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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• SCHOOLOFHARDROCKS WORKS FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY
• ESPINOZA MEETS PUIG & TROUT, TOSSES FIRST FREEWAY PITCH
• BALTAS HOPES TIZ DYNAMIC STEPS UP IN MARATHON TOKYO CITY
• FANTICOLA SHARP FOR CONTENTIOUS AMERICAN BEAUTY
SCHOOLOFHARDROCKS IN ‘GREAT’ DRILL FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY
Schoolofhardrocks worked six furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Friday morning in 1:12.80 as the son of Rock Hard Ten prepares for the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 5.
“He worked great,” said trainer David Hofmans, who witnessed the drill with owner John Amerman, who bred the colt along with his wife, Jerry. Schoolofhardrocks was fourth in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes on March 8, 15 lengths behind victorious California Chrome.
“He hadn’t run in more than six months, since breaking his maiden at Del Mar (Aug. 31),” Amerman pointed out.
“We’re a little concerned about the track being speed-biased (for the Santa Anita Derby), like it was for the San Felipe,” Hofmans said. “That’s a major concern.”
Joe Talamo, who was aboard for the San Felipe, retains the mount for the Derby.
Possible for the West Coast’s major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby on May 3: California Chrome, Bayern, Hoppertunity, Candy Boy, Dublin Up, Big Tire, Friendswith K Mill, Rprettyboyfloyd, The Admiral and Schoolofhardrocks.
Nearly $2 million in stakes purses will be offered on Santa Anita Derby Day. In addition, Santa Anita will have a $500,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4 and present free Derby Day T-shirts with paid admission, while supplies last, and have more than 30 premium local food trucks throughout the infield.
The annual Santa Anita Derby Day 5K run also will take place, and the track’s spacious infield will be rocking with popular local breweries and epic cover tunes from Super Diamond, in addition to live world-class horse racing.
Special packages are available at santaanita.com/events. Use promo code DERBY for 50 percent discounts.
ESPINOZA THROWS LOW & AWAY STRIKE TO KEYNOTE FREEWAY SERIES
Victor Espinoza, regular rider of early Santa Anita Derby favorite California Chrome, threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to last night’s opener of the annual Freeway Series between the Angels and Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.
With HRTV’s Michelle Yu and Anna James in tow, Espinoza took a full windup and delivered a 70 mph strike, low and away.
“It was really fun,” said Espinoza. “I wasn’t nervous or anything. It was just great to be on the field and get to meet all those guys.”
“Those guys” included two of the biggest names in Major League baseball, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig and the Angels’ Mike Trout—with whom Espinoza posed for publicity stills prior to taking the mound.
“They both said they like racing and Trout asked me what it was like to win the Kentucky Derby (which he did in 2002 aboard War Emblem),” said Espinoza. “He told me that his girlfriend has horses and that he rides them over jumps.”
Safe to say Espinoza cleared a big league hurdle himself last night in Chavez Ravine.
SANTA ANITA, CHRB STEP UP SECURITY FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY
In an effort to safeguard the health and welfare of horses and riders, Santa Anita officials have announced they will provide round-the-clock surveillance of all horses entered in the Santa Anita Derby beginning 72 hours before the race. This security measure will be similar to that provided for 2013’s Derby and for the 2013 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.
The California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) will also have an increased security presence on the backside of Santa Anita for Derby Day. In addition to the usual CHRB enforcement personnel at Santa Anita, investigators and safety stewards are being brought in from Sacramento and Los Alamitos.
The added CHRB staffing will augment Santa Anita’s stakes race security, allowing for broad stable area coverage for the Derby program, which also includes the Santa Anita Oaks and three other stakes on an 11-race card.
The CHRB also plans to conduct out-of-competition testing for horses nominated to the Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita Oaks and Providencia Stakes. These efforts are part of an expanded program providing out-of-competition testing for graded stakes races. Funding for the testing is made possible through a grant provided by The Jockey Club to The Stronach Group’s Santa Anita track. The program will continue for graded stakes at Santa Anita the rest of 2014.
The Graded Stakes Out-of-Competition Testing Grant Fund was announced at the 2013 Jockey Club Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing in August, 2013. This program expands on the CHRB’s regular out-of-competition policy.
TIZ DYNAMIC SEEKS FIRST STAKES WIN IN TOKYO CITY
Tiz Dynamic already has paid his way out since being claimed for $32,000 by trainer Richard Baltas for owner Barbara Kelly of Los Angeles last Feb. 13.
The 5-year-old Tiznow gelding has three wins since the claim, but faces his biggest challenge Saturday in the Grade III Tokyo City Cup at a mile and a half on the main track. “It’s definitely a big step up, but the horse is doing so well right now, it seems a good time to take a shot,” said Baltas, enjoying a solid meet with eight wins through the first 56 days.
