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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• SLIM SHADEY SHARP FOR SUNDAY’S MARATHON SAN LUIS REY
• DHAAMER MAKES U.S. DEBUT IN MILE AND A HALF TOKYO CITY CUP
• CECIL HOPES TO STIR SANTA ANA DRINK WITH STRAWBERRYDAIQUI
• SPRINT CHAMPION AMAZOMBIE TO WORK SIX FURLONGS ON FRIDAY
• ‘FREE FRIDAYS’ RETURN TO SANTA ANITA TOMORROW
‘COOL’ SLIM SHADEY SET FOR MILE AND A HALF SAN LUIS REY
Better late than never, Slim Shadey goes for his second straight marathon turf victory Sunday when he runs in the Grade II, $150,000 San Luis Rey Stakes at a mile and a half on turf. The English-bred son of Val Royal was scheduled to start in the race last Sunday, but due to inclement weather, it was postponed until this Sunday.
For trainer Simon Callaghan and jockey David Flores, it should make no never mind, even though the 4-year-old gelding will be making his first start beyond 1 ¼ miles, the distance at which he won the Grade II San Marcos Stakes in front-running fashion on Feb. 11.
“It’s a mile and a half race, so anything can happen,” said Flores, who has ridden Slim Shadey in each of his three U.S. races, two of them victories. “Somebody might go out there to the lead, and Slim Shadey is a cool horse. He doesn’t have to be on the lead. He’s won off the pace before and at this distance, I think it’s a matter of having a good trip.
“I think the track will be in good condition and he’s been working very well since the race was postponed. I have high hopes for him.”
The field for the San Luis Rey: Hog’s Hollow, Garrett Gomez; Utopian, Mike Smith; Porfido, Corey Nakatani; Highway Bandit, Joe Talamo; Bourbon Bay, Joel Rosario; and Slim Shadey, David Flores.
MITCHELL HAS IRISH-BRED READY FOR U.S. DEBUT ON DIRT IN TOKYO CITY CUP
After five months of acclimation and preparation, Dhaamer is ready for his U.S. debut Saturday in the $100,000, Grade III Tokyo City Cup for older horses at 1 ½ miles on the main track.
Mike Mitchell has one haunting question: can the Irish-bred gelding successfully handle the dirt? Nine of his 10 career races have been on turf, the other on synthetic. The chestnut son of Dubai Destination, purchased by Mitchell for owner Edward J. Brown of Irvine at last October’s Tattersales Sale, has proved himself at marathon distances, having won by four lengths over 14 rivals at 1 5/16 miles on turf in England last August.
“He was my marathon horse when we bought him,” Mitchell said. “I just don’t know about the dirt. That’s the unknown, but it’s the only time we’ll get a chance to see if he’ll run well on it. I’ve got (Rafael) Bejarano for the race, so that’s encouraging.
“The horse has trained real well since he came here but he had to acclimate and he has. We’re very happy with him. Some horses acclimate well and some don’t. This one took a little longer to come around but his last two, three works have been good.
“He was sold right after his last race in October and we got him maybe three weeks after the sale. Like I said, his recent works have been good and it seems like he can run three miles. His gallop outs, it looks like he can run all day.”
The field for the Tokyo City Cup: Twice the Appeal, Garrett Gomez, 5-2; Graeme Crackerjack, Daniel Vergara, 6-1; Skipshot, Kevin Krigger, 4-1; Highway Bandit, Joe Talamo, 12-1; Dhaamer, Rafael Bejarano, 7-2; Eldaafer, Brice Blanc, 4-1; Coluda, Eswan Flores, 8-1; and Dynamic Host, David Flores, 8-1.
CECIL DUO READY FOR BEST IN SUNDAY’S SANTA ANA STAKES
Ben Cecil is confident that Fawzi Nass’ Strawberrydaiquiri will benefit from her first race in four months when she runs in Sunday’s Grade II, $150,000 Santa Ana Stakes for older fillies and mares scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on turf.
“She definitely needed it,” the trainer said, referring to her fourth-place finish by a length in the Grade II Buena Vista Handicap at one mile on turf on Feb. 20, her first start since tiring to 10th in the Grade I E.P. Taylor on a yielding course at Woodbine last Oct. 16.
“I thought she was going to win the Buena Vista turning for home, but she just got tired,” Cecil said. “She blew for like an hour after the race, so she should improve.
“And I think Andina (a 5-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Singspiel also entered in the Santa Ana by Cecil for owner Arnold Zetcher) probably needed her last as well, and she lost a shoe in the race.
“Both will improve. How much, we’ll find out.”
The field for the Santa Ana: Vamo a Galupiar, Mike Smith; Cambina, Garrett Gomez; Hard to Resist, Chantal Sutherland; Strawberrydaiquiri, Mario Gutierrez; Imperialistic Diva, Brice Blanc; Camelia Rose, Joel Rosario; Wild Mia, David Flores; Hard Seven, Edwin Maldonado; Bauble Queen, Joe Talamo; Andina, Victor Espinoza; and City to City, Corey Nakatani.
Andina and Strawberrydaiquiri each worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s turf course Thursday in 48.80, while Buena Vista winner City to City worked four furlongs on Hollywood’s Cushion Track Wednesday in 48.60 for Jerry Hollendorfer.
