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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• MISS MITTAGONG SET FOR GRADE I SANTA MARGARITA STAKES
• THERE WILL BE SUNBURN RAIN OR SHINE IN IRISH O’BRIEN STAKES
• GLADDING WELL-PLACED IN SUNDAY’S SANTANA MILE
• BREEDERS’ CUP CHAMPION AMAZOMBIE WORKS FOR SPAWR
MISS MITTAGONG CHASES ELLAFITZ AGAIN IN SATURDAY’S SANTA MARGARITA
Miss Mittagong was second to Ellafitz in the Grade II Santa Maria Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 18, and while Saturday’s Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes is a sixteenth of a mile longer, trainer Ben Cecil knows he’ll need more than added distance to overtake front-running Ellafitz in Santa Anita’s signature race for older fillies and mares.
“I’m hoping the extra distance will help,” Cecil said. “We’ll see what the track’s like and how much rain we get. If it’s sealed, wet/fast, it’s probably going to help Ellafitz.”
Ellafitz, a 5-year-old Tiznow mare trained by Bob Baffert, has won her last three races, all stakes, from gate to wire. The lone speed on paper, Ellafitz figures to be on a long and lonesome lead again at odds of less than even money.
Miss Mittagong, a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Pleasantly Perfect, has two seconds and a third in her last three races, each a Grade II stakes, but has never won a stakes race in 10 U.S. starts since coming from Europe.
The field for the Santa Margarita: Miss Mittagong, Mario Gutierrez, 6-1; Love Theway You are, Joel Rosario, 15-1; Kayce Ace, Victor Espinoza, 15-1; Ellafitz, Martin Garcia, 6-5; Include Me Out, Joe Talamo, 9-5; and Awesomemundo, Mike Smith, 5-2.
SUNBURN SET FOR IRISH O’BRIEN STAKES, RAIN OR SHINE
Which horses run in Saturday’s $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes for California-bred fillies and mares scheduled for about 6 ½ furlongs on turf depends on the weatherman. With rain forecast and if the race is run on the main track, there will be defections.
One horse that remains firm for the race either way is Sunburn, trained by Sean McCarthy, who also entered Bench Glory.
“Sunburn has never raced on traditional dirt,” McCarthy said, “but if a few of them come out, like Unzip Me, it’s a good spot. She’s training well and she’s on the outside. It’s a good draw.”
Sunburn, a 5-year-old In Excess mare owned by John Harris, who is also the co-owner and breeder of Unzip Me, would be making her first stakes start. She is coming off five straight turf races and broke her maiden on Del Mar’s Polytrack last July.
McCarthy said Bench Glory would not run if the race is taken off the turf.
The field for the Irish O’Brien: Unzip Me, Mike Smith; Bench Glory, Brice Blanc; Advance Ticket, Kevin Krigger; Lindz Winz, Edwin Maldonado; Secret Cove, Joe Talamo; Halo Dolly, Joel Rosario; Camille C, David Flores; and Sunburn, Victor Espinoza.
GLADDING GOES FROM BIG ‘CAP TO SANTANA MILE ON SUNDAY
Gladding takes a drop in class and prize money when he runs in Sunday’s Santana Mile.
Coming off an 11th-place finish in the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 3, Gladding will play a different game in Sunday’s $70,000 Santana Mile.
“He came out of the Big ‘Cap OK and a mile is a good distance for him, so we’re going to give it a go,” trainer John Sadler said, adding with a knowing smile, “The Santana Mile is usually a little softer spot than the Santa Anita Handicap.
“He’s a nice horse. He has two wins over this course, so we’re looking forward to Sunday.” One of the two wins came in the Grade II San Antonio Stakes last year at 1 1/8 miles.
Sadler added that stakes winners Switch and Zazu are doing well since returning to his barn. “Switch will probably be breezing next week,” Sadler said. “I don’t look beyond that. We’ve got to get through this storm first.”
The field for the Santana Mile, race seven on an eight-race card: Worth Repeating, Martin Garcia; Tweebster, Rafael Bejarano; Spud Spivens, David Flores; Gladding, Mike Smith; Make Music for Me, Chantal Sutherland; Honour the Deputy, Corey Nakatani; and Canonize, Victor Espinoza.
CHAMP AMAZOMBIE WORKS FOR SPAWR WITH BISONO ABOARD
Bill Spawr had a busy morning Friday. With rain imminent, the 72-year-old trainer worked nearly half his barn, including California-bred Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Amazombie, who is “50-50” for either the Grade II, $150,000 Potrero Grande Stakes at Santa Anita on April 7 or the Grade III, $200,000 Count Fleet Sprint Stakes at Oaklawn Park on April 14.
With jockey Alex Bisono aboard, Amazombie worked five furlongs in 59.60. “It was a very good work,” Spawr said. “He galloped out in 1:12.”
Santa Anita’s work tab listed 13 Spawr workers Friday, including two on the training track.
Spawr said he worked 16 of the 30 head in his barn.
Bisono, meanwhile, is thrilled with the opportunity to work Amazombie and to ride for a trainer with Spawr’s resume and horsemanship.
“He’s very respected,” said Bisono, a 27-year-old native of Central Islip, Long Island. “When people see me working for him, they obviously know that I’m doing a good job.
“Business is picking up little by little. I’m working really hard and people are noticing that. They’re starting to give me better opportunities.” Brandon O’Bryan is Bisono’s agent.
