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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• SOUTH AMERICAN IMPORT DEBUTS FOR McANALLY FRIDAY
• SPECHT INVADES FROM NORTH FOR BIG CAL-BRED DAY
• STORM FIGHTER ONE TO CATCH IN TIZNOW STAKES
• MEL STUTE REMEMBERS SNOW CHIEF, JIM MURRAY
McANALLY HOPES ‘CASABLANCA’ IS START OF A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP
Santa Anita kicks off its inaugural Spring Meet Friday and Ron McAnally hopes to make history by winning the first stakes race ever contested at the session that runs for 40 days through June 29.
The Hall of Fame trainer sends out Chilean-bred Quick Casablanca in the first edition of The Last Tycoon Stakes, a Grade III, $100,000 test for 3 year olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
“He’s training good,” McAnally said of the 6-year-old horse that raced in New York in his five U.S. starts for trainer Christophe Clement until last November. The Last Tycoon will mark his first start under McAnally’s direction.
“There were some off tracks back there and I guess he likes firm going,” McAnally said in explaining the move. “Anyway, I’m kind of anxious to see we are with him. He won the Chilean Derby back in 2012 and that was a good race.”
Quick Casablanca has three wins from 16 career starts. He is winless in the U.S., but was a creditable fourth after setting the pace in the Grade III Bowling Green Handicap at Belmont Park last Sept. 7.
The field for The Last Tycoon: Quick Casablanca, Joe Talamo, 8-1; Lakerville, Brice Blanc, 8-1; Joelito, Corey Nakatani, 2-1; Rookie Sensation, Mike Smith, 7-5; Fire With Fire, Tyler Baze, 3-1; and Spring Up, Victor Espinoza, 9-2.
First post time Friday is 3 p.m.
MARKS MINE SHOULD OVERCOME RAIL IN SPRING FEVER
If there are rich races for California-breds at Santa Anita, count on Steve Specht to be there.
The Bay Area-based trainer is on hand at The Great Race Place with Marks Mine, winner of half of her 16 starts, for Saturday’s $125,000 Spring Fever, one of five stakes races that day in the Golden State Series for Cal-breds or Cal-sired horses.
A 4-year-old Benchmark filly owned and bred by Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams, Marks Mine drew the rail and will have to use her abundance of speed to gain a favorable position in the six furlong race.
“Once in a while she’ll take a stutter step leaving there and not get away so great, but most of the time she leaves there in a hurry, and it doesn’t look like there’s anything directly to her outside that’s going to pester her too much,” Specht said as he perused the past performances.
“She shipped down here in good shape and she’ll be tough.”
The field for the Spring Fever: Marks Mine, Frank Alvarado; Could Be Trouble, Martin Garcia; Sudden Sunday, Victor Espinoza; Yes She’s Unusual, Tyler Baze; Quizzical, Drayden Van Dyke; Our Purse Creation, Rafael Bejarano; Warren’s Veneda, Joe Talamo; and Top Kisser, Corey Nakatani.
STORM FIGHTER ‘READY TO GO’ IN TIZNOW STAKES
Barring the unforeseen, Storm Fighter is the one to catch in Saturday’s $125,000 Tiznow Stakes at one mile on the main track.
The 4-year-old Stormin Fever colt trained by Bruce Headley for Golden Eagle Farm Investment Limited Partners is coming off a front-running, three-quarter length victory at one mile on dirt April 5.
“He’s working really well, and he’s turned into a beautiful, mature horse,” Headley said. “It looks like he’s ready to go.”
The field for the Tiznow: Rousing Sermon, Rafael Bejarano; Soi Phet, Victor Espinoza; Storm Fighter, Edwin Maldonado; Lakerville, Brice Blanc; Kate’s Event, Corey Nakatani; China Prince, Joe Talamo; and Toledo Eddie, Martin Garcia.
STUTE CREDITS WRITER, NOT SNOW CHIEF, FOR HIS SUCCESS
Snow Chief, the great Cal-bred who won the Santa Anita Derby in 1986 by six lengths and was favored to win the Kentucky Derby but didn’t, went on to earn an Eclipse Award that year as the nation’s outstanding 3-year-old.
Santa Anita honors Snow Chief Saturday with the running of the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on turf. No one could be prouder than retired trainer Mel Stute, who conditioned the colt, also winner of both the Preakness and the Jersey Derby during his 3-year-old campaign.
“His best race was the Santa Anita Derby,” said the 86-year-old Stute, “He won it by six lengths; California Chrome only won it by 5 ¼.”
When asked if Snow Chief was the horse that put him on the map, Stute’s response was quick and firm. “No, no, no,” he said. “The guy who put me on the map was Jim Murray, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
“In a column, he compared me to all the great baseball mangers. He said, ‘Today, Mel Stute feels like Casey Stengel. He’s got the favorite for the Derby. He doesn’t have Joe DiMaggio or anybody to pinch hit.’
