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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• BAFFERT: NO HOME COURT ADVANTAGE IN BREEDERS’ CUP
• FOX HAS MAJOR INPUT ON DULLAHAN’S BREEDERS’ CUP RACE
• McANALLY HOPES TURF IS THE CHARM IN SATURDAY STAKES
BEST HORSE BETTER THAN HOME TRACK, BAFFERT SAYSThe old bromide asked to a man of the cloth, “What does it mean when a boxer crosses himself before he gets into the ring?” that brings the cryptic answer, “Not a damn thing if he can’t fight,” might well apply to Bob Baffert’s philosophy when it comes to running horses in the Breeders’ Cup right in his own back yard at Santa Anita Park.
Baffert, who has been headquartered at Santa Anita for more than two decades, can fall out of bed and be at the Breeders’ Cup when it’s run next Friday and Saturday. Ditto for his horses, who are only a furlong away from their barn to the starting gate, but that doesn’t necessarily provide an edge over those who have to ship in from all parts of the globe.
“The only advantage you have in the Breeders’ Cup is if you have the better horse,” Baffert said, shrugging off suggestions of the home court.
“That’s one thing I’ve realized about the Breeders’ Cup,” continued the Hall of Fame trainer, who has 11 horses pre-entered in this year’s World Championship events. “I don’t care where you go; the best horse is your only advantage.
“Believe me, everywhere I’ve gone for the Breeders’ Cup, the only time I had an advantage is when I had the better horse. If I’m 50-1 and only have to walk about 100 yards, it’s not going to help.” In other Breeders’ Cup news:
Amazombie Friday morning had his final major drill for the $1.5 million XpressBet Sprint a week from tomorrow, going five furlongs before sunrise on Santa Anita’s main track in 1:00.60 on Santa Anita’s official work tab.
“He went good,” trainer Bill Spawr said of the California-bred gelding he co-owns with partner Tom Sanford. “He went in a minute and two-fifths, the last quarter in 23 (and) three (fifths), he galloped out (six furlongs) in (one) 13 and two or three.”
Amazombie, a 6-year-old son of Northern Afleet, will attempt to rebound from his fourth-place finish as the 4-5 favorite in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 6 and become the second back-to-back winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Midnight Lute won in 2007-08.
Tim Conway Stakes winner Merit Man (Juvenile Sprint) worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Friday in 1:04.20, some two seconds slower than his 1:02 3/5 drill on Oct. 19, but Bob Hess Jr. was not concerned.
“The horse is incredibly lazy,” the trainer said. “I worked him in the dark (Oct. 19) and he galloped around there like a clown in 1:02 and two (fifths). Today, it looked slow, but he followed a slow horse (stablemate Diamond Flush, 1:05.20), and my rider was told to stay in behind throughout until the end, and then blow by, which is what he did.
“I loved the fact that he was aggressive throughout, pulling throughout and blew right by, so that’s all positive. I’m just trying to get him to show a little more enthusiasm (by working in company). He never has, but today he did.”
Joe Talamo, with a nine-win lead over runner-up Rafael Bejarano in Santa Anita’s standings with seven racing days left en route to what he hopes is his first-ever Southern California riding title, will meet and greet fans Wednesday, Oct. 31, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Ralphs supermarket in Arcadia, 211 E. Foothill Blvd.
The likeable Louisiana native rides California Flag in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, which they won at Santa Anita in 2009.
Retired Hall of Fame great Eddie Delahoussaye is looking forward to the Breeders’ Cup. “The Classic looks like a wide open race to me,” said the popular Cajun, who has seven Breeders’ Cup wins on his resume. “All I know is next weekend should be great for racing.”
Agent Joe Ferrer has booked Rafael Bejarano on at least nine horses for the Breeders’ Cup, including Game On Dude (Classic), Executiveprivilege (Juvenile Fillies), Contested (Filly & Mare Sprint) and Power Broker (Juvenile), all for Bob Baffert, and 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom (Mile).
In what amounts to an endorsement of Santa Anita’s Autumn Meet Breeders’ Cup stakes program, all 13 horses that won Breeders’ Cup prep races at Santa Anita earlier this meet are entered in the Breeders’ Cup.
Next Friday’s local weather forecast calls for cloudy skies with a high of 80 degrees and a 10 percent chance of rain, while Saturday’s is mostly cloudy, a high of 81 degrees, with no chance of rain.
‘SMART LIKE A FOX’ DECISION FOR DULLAHAN IN BREEDERS’ CUP
Dullahan, a late-running son of Even the Score, has been pre-entered for next Saturday’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at 1 ¼ miles on dirt and the $3 million Turf at 1 ½ miles.
Dale Romans, who trains the Pacific Classic winner, will count heavily on the valued opinion of Tammy Fox, his assistant of 21 years, before finalizing his decision. Dullahan is scheduled to work on Santa Anita’s main track Saturday, after working a half-mile on turf last Saturday. In fact, all five of Romans’ Breeders’ Cup prospects are scheduled to work Saturday.
“Which race he runs in all depends on how he works on the dirt,” Fox said of Dullahan. “I’ll give a lot of input (to Romans), because I’ve worked Dullahan on all surfaces, so I know the horse. I’ll be the determining factor.”
