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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• ‘FRIENDLY’ RIVALRY CONTINUES IN SAN ANTONIO
• WEATHER’S BEEN SWEET FOR CANDY BOY’S TRAINING
• LUCAYAN ‘FIRM’ CONTENDER IN GRADE II SAN MARCOS
BAFFERT, HOLLENDORFER BATTLE A ‘DEAD-HEAT’
When it comes to rivalries, Baffert-Hollendorfer isn't exactly Ali-Frazier, Red Sox-Yankees or Affirmed-Alydar, at least not for the record at this early stage.
But uncannily, the facts are these: through 26 racing days at Santa Anita, the two Hall of Fame trainers' statistical lines were in a virtual dead-heat in all categories, to wit:
Starts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Baffert 64 17 9 11 27 $1,338,880
Hollendorfer 62 16 11 12 26 $1,227,284
Baffert leads Hollendorfer in stakes wins, five to three.
Asked about any such rivalry after Hollendorfer triple-teamed Baffert to upset his 1-2 favorite Secret Circle in Sunday's Palos Verdes Stakes, Hollendorfer, whose interminable reign as the king of Northern California is the stuff of legend, said, "It's not a rivalry. Actually, I'm a fan of a lot of the good trainers down here and I'm one of Bob's fans. I love the way he trains and the job that he does. If it is a rivalry, it's a friendly one."
If it's not a rivalry, friendly or otherwise, it's certainly an informal competition, and it continues Saturday when the Baffert-trained Game On Dude squares off against the Hollendorfer-trained Blueskiesnrainbows in the Grade II San Antonio Stakes, a forerunner to the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 8.
With seven entrees in the San Antonio, Hollendorfer didn't call out the reserves, as he did in the Palos Verdes. He trained three of the five Palos Verdes starters, his Moonshine Bay hooking and jabbing with Secret Circle on the lead most of the match before Hollendorfer's Wild Dude came along to deliver the knockout blow in the final round, rallying from last to get up by a neck at 8-1. Hollendorfer's third starter, Sahara Sky, never fired and finished fifth.
In their only previous meeting, Game On Dude buried Blueskiesnrainbows in the Pacific Classic on Del Mar’s Polytrack, winning by a record 8 ½ lengths last August. Blueskiesnrainbows finished 12th and last, beaten 24 ½ lengths.
Game On Dude would set a record if he wins the San Antonio for the third time in this, its 76th running. No horse has won the Santa Anita Handicap three times, either.
The field for the San Antonio, which Game On Dude won last year before going on to win the Big ’Cap for the second time: Willyconker, Fernando Perez, 20-1; American Blend, Joe Talamo, 10-1; Blueskiesnrainbows, Martin Pedroza, 3-1; Majestic Harbor, Tyler Baze, 6-1; Game On Dude, Mike Smith, 3-5; Blingo, Aaron Gryder, 6-1; and Imperative, Kent Desormeaux, 30-1.
DRY WEATHER HELPS CANDY BOY PREPARE FOR LEWIS
Trainer John Sadler has taken advantage of Southern California’s unseasonably dry weather to prepare Candy Boy for his 3-year-old debut in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.
A bay son of Candy Ride owned and bred by Lee and Susan Searing’s CRK Stable, Candy Boy has not raced since finishing second by nearly six lengths to 2013 male 2-year-old champ Shared Belief in the Grade I CashCall Futurity on Hollywood’s Cushion Track Dec. 14.
“We had no (inclement) weather in January, so the training’s been uninterrupted,” Sadler said. “He’s been going nice and steady and we’re ready to go. He’s well-prepared.”
The field for the Lewis: Candy Boy, Gary Stevens, 2-1; Diamond Bachelor, Julien Leparoux, 6-1; Midnight Hawk, Mike Smith, 9-5; Home Run Kitten, Joe Talamo, 15-1; Cool Samurai, Corey Nakatani, 6-1; El Nino Terrible, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1; and Chitu, Martin Garcia, 7-2.
FIRMER GOING A PLUS FOR LUCAYAN IN SAN MARCOS
Hard to believe it's going on 14 years since Neil Drysdale gave Kent Desormeaux a leg up on $4 million yearling purchase Fusaichi Pegasus to win the Kentucky Derby in 2000. Three months later, Drysdale, now 66, would be elected to racing's Hall of Fame.
But time moves ever forward, and on Saturday, Drysdale will hoist Mike Smith aboard Hollywood Turf Cup winner Lucayan in the Grade II San Marcos Stakes for older horses at a mile and a quarter on turf.
