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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• HARRINGTON HOPES TO DOUBLE HIS PLEASURE IN SAN FELIPE
• GRADE I WINNER HOME SWEET ASPEN LOOKS STRONG IN LAS FLORES
• MIKE MITCHELL ASSISTANT D’AMATO WINS FIRST RACE AS TRAINER
CREATIVE CAUSE, EMPIRE WAY CARRY HARRINGTON HOPES IN SAN FELIPE
Timing is everything, the saying goes, and Mike Harrington is a firm believer in that credo these days, not necessarily by design.
The veteran trainer, who turns 70 on April 5, has two Triple Crown contenders, Creative Cause and Empire Way, slated to run in Saturday’s Grade II, $300,000 San Felipe Stakes for 3-year-olds. The 1 1/16 mile race is a major prep for the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 7.
Beyond that awaits the ultimate goal: the Kentucky Derby on May 5. Creative Cause finished third in the San Vicente in his 3-year-old debut on Feb. 19. Empire Way last raced on Feb. 4, finishing second to longshot I’ll Have Another in the Robert Lewis Stakes. Both horses are owned by long-time Harrington client Heinz Steinmann of Wrightwood, CA.
“Both horses are doing very well,” Harrington said after saddling Vicki Victoria to an impressive win in Thursday’s third race. “I would have preferred to run them in separate races, but it’s all about the timing (to reach the Kentucky Derby). The San Felipe was in my original plan for Creative Cause.
“But Empire Way developed and it’s been longer since he ran, and even if I had run him next week (March 17 in the Rebel at Oaklawn Park), then it would have been only three weeks to the Santa Anita Derby, so the timing is really kind of all screwed up from my standpoint.”
Creative Cause already has $506,000 in graded earnings, more than enough to qualify him with a berth in the Kentucky Derby. But Empire Way has only $85,000. The Derby field is limited to 20 starters, based on graded earnings.
“Empire Way needs graded earnings and that’s the reason I didn’t want to run them both together, but I’m hoping that Empire Way gets enough out of this race to be close (to qualifying in earnings to make the Run for the Roses),” Harrington said.
“If he doesn’t, then I’ve got to go to the Louisiana Derby, which is a million dollar race (at the Fair Grounds on April 1), or the Sunland Derby, which is $800,000 (a Grade III in New Mexico on March 25). That might be (running) back too soon, but after the San Felipe, I’ve got to decide where the hell I’m going.
“If I need more (graded) earnings for Empire Way after Saturday, I could run him back in the Santa Anita Derby and hope to get a little piece of that, and then he’d have enough. Ideally, I’d like to run at home before going to Kentucky, if we make it.”
In other San Felipe news:
San Pedro Stakes winner Midnight Transfer makes his first start beyond 6 ½ furlongs in the San Felipe. Carla Gaines hopes the son of Hard Spun is up to the task.
“The horse is doing very, very well,” the trainer said. “We’ll just see if he likes two turns. Either he does or he doesn’t.” Gaines had little sympathy for Bob Baffert’s loss of Fed Biz in the San Felipe. “He’s still got Bodemeister in there,” she said. “It’s one or the other. It doesn’t make that much difference. He’s got an infantry of good 3-year-olds.”
Runaway maiden winner Fed Biz, who “tied up” recently, forcing him to miss the San Felipe, could train up to the Santa Anita Derby or the Wood Memorial. “That’s what I tweeted yesterday,” Baffert said. Both races are on April 7.
Tiz Point is coming off two straight turf races, but Richard Mandella says the son of Tiznow rates a longshot’s chance in the San Felipe. “He trains good on dirt, and when you win a non-winners there’s nothing else you can do around here other than either be a stakes horse or a claiming horse.
“Timing-wise, his races have come up on the grass, so I ran him, and he liked it, but I’m day-dreaming that he might like the dirt.”
With Sham Stakes winner Out of Bounds out of the race, professional horse player Jimmy (The Hat) Allard has shifted his San Felipe support to Blingo. “It’s not necessarily that I think he’ll win,” Allard said, “but I’m real excited because he’s running.
“He’s by (2005 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner) Artie Schiller, and his offspring like Irish Art and Mr. Commons haven’t proven themselves on dirt. But when (trainer) John Shirreffs does anything like this, you have to respect it, and not because he trained Zenyatta. John’s a master race horse trainer.”