In 13 career races, Dullahan has three wins, all over synthetic surfaces. He is winless in four turf starts and winless in six races on conventional dirt.
Romans’ Breeders’ Cup horses have been at Santa Anita since Oct. 15 and have acclimated well.
“Shackleford (Dirt Mile) is doing really, really well out here,” Fox said. “Little Mike (Turf) gallops every day and every day he’s doing better and better. That’s all we can hope for. They’re going into the races good.
“We got out here early because Dale just wanted them to get used to the track and their new surroundings, and every day they’re doing better and better.”
After Saturday’s drills, the horses will gallop into their prospective Breeders’ Cup races.
GRASS IS GREENER FOR CHARM THE MAKER IN AUTUMN MISS STAKES
Charm the Maker is winless in two turf starts, but Ron McAnally is optimistic that the Empire Maker filly owned by his wife, Debbie, who bred her along with her Hall of Fame trainer husband, can fill that blank on her record by winning Saturday’s Grade III Autumn Miss Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on turf.
“She’s a miler,” McAnally said. “Her mother (Charm the Giant) won at a mile. Empire Maker won at a mile, a mile and an eighth. She’s training good and I expect her to run good.”
Charm the Maker held the lead in deep stretch in her last start, the Unzip Me at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf on Sept. 29. Prior to that, last April 7, she led into the stretch before finishing fourth in the Grade III Providencia Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
“She had been out more than five months before the Unzip Me with a minor splint that she had that didn’t amount to anything,” McAnally said. “I think it was bothering her in her last couple races. That’s why we stopped on her, but she’s coming back now.”
Asked if he’d be fired by the owner if Charm the Maker doesn’t win tomorrow, McAnally smiled and said, “Well, she’s talking about giving her to Baffert. He trains a lot cheaper.”
The field for the Autumn Miss: Vionnet, Mike Smith, 9-2; Viva Carina, Edwin Maldonado, 20-1; Charm the Maker, Brice Blanc, 5-1; Curvy Cat, Tyler Baze, 20-1; Jolly Days, Jose Valdivia Jr., 15-1; Lady Ten, Rafael Bejarano, 7-2; Perfecta, Corey Nakatani, 8-1; Double Ante, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; Best Present Ever, Joe Talamo, 4-1; Open Water, Martin Garcia, 9-2; and Customer Base, Garrett Gomez, 8-1.
BREEDERS’ CUP AIDS THOROUGHBREDS WITH ‘TEXT TO DONATE’ CAMPAIGN
In its continuing support of a national program for retired racehorses, the Breeders’ Cup has announced that it has created a “Text to Donate” campaign, through Give by Cell, to allow fans to contribute to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA).
Breeders’ Cup, along with The Jockey Club and Keeneland Association, provided initial seed money to start TAA, which is dedicated to serving as an accrediting body for aftercare facilities for Thoroughbreds following their racing careers and as a funding body to support these approved facilities across North America.
This year, fans, whether at Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, or watching the races at home or at an offsite facility, can text donations from their mobile devices to the TAA. They can do so by sending “FUNDTAA” to the text number 56512 (message and data rates may apply).
“The ‘Text to Donate’ program is a great way for all of us who love and care deeply about the Thoroughbred racehorse to show our appreciation for these great athletes after their racing days are over,” said Bob Elliston, Breeders’ Cup chief operating officer. “Breeders’ Cup is very proud to get behind TAA on a national scale, through our World Championships, and bring attention to this vital cause of helping sustain a long-term program of aftercare and retraining of the racehorse.”
“The only way that TAA can be successful is if everyone who benefits from the horse contributes,” said Mike Ziegler, executive director of the TAA. “The Breeders’ Cup has developed a great way for racing fans to participate.”
The Breeders’ Cup will further commit to the TAA program by promoting “Text to Donate” through public service announcements on the world television feed of the Breeders’ Cup races, and on site at Santa Anita through public address announcements, message boards and in track program advertising.
OCTOBERFEST, BBQ SHOWDOWN AMONG INFIELD EVENTS TOMORROW
The Santa Anita Infield offers a variety of activities for fans tomorrow, including an Octoberfest presented by the track and radio station KROQ. The “KROQtoberfest” features live music by Dramarama, an alternative rock/power band, and seasonal flavored beers on sale.
The Win, Place, BBQ Showdown is a mouth-watering competition in conjunction with the California BBQ Association and the Kansas City Barbeque Society. Fans can purchase various vendors’ food and vote to determine the People’s Choice Award.
Family activities are the attraction at Pumpkin Patch Family Days both tomorrow and Sunday in the Infield. A hay maze, pumpkin patch, inflatable jumper and carnival games are among the attractions. Pony rides and face painting are $2 each.
FINISH LINES: Bob Baffert will be Jim Rome’s guest on his CBS Sports Network (cable TV) show, “Rome” on Wednesday, Oct. 31, at 3 p.m. . . . Julia Bransky of Los Angeles became the sixth fan to win with her selection in the CashCall $1,000 to Win Contest Thursday. She picked R Doubleday and collected $1,900 on the $3.80 winner of the eighth race . . . Trainer Steve Knapp is off tonight on a family weekend to Eugene, Oregon, where he will watch his daughter, Stevie Jo, play third base for the Oregon Ducks nationally ranked women’s softball team.