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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• EVERYTHING’S ‘ROSIE’ FOR JOYFUL VICTORY IN SANTA MARGARITA
• SLIM SHADEY TESTS MILE AND A HALF IN GRADE II SAN LUIS REY
• BLANC BACK ABOARD BENCH GLORY IN SUNDAY’S IRISH O’BRIEN
• TALAMO IN PURSUIT OF DERBY DREAM AFTER ILL-FATED BID IN 2009
WELL-TRAVELED JOYFUL VICTORY SET FOR SANTA MARGARITA
Call it karma, kinship or camaraderie, but Rosie Napravnik fits Joyful Victory. Not that the mare needs any help. She acclimates anywhere, having run at nine different race tracks in a 16-race career, including Santa Anita, where she is back as the 9-5 morning line favorite in Saturday’s Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles.
On board the comely gray daughter of Tapit will be the 25-year-old Napravnik, the nation’s leading jockey in wins this year with 75. In her only ride to date astride Joyful Victory at Santa Anita, Napravnik was second in the Zenyatta Stakes last Sept. 29.
“She does very well traveling,” trainer Larry Jones said of Joyful Victory, who raced last in Texas where she won the Houston Ladies Classic on Jan. 26. Other stops have included Delaware Park, Belmont, Churchill Downs, Oaklawn Park, Saratoga, Fair Grounds and Ellis Park, in addition to the aforementioned Santa Anita.
“For a filly, she does about as well as can be shipping so much,” Jones continued. “Colts, a lot of time, they just don’t care. They eat well and all. But this filly does well. She tries to make it to where I don’t have a lot to worry about.
“Rosie was in New York when we were racing at Churchill, and we’ve been trying to get Rosie to stay on her. When we were at Churchill, Robbie (Albarado) did ride her because he was based there and Rosie was in New York.
“But hopefully, Rosie will be able to stick with her for a while now. Maybe it’s a female thing. They get along and I guess Rosie understands that (laughing). This filly ran well as a 3-year-old when Mike Smith rode her, but she just runs better for Rosie.
“The filly has a mind of her own on the track. If she wants to go to the front, she goes to the front. If she wants to stalk, she can stalk. You just have let her do what she wants.”
In other Santa Margarita news:
The addition of blinkers on Snow Fall for the first time should help the Paseana Handicap winner, said Tyler Baze, who rides the 5-year-old War Front mare for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Snow Fall was a non-threatening fourth behind solitary front-runner Great Hot in the Grade II Santa Maria Stakes on Feb. 16.
“I worked Snow Fall once in the blinkers,” said the resurgent Baze, fifth in Santa Anita’s standings with 30 wins through Thursday. “She really picked up her head with the blinkers. I expect to be a lot closer to the pace and a big performance from her. She’s doing great.”
The field for the Santa Margarita: The Only Key, Kevin Krigger, 30-1; Brushed by a Star, Victor Espinoza, 7-2; Joyful Victory, Rosie Napravnik, 9-5; Great Hot, Gary Stevens, 4-1; Snow Fall, Tyler Baze, 7-2; and More Chocolate, Martin Garcia, 5-2.
SAN LUIS REY MARATHON DISTANCE A CHALLENGE FOR SLIM SHADEY
Speed-oriented Slim Shadey tries to win for the first time in four starts at a mile and a half when he runs in Saturday’s Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes. Simon Callaghan likes his chances.
“I’d imagine we’ll be on the front end,” the 30-year-old trainer said. “Bright Thought went to the front (in his last two starts against lesser company) for (trainer Jorge) Gutierrez. But this looks like a good setup for my horse. He’s got a nice post.
“If somebody wants to go really quick, we can rate in behind. He’s training really well coming into the race. A mile and a half is probably not his optimum distance, but he was second in this race last year, so we’re hopeful of a good run.”
The field for the San Luis Rey, race eight of nine: Slim Shadey, Gary Stevens, 3-1; Interaction, Brice Blanc, 5-2; Tiz Gianni, Rosie Napravnik, 20-1; Fire With Fire, Tyler Baze, 15-1; Huntsville, Alonso Quinonez, 15-1; Bright Thought, Victor Espinoza, 9-2; All Squared Away, Edwin Maldonado, 8-1; and Bourbon Bay, David Flores, 9-2.
John Scott was scratched.
BLANC BACK WITH BENCH GLORY FOR IRISH O’BRIEN ON ST. PAT’S DAY
Brice Blanc has ridden Bench Glory in each of her nine career starts, winning three times, but hopes to capture his first stakes aboard the 6-year-old California-bred mare in Sunday’s $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes for older fillies and mares bred in the Golden State at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf.
“She’s very consistent, always right there,” Blanc said of the chestnut daughter of Benchmark out of the Skywalker mare Image of Glory, owned and bred by John Harris.
“I rode her mom, too,” Blanc recalled. “Carla Gaines trained her. She was a Cal-bred stakes winner. This will be Bench Glory’s first race back off a layoff (since March 30, 2012), but she’s run well down the hill, so I’m optimistic.”
