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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
OUTLAW MAN COULD BE FOR REAL IN SATURDAY’S SHAM STAKES
Outlaw Man will make his first start on synthetic when the gray son of Forest Wildcat starts in Saturday’s Grade III, $150,000 Sham Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Pro-Ride. Outlaw Man debuted on Saratoga’s traditional dirt course last August, then made his last three starts on turf, including a nose victory under Alex Solis in a Santa Anita maiden race at nine furlongs Jan. 27.
“The litmus test came from Solis,” said Jordan Blair, assistant to trainer Kenny McPeek. “He’s worked the horse the last two times, and the first time, Alex was so-so on how he thought he felt on Pro-Ride. But we put the horse in company in his last work and Alex came back with a big smile on his face. He was very happy.
“Unfortunately, he had another commitment for the Sham (Alphie’s Bet) and can’t ride Outlaw Man. But the reason I pushed this race to Kenny was the distance. Only one other horse in the Sham has run that distance, and that’s Setsuko. We know our horse can get the distance. He’s built and bred to go all day long, and as wide open as the race is, we thought we’d take a shot.”
Blair said McPeek is scheduled to fly in from Florida to be on hand for the Sham. The field for the Sham: The Program, Martin Garcia; Kettle River, Brice Blanc; Straightomidnight, Omar Berrio; Outlaw Man, Garrett Gomez; Setsuko, Rafael Bejarano; Wolf Tail, Chantal Sutherland; Viva Macho, Silvio Amador; El Mirage King, Tyler Baze; Alphie’s Bet, Alex Solis; and Nextdoorneighbor, Mike Smith.
Asked his thoughts on drawing the outside post for Nextdoorneighbor, trainer Mike Machowsky said, “I’d rather be there than the one-hole.”
PRO-RIDE LOOKS GREENER FOR LOUP BRETON IN BIG ’CAP
Loup Breton is scheduled to make his first start on synthetic in the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino on March 6, but both trainer and jockey are confident the Irish-bred horse sired by Anabaa can successfully make the transition.
“Anabaa is the leading synthetic sire in Europe,” trainer Julio Canani said. “He sired Anabaa’s Creation, who was second by a head to Zenyatta in the Clement Hirsch (in August of 2008 at Del Mar), so we’re taking a shot.”
Garrett Gomez, who has ridden Loup Breton to two victories and a second in his three U.S. starts, sees little reason the 6-year-old bay can’t handle Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride going a mile and a quarter.
“This horse probably can make the conversion,” Gomez said, “because he works well on synthetic all the time, although working on it and running on it are two different things. But his style is good for this distance and he’s a really nice horse.”
Loup Breton generally spots his rivals a good lead early on, then comes running through the stretch. He has a 5-4-2 record from 21 starts, with earnings of $677,614 for owner Guy Wildenstein of New York City.
Probable for the Santa Anita Handicap: Acclamation, no rider; Dakota Phone, Victor Espinoza; High Court Drama, Michael Baze; Jeranimo, no rider; Loup Breton, Gomez; Massone, no rider; Mast Track, David Flores; Misremembered, Martin Garcia; Mr. Big, no rider; Neko Bay, Mike Smith; Philatalist, Rafael Bejarano; Pick Six, Alex Solis; Pool Play, Chantal Sutherland; Rendezvous, no rider; Spurrier, no rider; the mare St Trinians, Joel Rosario; and Tiger’s Rock, David Cohen. Dan Ward, assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer, said Rendezvous also is a candidate for the Kilroe Mile on turf. “We’re keeping our options open,” Ward said.
Don Warren, trainer of Acclamation, said the Kilroe was a possibility, depending on the weight his colt was assigned for the Big ’Cap.
Dakota Phone worked three furlongs on Pro-Ride Thursday in :36.40 for Hollendorfer, while Spurrier went six furlongs in a bullet 1:13 for Bob Baffert.
Weights are due out Saturday. Total earnings in 2009-10 will be used in determining the preference of horses with equally assigned weights.
“I never saw a Santa Anita Handicap where trainers are going to the racing office asking for more weight for their horses, so they can get in the race,” said Baffert, who, in addition to Grade II stakes winner Misremembered, is hoping to get in with likely lightweights Mr. Big and Spurrier.
AWESOME GEM GOING STRONG AT AGE SEVEN FOR KILROE
Awesome Gem has more than paid his way for West Point Thoroughbreds. Still, the gelded son of Awesome Again, now seven, continues to fly under racing’s radar despite a versatile, durable, consistent and profitable career that has resulted in two Grade II victories and creditable efforts in Grade I competition.
