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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
TUSCAN EVENING TOTES 123 IN SUNDAY’S SANTA ANA HANDICAP
Tuscan Evening will attempt to carry 123 pounds to victory in Sunday’s Grade II, $150,000 Santa Ana Handicap for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf. If she does, it will be the most she’s ever won under in a career that will reach 24 races with the Santa Ana. The 5-year-old Irish-bred mare would be spotting her nearest rival six pounds.
“I would like to carry less, but we’ll go with what we’ve got,” said Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains Tuscan Evening for owner William de Burgh of Rancho Santa Fe. “She’s training real well.” Since winning the Grade II Buena Vista Handicap under 122 pounds at one mile on turf Feb. 15, Tuscan Evening shows three recorded works, including a bullet :47 for four furlongs on Pro-Ride Feb. 23.
Tuscan Evening has been remarkably consistent since arriving late in 2008 from Ireland, where she carried as much as 126 pounds but was winless in 12 starts. She found new life in the United States, where she has won eight of 12 and been worse than third only once, finishing eighth in the Grade I John C. Mabee Handicap at Del Mar last August.
“She was cut out to be a nice filly, but she has been somewhat of a surprise,” Hollendorfer said. “We’re very happy with what she’s accomplished so far and hope to keep it going Sunday.”
Probable for the Santa Ana: Cat by the Tale, Joel Rosario, 117; General Consensus, Alex Solis, 115; Starlarks, Victor Espinoza, 116; Treat Gently, Garrett Gomez, 116; and Tuscan Evening, Rafael Bejarano, 123.
Trainers James Cassidy (April Pride, 117) and Bruce Jackson (Chasin Dreams, 113) said they were on the fence for the race. April Pride worked three furlongs on turf Wednesday in :36.20 under David Flores.
SOLIS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT SUDDEN WAR IN SAN LUIS REY MARATHON
With a race under his belt following a two-month absence, Alex Solis expects continued progress from Sudden War in Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Luis Rey Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on turf. Sudden War set the pace in the mile and a half San Luis Obispo Handicap on Feb. 21, holding third in his first start since Dec. 31, 2009.
“He ran good last out,” Solis said of the Argentine-bred gelding trained by Kenneth McPeek. “He just got tired. He hadn’t gone that far in a while, but he’s going to run much better Saturday. He’s training much better than he did last time. I was very happy with his performance in the San Luis Obispo. He ran hard.”
The field for the San Luis Rey, which is the eighth of 10 races: Dynamic Range, David Flores, 119; High Court Drama, Michael Baze, 118; Bourbon Bay, Rafael Bejarano, 120; Obrigado, Garrett Gomez, 117; Sudden War, Solis, 118; Lease of Life, Joel Rosario, 116; Unusual Suspect, Alonso Quinonez, 117; Romp, Chantal Sutherland, 115; Quasicobra, Joe Talamo, 116; and Unusual Smoke, Martin Garcia, 117.
HRTV ON SITE FOR COVERAGE OF FLORIDA DERBY SATURDAYHRTV will offer comprehensive, on-site coverage of Saturday's Grade I, $750,000 Florida Derby, a major Kentucky Derby prep, on Saturday.
HRTV's Laffit Pincay III, Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, Jeff Siegel, and Scott Hazelton will travel to South Florida to offer current information surrounding the track's signature race, as well as providing insight and analysis throughout the outstanding card. Gulfstream's Caton Bredar and Alyssa Ali will also contribute to the telecast.
With Florida Derby post time listed for 3:20 p.m., HRTV will devote a half-hour (3-3:30 p.m.) to in-depth coverage--analysis, post parade, and more--of the 1 1/8 mile test. The Florida Derby will be the 11th race on a 12-race card, with first post at 10:15 p.m.
"The Florida Derby has an outstanding tradition of producing winners of Triple Crown races," said Amy J. Zimmerman, HRTV's executive producer. "With Caton and Alyssa, we've been able to provide HRTV viewers great coverage throughout Gulfstream's meet. It is a privilege to augment their coverage with our key announcers for this terrific day of racing."
The signature racing day of the Gulfstream winter meeting, the Florida Derby undercard features two additional Grade II events, the $150,000 Swale and the $200,000 Bonnie Miss, as well as a pair of Grade III contests, the $100,000 Appleton and the $150,000 Rampant.
HRTV's foursome will remain in Hallandale the following day, hosting the network's twice-weekly "Pursuit of the Crown" on Sunday at 5 p.m. "Pursuit of the Crown," which chronicles all the Triple Crown happenings, is produced by HRTV's senior producer, Michael Canale.
EVER-READY FLORES ADDS ZARDANA’S UPSET OF ‘RACHEL’ TO RESUME
David Flores has many significant victories among the more than 3,000 he has recorded in a career dating back to 1984, but perhaps none as memorable as the one on Saturday, March 13, 2010.
That’s the day he rode Zardana to a three-quarter length triumph over 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, putting an end to the proposed “Race for the Ages” between the super filly and Zardana’s stablemate, undefeated Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Zenyatta, which was to have taken place in the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 9.