Lucayan, a French-bred Turtle Bowl horse, worked seven furlongs on Santa Anita’s turf course Saturday in 1:29: “He worked very well," was Drysdale succinct evaluation. "We’re very pleased with his progress."
Lucayan's lone poor effort in seven U.S. starts came on a yielding turf course in the Grade I Canadian International at Woodbine last Oct. 27, one race before his Hollywood Turf Cup win on Dec. 14. The bay finished ninth of 10 in the Canadian bog, beaten 12 1/4 lengths over the mile and a half course.
As Drysdale put it: "It rained and rained and rained.”
Trainer John Sadler on scratching Vagabond Shoes from the Arcadia at one mile to run in the 1 1/4-mile San Marcos: “He’s run a mile and a half, a mile and a quarter before, so this is a little better spot to start him back.
“The turf, especially when it rains (like it has recently), the speed carries a little bit, and in the Arcadia, the two speed horses kind of went one-two all the way around.”
The San Marcos field: Slim Shadey, Corey Nakatani, 6-1; Vagabond Shoes, Victor Espinoza, 9-2; Mr T Bird, Tyler Baze, 12-1; Utopian, Jose Valdivia Jr., 20-1; Power Foot, Edwin Maldonado, 15-1; Jeranimo, Rafael Bejarano, 7-2; Lucayan, Mike Smith, 6-1; Segway, Flavien Prat, 20-1; Would You, Irving Orozco, 30-1; Bio Pro, Mario Gutierrez, 8-1. Artic North, Joe Talamo, 15-1; Si Sage, Martin Garcia, 20-1; Temeraine, Gary Stevens, 6-1; and Dubai You X Y Z, Brice Blanc, 6-1.
JOCKEY CLUB, EQUIBASE ANNOUNCE BEST RACING APP
The Jockey Club and Equibase Company today announced the release of America’s Best Racing app for iPhone and Android. The free app includes video replays provided by Roberts Communications plus full charts and pari-mutuel payoffs of all graded stakes races (including the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup) for the current year as they occur, as well as every graded stakes race run since 2010.
The 2014 America’s Best Racing app can be downloaded at itunes.com and play.google.com. A web version of America’s Best Racing is available at americasbestracing.net and equibase.com.
“This app is the perfect tool to follow graded stakes races from your mobile device as they happen throughout the year and watch the best of racing from the past several years,” said Jason Wilson, vice president, business development, The Jockey Club. “We are happy to partner with Equibase to bring this app to a new audience of fans as part of America’s Best Racing’s fan initiatives.”
“As it turns to spring and the racing season gets into full swing this app is a great way to stay up-to-date with The Jockey Club race series on Fox Sports 1,” said Equibase President and Chief Operating Officer Hank Zeitlin, “and relive each and every race as many times as you would like.
FINISH LINES: Male 3-year-old champion of 1999 General Challenge, (18) was euthanized due to the infirmities of old age Tuesday (Feb. 4) at Golden Eagle Farm in Ramona. Winner of the Santa Anita Derby and the Pacific Classic in 1999 for Golden Eagle and trainer Bob Baffert, the gelding won seven graded stakes in his career and earned $2,877,178 . . . Two-time Eclipse winner Beholder is back at Richard Mandella’s barn preparing for her 4-year-old campaign. “She looks great,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “I’m very happy to have her back. As for when she runs, we’ll make plans as she tells us to . . . We’ll play it by ear as she goes along.” . . . Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents has been back with Doug O’Neill “about two weeks” after some R&R. “We just tack-walked him for about a week and he’s been jogging for about a week. He’s probably a good three weeks away from a breeze,” the trainer said . . . Jon White points out that Game On Dude, who makes his 2014 debut in Saturday’s Grade II San Antonio Stakes, has never lost a Grade II race in 29 career starts. “He’s four for four in Grade II races,” notes White, who makes Santa Anita’s morning lines and provides pre-race television commentary for the track’s simulcast network. “He has won the Grade II San Antonio twice, the Grade II Californian at Hollywood Park in 2012 and the Grade II Charles Town Classic last year. The last time Game On Dude lost when he wasn’t running in a Grade I or Group 1 race was in 2011 when he finished third (behind Awesome Gem and Flat Out) in the Grade III Lone Star Park Handicap.” . . . Tom Quigley’s guest handicappers this weekend will be Kalic Chambers, hot walker for Doug O’Neill and a Santa Anita beer vendor, Saturday, and professional horse player Jimmy (The Hat) Allard Sunday, 11:20 a.m. each day in the East Paddock Gardens.