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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
LEGENDARY ACTOR/OWNER JACK KLUGMAN TO ATTEND SUNSHINE MILLIONS
Legendary actor and enthusiastic horse owner Jack Klugman will be at Santa Anita Saturday to watch Pretty Unusual run in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino. The 87-year-old star of sitcoms, movies, television and Broadway shows owns one-third of the El Encino Stakes winner, along with Madeline Auerbach and Murray Goda.
“He’s a great fan of racing,” trainer Barry Abrams said of Klugman, a native of Philadelphia who now resides in Malibu. “He watches races on HRTV or TVG all the time, but he misses being out here every day. I trained Pretty Unusual’s dam, Sci Fi Kin, for Jack. I’ve known him for probably 10 years, and he really loves the game.”
Sci Fi Kin’s dam was Akinemod, who was owned by Klugman and won the 1990 El Encino by 18 lengths under Gary Stevens.
The field for the Filly & Mare Turf at 1 1/8 miles: Closeout, Jose Lezcano; Tight Precision, Joel Rosario; Pretty Unusual, Chantal Sutherland; You Lift Me Up, Rafael Bejarano; Bootleg Annie, Garrett Gomez; Saucey Evening, Jose Valdivia Jr.; Catsalot, Alonso Quinonez; and Century Park, Tyler Baze.
BRICE HOPES HE DOESN’T FIRE ‘BLANC’ IN SUNSHINE MILLIONS CLASSIC
Brice Blanc is looking forward to Saturday’s $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic presented by Pepsi Cola. The 36-year-old jockey rides Jeranimo in the 1 1/8-mile race for trainer Mike Pender and owner B.J. Wright of Pasadena.
“I think he fits well in the race,” said the affable Blanc, a native of Lyon, France. “He comes from behind and there’s quite a bit of speed in the race. He tries hard all the time, and his last race was his best race.”
That was a 2 1/4-length allowance victory at 6 1/2 furlongs on Jan. 13. He was third behind Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile in last year’s Grade II San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, the longest distance the son of Congaree has ever run.
“He really put it together in his last race,” Blanc continued. “This is the first time he’s going a mile and an eighth, but he’s gone a mile and a sixteenth a couple of times last year. The extra eighth shouldn’t be a huge problem, but we’ll find out.
“The inside post shouldn’t be a problem, either, because on paper, there’s a lot of speed and he’s a pretty easy-going horse. He’s got natural speed and you can place him pretty much where you want. He’s actually not showing as much speed this year as he did last year as a 3-year-old. He’s a little more laid back now.”
Fans attending on-track and around the nation can also participate in the 2010 debut of the popular Magna 5, which will begin Saturday with the final race from Laurel Park. All fans in attendance at Santa Anita will receive free over-sized Sunshine Millions infield/beach umbrellas with paid admission, while supplies last.
The field for the Classic: Jeranimo, Brice Blanc, 6-1; Unusual Suspect, Alonso Quinonez, 30-1 Enriched, Michael Baze, 6-1; Palladio, Mike Smith, 30-1; Unusual Smoke, Martin Garcia, 30-1; Bad Action, John Velazquez, 12-1; The Usual Q.T., Victor Espinoza, 5-2; Compari, Garrett Gomez, 3-1; Bold Chieftain, Russell Baze, 6-1; Wicked Style, Rafael Bejarano, 10-1; and Acclamation, David Flores, 15-1. Bad Action also was entered in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream and will run there instead of the Classic.
WHITE EXPLAINS ‘UNUSUAL’ LOGIC FOR FAVORING THE USUAL Q.T.
Despite switching from turf to dirt after six straight wins on grass, Santa Anita oddsmaker Jon White has installed The Usual Q.T. the 5-2 morning line favorite for the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic presented by Pepsi Cola at Santa Anita on Saturday.
“I made The Usual Q.T. the morning line favorite for the Sunshine Millions Classic because of his six-race winning streak, with three of those six wins having come in graded stakes races, including the Grade I Hollywood Derby,” noted White, who also provides paddock commentary for the track’s simulcast network.
