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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• STEVENS GOES FOR RECORD 10TH SANTA ANITA DERBY
• SMITH HOPES TO MAKE MOST OF HIS ‘HOPPERTUNITY’
• BAILEY TAKES A SHINE TO ‘CHROME’ ON SATURDAY
• BLINKERS OFF RIA ANTONIA FOR SANTA ANITA OAKS
• MACHOWSKY KEEN ON LUCRATIVE CAL-BRED RACES
CANDY BOY’S SANTA ANITA DERBY DRAW SWEET FOR STEVENS
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens hopes to add to his record of nine Santa Anita Derby victories when he rides 9-5 morning line second choice Candy Boy in Saturday’s much-anticipated Grade I, $1 million race that awards 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner.
Stevens was happy when he learned that Candy Boy drew post position six, and Fashion Plate, his mount in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks earlier on the card, will break from the rail in the mile-and-one-sixteenth race.
“Craig (agent Craig O’Bryan) sent me a text saying I drew the six of eight in the Derby and the one in the Oaks,” Stevens said. “I sent him back a thumbs up and a smiley face.
“I’m real pleased with my draw. I drew the one hole with Candy Boy in the Lewis, and it was OK. The trip turned out good (winning by a half-length), but this gives me more options.
“Obviously, California Chrome has more speed than I do, but I’ll know where he’s at. I was going to know where he’s at anyway, but I like where I’ve drawn.”
Added Candy Boy’s trainer, John Sadler: “It’s a good draw (post position No. 6). Going a mile and an eighth, I don’t think the draw’s that important for anybody. There’s plenty of run to the first turn and it’s a small field, so we’re very happy with the draw. “We’re very excited. We should have a good crowd.”
The field for the Derby, race eight of 11: Rprettyboyfloyd, Rafael Bejarano, 20-1, Friendswith K Mill, Tyler Baze, 20-1; Hoppertunity, Mike Smith, 3-1; Big Tire, Edwin Maldonado, 20-1; California Chrome, Victor Espinoza, 6-5; Candy Boy, Gary Stevens, 9-5; Schoolofhardrocks, Joe Talamo, 10-1; and Dublin Up, Kent Desormeaux, 30-1.
SMITH THINKS BEST IS YET TO COME FOR HOPPERTUNITY
Although Mike Smith has ridden Hoppertunity but once, the Hall of Fame jockey has good vibes about the colt’s future.
“He has a lot of ability, and what I like about him most is it looks like he’s got room to grow,” said Smith, who won the Grade II Rebel Stakes in his only ride on the son of Any Given Saturday on March 15. “He hasn’t peaked yet, which is good.
“You don’t want him to peak last month; you want him to start getting ready now, and, of course, for the next one (Kentucky Derby on May 3). He also galloped out really strong (after the Rebel).
“He gave me the indication that distance wasn’t going to be a problem, so all is good. He might be a horse coming around at the right time. I sure hope so. We’ll see.”
Victory in the Santa Anita Derby is worth 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner. Second is worth 40 points, third, 20, and fourth, 10. Nearly $2 million in stakes purses will be offered Saturday. 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.
Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) will broadcast the Santa Anita Derby from 2 to 4 p.m.; on Sirius channel 93 as well as select HRRN affiliates around the country, and streamed worldwide on its website, www.horseracingradio.net.
In other Santa Anita Derby news:
California Chrome galloped on the main track and schooled in the paddock Friday morning under the direction of trainer Art Sherman’s son, Alan, a trainer in his own right.
“Chrome,” as he is called around the barn, didn’t turn a hair as he stood like a statue in stall No. 5 for a full five minutes outside the jockeys’ room and behind the walking ring, with exercise rider Willie Delgado, brother of jockey Alberto Delgado, in the saddle.
BAILEY LIKES WHAT HE SEES IN CALIFORNIA CHROME
Count Jerry Bailey among the believers in California Chrome, at least going in to tomorrow’s Santa Anita Derby.
“I’ve seen his races and he’s been very impressive,” said the retired Hall of Fame great, on hand with NBC Sports which is televising the big race nationally from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific Time.
“He’s been clearly dominant in his (last three) races, and to me, it’s all about progressing. Each race seems to be better than the last. He has the ability to rate off horses, as he did two back (in the California Cup Derby).
“Last time (in the San Felipe Stakes), he just out-broke everybody sprinting to the lead. He’ll probably be the controlling speed again tomorrow, so there are a lot of good things to like.”
RIA ANTONIA MAKES DEBUT FOR BAFFERT IN SANTA ANITA OAKS
Ria Antonia, promoted to first via disqualification in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, makes her debut for Bob Baffert in Saturday’s Grade I, $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks.
