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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• MAIDEN WINNER FASHION PLATE IN GRADE I LAS VIRGENES
• EXCITEMENT PREVAILS ON SUNSHINE MILLIONS CAL CUP DAY
• VAGABOND SHOES IN STEP FOR GRADE II ARCADIA STAKES
• YES, IT PAYS TO READ SANTA ANITA STABLE NOTES
FASHION PLATE SHARP FOR STAKES DEBUT IN LAS VIRGENES
Fashion Plate would appear to be going from the frying pan into the fire when she runs in next Saturday’s Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile, but that’s not necessarily so.
“She came out of the maiden race really well,” said trainer Simon Callaghan, referring to a 6 ½-length triumph going six furlongs at Santa Anita on Dec. 29. “She’s been training really well and I’m really happy with her work yesterday (five furlongs in 59.80). Gary Stevens breezed her and he was delighted.
“We’ve always liked this filly a lot. Obviously she looked good winning last time and I think the stretch-out in distance is going to help her.”
Probable for the Las Virgenes, a major steppingstone to the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks on April 5: Arethusa, Corey Nakatani; Artemis, Mike Smith; Fashion Plate, Stevens; Streaming, Martin Garcia; and Taste Like Candy, Rafael Bejarano.
Unbeaten Streaming, winner of the Grade I Hollywood Starlet, worked five furlongs for Bob Baffert Sunday in 59.80.
‘FRESH’ VAGABOND SHOES RETURNS IN ARCADIA STAKES
Vagabond Shoes is scheduled to make his first start since finishing an eventful fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita last Nov. 2, when he runs in Saturday’s Grade II Arcadia Stakes for older horses at one mile on turf.
“He can run a mile,” trainer John Sadler said of the 7-year-old Irish-bred gelding, who was a head off the lead in the BC Turf after steadying earlier in the mile and a half race.
“He’s an older horse and he had a hard campaign last year,” Sadler added in explaining the brief absence. “We’ve got him fresh for this year.”
Owned by Hronis Racing, LLC, Vagabond Shoes was a Group 3 winner overseas and has the Grade II Del Mar Handicap as his lone U.S. victory in eight starts.
Probable for the Arcadia: No Jet Lag, Corey Nakatani; Procurement, no rider; Regally Ready, Mike Smith; Si Sage, Martin Garcia; Suggestive Boy, Joe Talamo; Tom’s Tribute, Gary Stevens; Vagabond Shoes, Victor Espinoza; Willyconker, no rider; and Winning Prize, Rafael Bejarano.
Regally Ready worked four furlongs Sunday in 48.80 for Steve Asmussen, while Tom’s Tribute went five furlongs for Jim Cassidy in 1:02.60.
PERIBAN GETS UP FROM THE FLOOR TO WIN FIRST STAKES
Story lines were plentiful on Sunshine Millions California Cup Day at Santa Anita Saturday, but perhaps none more heart-warming than that of 54-year-old trainer Jorge Periban, who saddled Susans Express to a $132.40 shocker in the $200,000 California Cup Oaks.
It was the first stakes win in the United States for the native of Mexico City, who has been training since 1983. He had reached a low point in the late nineties, earning his subsistence by picking up discarded mutuel tickets in hopes of finding valid ones.
His days in the doldrums were thoroughly documented by Daily Racing Form’s Brad Free in a column six years ago. Periban took a moment to reflect on those times yesterday.
“For nearly six years (1998 until 2003, during his life as a “stooper”), I had no work and I made my living picking tickets from the floor at Los Alamitos, Hollywood Park, Del Mar and Santa Anita,” Periban said. “The first ticket I found was worth $2,390. They were tough times. That was my toughest moment.”
While he no longer stoops to conquer, Periban works hard in a highly competitive field with optimism towards the future, thanks to horses like Susans Express.
“A few years ago, I had 35 horses, but now only seven,” Periban said. “But I have some people who are going to claim more for me. Only my wife and my kids know how hard I tried to make a living.”
Now, the whole world does.
With two winners and a second on his return to Santa Anita Saturday, Kent Desormeaux was understandably ebullient Sunday as he made the rounds between workouts.
“Yesterday was great,” the 43-year-old Hall of Fame rider said, but was non-committal when asked if he was ready to return to Southern California on a permanent basis.
“Let me mull around here this morning and see what the reactions are,” he said. “But I can’t lie. I drove from the airport and I felt like I never left. It was like déjà vu.”
BETTORS TAKE ‘NOTE’ OF WINNING ADVICE FROM JOCKEYS
Opinions expressed by jockeys in Santa Anita’s Stable Notes are sometimes more than merely rhetorical PR pyscho-babble.
Case in point: Statements from Mike Smith and Joe Talamo on their prospects aboard Scherzinger in yesterday’s Santa Monica Stakes and Weewinnin in the California Turf Classic.
Smith, who rode Scherzinger, on Friday said this, speaking of the filly’s last-place finish on turf two races back: “You can throw that race out completely . . . She came back after that and ran extremely well (winning on dirt Jan. 2) and she’s doing well. She deserves a chance and I think she’ll have a big one.”
Scherzinger won and paid $10.60.
This is how Talamo assessed his chances Thursday on Weewinnin: “He ran a great race last out. It was his first race in almost a year, so he probably needed the race. It should set him up well for this race. Even though it’s a mile and an eighth, I don’t see the distance being a problem.”
Weewinnin won and paid $44.80.
BIG CAP CANDIDATE MUCHO MACHO MAN MOVING FORWARD
It’s still very early, but Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man has taken the first step towards what could lead to a chance at a repeat performance in the $5 million race at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.
“He’s grown and he’s taken a step forward mentally,” said Gary Stevens, who was aboard for the thrilling Classic win at Santa Anita last November and who rode the 6-year-old Macho Uno horse to a 14-length romp in the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 18.
“He was very, very relaxed in the post parade (at Gulfstream) . . . He’s a cool horse. He’s very, very intelligent,” Stevens said. “I believe he’s moved forward, and that’s just natural. They’ve got some races picked out to get us back to the Breeders’ Cup. Hopefully, that’ll happen.
“But they have by no means tightened the screws up at this point. At the end of last year, I told Kathy and Finn (trainer Kathy Ritvo and Finn Green,
Racing Manager for owners Dean and Patti Reeves) that he’s a horse that’s still developing.”
One race under consideration for Mucho Macho Man’s next start is the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 8.
FINISH LINES: Met Mile winner Sahara Sky worked six furlongs in company with Joelito for next Sunday’s Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes for older horses at six furlongs. Each was timed in 1:13.60 for Jerry Hollendorfer, who also sent Strub Stakes third-place finisher Hear the Ghost four furlongs in 47.60 with Corey Nakatani up and Damascus Stakes winner Zeewat the same distance in 48 flat with Rafael Bejarano aboard . . . Fans at Santa Anita on next Sunday can enjoy “The Big Game” matching the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks, and partake of bargain eats as well. Not only is general admission to the track that day just a buck, but beers, sodas and hot dogs are also available at a dollar apiece. Early first post time is 11 a.m. Gates open at 9 a.m. With Promo Code YARD, fans can get the following for only $10: all you can eat buffet; half-priced drinks and $1 beers; seating area in Sirona’s; and your first drink included. Go to santaanita.com/events for further information.