” trainer Mike Machowsky said when asked if the jockey had ever been on the California-bred son of Cat Dreams. “I won’t tell him much. Raffy’s a very smart student of racing.

“Every time I’ve ever ridden him, he’s come to the paddock and pretty much analyzed everything. The Daytona is a very tough race. With me, Mr Gruff and Regally Ready in there, I think we probably have the three best turf sprinters in the country right now.”

Machowsky hopes to have a favorable pace scenario, with Regally Ready and Mr Gruff setting things up for Caracortado’s stretch run.

“Everything’s been perfect (coming into the Daytona),” Machowsky said. “It looks like there’s enough pace in the race, so we’ll just let him settle and kick home.”

The field for the Daytona, race eight on a nine-race card: Calimonco, Mike Smith, 12-1; Mr Gruff, Joel Rosario, 9-5; Victory Pete, Martin Garcia, 15-1; Caracortado, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; Silver Summation, Garrett Gomez, 15-1; Regally Ready, Corey Nakatani, 8-5; and Al Instante, Kevin Krigger, 12-1.


Santa Anita oddsmaker Jon White installed undefeated Secret Circle as a 4-5 morning line favorite for today’s Grade III Sham Stakes. The Eddington colt is coming into the one-mile Sham off a victory in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.

“My first approach in making the line for the Sham was to make Secret Circle an odds-on favorite,” White explained. “He was a very short price (2-5) when he won his last race, a Breeders’ Cup race. And I don’t think there is any question he will be a short price again in the Sham. So I definitely wanted to make him shorter than even money because I will be very surprised if he isn’t odds-on when he leaves the gate in the Sham.

“This will be Secret Circle’s first race around two turns, though. So that might entice some people to play against him, especially since he will be such a short price. And the fact he drifted out in the stretch in his Breeders’ Cup race might be enough of a concern to some bettors that they will try to beat him. But (private clocker) Gary Young said on Steve Byk’s radio show that Secret Circle has not been drifting out in his works leading up to the Sham. And even though Bob Baffert has said many times that Secret Circle generally doesn’t show much in his works, Secret Circle did work six furlongs in 1:10 and change recently to indicate it’s all systems go for the Sham. He is an undefeated Breeders’ Cup winner and, as such, figures to get bet heavily.

“Hierro most likely is going to be the second favorite. I made him 3-1. He’s improving and looked terrific in his maiden win at Churchill. Scott Blasi (trainer Steve Asmussen’s assistant) told Steve Andersen of the Racing Form that they expect Hierro to continue to improve and that the colt has a lot of talent.” White pegged Out of Bounds and Handsome Mike as co-third choices at 5-1.

“Watch out for Out of Bounds,” White noted. “He’s a beautiful looking colt with an excellent pedigree. He is a son of Discreet Cat and Unbridled Elaine. Unbridled Elaine, a Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner, is the dam of Etched, a multiple Group 2 winner. Not only did Out of Bounds just basically toy with his rivals when he won against maidens going seven furlongs at Hollywood Park, it looks like he will relish the longer distance of the Sham.

“Handsome Mike ran a very good race when he finished second in the Generous on the grass. And his subsequent race in the CashCall Futurity wasn’t bad, either, even though he finished seventh. He got beat less than three lengths after dueling for the lead all the way to the eighth pole.

“Longview Drive (8-1) is a nice colt in very good hands with Jerry Hollendorfer. Longview Drive, who ran third in the $1 million Delta Jackpot, is a full brother to Louisiana Derby winner Pyro.”

FINISH LINES: Ivan Puhich, who recently celebrated his 85th birthday, has taken the book of Mario Gutierrez, a leading rider in Western Canada before invading Southern California where he rides primarily for trainer Troy Taylor. “He was leading rider in Western Canada four of the last five years he rode there,” said ex-Marine Puhich, who had his first rider as an agent in 1944. “Taylor has 35 horses here so it’s a good stable to be with. Mario has a lifetime win average of 22 percent and last year he rode 32 percent winners.” . . . The Usual Q.T., who worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Friday in 1:02.20, is nominated to the Grade II, $150,000 San Gabriel Stakes on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 16, at 1 1/8 miles on turf. “We’ll look at the race,” trainer Jim Cassidy said, “but it might be too far for him.” The multiple Grade I stakes winner has not run since last May. Agent Tony Matos has booked Garrett Gomez on recent Citation Handicap winner Jeranimo for the San Gabriel. At Hollywood Park Saturday, San Gabriel nominee Bourbon Bay worked four furlongs on Cushion Track in 50 seconds for Neil Drysdale . . . There will be special holiday racing on Monday, Jan. 16, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Santa Anita will offer beer, hot dogs and soft drinks for $2. First post time is 12:30 p.m. . . . Eswan Flores is off to solid start with agent Joe Griffin. The 18-year-old apprentice rider was tied for third in Santa Anita’s standings with five wins through Friday. He has 29 wins in his career and needs 11 more until his weight allowance diminishes from seven pounds to five . . . Rafael Bejarano was named to ride in all nine races on Saturday’s card . . . Where the girls are: Among the leading jockeys and trainers in Santa Anita’s standings, five are women: Chantal Sutherland, Janet Armstrong, Kristin Mulhall, Carla Gaines and Alexis Barba. Armstrong, who trains exclusively for the Budget Stable of Syd Belzberg, had three wins from only seven starters, 43 percent, and has but 13 horses in training.