The bay daughter of Rockport Harbor last raced in the Grade II Rachel Alexandra at the Fair Grounds on Feb. 22, when she finished fourth for trainer Jeremiah Englehart.
Ria Antonio has been working smartly for Baffert at Santa Anita, and will race without blinkers in the Oaks.
“She was in fantastic shape when she came in,” Baffert said. “The only thing I’m doing different is taking the blinkers off her. I guess we’ll know after the race if it was the right thing to do, but I really don’t think she needs blinkers at this point.
“She’s worked well, so we’ll see what happens.”
The field for the Santa Anita Oaks, which goes as race five: Fashion Plate, Gary Stevens, 5-2; Ria Antonia, Mike Smith, 2-1; Honey Ride, Tyler Baze, 3-1; Arethusa, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; Artemis, Victor Espinoza, 6-1; Bajan, Joe Talamo, 12-1; and Smoove It, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1. Kissin Lucky Lips was scratched.
MACHOWSKY SEEKS CAL-BRED DOUBLE ON SATURDAY
Mike Machowsky goes for a Cal-bred double tomorrow. The 48-year-old Cincinnati native sends out Rovenna in the $200,000 Evening Jewel for 3-year-old fillies bred in California or sired by a California stallion, and Gangnam Guy in the $200,000 Echo Eddie, the Evening Jewel’s counterpart for male 3-year-olds.
Gangnam Guy, owned by Dick Barton of Ontario, California, returns to the main track after two seconds on Santa Anita’s downhill turf course at about 6 ½ furlongs. Rovenna, owned by Donald Dizney of Ocala, Florida, is coming off a daylight win in an optional allowance race.
“He’s training super; I don’t think dirt’s an issue,” Machowsky said of Gangnam Guy, a son of turf specialist Roi Charmant. “When he ran going two turns on dirt here (Golden State Juvenile at one mile last Nov. 1) it was too far for him, and at Fairplex (fourth in the Barretts Juvenile at 6 ½ furlongs last Sept. 15), he blew both turns. But he’s training really well.
“Rovenna won her last race, and that helped her confidence a ton. She’d been running second and third in stakes, but I finally got an allowance race for her and she won that well.”
The purse money of $200,000 is a major incentive. “It’s great,” Machowsky said. “I love it. We have a great Cal-bred program out here. It just gets stronger and stronger. If you own horses out here, it’s a great thing to have.”
The field for the Echo Eddie: Frensham, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1; Whine for Wine, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; Well Measured, Victor Espinoza, 6-1; Gangnam Guy, Mike Smith, 4-1; Alert Bay, Tyler Baze, 8-1; Oh Daddy Oh, Joe Talamo, 4-1; Life Is a Joy, Gary Stevens, 9-2; and Pray Hard, Kent Desormeaux, 3-1. Next Book was scratched.
REMATCH SET IN SATURDAY’S EVENING JEWEL STAKES
Rovenna defeated Harlington’s Rose by 3 ¼ lengths last time they met, but trainer Steve Knapp is hopeful Harlington’s Rose can turn the tide when the two meet in Saturday’s $200,000 Evening Jewel Stakes.
“My filly is moving forward and the race we lost to Rovenna, there was really no speed to push her,” Knapp said. “There’s speed in the Evening Jewel, and I drew a great post (five). She’s been training beautifully.”
The Evening Jewel field: Norastone, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1; Sprague River, Joe Talamo, 8-1; Sprouts, Mario Gutierrez, 6-1; Chati’s On Top, Mike Smith, 4-1; Harlington’s Rose, Tyler Baze, 7-2; Rovenna, Victor Espinoza, 3-1; Princess Genevieve, Kent Desormeaux, 8-1; Cause Ur My Babe, Rafael Bejarano, 9-2; Gouyen, Fernando Perez, 12-1.
ONE MORE SEEKS ONE MORE WIN GRADE III PROVIDENCIA
One More seeks her third straight win and her first in a stakes when she runs in Saturday’s Grade III, $150,000 Providencia Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
A daughter of 1994 Horse of the Year Holy Bull, the bay filly trained by Doug O’Neill for J. Paul Reddam won her last two races, both in front-running fashion on Santa Anita’s turf course, the last at 1 1/8 miles.
“Fantastic,” O’Neill said when asked how she was doing. “She loves this track, she has speed and there doesn’t appear to be an abundance of it from the other entrants, so we’re real excited about her prospects.”
