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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• BEJARANO KEEN ON BOURBON BAY FOR SAN MARCOS
• BAFFERT LOOKS TO BRIGHT FUTURE FOR DERBY CANDIDATE FED BIZ
• ECLIPSE CHAMP AMAZOMBIE ON COURSE FOR SAN CARLOS
• SETSUKO FOCUSED ON BIG ‘CAP AFTER BEING GELDED
• SANTA ANITA JOCKEYS SEEK SECOND STRAIGHT WIN IN CHARITY GAME
BEJARANO BACK ON BOURBON BAY FOR GRADE II SAN MARCOS
After an absence of five straight races, Rafael Bejarano will be reunited with Bourbon Bay for Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Marcos Stakes for older horses at 1 ¼ miles on turf. He is looking forward to the reunion.
Bejarano has ridden Bourbon Bay nine times in the 6-year-old Sligo Bay gelding’s 23-race career, winning four times, including the marathon grass series of the San Luis Obispo Handicap, the San Luis Rey Handicap and the San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita in 2010, each a Grade II race.
“I think you can do anything you want with him,” Bejarano said upon scrutinizing the past performances of the San Marcos, which did not indicate an abundance of speed. “I’ve got a good post (outside) and I’ll have plenty of time to find a good position for my horse.
“It looks like only a couple of horses in the race have speed, so we’ll see. He can be on the lead but he doesn’t have to be on the lead. He can be close, but he’s going to run well.”
Trained by Neil Drysdale for owners David and Jill Heerensperger, Bourbon Bay has a 7-5-4 record from 23 starts with earnings of $779,536.
The field for the San Marcos: Utopian, Mike Smith, 15-1; Norvsky, Joe Talamo, 7-2; Sanagas, Joe Rosario, 8-5; Ashtar, Kevin Krigger, 20-1; The Usual Q.T., Victor Espinoza, 4-1; Slim Shadey, David Flores, 15-1; and defending champion Bourbon Bay, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2.
Worth Repeating, who had been listed at 8-1 on Jon White’s morning line, was scratched. “Coming back to the barn after schooling yesterday he kicked the fence and needed stitches in his right hind leg,” trainer Richard Mandella said. “It’s not serious, but obviously we couldn’t run him.”
BAFFERT WEIGHS OPTIONS FOR BUDDING STAR FED BIZ
Among the two races Bob Baffert had under consideration Friday morning for Triple Crown contender Fed Biz after his smashing 5 ¾-length victory in Thursday’s second race were the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on March 10 and the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 17.
The San Felipe is a Grade II steppingstone to the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles on April 7. The San Felipe will be decided at 1 1/16 miles and offers $300,000 in purse money. The Rebel is a Grade II at 1 1/16 miles with a pot of $500,000.
“I wanted to get him to sit off the pace,” Baffert said of the bay colt by Giant’s Causeway owned by Kaleem Shah, Inc. “He’s just learning. He didn’t get to change leads until late in the lane, but I learned a lot from him in this race. You can put him anywhere you want.”
Baffert had no word on where San Antonio winner Game On Dude would run next, likely either the Santa Anita Handicap on March 3 or the Dubai World Cup on March 31. “We probably won’t make a decision until we see the weights for the Big ‘Cap,” Baffert said. Weights are due Feb. 25.
The Hall of Fame trainer added that Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint champion Secret Circle, who worked seven furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Monday in 1:24.40, has received an invitation to race in Dubai on World Cup Day. Secret Circle also is nominated to the Feb.19 San Vicente Stakes.
FED BIZ 20-1 IN POOL 1 OF KENTUCKY DERBY FUTURE WAGER
Fed Biz was among nine Southern California-based individual 3-year-olds listed in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager which opened today. The impressive winner of an allowance race Thursday at Santa Anita was offered at 20-1 to capture the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 5. Of the 24 options in the betting, “All Other Three Year Olds” was the 9-5 favorite.
Other Southern California-based 3-year-olds and their individual odds in Pool 1 include Norfolk Stakes winner Creative Cause, 20-1; Empire Way, 50-1; Robert B. Lewis Stakes upsetter I’ll Have Another, 20-1; CashCall Futurity winner Liaison, 20-1; Longview Drive, 50-1; Midnight Transfer, 50-1; Sham Stakes winner Out of Bounds, 20-1; and Rousing Sermon, 30-1.
