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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
BAY AREA INVADER SKIPSHOT JOINS SANTA ANITA DERBY LINEUP
The prospective Santa Anita Derby lineup grew by one Sunday with the announcement that Skipshot would invade from the Bay Area to run in the Grade I, $750,000 race at 1 1/8 miles on April 3.
“The horse is here and will breeze tomorrow morning,” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said of the son of 1998 Horse of the Year Skip Away, who would be making his first start in a graded stakes.
“He’s won three in a row (at Golden Gate Fields) and he ran very well in his first route race (winning by a nose at one mile on March 14), so we think he deserves a chance in the Santa Anita Derby,” Hollendorfer said.
Skipshot is owned by Mikhail Yanakov of Hallandale, Florida, who races as Olympia Star, Inc.
Probable for the Santa Anita Derby: Sidney’s Candy, Joe Talamo; Caracortado, Paul Atkinson; Lookin At Lucky, Garrett Gomez; Setsuko, Rafael Bejarano; Thomas Baines, Joel Rosario; Alphie’s Bet, Alex Solis; Posse Power, no rider; Skipshot, no rider; Cardiff Giant, Christian Santiago Reyes; and Who’s Up, Victor Espinoza.
In other Santa Anita Derby news:
Bob Baffert continued to prepare leading Kentucky Derby contender Lookin At Lucky for a likely start in the Santa Anita Derby. The Hall of Fame trainer indicated Saturday that the winner of the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in his 3-year-old debut could run at his home track, rather than ship back to Oaklawn for the Grade I, $1 million Arkansas Derby at 1 1/8 miles on April 10. Baffert said his final decision will depend on how the colt trains at Santa Anita.
Cardiff Giant worked three furlongs on Pro-Ride Sunday in :36.20 for trainer Jorge Periban.
Generous Stakes winner Who’s Up, who will head to Periban’s barn upon shipping from Washington state, worked one mile at the Pegasus facility in Redmond Sunday in 1:43. The son of Graeme Hall is scheduled to arrive at Santa Anita on Wednesday.
All fans in attendance at Santa Anita on Santa Anita Derby Day will receive free a high-quality Santa Anita casual shirt, with paid admission while supplies last. There will also be a $500,000 guaranteed Pick 4.
First post time will be 12 noon. Gates open at 10 a.m.
VALDEZ EYES ‘HOME RUN’ AFTER SATURDAY TRIPLE
Felipe Valdez won three races Saturday, half of his meet total going into the day. He now has a 9-6-10 log from 68 starts. The native of Mexico who turns 32 in May has not let frustration in obtaining live mounts overcome his goal of becoming a top rider in a highly competitive jockey colony.
“It felt very good winning three races,” said Valdez, who is represented by agent Roger Olguin. “My agent is doing a good job, but it’s a team effort. I work hard in the mornings, and Roger does the leg work. We always work together.”
Valdez won Saturday’s sixth race by a nose on 6-1 shot Warren’s R Ready for trainer Jorge Gutierrez; the ninth by three-quarters of a length on 4-1 shot Precious Duke for trainer Vladimir Cerin; and the 10th by a half-length aboard 3-1 shot Bombing Two for trainer Jose DeLima. Valdez also is a regular at the barn of trainer Jeff Mullins, fourth in Santa Anita’s standings with 18 wins.
“I had to work hard to win all three races,” said Valdez, who’s been riding for 13 years. “In the last race, (Joel) Rosario’s horse (runner-up Miss Anime) was going to go by me, but I switched my stick, and my horse came back before the wire. He made me work hard for that one, but we won.” Rosario also was second to Valdez in the ninth race.
Olguin was eager to represent Valdez, once the veteran agent and father of jockey Jerry Olguin overcame some health issues.
“I took some time off after the Fairplex Park meet and had to recover from surgery on an arthritic (left) ankle,” Olguin said. “But when Felipe asked me to take his book, I said, ‘Let’s go.’” Added Mullins: “Felipe is an excellent work rider and he listens to what you want done in the afternoon. He’s a strong rider and very professional. He deserves his success.”
ST. PAT’S PITCH PRODUCES $5,000 WINNER IN 18-YEAR-OLD FAN
Santa Anita’s $1 million St. Patrick’s Horseshoe Pitch nearly produced its second million dollar winner in three years Saturday as Kory Curtis of La Habra missed by just 5 5/8 inches from a distance of 47 feet following the seventh race.
Curtis,18, was the first of five contestants and was “closest to the pin” in Santa Anita’s annual horseshoe toss that enables fans in attendance to fill out an entry blank and have a chance at having their names randomly drawn.
Two years ago, on March 15, 2008, John Placzankis of Rancho Cucamonga tossed a perfect ringer and thus became the first-ever winner of the $1 million contest.
For his efforts, Curtis will receive a check for $5,000. Three other contestants, Eddie Garcia of Long Beach, Mario Jauregui of Whittier and David Felix of La Puente will each receive checks of $1,000.
“It looked like it was dead-on,” said Curtis, who graduated from La Habra High School in 2009 and is currently an Electrical Engineering major at Cal State Fullerton. “Even though we didn’t get the million, this is very exciting. I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling.”
Curtis noted that the St. Pat’s Pitch competition is what brought him to Santa Anita. “We come once a year, to the infield for the St. Pat’s Pitch. I came today with my dad (David) and we’ve got a group of about 60 people.”
When asked if he’d practiced for the $1 million opportunity, he said, “No, I wish I did. We had a great day, though, and I might be back again before St. Patrick’s Day next year.”
FINISH LINES: Orlando Arango of Los Angeles is the winner of ShowVivor II. He selected Bourbon Bay to win Saturday’s San Luis Rey Stakes, while the other two contestants were eliminated when one picked A Clever Ten (fifth in the sixth race) and Bootleg Annie (fifth in the fourth). Arango captured first prize of $2,500 in Santa Anita’s popular on line handicapping contest . . . Las Virgenes Stakes winner Blind Luck worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s dirt training track Sunday in 1:01.80 for the Grade II, $250,000 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park on April 2. “We’re getting ready to run her on the dirt,” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said in explaining the move from Pro-Ride . . . Jockey Chantal Sutherland will guest with Millie Ball and Gary Mandella on HRTV’s “Saddle Battle” Sunday from 3-4 p.m. . . . Next Saturday is Tokyo City Cup Day at Santa Anita. The entire family can enjoy cultural exhibits and performances at Japan Family Day with traditional Japanese culture and entertainment, including Kado, Karate, Koto, Origami, Shinkendo, Shodo, Taiko and tea ceremony performances . . . Victor Espinoza and his agent, Tony Matos, leave for Dubai Monday where the meet’s third-leading rider will pilot The Usual Q.T. for trainer James Cassidy in the $5 million Duty Free at 1 1/8 miles on turf next Saturday. “It’s my first trip to Dubai,” Matos said. “Victor invited me and I figured I’d better go. I’m getting pretty long in the tooth.” . . . Unlucky 7: He Made It Happen, a 6-year-old gelding listed at 20-1 on Jon White’s morning line in today’s ninth race, has finished seventh in his last four races.