He was third to two-time Horse of the Year Curlin in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic and seventh behind Zenyatta last year. On March 6, Awesome Again tries the turf again in the Grade I, $250,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile.
“He’s just been a phenomenal horse for us,” said Jeff Bloom, executive vice president, West Coast Operations, of West Point Thoroughbreds. “He’s a seven year old and he’s acting like a 3-year-old. He’s won a few races here and there, and he’s had a lot of just-misses.”
Trained by Craig Dollase, Awesome Gem has a 6-11-3 record from 31 starts, with earnings of $1,695,682.
“Hopefully, the Kilroe will be a big race for him,” continued Bloom, a former jockey. “We’re expecting him to have a real strong year as a 7-year-old. He’s run well on every surface, dirt, grass, synthetic and at almost any distance. He’s such a versatile horse. He’s shown us that he’ll ship anywhere and he’ll run on anything.”
Awesome Gem has raced at nine tracks, including Sha Tin in the 2008 Hong Kong Mile.
“He’s run big races going a mile, he’s run big races going long,” Bloom said. “He’s just incredibly versatile. Every time he goes out there, you know you’re going to get everything he’s got.”
Probable for the Kilroe: Awesome Gem, David Flores; Battle of Hastings, Tyler Baze; Blue Chagall, no rider; Cherokee Heaven, no rider; Ever a Friend, Joel Rosario; Fluke, Joe Talamo; Monzante, Garrett Gomez; Proviso, no rider; and The Usual Q.T., Victor Espinoza.
Dan Ward, assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer, said multiple stakes-winning mare Tuscan Evening could run in the Kilroe against males or remain with her own gender in the Grade II, $150,000 Santa Ana Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on turf on March 21.
SANTA ANITA JOCKEYS UNDERDOGS IN TONIGHT’S CHARITY GAME
Santa Anita odds maker Jon White lists Holy Angels School as an 11 ½-point favorite over Santa Anita’s jockeys in their annual Charity Basketball Game tonight at LaSalle High School in Pasadena, with an over/under total of 61 ½.
Tip off is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Retired Hall of Fame riders Eddie Delahoussaye, Laffit Pincay Jr. and Gary Stevens will join four-time national money-earnings king Garrett Gomez in an autograph session starting at 6:15 p.m. Comedian/actor George Lopez will cover the game. Lopez hosts a show on TNT that airs nightly at 8 p.m.
“The jockeys used to win pretty much every year, but Holy Angels has won the last three years,” said White, who coached the Santa Anita riders to a come-from-behind victory on one occasion prior to HRTV’s Kurt Hoover taking the reins. “For many years, Kent Desormeaux really helped the jockeys. The last time the jockeys won in 2006, Kent scored 19 points. Without Kent last year, the entire team of jockeys scored 19. Since 2006, the Santa Anita squad has been hurt by both the absence of someone as good as Desormeaux and a thin bench. “From what I understand, the jockeys are expected to have better depth this year. That should help. But Holy Angels won by 13 points in 2007, by eight in 2008 and by 16 last year. That suggests no Desormeaux makes a huge difference.”
Game Captain David Flores, Silvio Amador, Paul Atkinson, Rafael Bejarano, Joel Rosario, Mike Smith, Joe Talamo, Martin Garcia, Brice Blanc, Alonso Quinonez, Felipe Valdez, Mike Baze, Tyler Baze, Omar Berrio, Christian Santiago Reyes, Micheal James and others are expected to participate. Proceeds will benefit the Holy Angels athletic department. LaSalle High School is located at the southwest corner of Michillinda Ave. and Sierra Madre Blvd. in Pasadena, approximately four miles from Santa Anita. Admission is $5.
And remember: what happens in Pasadena, stays in Pasadena.
BOREL TO RECEIVE SANTA ANITA’S GEORGE WOOLF AWARD MARCH 14
By a vote of his peers, Calvin Borel will become the 61st recipient of the prestigious Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in a winner’s circle ceremony at Santa Anita Sunday, March 14.
“Calvin is proud and very honored to win this prestigious award,” said Jerry Hissam, Borel’s long-time agent. “I’m proud to have been able to stand beside him for 20 years, and I realize I’m very close to him, but he’s earned this. He works very hard and he deals with everyone honestly. He’s an incredibly competitive rider and he gives everyone, the trainers, the owners and the fans, their money’s worth, every time he gets a leg up.
“He’ll ride in New Orleans on the 13th and then we’re looking forward to coming out there the next day for the Woolf Award. This is a great honor and I know Calvin wants to thank everyone that voted for him and all the horsemen that have supported him.”