ECLIPSE CHAMP AMAZOMBIE SHARP FOR 2012 DEBUT IN FEB. 25 SAN CARLOS
California-bred Amazombie remained on course for his 2012 debut in the Grade II San Carlos Stakes on Feb. 25 after working six furlongs in the dark Friday on Santa Anita’s main track in a bullet 1:12.40 under jockey Alex Bisono.
It was the fastest of 24 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 1:13.73.
“He went off the first three-eighths in 36 and change and from the three-eighths pole to the wire he went in 35 and one,” trainer Bill Spawr said of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner and Eclipse Award winner as outstanding male sprinter of 2011. “The last eighth was like 11 and change. He did it easy.
“Alex Bisono worked him again. He gets along with the horse really well. He said the horse was so strong, he had a cross on him and he broke his cross.”
Added Bisono: “Sometimes, when he’s doing really good, he’ll break my cross. He has so much power when he moves over the track. I can’t explain it. It’s an amazing feeling just to get on him.”
Amazombie, a 5-year-old Northern Afleet gelding, has not run since winning the BC Sprint on Nov. 5. He had been set for the Jan. 21 Palos Verdes Stakes but was scratched due to an off track.
FOCUSED SETSUKO HAS EYES ON BIG ‘CAP MARCH 3
It’s on to the Santa Anita Handicap on March 3 for Setsuko after his first victory as a gelding in last Saturday’s 10th race, an allowance test at 1 1/16 miles. Setsuko was second in last year’s Big ‘Cap, missing by a nose at 25-1 to victorious Game On Dude.
Richard Mandella is no stranger to the Santa Anita Handicap, having won the race three times, with Rock Hard Ten in 2005, Malek in 1998 and Siphon in 1997. He might have had a fourth if pre-race favorite Pleasantly Perfect, the sire of Setsuko, had not come down with an 11th-hour injury in 2004.
“He was never a bad actor,” Mandella said of Setsuko in explaining the decision to geld the 5-year-old bay.
“But Setsuko didn’t seem real serious about his job, hanging all the time,” Mandella continued. “We say ‘hanging,’ and that’s probably unfair, because look where I ran him, handicaps, derbies; tough races.
“We’ve still got three weeks before the race, but he came out of his race great. We’re excited about the idea of running.”
‘JOHN’-NY COME LATELY COULD AID SANTA ANITA RIDERS VS. HOLY ANGELS
Don’t tell the NCAA, but Kurt Hoover is contemplating a recruiting trip to the Bay Area before Santa Anita’s jockeys play Holy Angels School in their annual charity basketball game on Thursday, Feb. 23, at La Salle High School in Pasadena.
HRTV’s consummate analyst has coached the Santa Anita riders for more than a decade and was at the helm when 38-year-old Kerwin John launched his game-winning shot from the baseline that hit nothing but net in overtime last year to edge Holy Angels, 36-35.
John has since moved his tack to Golden Gate Fields in Northern California, where the native of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands ranks among the top five in the standings. He had 21 wins at Golden Gate through Thursday, placing him fourth in the standings. He had only 25 wins all of last year.
“We’re looking for back-to-back wins this year and to do that, we might have to bring in Kerwin John from San Francisco,” said Hoover, who played basketball at Arcadia High School. “John might be the best player out of the Virgin Islands since Tim Duncan.”
Said John after last year’s victory: “I played a little bit in the Virgin Islands, but not much, mostly in the streets, but not on any teams.”
Proceeds from the game benefit the Holy Angels athletic program and the Kentucky-based Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). Game time is 7 p.m.
The Eye on Jacob Foundation will co-sponsor the event which will again enjoy the support of Hall of Fame jockeys Eddie Delahoussaye, Laffit Pincay Jr., Gary Stevens and Mike Smith. All of these legendary jockeys will be available from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and at halftime to autograph photos and other memorabilia. They will all serve as honorary captains as well.
Top jockey David Flores will again be the jockeys’ game captain. “This is something we look forward to every year,” said Flores. “It’s just a fun night and it’s great to be able to bring our families and have some laughs—and who knows, we might even win.
“It’s nice to be able to meet all the young kids from Holy Angels and to be able to raise money for their school and for the PDJF. Racing is a great game, but it’s also very dangerous. There are a lot of guys around the country who have been injured badly and we need to try and do all that we can for them.”
