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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• HORSE OF THE YEAR HINGES ON THE BREEDERS’ CUP
• BEJARANO REMAINS SOUTHERN CAL’S ALPHA JOCK
• GRADE III AUTUMN MISS STAKES DRAWS FULL FIELD
GAME ON DUDE, WISE DAN HORSE OF YEAR COMBATANTS
If Game On Dude wins the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he’s odds-on to be named Horse of the Year for 2013. If he loses and reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan wins the Breeders’ Cup Mile, it could be a toss-up. If Game On Dude turns in a clinker and Wise Dan wins with authority, it could turn the tables in favor of the incumbent.
There might have been much more to ponder had Wise Dan won and not finished second in the Shadwell Mile, which was moved from his favorite surface, turf, to synthetic (Polytrack) due to heavy rains at Keeneland on Oct. 5. All should be decided after the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
“I don’t think the fact that Wise Dan is the incumbent will influence the voters, should both he and Game On Dude win their respective races,” said private clocker Gary Young. “What will hold more water with voters is that Game On Dude will have his seventh straight win (if he captures the Classic) and Wise Dan’s win streak ended (at nine with his Shadwell defeat).
“Depending on what horses come from Europe, Game On Dude probably will be running against what will be perceived as a tougher field than what Wise Dan will face in the Mile.
“If Wise Dan wins and Game On Dude loses, that would make the vote kind of 50-50. If Wise Dan wins and Game On Dude runs second, Game On Dude would still have a chance to win Horse of the Year.
“If Wise Dan wins and Game On Dude lays an egg like he did last year (seventh in the Classic) . . . I mean, you’re not supposed to lay eggs on Breeders’ Cup day and win Eclipse Awards.”
BEJARANO IN PURSUIT OF ANOTHER SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CROWN
It’s still anybody’s race, but with eight days remaining in Santa Anita’s 24-day meet, Rafael Bejarano is on top of the jockey standings with a 17-15 lead over runner-up Edwin Maldonado, and Joe Talamo on their heels in third with 14 wins.
“(The late) Bobby Frankel gave me the opportunity to ride in Southern California, and I was prepared when I arrived,” Bejarano said. “He was putting me on all his horses and that made it easier for me. He opened the door for me in California.
“Some jockeys come here from out of town and it’s kind of hard if they don’t have a good trainer supporting them.”
Bejarano rides Heir Kitty for the first time in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Autumn Miss Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on turf.
“In a case like this, I study the past performances and see how she’s been running before,” Bejarano said. “She’s already run once at a mile on the grass at Santa Anita (fifth by a length in the Blue Norther Stakes last January) and she waited for room at the 3/16 pole, so with better luck, she should improve this time.”
IMPROVEMENT EXPECTED FROM IRISH-BRED FILLY IN AUTUMN MISS STAKES
Ighraa is expected to show marked improvement--if the Irish-bred filly runs in Saturday’s Grade III Autumn Miss Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on turf. She drew post 12 in a field of 13 and thus is on the also-eligible list and must draw in.
The bay daughter of Tamayuz finished 10th and last at 41-1 when she made her U.S. debut in the Grade I Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 17, running then for trainer Francis-Henri Graffard.
“She’s been working really nicely,” said her new trainer, Simon Callaghan. “She ran off the plane for the previous trainer and I think she’s certainly moved forward quite a bit since that race. We’re looking forward to her running, really. She’s training really well.” Ighraa worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s turf course last Saturday in 1:01.20.
Victor Espinoza rides for owner Simon Hope of the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, Doug O’Neill expects another solid performance from Journey On in Saturday’s Autumn Miss, which offers a $100,000 purse.
“She’s doing well right now and it’s a 3-year-old only stakes, so we figured we’d give it a roll.” Journey On is on the extreme outside, post 11, but is in the body of the field.
In four lifetime starts, Journey On has raced against older fillies and mares, winning her last three by daylight margins. The Autumn Miss will be the first stakes attempt for the 3-year-old California-bred daughter of Good Journey, owned by Neil Haymes of Alta Loma and Robert Master of Newbury Park.
The field for the Autumn Miss: Heir Kitty, Bejarano, 6-1; Caraquista, Agapito Delgadillo, 20-1; Miss Empire, Edwin Maldonado, 20-1; Wittgenstein, Mario Gutierrez, 12-1; Oscar Party, David Flores, 6-1; Include the Aussie, Fernando Perez, 10-1; Flashy Ways, Joe Talamo, 6-1; Charlie Em, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Need You Now, Julien Leparoux, 9-2; Wishing Gate, Gary Stevens, 5-2; Journey On, Martin Pedroza, 6-1; and also-eligibles Ighraa, Victor Espinoza, 8-1; and Becky Lou, Julien Couton, 15-1.
FINISH LINES: Recommended viewing available at Santaanita.com: All Access video of top Breeders’ Cup Classic contender Mucho Macho Man . . . Trainer Michael Curtis runs half his barn on Saturday’s card. The former pit boss at the Commerce Casino who learned the training ropes under legends John Gosden, John Sullivan and Charlie Whittingham sends out Sixy Eddie in the fourth race. The 5 ½ furlong dash for 2-year-olds bred in California or California-sired drew nine entrants, only one of which has started. “You just have to fire away and think positive,” Curtis said when addressing his limited stock. “You just have to work hard and, hopefully, things will work out.” . . . HRTV is fast approaching 200,000 likes on Facebook. To win a prize, fans can go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/HRTV/76866300169 to guess the date and time HRTV will reach 200,000 . . . Tom Quigley’s guest this weekend at his handicapping seminar in the East Paddock Gardens will be Johnny Morris, avid horseplayer and son of TOC President Joe Morris, on Saturday, and long-time horse owner, radio host and Western Regional Sales Manager of Daily Racing Form Jon Lindo on Sunday, 11:45 a.m. . . . With eight racing days remaining, 21 players are alive in ShowVivor entering Thursday’s card.