CHAMP AMAZOMBIE WORKS FRIDAY FOR COUNT FLEET OR POTRERO GRANDE
Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Amazombie, scheduled to work six furlongs Friday under jockey Alex Bisono, is “55-45” to run in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 14 rather than the Potrero Grande Stakes at Santa Anita on April 7, Bill Spawr said Thursday.
Currently the Grade III Count Fleet at six furlongs offers $200,000; the Grade II Potrero Grande has a purse of $150,000 at 6 ½ furlongs.
“Oaklawn called me yesterday and said they would raise the purse $50,000 if we run there,” the trainer said. “But we’d have to ship and there are expenses for that . . . I’d rather stay here and run for one-fifty, but because this surface has favored speed so much, we’re probably leaning 55-45 towards running there.”
Amazombie, a 6-year-old California-bred son of Northern Afleet owned by Spawr and partner Tom Sanford, finished third in his 2012 debut in the San Carlos Stakes on Feb. 25. It was his first race since coming from off the pace to win the BC Sprint at Churchill Downs last Nov. 5.
FREE FRIDAYS START AGAIN AT SANTA ANITA TOMORROW
“Free Fridays” are back at Santa Anita starting tomorrow. Effective Friday, all on-track attendees will receive free General Admission and $2 hot dogs, soda and beer.
“This was a very popular promotion here a few years back and we feel this is a good time to reintroduce it,” said Thoroughbred owner Mark Verge on behalf of the Stronach Group.
“With the (Grade I) Santa Anita Derby coming up on April 7, we think this is a great way for us to try and reach out to a large number of new and casual fans and get the Derby on their radar.
“There’s no question ‘Free Fridays’ drives on-track attendance and helps set the table each weekend. We want people to know we’re going to be more competitive than ever and that we’re going to do everything we can to make their trip to Santa Anita an unforgettable experience—every time they come.”
DOMINGUEZ RECEIVES SANTA ANITA WOOLF AWARD ON SUNDAY
Two-time Eclipse Award winning jockey Ramon Dominguez, selected by a vote of fellow jockeys nationwide as the 63rd winner of the prestigious Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, will accept the award in ceremony at Santa Anita on Sunday.
The Woolf Award honors riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing.
Dominguez, a 35-year-old native of Venezuela, outpolled fellow finalists Corey Lanerie, Martin Pedroza, DeShawn Parker and Scott Stevens (Gary’s older brother) to win one of racing’s most coveted awards.
America’s leading jockey by number of wins in 2001 and 2003, Dominguez won back-to-back Eclipse Awards as North America’s champion jockey in 2010 and 2011. In addition, Dominguez won the Isaac Murphy Award in 2004 for having the highest win percentage among American-based riders.
Dominguez has two Breeders’ Cup wins, the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Turf with Better Talk Now and the 2011 Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile this past November at Churchill Downs with Hansen.
Born Nov. 24, 1976 in Caracas, Venezuela, Dominguez began riding at Hialeah Park in Florida in 1996. He has become a dominant force in New York, with 13 NYRA riding titles since 2007-08.
The Woolf Award was created to honor and memorialize legendary jockey George “The Iceman” Woolf, who was regarded as one of the greatest big money-riders of his era and who died following a spill on Santa Anita’s Club House turn on Jan. 3, 1946. The Woolf trophy is a replica of the full-size statue of the late jockey which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area.
Dominguez resides in New York with his wife Sharon and son Alexander. First presented by Santa Anita in 1950, the Woolf Award was won last year by Garrett Gomez.
VALDIVIA RIDING FULL TIME AGAIN IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
With little or no fanfare, Jose Valdivia Jr. is riding regularly again in Southern California after a sojourn back East where the affable 37-year-old registered his first Triple Crown triumph, piloting 24-1 shot Ruler on Ice to victory in the Belmont Stakes last June.
“I’m here to stay,” said the native of Peru whose agent is Dudley Osborne. “With my family being here, it was just too hard being on both coasts. I’m happy to be back with the family and you know how this weather is. There’s no place like California.”
‘SANTA ANITA UNCORKED’ SET FOR SUNDAY
Santa Anita will present its fifth annual “Santa Anita Uncorked” wine and culinary festival on Sunday. 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 be sponsored by the Wine of the Month Club based in 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.”
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).
FINISH LINES: Bob Baffert runs ex-claimer Gatheratthelter in Saturday’s $30,000 March Madness Starter Handicap scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on turf. The Hall of Fame trainer haltered the 4-year-old Lucky Pulpit gelding for $32,000 last Dec. 9 for Bob Baedeker and Don Palmer, who race as Live Your Dreams Racing Stable. “I took the horse for Bob,” Baffert explained. “He got me back in the claiming game.” . . . On Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track Wednesday, Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner I’ll Have Another, prepping for the Santa Anita Derby on April 7, worked seven furlongs for Doug O’Neill in 1:26.20 . . . Leading rider Joel Rosario rides El Camino Real third-place finisher Handsome Mike for O’Neill in Saturday’s Grade III, $500,000 Vinery Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park . . . UCLA’s first-year head football Coach Jim Mora Jr. and his staff, in a camaraderie jaunt, will visit Santa Anita on Friday . . . Going into Thursday card, which offers a Pick 6 carryover of $94,093, there were 194 contestants alive in ShowVivor2 . . . Trainer Peter Eurton will be Steve Andersen’s guest on Saturday’s Daily Racing Form seminar, 11:30 p.m. in the East Paddock Gardens.