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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• STEVENS SET FOR HERE AND NOW IN GRADE II SANTA MARIA
• EQUIPMENT CHANGES MAY AID MUDFLATS IN SAN VICENTE
• IMPROVING IN THE STARS SET FOR MONDAY’S BUENA VISTA
• HOOVER SEES BIG THINGS FOR JOCKEYS IN CHARITY GAME
STEVENS ON ‘HIS KIND OF HORSE’ IN SATURDAY’S SANTA MARIA
Gary Stevens rides Great Hot for the first time in Saturday’s Grade II Santa Maria Stakes. By the time he gets a leg up from trainer A. C. Avila, they’ll be like best buds.
“I’ve watched her ever since she’s been here,” said Stevens, who won two stakes races at Santa Anita last weekend. “She’s hot and cold, but I’m looking forward to riding her. I asked A.C. about her a couple weeks back. I think I fit her all right. She looks like my kind of horse.”
A 5-year-old Brazilian-bred mare by 2002 Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Orientate, Great Hot hasn’t won since capturing the Grade II Raven Run at Keeneland in October of 2011, a string of 13 straight losses.
But that doesn’t discourage Stevens, a Hall of Fame rider and three-time Kentucky Derby winner who began a comeback at the age of 49 on Jan. 6 after a seven-year absence. Through 31 racing days at Santa Anita, Stevens had four wins, 12 seconds and three thirds from 37 mounts.
Stevens, who turns 50 on March 6, has kept things in perspective as his business increases. On Feb. 23, he rides Triple Crown hopeful Proud Strike for Steve Asmussen in the Grade II, $400,000 Risen Star Stakes at 1 1/16 miles at the Fair Grounds. Proud Strike, a son of Smart Strike, was a 7 ½-length maiden winner at the New Orleans track on Jan. 12. Stevens will also ride Midnight Bulletin for Tom Proctor in the $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes.
“I’m so happy with the people I’m riding for and the opportunities that are being given to me,” said Stevens, who still finds time to lend his expert analysis on HRTV and NBC-TV. “I didn’t really expect that; I didn’t know what to expect.
“I said that going in. You can say it was an experiment, but it wasn’t. This is what I was hoping for. Last weekend was a huge boost, winning a couple of stakes races that people notice.
“Basically it’s like re-proving yourself all over again. It doesn’t matter what I did the past 30 years; it’s about now, and that’s how this game has always been.”
The field for the Santa Maria: Great Hot, Gary Stevens, 8-1; Book Review, Rafael Bejarano, 8-5; Private Affair, Hector Berrios, 8-1; Going for a Spin, Edwin Maldonado, 8-1; Lady of Fifty, Joe Talamo, 2-1; and Snow Fall, Tyler Baze, 9-5.
NEW-LOOK MUDFLATS RUNS IN SUNDAY’S GRADE II SAN VICENTE
Mudflats will have a new look when he starts in Sunday’s Grade II San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.
“He’s really doing well,” trainer Doug O’Neill said of the gray son of Tapit who finished a disappointing seventh in the Grade II Jerome at Aqueduct on Jan. 5 in his first start for his new connections.
“We added some cotton in his ears, ear muffs and an outside extension blinker,” O’Neill said. “We made some equipment changes, and knock on wood, he’s going really well, so we’re expecting a big effort.”
The field for the San Vicente: Belvin, Rafael; Bejarano, 3-1; Shakin It Up, David Flores, 5-2; War Academy, Martin Garcia, 7-2; Caballo Del Cielo, Corey Nakatani, 4-1; Mudflats, Edwin Maldonado, 6-1; and Treasury Bill, Joe Talamo, 4-1.
IN THE STARS SPARKLES AS SHE PREPARES FOR BUENA VISTA
In the Stars seeks her first stakes win when she runs in Monday’s Presidents’ Day feature, the Grade II Buena Vista Stakes for older fillies and mares at one mile on turf.
“She’s doing very well,” trainer Richard Mandella said of the 5-year-old Brazilian-bred daughter of Romarin owned by Alessandro Arcangeli.
“She came last year and we spent three or four months getting her ready. She’s been pretty good so far, and maybe even continuing to improve.”
In the Stars, who will be ridden by Gary Stevens, was beaten a neck and a head in the Megahertz Stakes by A Jealous Woman, who is back in the Buena Vista, as is Byrony, who was second in the Megahertz, a head in front of In the Stars.
In the Stars has been favored in four of her five U.S. starts, winning twice.
The field for the Buena Vista, race eight of 10: Byrony, Garrett Gomez; Mizdirection, Mike Smith; Byrama, Victor Espinoza; Long Face, Julien Leparoux; Trois Aureole, Martin Garcia; A Jealous Woman, Brice Blanc; Charm the Maker, Joe Talamo; and In the Stars, Gary Stevens.
Fans attending Santa Anita on Presidents’ Day will receive free an attractive Santa Anita umbrella with paid admission while supplies last. First post Monday is 12:30 p.m.
SANTA ANITA JOCKS A TALL ORDER FOR HOLY ANGELS IN CHARITY HOOPS GAME
Santa Anita’s jockeys will have an edge in depth and size when they play Holy Angels School in their annual charity basketball game next Thursday, Feb. 21, at La Salle High School in Pasadena.
So says HRTV’s Kurt Hoover, who aims to coach the riders to their third straight victory.
“We have more depth this year,” Hoover said. “We also should have an edge in size, because I saw some of the (Holy Angels) kids when they were here for a photo op and they looked short.”