The field for the Irish O’Brien: Secret Cove, Garrett Gomez; Miss Becca, Edwin Maldonado; Dancingtothestars, Mario Gutierrez; Quizzical, Gary Stevens; Ismene, Mike Smith; Bench Glory, Brice Blanc; Curvy Cat, Joe Talamo; and Miss Well Molded, Rafael Bejarano.
TALAMO HOPES FOR BETTER LUCK THIS TIME IN QUEST OF DERBY WIN
It took some time for Joe Talamo to fully absorb the 11th-hour incident that cost him a ride on the favorite in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. Chalk it up to youth, inexperience, naiveté or maturity beyond his years, but the young riding star took it in stride when I Want Revenge was scratched due to injury on the morning of the race.
“Five in the morning I get a text and it said, ‘Sorry,’” recalled Talamo’s agent, Scott McClellan. “I said, ‘Sorry. Sorry what? What does that mean?’ And then five minutes later, Joe called and said, ‘Oh, I got bad news. Our horse had to scratch out of the Derby.’
“I said, ‘Oh my God. I just got a text from (fellow agent) Ron Anderson that said ‘Sorry.’ I didn’t know what it meant.
“Joe was living at a house in Louisville that (part owner) David Lanzman rented there. Joe stayed upstairs in a bedroom and when he was coming downstairs, they told him the news.”
Talamo and McClellan trust there will be no such last-minute disappointing revelations this year, starting Saturday, when Joe rides Triple Crown prospect Treasury Bill in the Grade II Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, a major steppingstone to the Run for the Roses on May 4.
The Derby is relatively old hat for McClellan, an agent for 40 years, who won it with Chris McCarron on Go for Gin in 1994 and Alysheba in 1987. Starting in the late 1990s, McClellan finished second four times in five years, with Cavonnier (McCarron in 1996), Captain Bodgit (Alex Solis in 1997), Victory Gallop (Solis in 1998) and Aptitude (Solis in 2000).
The Derby is not an afterthought for Talamo, however, especially after 2009.
“I learned you’re not in the Derby till the gates open,” said Talamo, who rides San Vicente Stakes runner-up Treasury Bill for trainer Ron Ellis and owners Gary and Mary West in the Rebel.
“I’m definitely excited about Treasury Bill,” Talamo said. “I know Ron was high on him even before he ever ran. But I don’t think he’s peaked yet. If you look at his form, every race he’s getting a little better. He hasn’t run that real big standout race yet but I think he’s going to soon.
“I think he’s sitting on tilt right now. He’s been working unbelievable. His last work he went (four furlongs) in 48 flat. You couldn’t ask him to be doing any better.”
As for the letdown with I Want Revenge, Talamo took the ordeal with the proverbial grain of salt.
“Everything happened so fast that day it was kind of hard for me to grasp it,” he said. “I was so young at the time (19) it didn’t really kick in. In this game, when something like that happens, you have to put it behind you. I still had to ride that day so I couldn’t have it on my mind.
“I was fortunate to get back to the Derby the next year with Sidney’s Candy and it was a thrill just to ride in it.”
O’NEILL TO IMPROVE TRAINING METHOD FOR GOLDENCENTS
Doug O’Neill reports that Sham Stakes winner Goldencents came out of his fourth-place finish in last Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes in good order and it’s on to the April 6 Santa Anita Derby and a rematch with San Felipe runner-up Flashback and new jockey Garrett Gomez.
“He came out great,” O’Neill said of Goldencents, who weakened late to be beaten 2 ½ lengths in the San Felipe. “He looked fantastic. I’ve got to do a little better job training him. I will, and we’ll be tough in the Santa Anita Derby.”
Tiz a Minister, who rallied from another county under Gomez to finish third by a length in the San Felipe, is being considered for the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes on Keeneland’s Polytrack on April 13.
“He came out of the San Felipe fine, and I haven’t worked him back yet,” trainer Paul Aguirre said of the late-running California-bred son of Ministers Wild Cat. “I don’t have a jockey for him right now if we run in the Santa Anita Derby, but if we go in the Blue Grass, Gomez would be available to ride him back.”
A less-accomplished O’Neill 3-year-old, Mudflats, who worked six furlongs Thursday in a bullet 1:12.80, is ticketed for the Grade III, $800,000 Sunland Park Derby on March 24. “He worked great,” O’Neill said. “We were just looking for a good stretch and a good finish and he did just that, so we’re excited. He came out of it good and he flies out next week to New Mexico with a couple other horses.”
Edwin Maldonado, whose two wins Thursday moved him into second place in Santa Anita’s standings with 40, rides Mudflats in the Sunland Park Derby.
FANS VIE FOR $1 MILLION IN ST. PAT’S HORSESHOE PITCH SUNDAY
Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day at Santa Anita and that means all on-track fans will again have an opportunity to sign up for the track’s $1 million St. Pat’s Horseshoe Pitch, to be held between races.