“I think I won nine stakes before he wrote that article. In the next two years, I won 37 stakes. It was that article that made the difference.”
The field for the Snow Chief: Frensham, Mario Gutierrez; Alert Bay, Tyler Baze; Aotearoa, Mike Smith; Awesome Return, Joe Talamo; Kukaluka, Victor Espinoza; Tamarando, Rafael Bejarano; Pray Hard, Corey Nakatani; and Patriots Rule, Fernando Perez.
HARLINGTON’S ROSE ‘SOLID’ FOR MELAIR STAKES
Harlington’s Rose, runner-up in the Evening Jewel Stakes on April 5, worked a half-mile on Santa Anita’s main track last Saturday under exercise rider Fernando Serna in 48.20 seconds as she prepared for this Saturday’s $250,000 Melair Stakes for California-bred or sired 3-year-old fillies.
“She finished six furlongs in 1:10.37 and galloped out seven-eighths in 1:28 2/5,” said trainer Steve Knapp. “It was a very solid work. She’s ready.”
As to how Knapp hopes to turn the tables on Rovenna, who outsprinted Harlington’s Rose in the 6 ½-furlong Evening Jewel: “We just have to hope that someone goes with Rovenna on the front end. I think there’s plenty of speed in the race, and my horse has learned how to relax, so we’ll be fine.”
The field for the Melair, the ninth of 11 races starting at 1 p.m.: Swiss Lake Yodeler, Rafael Bejarano; Rovenna, Victor Espinoza; Wonderful Lie, Corey Nakatani; Magic Spot, Mike Smith; Anniversary Kitty, Martin Garcia; Versye, Mario Gutierrez; Shakeitupbetty, Joe Talamo; and Harlington’s Rose, Tyler Baze.
LOW TAKEOUT DAILY DOUBLE RETURNS TOMORROW
Santa Anita Park, in conjunction with the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC), will again offer the track’s popular $2 rolling Daily Doubles, featuring a low takeout of 18 percent, with the beginning of tomorrow’s Spring Meet.
“We are very happy to be able to announce the return of the rolling Doubles in partnership with the TOC,” said Santa Anita President Tom Ludt. “This is a popular wager with many of our best customers. That said, we are continually analyzing and assessing what best suits our betting menu and the desires of our fans and we’re hopeful this decision is a winner on both counts.”
First instituted by Santa Anita on Dec. 26, 1961, the Daily Double requires bettors to select the winners of two races in succession, with a separate pari-mutuel pool for each two-race sequence.
Beginning Friday, the rolling Daily Doubles will be offered on the first race through the next-to-last race on each day’s program.
SANTA ANITA INFIELD OPEN FOR LIVE RACING FOR TRIPLE CROWN & BEYOND
Santa Anita will offer fans free weekend admission to its spacious Infield Area and free parking via Infield Gate 6, beginning Saturday through the conclusion of the upcoming Spring Meet that ends Sunday, June 29.
“Our Spring Meet opens tomorrow and for the first time ever, we will be open for live racing during the Triple Crown,” said Santa Anita Vice President of Marketing Nate Newby. “Our Infield has been and remains an incredibly popular area for young people, families and groups and we are excited to be able to showcase our entire facility leading into the Kentucky Derby and through the Belmont Stakes.
“By offering free parking and free admission in the Infield, we’re hoping to attract many thousands of new and existing fans and expose them to the best our sport has to offer. In addition to great racing both here and around the country, we’re also going to let folks know that they are welcome to bring beach chairs to the Infield, coolers with picnic items and non-alcoholic beverages.”
FINISH LINES: Jockey Edwin Maldonado has split with agent Jim Pegram and reunited with Vic Lipton, effective today. “It was by mutual consent,” said Lipton, who represented Maldonado when he won three riding titles, two at Hollywood Park and one at Fairplex Park in Pomona. Maldonado finished sixth in the standings at Santa Anita’s Winter Meet with 37 victories from 263 mounts. He also had 34 seconds and 50 thirds, with purse earnings of $1,465,186 . . . Agent Brian Beach has booked Victor Espinoza on the following mounts at Churchill Downs on Derby Day weekend: Kiss Moon for trainer David Vance in the Kentucky Oaks and Appealing Tale for Peter Miller in the Alysheba on Friday, May 2; and on Derby Day, May 3, Bright Thought for Jorge Gutierrez in the Woodford Reserve; Iotapa for Sadler in the Humana Distaff, and, of course, California Chrome for Art Sherman in the Run for the Roses . . . C.C. Rogers, handicapping analyst for www.creatingcapital.net, and Jonathan Hardoon of the Ragozin Sheets, will be Tom Quigley’s guests Saturday and Sunday, respectively, 11:20 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens…Recommended Reading—today’s Santa Anita Spring Meet insert in the Pasadena Star News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune and Whittier Daily News. The insert is available in its entirety at http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/santa-anita-park.