The field for the Providencia: Soresca, Chantal Sutherland Kruse, 30-1; Practising, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Tiz Kissable, Tyler Baze, 8-1; Nashoba’s Gold, Joe Talamo, 5-2; Full Ransom, Kent Desormeaux, 15-1; Savings Account, Mike Smith, 15-1; Margot Machance, Julien Couton, 9-2; Diversy Harbor, Gary Stevens, 9-5; Kukaluka, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; and One More, Mario Gutierrez, 6-1.
TRAFFIC TO BE RE-ROUTED ON SANTA ANITA DERBY DAY
Those wishing to spend the morning at Santa Anita’s Clockers’ Corner Saturday are advised that Baldwin Ave. will be closed to vehicular traffic between the 210 Freeway and Huntington Drive from 7:45 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. in order to accommodate Santa Anita’s annual Santa Anita Derby Day 5k Run & Walk.
Accordingly, Santa Anita’s Gate 8, which adjoins the Westfield Shopping Mall on Baldwin Ave., and Gate 7, at the track’s northeast end, will also be closed to vehicles during the same time frame.
Those visiting Clockers’ Corner will be able to enter the track on Santa Anita’s east end, through Gate 5, or on the track’s southern perimeter, through Gate 3. Gates 3 and 5 will be open for easy access to Clockers’ Corner beginning at 5 a.m. and will remain open throughout the day. Santa Anita’s main track will be closed for training at 7:30 a.m.
Gate 3 is located at the intersection of Holly Ave. and Huntington Drive. Gate 5 is located on the northeast end of the track, at the confluence of Colorado Place and Huntington Drive.
For additional information on the Santa Anita Derby and on the Derby Day 5k Run & Walk, fans are encouraged to visit santaanita.com, or call (626) 574-RACE.
BRIGHT THOUGHT RETURNS IN SUNDAY’S THUNDER ROAD
Bright Thought returns to the races after a four-month absence in Sunday’s $75,000 Thunder Road Stakes at one mile on turf. A 5-year-old Hat Trick ridgling, Bright Thought set a world record of 2:22.72 for a mile and a half on turf when he won the Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes in March of last year, a mark since eclipsed.
But things went downhill after the San Luis Rey, as Bright Thought was a well-beaten last in both the Breeders’ Cup Mile on Nov. 2 and the Citation Handicap on Nov. 29.
“The Breeders’ Cup was very tough,” trainer Jorge Gutierrez said. “It took a lot out of him . . . He sored up on me and had to go through that, so I started from the beginning again to make sure I got him right.”
The field for the Thunder Road: Peace and Justice, Brice Blanc; Dubai You X Y Z, Alonso Quinonez; Bright Thought, Rafael Bejarano; Dr Action, Victor Espinoza; Teaks North, Aaron Gryder; Tom’s Tribute, Mike Smith; County Lineman, Joe Talamo; and Joelito, Corey Nakatani.
FINISH LINES: Stanley Johnson, the country’s No. 1 high school basketball player from Mater Dei High School in Los Angeles, grew up suffering from asthma until his mother, Karen Taylor, who played basketball at Jackson State, found a remedy: Santa Anita Park. She told her son he needed to learn how to breathe and took him to Santa Anita to see how the Thoroughbreds breathe, “even when they’re tired.” Now, he never gets tired on the court, as evidenced in his performance Wednesday in the McDonald’s All-American basketball game at the United Center in Chicago. The 6-6 star, headed for the University of Arizona, scored eight points and four rebounds in the West’s 105-102 victory over the East . . . When Corey Nakatani rides Uncle Sigh Saturday in the Wood Memorial and Sahara Sky in the Carter at Aqueduct, he will be seeking his sixth and seventh Grade I wins since last December. Sixth in Santa Anita’s standings with 33 wins through Thursday, Nakatani’s Grade I string includes the Hollywood Derby, the Clement L. Hirsch, the CashCall Futurity, the Santa Margarita Invitational and the Kilroe Mile. Next Friday, agent Tony Matos has him booked to ride Santa Margarita winner Let Faith Arise in the Grade I Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park, and next Saturday at Keeneland engaged to pilot La Brea winner Heir Kitty in the Grade I Madison and El Camino Real Derby runner-up Dance With Fate in the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes . . . Moreno, runner-up by a nose to champion Will Take Charge in last year’s Grade I Travers, went six furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Friday in 1:12.80 under Victor Espinoza, who rides the Eric Guillot trainee in the Grade I Oaklawn Handicap on April 12 . . . Two-time champion Beholder worked seven furlongs under Gary Stevens in 1:27. “She went real well,” said trainer Richard Mandella, who did not name a race for her 4-year-old debut . . . Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Secret Circle worked in company for Bob Baffert, going four furlongs in 47 flat with Martin Garcia aboard . . . On the dirt training track, San Luis Rey winner Fire With Fire worked four furlongs for Neil Drysdale in 51.40.