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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• HALL OF FAMERS LASORDA, PINCAY TO PRESENT TROPHIES SATURDAY
• PEDROZA READY TO ROCK AND ROLL ON ULTIMATE EAGLE
• TYER BAZE SEEKS SHAM UPSET ABOARD DIRTY SWAGG
• IT’S OFFICIAL: GARY STEVENS STARTS COMEBACK SUNDAY
• BRYAMA VIES FOR VICTORY IN COMPETITIVE MONROVIA
HALL OF FAMERS LASORDA, PINCAY TROPHY PRESENTERS SATURDAY
Legendary baseball Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda will be on hand Saturday to present the trophy for the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes. Lasorda, who will soon be in Arizona to work with the Dodgers’ top youngsters, is a longtime horse racing fan.
“Tommy loves racing,” said Steve Brener, who has known Lasorda for nearly 40 years and currently is part of the public relations team for the Blue Crew. “He’s excited about spending the day Saturday at Santa Anita and then he’ll be heading over to Phoenix for organizational meetings and to work with some of the Dodgers’ top young talent. He’s amazing. He’s still got tremendous energy and his love for the Dodgers, their fans, and the game of baseball is as strong today as it was when he first took over as manager back in 1976.”
Legendary retired Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr. will present the trophy for Saturday’s Grade III Sham Stakes, an important steppingstone to the Grade I Santa Anita Derby. Pincay rode Sham to second-place finishes behind Secretariat in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1973.
“Laffit loves baseball and Tommy’s looking forward seeing him,” said Brener. “They’ve got a lot in common--they’re both great competitors--and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Saturday’s Sham has been carded as the third race. Approximate post time is 1:30 p.m. The San Pasqual is Saturday’s seventh race, with approximate post time 3:35 p.m.
Hall of Famers up!!
ULTIMATE EAGLE ONE TO CATCH IN GRADE II SAN PASQUAL STAKES
Martin Pedroza will play come and catch me as usual on Ultimate Eagle when he rides horse racing’s routing version of Usain Bolt in Saturday’s San Pasqual Stakes.
A 5-year-old son of Mizzen Mast owned by B. J Wright and trained by Mike Pender, Ultimate Eagle’s five career victories have all been wire-to-wire.
That would include the Grade II Strub Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Santa Anita’s conventional dirt track last February. A month later, Ultimate Eagle faded to 10th of 12 in the mile and a quarter Santa Anita Handicap, a race in which his style was compromised by a sacrificial speed horse.
“I’m the only one who works this horse and he’s doing better than ever,” said Pedroza of Ultimate Eagle, whose last race was a second in the Grade II Citation Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on Betfair Hollywood Park’s turf course Nov. 23.
“His style is come and chase me, come and chase me,” said Pedroza, who registered career victory No. 3,500 on opening day. “The mile and a sixteenth of the San Pasqual won’t be any problem. Unless somebody goes crazy, my plan is definitely to be in front. You can throw out his race in the Santa Anita Handicap.
“None of the horses in the San Pasqual have the speed of my horse, none of them. They could if they use it, but it will hurt their chances and I don’t think it’s going to hurt my chances.
“They would have to change their style to push me. My horse’s speed comes naturally.” The field for the San Pasqual, a steppingstone to the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 2: Jaycito, Julien Leparoux, 5-1; Tres Borrachos, Garrett Gomez, 6-1; Ultimate Eagle, Martin Pedroza, 3-1; John Scott, Victor Espinoza, 7-2; Coil, Martin Garcia, 5-2; Bank the Eight, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Key Decision, Edwin Maldonado, 20-1; and Golden Itiz, Jose Valdivia Jr., 20-1.
Hoorayforhollywood was scratched.
DIRTY SWAGG TRAINING ‘LIGHTS OUT’ FOR SHAM STAKES
It’s Goldencents against the field in Saturday’s Grade III Sham Stakes at one mile for 3-year-olds, but that doesn’t deter Tyler Baze from being optimistic about Dirty Swagg’s chances in the first local steppingstone to the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 6.
Baze has ridden Dirty Swagg twice, third by a length to Carving in the Nov. 10 Real Quiet at Betfair Hollywood Park, and seventh after an eventful start in the Grade I CashCall Futurity at the Inglewood track on Dec. 15.
Owned, bred and trained by Myung Kwon Cho, Dirty Swagg adds blinkers again after shedding them in his last two starts.
“He got pinched at the start and it cost us any position, and he likes to be within a couple lengths of the lead, out of any trouble,” Baze said of the CashCall debacle. “He’s a horse you’ve got to keep in the clear. We’ve only got one horse outside of us that’s faster (Manando).
“Hopefully, Mandano will clear us early and we’ll get a nice stalking trip right behind him and Doug’s horses (Goldencents and Greeley Awesome, both trained by Doug O’Neill). That would put us in a good spot to win.
