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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• BREAKING NEWS: BAFFERT FILLY FINDS NICHE ROUTING
• UPSTART WEEWINNIN MAKES DIRT DEBUT SATURDAY
• IT’S NO RUMOR: SHE’LL RUN IN THE SANTA MONICA
LONG AND SHORT OF IT IN SANTA YSABEL: BLONDE FOG FITS
It’s rare to see a Bob Baffert-trained horse make its first start without a bullet work. It’s rarer still to see a Baffert firster make its debut in a route race, but such was the case with Blonde Fog, who runs in the Grade III Santa Ysabel Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Saturday, one of six stakes races to be decided on Sunshine Millions Day at Santa Anita.
Blonde Fog made her first start in a maiden allowance race at 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita last October, winning off by 12 ½ lengths at 6-1. She proved that was no fluke by coming back to lead well into the stretch before finishing second by a length in the Grade I Betfair Hollywood Starlet at 1 1/16 miles on Dec. 8.
“Well, there wasn’t a short race, and she’s bred to go long, so we put her in there,” Baffert said of his decision to run the Kentucky-bred daughter of Divine Park in a route. “I had two in the race and she sort of surprised us the way she ran first out.
“She ran a great race in the Starlet and worked great yesterday (five furlongs in 1:01). She went really well.”
WEEWINNIN OUT TO PROVE 60-1 VICTORY WASN’T SYNTHETIC
Weewinnin lit up the tote board with his half-length victory in the King Glorious Stakes on Betfair Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track last Dec. 16, paying $122 to win.
Boxcar numbers will not be evident again if the 3-year-old Comic Strip colt wins Saturday’s $300,000 California Breeders’ Champion Stakes at one mile, his first race on conventional dirt.
He broke his maiden for $32,000 on Golden Gate’s Tapeta surface first out last June, then was fourth to Strong Wind on Del Mar’s Polytrack in the Graduation Stakes Aug. 1.
“That was the first time I rode him,” jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. said of the King Glorious. “He had been training well up to the race, and in those Cal-bred races, anybody can jump up at any given time, so we’ll see how he runs on the main track.”
“He worked five-eighths yesterday (1:01.40),” said Brian Koriner, who trains Weewinnin for owners Jim Atwell of Sunnyvale, Jill and William Gray of Cottonwood, and Janet Lyons of Hillsborough.
“Everything’s good,” Koriner continued. “It was a shocker that he was that big of a price (in the King Glorious), because he had just run fourth against the same horses (in the Graduation) and got beat a head for second. “
But he’s doing good now and that’s all I can ask.”
RUMOR GIVES SANTA MONICA ANOTHER TRY ON SATURDAY
Rumor is scheduled to make her first start since finishing fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint last Nov. 3 and her second start in the Santa Monica Stakes when she runs in Saturday’s Grade II, $250,000 feature for older fillies and mares at seven furlongs.
“She didn’t run bad,” said Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who rode her in the Breeders’ Cup race and retains the mount in the Santa Monica. “She ran good. We would have liked her to run a little better, but if I can get her to run like she did the race before that (a win in the LA Woman), she’ll be tough.
“She’s got a chance. She’s just got to get the trip and hopefully she’ll run well.”
Rumor, a 5-year-old mare trained by Richard Mandella, set the pace to the halfway point in last year’s Santa Monica when it was a Grade I race before weakening to sixth.
Rumor worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Monday in 48 seconds.
HORSES PLAY BIG ROLE IN STEVENS’ SCHEDULE
It was business as usual for Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens Monday morning, working horses as he continues his comeback after a seven-year absence from the saddle.
“I’m working a lot of good horses,” said Stevens, who turns 50 on March 6. “The new (condition) book came out and we’re collecting horses slowly but surely. I’ve been on horses I’m excited about riding in the afternoons.”
As for previous reports that he would ride at Santa Anita until Keeneland opens in early April, Stevens cautioned not to bet the rent money, so to speak.
“This is quoted from me,” Stevens said, “as everybody knows, even Ray Paulick said it, ‘Stevens, he can change his mind five times in a week,’ so I’ll let the horses dictate where I go.”
CECILS GUESTS ON HRTV’S ACROSS THE BOARD
This week’s guests on HRTV’s “Across The Board” on Wednesday, Jan. 23, are trainer Ben Cecil and his wife Kristy.
Kristy is a co-producer on the CBS hit show “The Big Bang Theory” and has produced an HRTV Special Presentation show called “Chasing” that debuts Sunday, Jan. 27, at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time.
“Chasing” takes viewers inside the world of Steeplechasing through the eyes of an injured jockey dealing with his new reality.
FINISH LINES: Game On Dude, gunning for his second victory in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 2, worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Monday morning in 59.80 under jockey Martin Garcia as regular rider Mike Smith looked on. “He went really nice,” said trainer Bob Baffert, who has the Grade II San Antonio Stakes on Feb. 3 penciled in as the gelding’s steppingstone to the Big ‘Cap . . . Fed Biz and Tritap, who finished a head apart as the one-two finishers in the San Fernando Stakes, worked four furlongs and five furlongs, respectively, Fed Biz going in 47.40 for Baffert and Tritap in 1:02 for Steve Asmussen . . . Multiple turf stakes winner Lady of Shamrock, who worked a half on the main track Sunday in 51, is ticketed for the Grade II Santa Ana Stakes on March 24, John Sadler said . . . Top European jockey Jamie Spencer will spend Thursday through Sunday, Jan. 31 through Feb. 3, at Santa Anita for his primary assignment, riding Strong Suit for trainer Simon Callaghan in the Grade II Arcadia Stakes on Feb. 2. Agent Mike Ciani will handle Spencer’s business during that span . . . Beautiful, blonde and bashful, 10-pound apprentice Cecily Evans recently made her Santa Anita riding debut. A native of Baltimore, the 24-year-old has had two mounts to date and came west to ride because she has family residing in San Diego. She rides Sir Hamilton in today’s fifth race for trainer Dan Azcarate and is named on Run Charlie Run for trainer Dan Hendricks in Thursday’s eighth race. “She worked a bunch of horses for me and helped me a lot in the morning,” Hendricks said. “I get 10 pounds of weight off so I figured I’d put her on a live one.” . . . With 79 players eliminated when their selection Lady of Fifty finished fourth in Sunday’s La Caňada Stakes, only 51 remain alive in Santa Anita’s on line handicapping game, ShowVivor, entering Monday’s races . . . This Saturday, Jan. 26, fans can watch and wager as the best California-bred horses battle over six stakes races at The Great Race Place. Fans in attendance at Santa Anita can receive free a Sunshine Millions Beach Hat with paid admission while supplies last. In addition, there will be a KROQ concert in the infield, live music between races, microbrew beers, premium food trucks and family fun activities.