‘SANTA ANITA UNCORKED’ SET FOR NEXT SUNDAY, MARCH 25
Santa Anita will present its fifth annual “Santa Anita Uncorked” wine and culinary festival on Sunday, March 25. The event will be staged in the track’s paddock gardens area beginning at 12 noon and will feature a wide array of boutique and hand-picked wine selections, cuisine sampling from 14 popular local restaurants, a paddock art show and a full day of exciting Thoroughbred racing.
“This event has grown over the years and all of our participants have told us that Santa Anita is a perfect venue for it,” said Chris Quinn, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Santa Anita. “All of these things, good wine, outstanding food and world-class racing, make for a great mix and what better place to make it all come together than here at Santa Anita?
“Candace Chew, Director of our Graphics Department, has worked very hard to develop this and she’s done a magnificent job.”
“Santa Anita Uncorked” will again be sponsored by the Wine of the Month Club, which is based in nearby Monrovia.
“We are so thrilled to participate in ‘Santa Anita Uncorked’ again this year,” said Wine of the Month Club President Paul Kalemkiarian. “Traditionally, going to the racetrack is one of America’s favorite pastimes. Add some exceptional cuisine and stellar wines and you have one of the most exciting and delicious events of the year.”
Packages will include: Parking, Club House admission with a grandstand seat, daily race program, wine tasting, cuisine sampling, art exhibit and a souvenir wine glass.
Tickets for admission, parking, program and restricted area wrist band are available for $60 each and can be purchased at the Santa Anita ticket office or by phone at (626) 574-RACE. Tickets can also be purchased on-line at www.santaanita.com.
Proceeds from “Santa Anita Uncorked” will go to benefit Arcadia High School student programs and the California (Equine) Retirement Management Account (CARMA).
SANTA ANITA HOSTS ZENYATTA ‘BABY SHOWER’ ON SATURDAY
Santa Anita will proudly host an equine baby shower in honor of the great Zenyatta’s newly arrived foal on Saturday. All on-track attendees will receive one “It’s a Boy” poster, free with their paid admission and will have an opportunity to meet “Team Zenyatta” in an autograph session prior to the races.
“The Queen’s Dance,” a life-size painting of Zenyatta on post parade, will also be on display at Santa Anita on Saturday. This magnificent work of art, first unveiled during Breeders’ Cup week this past November at Churchill Downs, was created by Jaime Corum (whose posters and original artwork will be available at the gift shop this weekend).
Corum, along with members of the Zenyatta team including Dottie Ingordo Shirreffs, trainer John Shirreffs, jockey Mike Smith and owners Ann and Jerry Moss, will all be on hand Saturday and will participate in the Zenyatta autograph session which will take place from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Santa Anita’s East Paddock Gardens area.
Several charities, including CANTER of California, Old Friends, Race for Education and EAGALA, which have been involved with Zenyatta throughout her legendary racing and now maternal career, will be represented at Saturday’s event.
The baby shower prints are $25 each, plus shipping and handling, with proceeds divided evenly between Old Friends and CANTER. For more information, visit www.santaanita.com.
‘KISS ME, I’M IRISH’ CASINO NIGHT BENEFITS EYE ON JACOB FOUNDATION
The Eye on Jacob Foundation is a 501 c-3 nonprofit organization founded by Sonia Desormeaux in 2008. Sonia’s younger son, Jacob, the son of Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, suffers from Ushers Syndrome. To become an Eye on Jacob sponsor, RSVP or visit www.EyeOnJacob.org.
FINISH LINES: With his nose victory aboard Trucial State for John Sadler in Thursday’s fifth race, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith notched his 4,995th win, moving within five of 5,000 career victories . . . Joe Talamo, at 22 years old and 24 years Smith’s junior, stood at 991 career wins through Thursday . . . San Antonio Stakes winner Game On Dude, prepping for the Dubai World Cup on March 31, worked seven furlongs in company on Santa Anita’s main track Friday under Martin Garcia in a bullet 1:25. Stablemate and workmate Midnight Crooner from Bob Baffert’s barn was clocked in 1:25.60. Other prominent Baffert workers included Southwest division winner Castaway, prepping for the Grade III, $800,000 Sunland Derby on March 25, and promising maiden winner Princess Arabella, heading for the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks the same day . . . Two-time Santa Anita Handicap runner-up Setsuko worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 for Richard Mandella, while San Marcos winner Slim Shadey had a “maintenance work” for trainer Simon Callaghan, going five furlongs in 1:00.80 for the Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes, which was postponed from this Sunday to next, March 25 . . . Charm the Maker, ticketed for the turf in the Grade II Providencia Stakes on April 7, worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s grass course Thursday in 51.20 for Ron McAnally . . . At Hollywood Park Friday, comebacking Rail Trip went three furlongs for Ron Ellis in 37.20, breezing; Kilroe Mile runner-up Mr. Commons worked four furlongs in 49 breezing for John Shirreffs; San Carlos runner-up Sway Away worked five furlongs in 1:02.60 for Jeff Bonde; and multiple turf stakes winner Bourbon Bay, a contender for the San Luis Rey Stakes, worked six furlongs for Neil Drysdale in 1:13.80 . . . There were 464 players alive in ShowVivor2 going into Friday’s races . . . HRTV’s Peter Lurie and syndicated handicapper Toby Turrell of Winners Card will be host Jack Disney’s guests on Sunday’s Fans’ Forum, 11:15 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens, weather permitting.