The Eye on Jacob Foundation is named for the 13-year-old son of Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, who was diagnosed several years ago with Usher’s Syndrome, a rare disorder that causes loss of hearing, imbalance and eventual loss of sight in approximately 12,000 children in the United States.
“We’re very happy to be a part of this event,” said Jacob’s mother, Sonia Desormeaux. “We’re hoping to be able to provide some nice prizes and to make people aware of Usher’s Syndrome, which is extremely rare. Jacob is looking forward to the game and he’s elated that he’s going to be able to be a part of it and that he’ll be able to be with the jockeys during the game.”
Raffle items include: a 20-inch street, trail and park bike, valued at $369 that has been donated by manufacturer Free Agent and Temple City Bike Shop; a 29er mountain bike, valued at $600, donated by Diamond Back and Temple City Bike Shop, as well as basketballs which will be signed by all jockeys and student-players.
Other prizes include one free Santa Anita Club House admission for every two game tickets purchased, as well as a halftime chance for five people to make a half-court free throw and win two nights at Treasure Island, Las Vegas. Additional prizes will be announced prior to and during the game.
This year’s Santa Anita jockey team is expected to include: Captain David Flores, Paul Atkinson, Rafael Bejarano, Hector Berrios, Alex Bisono, Brice Blanc, Antonio Castanon, Keiber Coa, Victor Espinoza, Omar Figueroa, Eswan Flores, Martin Garcia, Mario Gutierrez, Kevin Krigger, Modesto Linares, Edwin Maldonado, Corey Nakatani, Alonso Quinonez, Joel Rosario, Christian Santiago Reyes, Kayla Stra, Chantal Sutherland, Mike Smith, Joe Talamo and perhaps others.
While Hoover will again coach the jockeys’ squad, Matt Denny’s Restaurant owner Matt McSweeny and his friend Marcel Pidoux will head the Holy Angel’s crew.
La Salle High School is located at the southwest corner of Michillinda Ave. and Sierra Madre Blvd. in Pasadena, approximately four miles northwest of Santa Anita Park. Admission is $5.
AUTHOR SIGNS COPIES OF AWARD-WINNING BOOK SATURDAY AT SANTA ANITA
Elizabeth Letts, author of the New York Times bestseller “The Eighty-Dollar Champion,” will sign copies of her book Saturday at Champions Gift Shop from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
The award-winning book chronicles the remarkable true-life story of Snowman, a plow horse rescued from slaughter, who goes on to win the national jumping championships in 1958, and, along the way, inspires a nation. The compelling book sells for $28, including tax.
FINISH LINES: The first of three pools in 2012 Kentucky Derby Future Wagering at Santa Anita and elsewhere began at 9 a.m. Friday and runs through 3 p.m. Sunday. Pool 2 runs March 2-4 and Pool 3 from March 30 to April 1. The only Kentucky Oaks Future Pool coincides with Pool 2 . . . Jockey Alonso Quinonez took off his scheduled three mounts Friday citing body soreness after he was unseated from Castletown, who ducked in after the start of Thursday’s eighth race . . . Raven Run winner Great Hot worked three furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Friday in a bullet 34 seconds flat. Trainer A.C. Avila is pointing her to the Grade II Santa Maria Stakes on Feb. 18 . . . Sharp Cat winner Charm the Maker, prepping for the Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes on March 3, worked four furlongs at Santa Anita Thursday in 50.20 for Ron McAnally . . . Premier Pegasus, last year’s San Felipe Stakes winner and 8-5 morning line favorite to win the Santa Anita Derby before he was sidelined with an 11th-hour injury, has suffered a setback in his comeback attempt and will be given further recovery time over the next few months. “He had been galloping and was getting ready to breeze,” said Maria Ayala, assistant to owner/trainer/breeder Myung Kwon Cho. “We had to take the screw out that was inserted after he was hurt. He’s still at our barn at Santa Anita but needs more time.” Premier Pegasus came out of the San Felipe with a hairline fracture in the cannon bone of his left foreleg . . . Five players remain alive in ShowVivor going into Friday’s races . . . Peter Miller, trainer of Sanagas, 8-5 morning line favorite for tomorrow’s San Marcos Stakes, will be Steve Andersen’s guest on Saturday’s Daily Racing Form seminar, 11:30 a.m. in the East Paddock Gardens.