The San Felipe field: Blingo, Mike Smith, 8-1; Bodemeister, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1; American Act, Martin Pedroza, 8-1; Midnight Transfer, Victor Espinoza, 6-1; Groovin’ Solo, Alonso Quinonez, 20-1; Liaison, Martin Garcia, 6-1; Creative Cause, Joel Rosario, 5-2; Rousing Sermon, Joe Talamo, 8-1; Tiz Point, Garrett Gomez, 20-1; and Empire Way, Brice Blanc, 6-1.
HOME SWEET ASPEN HAS BIGGER FISH TO FRY AFTER LAS FLORES STAKES
Home Sweet Aspen goes from a Grade I victory to a Grade III race when she runs in Sunday’s Las Flores Stakes for older fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs, but it’s not because the daughter of Candy Ride has lost her form or her class.
John Sadler has long-range goals for the 4-year-old filly, who captured the Grade I Santa Monica Stakes at seven furlongs last out on Jan. 28.
“This is what our home program is for filly and mare sprints,” the trainer said, referring to the Grade III Las Flores. “So we’ll run here and she’ll probably go out of town after that. It’s dumb to go out (of town) too early because the weather’s too bad.
“She might go to Churchill in May or Keeneland in April, but for right now in March, she’s going to run right here in her own back yard.”
The field for the Las Flores: She’s Cheeky, Joe Talamo, 9-2; Izzy Rules, Edwin Maldonado, 2-1; Veloce Canzone, Frederic Lenclud, 8-1; Home Sweet Aspen, Joel Rosario, 5-2; Great Hot, Mike Smith, 3-1; and Spectacular Sky, Rafael Bejarano, 9-2.
MITCHELL AIDE D’AMATO WINS FIRST RACE AS A TRAINER
Philip D’Amato won his first race as a trainer in his own right when first-time starter Love That Action rallied from well off the pace to win Thursday’s eighth race by a neck under Joe Talamo at odds of 18-1. It was the third win on the day for Talamo.
The 34-year-old D’Amato’s primary claim to fame to date is as assistant to trainer Mike Mitchell. “I’ve been with him going on seven years,” D’Amato said by phone from Hollywood Park. “This was my fourth starter on my own and my first win.”
A native of San Pedro, D’Amato graduated from Rancho Palos Verdes High School before matriculating to USC. After graduating, he attended the Arizona Race Track School program.
Despite the fact that double-digit longshots swept the last four races in Thursday’s Pick 6 races, there was one winning ticket worth $65,896.40.
“I wish it was mine,” D’Amato said, “but it wasn’t.”
ZENYATTA GIVES BIRTH TO FIRST FOAL, A BERNARDINI COLT
Wonder mare Zenyatta, the 2010 Horse of the Year who was unbeaten in her first 19 races before losing by a head to Blame in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic, gave birth to her first foal Thursday at about 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky.
The 8-year-old Street Cry mare foaled a 130-pound son of Bernardini, a dark bay with a white star and “polka dots on his feet,” just like Zenyatta, according to Zenyatta.com.
Zenyatta’s owners, Jerry and Ann Moss, attended the birth. The farm presented the couple with special personalized navy-blue overalls for the occasion, according to Zenyatta.com.
HRTV ON SITE FOR SATURDAY’S TAMPA BAY DERBY
HRTV's Caton Bredar will be on-track at Tampa Bay Downs Saturday for the Grade II, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby for 3-year-olds. The track’s signature event has produced two Kentucky Derby winners in the last five years, Street Sense (2007) and Super Saver (2010).
Bredar will be at the Oldsmar, Florida, track to report on the Tampa Bay Derby, offering analysis, insight and interviews with key personalities throughout the day. The 1 1 /16 mile event is expected to attract a solid field, including the first two finishers from Tampa's Sam F. Davis Stakes, and at least one horse from the powerful Todd Pletcher stable, the undefeated Spring Hill Farm.
FORMER TROJAN STAR ZAMPESE CELEBRATES BIRTHDAY AT SANTA ANITA TODAY
Today’s eighth race is named “Happy Birthday Ernie Z,” in honor of former USC football star and NFL coach Ernie Zampese, who celebrates his 72nd birthday today.
