STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN

• THIRD TIME THE CHARM FOR TALAMO AND NORVSKY?

• TEAM SPAWR KNOWS ITS WAY AROUND TRACK, DARK OR LIGHT

• MIKE SMITH EXCITED ABOUT PROSPECTS OF CAREER WIN NO. 5,000

TALAMO EYES SAN GABRIEL WINNER’S CIRCLE WITH CAL-BRED NORVSKY

Joe Talamo is two for two on Norvsky: two rides, two seconds. The 22-year-old jockey was second on the 6-year-old California-bred son of Vronsky in an overnight race at Santa Anita in January of 2010 and second again in the Ralph M. Hinds Handicap at Fairplex Park in September of last year.

He’ll attempt to snap his mild string of seconditis Saturday when he rides Norvsky in the Grade II, $150,000 San Marcos Stakes for older horses at 1 ¼ miles on turf.

“He’s a real nice horse,” Talamo said. “He seems to show up every single race. He doesn’t seem to throw in a clunker.” Norvsky has a 6-7-3 record from 18 starts with earnings of $487,844.

Trained by Don Warren for owners Bud and Judy Johnston and Robert Riggio, the bay gelding won the Grade II San Gabriel Stakes last out on Jan. 16, upsetting Jeranimo and The Usual Q.T.

Rafael Bejarano rode Norvsky in that race, but has opted for Bourbon Bay in the San Marcos. “I think a mile and a quarter would suit him real well,” Talamo continued. “It seems the further he goes, the better. For Norvsky to win by a length and half over horses like Jeranimo and The Usual Q.T., that’s pretty impressive.”
Meanwhile, Simon Callaghan is optimistic about the chances of English-bred Slim Shadey, even though the

4-year-old gelding will be making his first stakes start in the U.S.

“He jumps up from his first two starts,” the trainer said, “but he gets this distance of ground really well. It’s a competitive race but he’s been training really well but he’ll run very well, I’m sure. I’m very happy with him.”

The field for the San Marcos, race nine of 10: Utopian, Mike Smith; Norvsky, Joe Talamo; Worth Repeating, Martin Pedroza; Sanagas, Joe Rosario; Ashtar, Kevin Krigger; The Usual Q.T., Victor Espinoza; Slim Shadey, David Flores; and defending champ Bourbon Bay, Rafael Bejarano.

Sanagas, winner of the Grade I Hollywood Turf Cup on Nov. 19, worked five furlongs on Hollywood’s Cushion Track Monday in a bullet 59.40 for Peter Miller.

AMAZOMBIE TRAINS IN THE DARK BUT SPAWR BARN HAS EYES WIDE OPEN

Bill Spawr rarely works his horses by the dawn’s very early light. The 72-year-old trainer prefers to send his horses out well before sunrise, when the racing surface is in pristine condition and not cluttered with a plethora of hoof prints and competing workers.

Such will be the case again Friday morning, when Spawr is scheduled to work Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Amazombie six furlongs at 5 a.m. in preparation for his overdue 2012 debut in the Grade II San Carlos Stakes at seven furlongs on Feb. 25.

Which raises the question: how do horse and rider negotiate their way safely around the track in the dark?

“Other senses come in to play for both horse and human,”says Chris Aplin, who galloped horses for Spawr from 1980 until 2009, and remains an integral part of his successful operation. The best horse she galloped was Spawr’s stakes-winning sprinter, Bordonaro.

“When you’re out there in the dark and you do it every morning, your other senses kick in to adjust to the darkness; your hearing, your balance. Everything intensifies around you so it’s easier for you to understand and navigate in the dark.

“You’re not using just your sight. You have other senses that are helping you. We’re used to the same group of people out there in the mornings at the same time, so you know which trainers are there along with horses and riders.

“You’re familiar with each other but you’re a little more cautious because it’s in the dark, so you’re paying more attention than you would if it was light and there was a lot to look at.”

CAREER WIN NO. 5,000 WOULD BE FITTING FOR SMITH ON AMAZOMBIE

Mike Smith is 12 away from career win No. 5,000 and says it would be special if it came aboard Eclipse Award sprint champion Amazombie in the San Carlos Stakes on Feb. 25, but he knows that’s in the hands of fate. Smith guided Amazombie to the Sprint win at Churchill Downs last Nov. 5.

“That would be kind of cool, wouldn’t it?” the 46-year-old Smith said on a picture-perfect Thursday morning at Clockers’ Corner. “Winning with him in the San Carlos would be great.

“I’m excited about trying to get to 5,000. Hopefully, we’ll do it pretty soon, good Lord willing. The other milestones, 1,000 and so on, really didn’t mean much, but this one does. It’s a big thing, really, when you stop and think about it. I’ve been blessed and ridden a lot of great horses and a lot of real good ones.”

Smith, elected to the Hall of Fame in 2003, made racing history with his remarkable run aboard 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta, who is in foal to Bernardini in Kentucky.

FINISH LINES: Caracortado, a late scratch from the Jan. 28 Sensational Star Stakes due to a minor burn to the frog on the bottom of his right front foot, is recovering slowly and likely will miss the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf on March 3. “I’m just taking my time,” trainer Mike Machowsky said. “I don’t know if I’ll make the Kilroe or not. If I don’t, I’ll run in the San Simeon (Handicap on April 21).” . . . Highly regarded Eden’s Moon, scratched out of the Grade III Santa Ysabel on Jan. 28 due to a fever, worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Thursday in a bullet 46.20 for Bob Baffert. The daughter of Malibu Moon, an 11 ½-length maiden winner last out on Jan. 8, was ridden by Martin Garcia and worked in company with Frenemy, who was clocked in 47.40. Baffert also worked Santa Anita Derby winner Midnight Interlude five furlongs in1:01.20. At Hollywood Park, Malibu Stakes winner The Factor went seven furlongs for Baffert in 1:25 flat . . . Crystal Water Stakes winner Holladay Road went four furlongs for Julio Canani in 51.60 . . . With three players backing 3-10 favorite Game On Dude in Sunday’s San Antonio Stakes, six contestants remain alive in Santa Anita’s on line handicapping contest, ShowVivor, going into Thursday’s races . . . Today’s third race, “A Celebration of Roger Way,” is named in memory of the recently deceased long-time racing fan and advocate who resided in nearby Upland . . . Private clocker Gary Young’s top three 3-year-olds on the West Coast: Out of Bounds, Creative Cause and Fed Biz, the 4-5 morning line favorite in today’s second race. “It looks like the (Kentucky) Derby winner will come from East of the Rockies this year,” Young said, “but Baffert will be in there.”

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