Proceeds will benefit the Holy Angels athletic program and the Kentucky-based Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). Game time is 7:15 p.m.; doors open at 6:15 p.m.
WestsideRentals.com and Meticulous Talent Management will co-sponsor the event which will again enjoy the support of a wide spectrum of people from the horse racing industry, including Hall of Fame jockeys Eddie Delahoussaye, Laffit Pincay, Jr., Gary Stevens and Mike Smith. All will be available to autograph photos and other memorabilia beginning at 6:30 p.m.
“It’s great that we’re now able to help raise money for the PDJF and to bring awareness to the Eye on Jacob Foundation,” said Flores. “Racing is a very dangerous sport and we have a lot of guys around the country with serious injuries who need help in their everyday lives. The PDJF is there for them and we want to do all we can to help out.”
The Eye on Jacob Foundation is named for Jacob Desormeaux, the 14-year-old son of Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux. Jacob was diagnosed several years ago with Usher’s Syndrome, a rare disorder that causes loss of hearing, imbalance, and eventual loss of sight in approximately 14,000 children in the United States.
In addition to WestsideRentals.com and Meticulous Talent Management, sponsors for this year’s event also include: Hollywood Sports Park, KHS Bicycle, Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, and Temple City Bike Shop.
Those attending will be eligible to win prizes which include: A paint ball package to Hollywood Sports Park, an Electra Townie 3-speed Adult Alumni bike (retails for $550), a kids BMX Free Agent Stiletto bike (retails for $350), and a Half Court Prize, to be determined, by Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, as well as basketballs which will be signed by all jockeys and student-players.
The jockey team is likely to include: Flores and Talamo, Rafael Bejarano, Alex Bisono, Brice Blanc, Victor Espinoza, Omar Figueroa, Eswan Flores, Martin Garcia, Garrett Gomez, Aaron Gryder, Mario Gutierrez, Kevin Krigger, Julien Leparoux, Modesto Linares, Edwin Maldonado, Orlando Mojica, Corey Nakatani, Alonso Quinonez, Kayla Stra and Mike Smith..
La Salle High School is located at the southwest corner of Michillinda Ave. and Sierra Madre Blvd. in Pasadena, about four miles northwest of Santa Anita Park. Admission is $5.
NOMINATIONS CLOSE SATURDAY FOR BIG ’CAP, KILROE AND LAS VIRGENES
A reminder to horsemen that nominations close tomorrow for three Grade I races at Santa Anita on Saturday, March 2: the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap for 4 year olds and up at 1 ¼ miles; the $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile for 4 year olds and up on turf; and the $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile.
The Big ’Cap is expected to be headed by Game On Dude, who won Santa Anita’s marquee race in 2011 and Ron the Greek, winner of last year’s renewal. If both “Dude” and “Ron” suit up, it will mark the first time two past winners will face each other in the 76-year history of the race long ago dubbed “The Granddaddy of Them All.”
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Beholder, Eclipse Award winner as champion 2-year-old filly of 2012, is on course for the Las Virgenes.
DONATIONS NEEDED FOR JOCKEY BOAG’S FAMILY AFTER DESTRUCTIVE FIRE
Anyone interested in helping Golden Gate and Portland Meadows-based jockey April Boag, who lost her home and all her family’s belongings in a fire on Feb. 11, can contact family friend Mary Twiggerm at email@example.com or phone her at 541 730-0141.
Boag has two children, 5-year-old Diego, and 12-year-old Brooke. The family escaped serious injury but lost everything but the clothes on their backs.
GONCALINO ALMEIDA TAKES OUT TRAINER’S LICENSE
There’s a new name among Santa Anita-based trainers: Goncalino Almeida. The former jockey obtained his license last Tuesday and has three horses in his care, one of which he hopes to start when conditions allow.
“I tried to enter one for Monday, but it didn’t get in,” said the 57-year-old Almeida, who worked for the likes of Bobby Frankel and Bill Mott in his riding days. One of Almeida’s horses, Unstopper Topper, worked five furlongs Friday in 1:02.80.
A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Almeida rode in his native country for 20 years before coming to the U.S. in 1989. His father and grandfather were jockeys and then trainers in Brazil. His first U.S. mount was Janus II, who finished last in the 1976 Washington D.C. International.
Almeida, who resides in Arcadia, rode in his first Kentucky Derby in 1995, finishing fourth aboard English-bred Jumron trained by Gary Lewis.
FINISH LINES. Amazombie worked three furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Friday morning in 36.80. The 2011 Breeders’ Cup champion sprinter of 2011 is being considered for the Grade II Potrero Grande Stakes on April 6, a race the 6-year-old California-bred gelding has won the last two years. Amazombie is trained by Bill Spawr, who had seven wins from 19 starters through Thursday, with five seconds and two thirds. Spawr, who worked seven horses Friday before sunrise, is winning at 37 percent . . . Trainer John Sadler on deciding to run Demonic in the March 9 San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles as opposed to Sunday’s San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs: “We want to get him stretched out and there are no (Kentucky Derby qualifying) points in the San Vicente the way the new system is, so we’ll point to the other race.” Demonic, a Triple Crown hopeful owned by Lee and Susan Searing’s CRK Stable, broke his maiden at first asking going seven furlongs on Jan. 13 as the even-money favorite in a field of eight, getting up by a head under Garrett Gomez . . . Paco Gonzalez was a visitor to Clockers’ Corner Friday. Gonzalez, who last trained in July of 2012, said he was “back for a couple days” before heading to Kentucky to visit his brother, Sal, Sr. As to his current status, Paco said “plans to come out of retirement are on hold.”