The colorful Zampese, who gained his greatest acclaim as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers during the Air Coryell years, was depicted in a 1987 Los Angeles Times feature story thusly:
“In his college days, Zampese was a work of art, or so the legend goes, a guy who could paint the town Trojan red at night and be seen whistling at sunrise the next morning, a Daily Racing Form folded under his arm, a soda in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Let’s just say he wasn’t headed for biology class.”
B.B.Q. CHAMPIONSHIPS AT SANTA ANITA ON SATURDAYSanta Anita offers a Winners’ Circle B.B.Q. Championship on Saturday, when fans can meet and greet the top competition B.B.Q. teams on the West Coast. Taste succulent B.B.Q. right off their pits, cooked low and slow over wood fires, and choose who you think deserves the title of “people’s choice.”
In addition, there will be live music by Steel Rod and fun for the entire family with pony rides, face painting, free Giant Jumpers, carnival games and more. The B.B.Q. Championship was No. 1 in recent hits on KNBC 4’s website as of Friday morning.
MARDI GRAS EVENT RAISES $79,000 AT SANTA ANITA
About 500 guests honored neurologist Dr. Kenneth Wogensen as Mardi Gras King 2012 last week at Arcadia Methodist Hospital’s 17th annual Mardi Gras event at Sirona’s at Santa Anita. More than $79,000 was raised in support of Methodist Hospital’s stroke program, according to The weekly Star, an edition of the Pasadena Star-News.
Proceeds from the event will help with expansion of the hospital’s stroke program, which greatly impacts the lives of those afflicted by a stroke as well as their loved ones.
MEMORIAL SERVICE AT SANTA ANITA SUNDAY FOR ‘EDDIE FROM ALHAMBRA’
A memorial service will be held in Santa Anita’s Chandelier Room Sunday after the ninth race for Eddie Rosenblum, who died last Friday. He was believed to be 53. All friends are welcome.
A corpulent race track character of Runyonesque proportions in both size and legend, Rosenblum was known as “Eddie from Alhambra” on local sports-talk radio to his many race track friends.
Sunday’s ninth race will be named in his honor.
FINISH LINES: Garrett Gomez was named to ride in the third and sixth races today, marking his first mounts since the 40-year-old jockey suffered a broken left heel in a pre-post parade mishap prior to the Daytona Stakes on Jan. 8 . . . Setsuko came out of his second-place finish in the Santa Anita Handicap in good order, but his next race might be out of town. “The Tokyo City (Cup on March 24) is a little too close (from the Big ‘Cap, which was run last Saturday),” Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella said. “He had his comeback race; he ran great in there and it took a little out of him. I don’t want to come back within the month. It’s too quick. We’re looking all around. There are a lot of big races and we’ll probably pick one.” . . . Santa Anita hosted another of its unique Photography Days Friday morning. Nearly 250 photo enthusiasts were at Clockers’ Corner on a picture-perfect day, snapping away to their hearts’ content as Thoroughbreds worked out under blue skies and with the scenic San Gabriel Mountains in the background . . . Agent Joe Ferrer reports that jockey Rafael Bejarano will ride Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint winner and Southwest Stakes division winner Secret Circle for Bob Baffert in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park a week from Saturday, March 17 . . . Goux Would Do, a 9 ¼-length maiden winner at odds of 3-5 in Thursday’s second race, was named by owner B. Wayne Hughes for legendary former USC football coach Marv Goux, who was synonymous with Trojan football for three decades before his death from cancer at 69 in 2002. “I didn’t know who the horse was named for,” Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella said, “but now that I know, it makes sense. Wayne is a huge USC fan.” . . . At Hollywood Park Friday, 2010 Norfolk Stakes winner Jaycito worked four furlongs in a bullet 47.60 for Baffert . . . With 438 players moving forward with the selections of victorious 2-5 favorite Fluxx in yesterday’s first race, 1,100 are alive in ShowVivor2 going into Friday’s races . . . Aaron Vercruysse of HRTV and Santa Anita’s Ed Golden will be guest handicappers with host Jack Disney on Sunday’s Fans’ Forum, 11:15 a.m. in the East Paddock Gardens.