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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• CYCLOMETER GOING STRONG FOR CAL CUP SPRINT
• MILLER HAS TWO FOR THE MONEY IN SANTA MONICA
• TALAMO KEEN ON SPRAGUE RIVER IN CAL CUP OAKS
• EL COMMODORE FINDS NEW NICHE FOR MACHOWSKY
SPRINTERS RUN ‘LONG’ AT BRUCE HEADLEY BARN
Longevity is a strong suit at the Bruce Headley barn. The veteran trainer is rare among horsemen when it comes to elderly stakes winners, counting Softshoe Sure Shot and champion Kona Gold among his former trainees that captured stakes victories at an advanced age.
Kona Gold won the 2003 El Conejo Handicap at nine, racing four times at that age. Softshoe Sure Shot won the Grade II San Carlos Handicap at nine in 1995, when he ran twice.
For good measure, toss in Son of a Pistol, who raced once at nine and won his last race—the San Carlos in 2000—at the age of eight.
Fast forward to Saturday, when Headley will send out 6-year-old Cyclometer in the $125,000 California Cup Sprint at six furlongs. A chestnut horse by Cyclotron, Cyclometer counts the Midnight Lute on Jan. 4 among his five career victories.
“He’s a stud but you would never know it,” said Bruce’s daughter, Karen, a trainer in her own right. “He’s six years old but doesn’t act it. He just loves his job. It’s nice to have an old horse in the barn again.”
Santa Anita will also present the California Wine Festival on Sunshine Millions Cal Cup Day. Fans can experience the best wine regions in the state by sampling fine wine and food pairings in the track’s Paddock Gardens area. Visit www.santaanita.com/events for details.
MILLER SEEKS TO DOUBLE HIS PLEASURE IN SANTA MONICA
Peter Miller has two for the money in Saturday’s Grade II Santa Monica Stakes for older fillies and mares at seven furlongs: La Brea winner Heir Kitty and newcomer to Miller’s barn Lexington Pearl.
Heir Kitty pulled a 13-1 upset in the Grade I La Brea, her first stakes win. Lexington Pearl has been racing on the East Coast for Miller Racing, LLC (no relation to Peter). The 5-year-old daughter of Elusive Quality has never won a stakes race in the U.S..
“I’ve had her for, I don’t know, three or four weeks,” Miller said of the 5-year-old Kentucky-bred chestnut mare. “She’s training well.
“Heir Kitty is doing super,” Miller said of the 4-year-old daughter of Wildcat Heir owned by David Bernsen and Paul Makin. “This is a good distance for her and she likes this track.”
EL COMMODORE WORKS FOR CLOCKERS’ CORNER STAKES
Veteran grass course specialist El Commodore worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Monday in 1:01.40 for next Sunday’s $75,000 Clockers’ Corner Stakes for older horses at about 6 ½ furlongs on Santa Anita’s unique downhill course.
In 35 career starts, El Commodore has run on turf 31 times, winning six, finishing second seven times, and third on five occasions.
He was second by a half-length under Gary Stevens to Unbridled’s Note in the Grade III Daytona Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf in his most recent start, Dec. 28 at Santa Anita. In 21 races prior to that, none was shorter than one mile.
“I found a new niche for him, I think,” said Mike Machowsky, who trains the 7-year-old El Prado gelding. “He worked real good this morning, so we’re ready for next Sunday.”
Stevens retains the mount.
PROMISING SPRAGUE RIVER SET FOR CAL CUP OAKS
Joe Talamo is excited about a 3-year-old filly he rides in Saturday’s $200,000 California Cup Oaks.
Her name is Sprague River, who is unbeaten in two starts at Hollywood Park, most recently in a six furlong turf sprint Dec. 20, when the daughter of Tribal Rule won by a length-and-a-quarter despite a slow start.
Talamo thinks the grassy Oaks at one mile will be suitable for the bay filly trained by Miller and owned by Gary Hartunian of Sherman Oaks, who races as Rockingham Ranch.
“I think a mile will be great,” said Talamo, who recently celebrated his 24th birthday. “I’ve been working her and she’s really been working well. Last time she came home in 23 flat and relaxed real well.”
FINISH LINES: With his last-gasp nose victory aboard 10-1 shot Creditcardroulette for trainer Tom Proctor in Sunday’s last race, apprentice Drayden VanDyke won for the fifth time in his career and thus lost three pounds off his 10-pound weight allowance. He now rides with a seven-pound advantage . . . Matriarch winner Egg Drop, prepping for the Grade II Buena Vista Stakes on Feb. 17, worked four furlongs Monday on the main track for Mike Mitchell in 48.20 while FrontRunner winner Bond Holder, with Mario Gutierrez up, went six furlongs for Doug O’Neill in 1:12.60. Bond Holder is ticketed for the $400,000, Grade II Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds on Feb. 22 . . . Santa Anita Handicap candidate Clubhouse Ride went five furlongs for Craig Lewis in 1:00.40 . . . Danny Thomas, agent representing Kent Desormeaux for his return to Santa Anita next weekend, expressed satisfaction over the response he has gotten from horsemen for the services of the Hall of Fame jockey and three-time Kentucky Derby winner. “It’s been great so far,” Thomas said, “and we’re very appreciative of the business we’re getting.”