History was made at Santa Anita five years ago, when a lucky fan tossed a perfect ringer, touching off a wild scene that was captured live on HRTV.
Five names will be drawn randomly and all contestants will convene on the racetrack as they’ll get one shot at an unforgettable pot of gold.
“This is one of the most popular promotions we’ve ever had here at Santa Anita,” said George Haines, Santa Anita President. “People associate St. Patrick’s Day with coming here to have a great time and a lot of them fill out entry cards and try to get lucky. It’s always a lot of fun.”
A nine-race card is planned for Sunday, with the $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes, for California-bred fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs down the track’s hillside turf course, serving as the day’s feature race.
Fans are encouraged to enter the St. Pat’s Horseshoe Contest, free of charge, when they arrive. Entries must be submitted by fifth race post time and a list of 20 prospective contestants will be posted throughout the facility. Further instructions and contest information will be available on designated television monitors.
First post time Sunday is 12:30 p.m. For more information on the St. Pat’s Horseshoe Pitch, or to make dining and seating reservations, fans are encouraged to visit www.santaanita.com, or to call (626) 574-RACE.
SANTA ANITA HONORS WORLD WAR II HERO CARMEN MICELI SUNDAY
From earning four Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star following the Allied invasion of Normandy, to owning and operating one of the most popular Italian eateries in Los Angeles, to playing the races on a regular basis at Santa Anita, Carmen Miceli has had anything but an ordinary life and as such, will be honored by Santa Anita on Sunday, with the “The Carmen Miceli Purse,” as Santa Anita joins with Miceli, his friends and family to celebrate his 90th birthday.
Along with his wife, Sylvia, Carmen opened Miceli’s Pizza House in 1949 on Las Palmas Ave. and the fledging business thrived as a late-night destination for Hollywood celebrities craving Italian food. It was one of the few restaurants open until early morning hours in that era.
Using family recipes brought from Sicily, the pizzeria soon morphed into a full-fledged Italian restaurant and it wasn’t long before it was attracting large crowds and the likes of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Bugsy Segal and Sal Mineo.
Over the decades, Miceli’s, which is also famous for its live entertainment and singing waiters, has attracted entertainment and political giants such as The Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, and Presidents Kennedy and Nixon.
An everyday customer in Santa Anita’s Turf Club Chandelier Room, the Chicago native first attended The Great Race Place on Dec. 26, 1946. Miceli loves fast horses, good company, jazz, and yes, an occasional cigarette.
“I love the races,” said Miceli. “I love hanging out with the people here and the competition. It keeps me young. I’ve had a great life and I can’t think of a better place to spend my 90th birthday than at Santa Anita. I know I probably shouldn’t smoke, but hey, I’ve made it this far, right?”
In addition to Miceli’s restaurant in Los Angeles, he also founded a “sister” location in Universal City, which understandably, keeps the soon-to-be nonagenarian plenty busy.
“I have good people running both locations for me, thank goodness,” said Miceli. “Back in the day, my wife and I were hands-on and we had some fabulous times. I’m still enjoying myself, but I just can’t devote the amount of time to each place that I used to.”
BREEDERS’ CUP AWARDS TRAVEL ALLOWANCES, REDUCES ENTRY FEES
The Breeders’ Cup board Friday approved the operating budget for 2013 which, for the first time, will include travel allowances paid to all participants shipping from outside of California for this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita Park. In addition, the Breeders’ Cup will reduce entry fees for its Championships races from 3% to 2%, also beginning with this year.
This year, owners of horses shipping from outside of North America to the Championships will receive a $40,000 travel allowance, and owners of domestic horses shipping to California will receive a $10,000 travel allowance.
“As the leading international Thoroughbred racing event offering $25 million in purses, today’s actions further our goals of increasing our global reach by creating even more attractive opportunities for our participants.” said Tom Ludt, Breeders’ Cup Chairman. “We’re very excited to extend significant travel allowances to all owners shipping horses to California and to make the Championships more affordable by reducing entry fees by 33 percent for all races.”
FINISH LINES: Jockey Joy Scott, who suffered a compound fracture to her right femur during a training accident Tuesday at Santa Anita, has surgery on hold until an infection clears up, her son, Jesse Sanchez, told Daily Racing Form. Scott, 53, has been in Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena since Tuesday . . . A new handicapper has been added to the Pros Pick's section of the Santa Anita Website. Bill Caniano is a player and professional handicapper and well-established in the industry. He will be providing a pick a day at www.santaanita.com/prospicks . . . What’s in a name? Trainer Mike Curtis saddled the first race exacta finishers on Thursday, $6 winner Adrenaline Shot and 26-1 runner-up Army Commander. It paid $36.80. In the second race, victorious Door’s Open was ridden by Mario Gutierrez, while runner-up Warren’s Tyler S. was trained by Jorge Gutierrez (no relation). The exacta returned $21.30 . . . With 48 players selecting even-money favorite Mia Isabel who finished sixth in yesterday’s third race, 79 remain alive in ShowVivor II entering Friday’s card.