“I didn’t make him lower than 5-2 because it is an 11-horse field and all of his races during his winning streak have been on the grass. I definitely think he would get bet more heavily if this were a grass race. The Usual Q.T. is winless in four starts on synthetic tracks. On the other hand, he has finished second in three of those synthetic races and it’s quite clear that he has improved dramatically since the last time he ran on a synthetic surface last summer.
“Compari, who has a winning streak of his own, probably is going to get a lot of support in the betting, too. He has won four straight. But I couldn’t make him the favorite over The Usual Q.T. because while The Usual Q.T. is a multiple graded stakes winner, Compari has never even run in a graded stakes race. That said, Compari certainly deserves respect the way he keeps rattling off win after win. And he won a stakes race on a synthetic track when he won the Snow Chief last year.
“The other two Sunshine Millions races here are really wide open, terrific betting races. It’s extremely difficult to say who will start as the favorite in either of those races. In the Filly and Mare Sprint, my initial thought was to make High Resolve the favorite since she won this same race last year at Gulfstream.
“But High Resolve is zero for three since then, including two losses as an odds-on favorite. I made her 5-1, the same price she was when she won the Filly and Mare Sprint last year. Dubai Majesty finished second in this race last year and has done much better since then than High Resolve. I made Dubai Majesty a lukewarm 4-1 favorite. Miss McCall might draw a lot of play after winning in 1:08 and change and earning a 98 Beyer Speed Figure at Turf Paradise. So I put her at 9-2.
“In the Filly and Mare Turf, favoritism is up for grabs. I made Tight Precision a 7-2 favorite because it looks like she’s coming into the race in the best form, off wins at Churchill Downs and Gulfstream Park.”
CONSISTENT QUISISANA ‘A PLAYER’ IN SUNSHINE MILLIONS F&M SPRINT
Quisisana has never failed to earn a check in nine career starts, but the 5-year-old mare faces her most daunting challenge in Saturday’s $200,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint at six furlongs.
“It’s a tough race, but we hope to run well,” trainer Mike Puype said of the California-bred daughter of Decarchy owned by Robert Naify and Jan Van DeBos of San Francisco, who race as Ran Jan Racing, Inc.
“She’s four for four going up to 6 1/2 furlongs on synthetic. The two races she lost were at seven-eighths. She’s never lost on synthetics at six furlongs, so she’s going to be a player on Saturday.”
Quisisana has a 4-1-2 record from nine starts, with earnings of $165,758.
The field for the Filly & Mare Sprint: U R All That I Am, Mike Smith, 8-1; Emmy Darling, Alex Solis, 15-1; Miss McCall, Tyler Baze, 9-2; Dotsy Jean, Victor Espinoza, 12-1; Rate of Exchange, Joel Rosario, 12-1; Sleep Tight, Jose Lezcano, 15-1; Libor Lady, Garrett Gomez, 6-1; Fearless Leader, Chantal Sutherland, 20-1; Via Veneto, Martin Garcia, 30-1; Dubai Majesty, Jamie Theriot, 4-1; High Resolve, Russell Baze, 5-1; Quisisana, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; and Magdalena’s Chase, Joe Talamo, 30-1.
DON’T CRY FOR EVITA ARGENTINA IN SUNDAY’S SANTA MONICA
At seven furlongs, Evita Argentina returns to her favorite distance in Sunday’s Grade I $250,000 Santa Monica Handicap for older fillies and mares.
“That’s her distance,” trainer John Sadler said. “She won three stakes last year at seven-eighths, although this is tougher company and it’s for 4-year-olds and up.” Evita Argentina, a chestnut daughter of Candy Ride owned by Halo Farms and Three Sisters Thoroughbreds, rallied from 11th and last after being compromised at the break to win the Grade I La Brea Stakes last out, on Dec. 26.
“She’s doing well,” said Sadler, who is seeking his second straight Santa Anita training title. “She’s had nice spacing between races, and she’s had three works (since the La Brea). She’s ready to go. Like always, she’s at her best when she has pace to run at.”
Evita Argentina has a 6-1-0 record from 13 starts, with earnings of $611,400.