Flores held Zardana in third behind 42-1 pacesetter Fighter Wing and Rachel Alexandra in the New Orleans Ladies’ Stakes at the Fair Grounds last Saturday. The 41-year-old jockey engaged Rachel Alexandra in the stretch run of the mile and a sixteenth race, then edged away late at odds of $9.50-1 over Rachel, who was favored at five cents to the dollar in a field of five.
“It was a race,” Flores recalled between workouts Wednesday morning at Clockers’ Corner. “I started moving up a little bit at the half-mile pole, and I just tried to surprise him (Calvin Borel aboard Rachel Alexandra), and it worked. But by the quarter pole, I thought Rachel Alexandra was going to pull away from me because she jumped into the bridle right away. The race was on from the quarter pole almost to the sixteenth pole. Finally, I got her in the last 16th.
“Zardana is unbelievable. She’s a warrior; she’s a fighter. The other filly, being it was her first race back (since last Sept. 5), she needed the race. It looked like she got tired, so we’ll take it. I thought we were going to run for second, like everybody else thought. You never know what’s going to happen, so I just had to be ready for the opportunity to win the race.”
BREEDERS’ CUP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS NOMINATED FOR SPORTS EVENT OF YEAR
The 2009 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, run at Santa Anita’s Oak Tree meeting last Nov. 6 and 7, has been selected as one of five nominees in the Sports Event of the Year category for 2010 by the prestigious Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily.
“The two-day Breeders’ Cup was a tremendous success, no question about it,” said Santa Anita President Ron Charles. “This is the icing on the cake. To be so recognized by Street and Smith is really an honor. We had over 96,000 people attend over those two days and anyone who watched on television or was here in person, will never forget what Zenyatta did in the $5 million Classic on Nov. 7.
“ABC and ESPN provided nine hours of live television over the two days and it was just great to be a part of it. I know our fans and employees feel the same way and to be in the running for Sports Event of the Year is very gratifying. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to build on this in the near future.”
Street and Smith’s other nominees in the Sports Event of the Year category are the Super Bowl, the U.S. Open (Tennis), Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game and the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. The Oak Tree Racing Association hosted the Breeders’ Cup for an unprecedented second consecutive year last Fall.
“Oak Tree was very pleased and proud to be associated with the Breeders’ Cup Ltd., in presenting what was probably the best Breeders’ Cup in its 26-year history,” said Oak Tree Executive Vice President and Director Sherwood C. Chillingworth. “We thought it was a great two days for racing that invigorated a national sense of excitement and interest in Thoroughbred racing.”
“The Breeders’ Cup trustees have set the ambitious goal for our Championships to be one of the elite sporting events in the world,” said Breeders’ Cup President and CEO Greg Avioli. “It is very gratifying to everyone at the Breeders’ Cup that the Sports Business Journal has recognized our 2009 event as among the very best in sports.
“We want to thank (Zenyatta’s) connections and all the owners and nominators who competed as well as our sponsors, our hosts from the Oak Tree Racing Association, Santa Anita and the state of California for their part in staging the 2009 Championships.”
FINISH LINES: Although Alphie’s Bet recently was sold privately for a reported $1 million, the Sham Stakes winner remains in the care of trainer Alexis Barba and will be pointed to the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 3. Probable for the 1 1/8-mile race, the West Coast’s major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby on May 1: Alphie’s Bet, Caracortado, Interactif, Setsuko, Sidney’s Candy and Who’s Up . . . American Lion came back well from his fourth-place finish behind Sidney’s Candy in the San Felipe Stakes, but trainer Eoin Harty said the Hollywood Prevue winner will not run in the Santa Anita Derby . . . Agent Tommy Ball reports that Chantal Sutherland will depart for her native Canada to ride at Woodbine when that meet starts on April 2, but agent Joe Ferrer says Santa Anita’s runaway leader Rafael Bejarano will remain here through April 18 and not move to Keeneland, which also opens April 2 . . .. . . With three wins Sunday, Jeff Mullins moved into fourth in the trainers’ standings with 18. He has won with eight of his last 15 starters . . . Santa Anita will offer its $1 million St. Pat’s Pitch presented by Budweiser on Saturday. Five lucky fans will have an opportunity to win $1 million by throwing a ringer in a horse shoe pitch. On March 15, 2008, John Placzankis did just that. BEER AND HOT DOGS ON SATURDAY WILL BE OFFERED FOR JUST $1 . . . Keith Pronske, who joined the board of directors of the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) last December, has been appointed Vice Chair, Northern California, a position left vacant upon Tom Bachman’s resignation. Pronske, in the Thoroughbred business since 1997, owns a small horse farm in Wilton and has 21 Thoroughbreds consisting of breeding and racing stock. He is President and CEO of Clean Energy Systems, Inc., a startup energy company . . . Trainer Ron Ellis will be Jerry Antonucci’s guest on The Today’s Racing Digest seminar, 11 a.m. Saturday, in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Three players were still alive in ShowVivor II entering Wednesday’s races: Roland Frederick of Kaplan, La.; Orlando Arango of Los Angeles; and Mary Jo Lessell of La Grange, Ky.