“I know my horse will try and he’s trained his best on this track. I’m really excited to ride him at Santa Anita, because I’ve never ridden him here. I know he only ran here once and didn’t run any good (ninth by 24 lengths behind Power Broker in the Grade I FrontRunner last Sept. 29), but he trains lights out at this track. He loves this track.”
Kentucky Derby qualifying points will be awarded on a 10-4-2-1 basis to the top four Sham runners.
The field for the Sham, which goes as race three: Den’s Legacy, Garrett Gomez, 3-1; Goldencents, Kevin Krigger, 4-5; Greeley Awesome, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1; Dry Summer, Joe Talamo, 6-1; Dirty Swagg, Tyler Baze, 12-1; and Manando, Martin Garcia, 3-1.
STEVENS BEGINS RIDING COMEBACK IN EARNEST ON SUNDAY
Gary Stevens is back. After a seven-year sabbatical from the saddle, the Hall of Fame jockey who turns 50 on March 6 will ride competitively Sunday at Santa Anita when he gets a leg up on 5-year-old gelding Jebrica for trainer Jim Penney in the sixth race, a $50,000 claiming event scheduled for one mile on turf.
“I’m fit, I’m healthy,” said the Hall of Fame member and three-time Kentucky Derby winner who will continue to offer his expertise as analyst for HRTV and NBC-TV. “It’s been a long process getting where I’m at right now. It’s been almost three months and it’s something that I’ve worked very hard at getting to this point.
“Hopefully, I’m not going to come back and embarrass myself and have people say, ‘Aw, it’s another this or that.’ I plan to come back and be effective.
“If I feel at any time that I’m a detriment to a horse’s performance and not an asset, then I’ll hang it right back up. Hopefully, God willing, I won’t be a detriment; I’ll be an asset. The competitive juices are there. They never go away.”
Stevens, born in Caldwell, Idaho, has 4,888 wins from 27,595 career mounts and $221,212,704 in purse money-won.
Consensus from a brief, informal poll of horsemen resulted in wishing Stevens all the best on his return.
“He’s been working some horses for me and he looks great on a horse,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who won the 1997 Kentucky Derby with Stevens on Silver Charm.
“He still has that competitive fire in his belly. He looks fit. If I thought he couldn’t handle it, I’d tell him. He’s like Peyton Manning. He’s got so much talent that he can give up a little bit.”
Added long-time peer Martin Pedroza: “He’s in the Hall of Fame and a good rider and always has been. He wants to ride and I support him.”
Said retired Hall of Fame member Eddie Delahoussaye, who competed with Stevens in their stellar careers: “Gary wants to do it, so he’s going to give it a shot. I wish him all the luck.”
‘INTRIGUING RACE’ FOR BYRAMA IN SUNDAY’S GRADE II MONROVIA
The Monrovia drew a small but select field Sunday. One of the “select” is Byrama, an English-bred filly who captured the Unzip Me at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf, the same conditions scheduled for the Grade II Monrovia for older fillies and mares.
“She’s training really well,” said trainer Simon Callaghan. “Although it’s six runners, it’s a very competitive, tough race. Mizdirection’s going to be tough, as are Broken Dreams and Kindle. They’re good, solid horses. Kindle will go to the lead, and we’re a slightly deeper closer. It’s a very intriguing race, but she’s training great, so we’re hopeful.”
Morning line favorite Mizdirection, fresh off victory against the boys in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, seeks her second straight Monrovia triumph. A winner last year under Garrett Gomez, who rides Broken Dreams Sunday, Mizdirection is owned in part by sports-talk superstar Jim Rome’s Jungle Racing and trained by Mike Puype.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith rides Mizdirection Sunday. He has never been beaten on her in three tries.
The field for the Monrovia: Curvey Cat, Corey Nakatani, 15-1; Byrama, Rafael Bejarano, 7-2; Kindle, Edwin Maldonado, 5-2; Givine, Tyler Baze, 15-1; Broken Dreams, Garrett Gomez, 7-2; and Mizdirection, Mike Smith, 6-5.
FINISH LINES: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Beholder worked five furlongs in company on Santa Anita’s fast main track Friday morning in a bullet 58.80. “I couldn’t be more impressed,” Richard Mandella said of the favorite to win an Eclipse Award in her division as she prepares for her 3-year-old debut in the Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs on Jan. 21 . . . Santa Anita’s popular on line handicapping game, ShowVivor, began again Friday, offering $5,000 in prize money. The last contestant standing wins, with the winner getting $3,000, second, $1,500 and third, $500 . . . Santa Anita Vice President Racing and Racing Secretary Rick Hammerle advises that the Daytona Stakes, moved from turf to dirt Dec. 29 due to inclement weather, has retained its Grade III status . . . Dennis Decauwer of Black Diamond Racing will be the guest at handicapper Tom Quigley’s seminar Saturday morning in the East Paddock Gardens.