The field for the Santa Monica: Diamondrella, Garrett Gomez; Cherryblossommiss, Alonso Quinonez; Evita Argentina, Joel Rosario; Captain’s Lover, Alex Solis; Made for Magic, Omar Berrio; Free Flying Soul, Mike Smith; Proviso, Rafael Bejarano; Tuscan Evening, Tyler Baze; Czechers, Chantal Sutherland; Sweet August Moon, Joe Talamo; Gabby’s Golden Gal, Martin Garcia; and Gilded Gem, Victor Espinoza.
MAGNA 5 ANALYSIS STARTS FRIDAY MORNING ON HRTV
The popular Magna 5 wager returns Saturday and HRTV will provide expert analysis and insight on how to play the unique exotic bet when it airs a "Magna 5 Preview Show" on Friday at 8:30 a.m.
The half-hour show, which premieres leading into Sunshine Millions weekend, will re-air several times both Friday and Saturday.
The Magna 5 is a challenging $1 minimum bet, with handicappers requiring to select winners from Thoroughbred tracks coast-to-coast in one hour. If no one selects all five winners, a portion of the pool will carryover to the following Saturday.
HRTV's stable of hosts and analysts -- Jon White, Peter Lurie, Joanne Jones, Aaron Vercruysse, and Daily Racing Form West Coast handicapper Brad Free -- will discuss the five races in a fast-paced sequence.
Saturday’s Magna 5 lineup with scheduled post times: Laurel ninth race, 1:53 p.m.; Gulfstream ninth, 2:08; Santa Anita sixth, 2:18; Gulfstream 10th, 2:43; and Santa Anita seventh, 2:52 p.m.
FINISH LINES: Recently retired Arkansas Derby and San Fernando Stakes winner Papa Clem left today for Legacy Ranch in the northern California town of Clements, where he will stand for $7,500, trainer Gary Stute said . . . The ties have it: Rafael Bejarano, Victor Espinoza and Joel Rosario were deadlocked for the Santa Anita riding lead through Wednesday with 21 wins each, while Bob Baffert and John Sadler shared the training lead with 12 victories apiece . . . Silvio Amador recorded his first Santa Anita victory Wednesday when he rode Streets of Heaven to a nose victory over 17-10 favorite Wicked Mischief in the sixth race. The 28-year-old Mexico City native was among the leading riders in his native country prior to coming to the U.S. last November, according to his agent, Alex Procel Crowley . . . Condolences to the family and friends of jockey Justin Vitek, who died of leukemia Thursday morning in Houston. He was 36. A memorial service will be held in the near future at Turfway Park . . . San Rafael Stakes winner Conveyance worked five furlongs on Pro-Ride Thursday in a bullet :59.40 for Baffert . . . Neil Everett, who co-anchors ESPN’s West Coast edition of SportsCenter with Stan Verrett, will lead-in tonight’s opening segment with Santa Anita bugler Jay Cohen. Everett, who is expected to attend Saturday’s Sunshine Millions, is known for his repertoire of catch phrases, including, “Howzit,” Hawaiian slang for “How’s it going?” . . . Trainer Eric Kruljac says his horses are faring well on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface. “My horses have stayed very sound here on synthetic. I’ve been very lucky. The only problem is, it just can’t handle the rain.” . . . Tomorrow marks another ‘Free Friday’ at Santa Anita. Patrons will receive free General Admission and box seats, while supplies last, as well as being offered $1 hot dogs, beers, sodas, popcorn and coffee . . . HRTV’s live coverage of the 10-date Dubai International Racing Carnival from the $2 billion Meydan Racecourse began this morning and will culminate with the Dubai World Cup program on Saturday, March 27. This marks the fourth consecutive year HRTV has covered the Carnival. After the Carnival's opener, HRTV will air coverage of the Carnival throughout the next two months. The 15th running of Dubai World Cup program offers $26 million in purses and will be headlined by the $10 million Dubai World Cup at 1 1/4 miles . . . The runners in Wednesday’s first two races finished the first four positions in numerical order, six through nine in the first and three through six in the second . . . Aaron Hesz of Handicappers’ Report and Jason Levin of “Inside Racing” on XTRA 570 AM Los Angeles Saturdays, will be Jack Disney’s guests on Sunday’s Fans’ Forum, 11:15 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Entering Thursday’s races, there were 14 contestants alive in ShowVivor.