Tiz Dynamic has but one stakes attempt in his 19-race career, that in the restricted Super Bowl Party Handicap on Feb. 2 when he was beaten a desperate nose after leading until the final jump in the nine furlong turf race.
The Tokyo City Cup field: Tiz Dynamic, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; Ever Rider, Victor Espinoza, 6-1; American Blend, Joe Talamo, 4-1; Segway, Gary Stevens, 4-1; Toccetive, Fernando Perez, 30-1; Blueskiesnrainbows, Corey Nakatani, 5-2; Niagara Falls, Aaron Gryder, 12-1; and Majestic Harbor, Tyler Baze, 7-2.
In conjunction with the Tokyo City Cup, Santa Anita will present Japan Family Day Saturday, featuring the Ramen Yokocho Festival in the infield. First post time is 12:30 p.m.
VERSATILE FANTICOLA SET FOR COMPETITIVE AMERICAN BEAUTY
Fanticola is as steady as they come, never finishing out of the money and winning thrice in eight career starts.
Despite that enviable record, Mike Mitchell says she’ll have to be at her best to win Saturday’s $75,000 American Beauty Stakes for older fillies and mares at one mile on turf.
“It’s a good race, with good fillies,” the trainer said. Fanticola, a 4-year-old Ontario-bred daughter of the Sunday Silence stallion Silent Name, was rolling late to finish third by a neck in the Wishing Well Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf Feb. 9.
“She came flying going 6 ½,” Mitchell said. “She’ll mile.” She already has. Fanticola broke her maiden going a mile on Del Mar’s turf course last Sept. 4, and was beaten less than a length finishing second in the Megahertz at a mile on turf Jan. 18.
The field for the American Beauty, race seven of nine: Moone’s My Name, Victor Espinoza, 5-1; One Time Only, Gary Stevens, 6-1; Unusual Hottie, Tyler Baze, 5-1; Golden Production, Edwin Maldonado, 9-2; Bee Brave, Rafael Bejarano, 5-1; Fanticola, Joe Talamo, 5-2; Oscar Party, Martin Garcia, 5-1; and Journey On, Corey Nakatani, 8-1.
STUTTS’ ‘BEARCAT’ RUNS THIRD FOR 11TH TIME IN HIS CAREER
Crimson Giant finished third for the 11th time in his career of 50 starts Thursday, beaten a neck for second and 4 ½ lengths for first as the longest shot in the sixth race at 40-1.
It marked the eighth time the 5-year-old Formal Gold gelding had run this meet since Dec. 28. “He should have been an easy second,” said Charlie Stutts, who trains the California-bred chestnut. “But he wasn’t gonna beat the winner.”
Crimson Giant, owned and bred by Bryan Carney, picked up $6,960 for his third-place finish, giving him $32,738 for his nine starts this meet. He shows only a maiden victory, but the 72-year-old Stutts sees the glass as half full.
“He runs good every time,” said Stutts, a trainer since his teens who won his first race with Committed at Arlington Park circa 1960. “One of these days, he’s going to win.”
If not Crimson Giant, perhaps it will be his sister, a 2-year-old filly out of Crimson Giant’s dam, Mia Lena. “His sister comes to my barn tomorrow,” Stutts said. “You’ll see her in one of those 2-year-old races here next month, against boys or girls, it doesn’t matter.”
FINISH LINES: Stating that jockey Irving Orozco was dealing with “issues,” agent Mike Ciani said Friday morning the winner of 19 races through 56 days this meet would be “off the rest of the week” and that he would no longer be representing him . . . Puerto Rican champion Tonito M. worked four furlongs in 49 seconds flat Friday, but trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said he didn’t “have a plan yet” when asked about a possible race for the 3-year-old son of Rock Hard Ten . . . Hollendorfer also sent out Santa Anita Oaks nominee Artemis, who went five furlongs in 1:00.40. Probable for the Grade I Oaks on April 5: Arethusa, Rafael Bejarano; Fashion Plate, Gary Stevens; and Ria Antonia, Mike Smith . . . With three wins Thursday, two-time Santa Anita training king John Sadler climbed to within four of leader Hollendorfer, 30-26, and three behind runner-up Bob Baffert (29) . . . Like a plant, Parliamentarian is a good perennial. The 5-year-old California-bred Perfect Mandate gelding trained by Bruce Headley has started three times, finishing third in his debut race on Jan. 7, 2012; winning on Jan. 10, 2013; and winning again yesterday, 14 months since his last start. “He’s such a good horse; that’s why we gave him so much time,” Headley said, within earshot of his daughter, Karen, a trainer in her own right. Asked if he had taught his daughter the training ropes, Bruce said, “Are you kidding? She’s teaching me.” . . . Agent Tony Matos reports jockey Corey Nakatani will ride FrontRunner and El Camino Real Derby runner-up Dance With Fate for trainer Peter Eurton in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 12.