It is expected that Borel will ride 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra on March 13 in the $200,000 New Orleans Ladies Stakes at Fair Grounds. It is hoped this will ready the superstar filly for an epic showdown with the Breeders’ Cup Classic champion mare Zenyatta in the $5-million Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 9.
The Woolf Award was created to honor and memorialize Woolf, who was one of the greatest riders of his era and who died soon after a spill on the Club House turn at Santa Anita on Jan. 13, 1946. The Woolf trophy is a replica of the full-size statue of the late jockey which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area.
Born Nov. 7, 1966 in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, Borel is in his 36th year as a professional jockey, having won his first recognized race in 1976. Like so many Cajun riders before him, Borel began riding match races in his native Louisiana long before he was old enough to compete at recognized racetracks.
In addition to his storybook run with Rachel Alexandra last year, Borel, who won his first Kentucky Derby in 2007 with Street Sense, notched his second Derby win last year with Mine That Bird at odds of 50-1.
From “matching” at age eight, to winning his first Kentucky Derby at age 40, Borel’s career has been punctuated by hard work and a no-nonsense approach to the sport’s daily rigors. Borel can commonly be found mucking stalls and performing other menial stable chores for his brother, trainer Cecil Borel, at Oaklawn Park’s annual winter/spring meeting.
First presented by Santa Anita in 1950, the Woolf Award was won last year by John Velazquez.
LARGE TURNOUT FOR BORTSTEIN FAREWELL AT SANTA ANITA
Family, friends and associates numbering more than 150 gathered at Santa Anita’s FrontRunner Restaurant after the races Wednesday to share memories of the late turf writer, Larry Bortstein, who died Jan. 31 at the age of 67.
His longtime friend and colleague, Bill Christine, a retired multiple Eclipse Award-winning staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, emceed the service, which was hosted by Santa Anita. Wednesday’s eighth race was named in Bortstein’s memory.
“I couldn't believe how many people showed up for the memorial service for Larry,” said his long-time co-worker and friend, Jerry Antonucci. “There must have been between 150 and 200 people there.
“Larry, always into music, had his friends from the barber shop quartet. When they sang his favorite song at the end of the ceremony, maybe 40 of them got up. The ceremony was about two hours long and Ron Charles (Santa Anita President), did a great job providing the food and drinks.
I spoke of the time Larry and I drove harness horses at Los Alamitos. With his sight deficiency, he obviously couldn't see, but he was a ‘gamer,’ willing to get in the sulky and drive a lap of the course.
“He was supposed to start from the rail and I was to be in the No. two slot. When the gate was on the move, he was right with it---in lane nine and so I lagged behind so when the race started, I dove to the fence and won the race. After the race was over, Larry started to jog the horse back to the winner's circle on the front side of the track, but since he didn't see well, he started to go down the four-furlong chute--where all the track renovating equipment was stored. “Bobby Adair, who once ruled the roost at Los Alamitos before his retirement, was working as an outrider and went after him, and was able to grab the reins of his horse just in the nick of time. “Larry had a lot of friends and they seemingly all showed up on Wednesday night to say so long. It was a great evening.”
FINISH LINES: Probable for The Grade I, $250,000 Santa Anita Oaks on March 6: Blind Luck, Rafael Bejarano; Cozi Rosie, Mike Smith; Crisp, Joel Rosario; and Evening Jewel, Victor Espinoza . . . Rosario took off his scheduled five mounts Thursday. “He didn’t feel well,” agent Vic Stauffer said . . . Leading trainer John Sadler reports that Triple Crown hopefuls Sidney’s Candy and Dave in Dixie could make their next starts in the Grade II, $150,000 San Felipe Stakes on March 6. “Either one or both of them could start,” Sadler said . . . Bejarano not only is the runaway leader in Santa Anita’s jockeys’ race, he ranks first nationally in purse earnings with $2,053,597 through Tuesday, according to Daily Racing Form statistics . . . Hollywood Gold Cup winner Rail Trip worked three furlongs at Hollywood Park Thursday in :37.60, breezing, for Ron Ellis . . . Longtime trainer Noble Threewitt celebrated his 99th birthday on Wednesday. Threewitt, who retired from training three years ago, currently resides in Salinas, California, with his wife, Berle . . . Hall of Fame rider Laffit Pincay Jr, will present the trophy to the winning connections of Saturday’s Sham Stakes. Pincay won the 1973 Santa Anita Derby with Sham, and was second with Sham to Secretariat in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes that year . . . Jon Shonk, writer and handicapper for Today’s Racing Digest, will be Jerry Antonucci’s guest at Saturday’s Today’s Racing Digest seminar, 11 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens, weather permitting . . . ShowVivor II was reduced to 247 contestants going into Thursday’s races.