Ron McAnally is known for his success with South American imports like champions Bayakoa and Paseana, but the Hall of Fame trainer cautions not to underestimate a German-bred filly who will make her United States stakes debut in Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 Santa Barbara Handicap for older fillies and mares at 1 1/4 miles on turf.

That would be Éclair de Lune, who was fourth in her U.S. debut on March 18 for owner Richard Duchossois, founder and owner of Arlington Park. Prior to that, she had six races in France, winning two, including a mile and 5/16 turf event in May of last year at Chantilly under 126 pounds.

“German-bred fillies are very good,” McAnally said. “This filly is a German filly who raced in France, and we bought her out of the Arc sale, the day before the Arc (de Triomphe). She was one of the sales toppers; I think she was second or third. Several people from the U.S. were there to bid on her. We were prepared to spend more on her than we did, but got her cheaper than we expected.

“It’s my opinion, as well as Murray’s (associate Murray Friedlander), that she is best at a mile and a quarter, which is what she’s running at. She’s steady in her running style. She doesn’t really have a quick turn of foot, but she goes at a good clip. I know we have Tuscan Evening to beat, but we’re getting a lot of weight from her (10 pounds).

“My filly should benefit from her last race and should be fit enough. We trained her pretty well up to that mile race (March 18). She was ready to run two or three weeks before that race, but she’s definitely better at a longer distance.”

The field for the Santa Barbara, the fourth of 10 races: Cat by the Tale, Tyler Baze, 117; Tuscan Evening, Rafael Bejarano, 124; Restless Soul, Brice Blanc, 116; Medaglia d’Amour, Joel Rosario, 113; General Consensus, Alex Solis, 115; and Éclair de Lune, Joe Talamo, 114.


Jim Cassidy will leave the riding to David Flores in Santa Anita’s traditional closing-day feature on Sunday, the Grade II, $150,000 San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap at about 1 3/4 miles on turf.

Flores rides Stalingrad for owner Barry Schwartz in the grand finale of the winter/spring meet, contested at a distance at which few Thoroughbreds ever participate. “He’s never been that far,” Cassidy said of the 6-year-old Glitterman gelding, “but last time he went a mile and an eighth, and it was pretty handy. It was his first race in a year and a half.” That was March 11, when Stalingrad led throughout to win by nearly two lengths with Flores aboard. It was his first race since finishing second in the Grade II Kelso Handicap on Belmont Park’s soft turf course Sept. 28, 2008.

“He’s got tactical speed,” Cassidy said. “I doubt if anybody will go (with him), so it will be all in the ride. The horse will get the job done if he gets the proper ride.”

Flores said being successful in a marathon like the San Juan “all depends on the pace and if the horse relaxes. But riding in a race that far, I don’t think it’s any different.”

Probable for the San Juan Capistrano: Bourbon Bay, Rafael Bejarano, 122; Stalingrad, Flores, 117; Muhannak, no rider, 116; Tap It Light, no rider, 116; Unusual Suspect, Alonso Quinonez, 115; Skellytown, no rider, 113; Yodelen Dan, no rider, 113; and Princess Taylor, Mike Smith, 110. Muhannak worked three furlongs on Santa Anita’s firm turf course Wednesday in :39.80 for trainer Ben Cecil.

Irish-bred Princess Taylor, a 6-year-old Singspiel mare, is in from overseas for trainer Dermot Weld to run in the San Juan. Owned by Dr. Ronan Lambe, Princess Taylor will be ridden by Mike Smith and remain here with trainer Paddy Gallagher following the race.


When Sidney’s Candy won the recent Grade I Santa Anita Derby, his sire, Candy Ride, managed to accomplish a rare Santa Anita feat.

“Candy Ride also is the sire of the winner of this year’s Santa Anita Handicap, Misremembered,” noted Jon White, Santa Anita’s morning line oddsmaker who also provides paddock commentary for the track’s simulcast network. “The last year in which the Big ’Cap winner and the Santa Anita Derby winner had the same sire was all the way back in 1953. That was when Mark-Ye-Well won the Big ’Cap and Chanlea won the Santa Anita Derby. They both were by the tremendous Calumet stallion Bull Lea, who also was the sire of the great Citation.

“The only other year in which the Big ’Cap winner and the Santa Anita Derby winner had the same sire was 1938. Remarkably, the same horse, Stagehand, won both races that year. In 1938, the Santa Anita Derby was run in February, before the Big ’Cap. Stagehand won the Derby, then carried 100 pounds and won the Big ’Cap by a nose over Seabiscuit (who carried 130 pounds). Stagehand was a son of Sickle.”

Misremembered, a 4-year-old bred and trained by Bob Baffert, won this year’s Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 6. Four weeks later, Sidney’s Candy took the Santa Anita Derby by 4 1/2 lengths for trainer John Sadler. It was the biggest winning margin in the Santa Anita Derby since the Baffert-trained Point Given’s 5 1/2-length triumph in 2001.

Candy Ride also is the sire of Evita Argentina, a Grade I winner at the current Santa Anita meet. Evita Argentina won the Grade I La Brea Stakes for Sadler on opening day, Dec. 26.

“Before he went to stud, Candy Ride proved that he was a very talented, versatile racehorse,” White said. “Candy Ride started six times and never lost. In Argentina, he was three for three. He won his first race on the dirt by 12 lengths, then won a pair of Group 1 races on the turf. He won each of those turf races by eight lengths. Candy Ride then also was three for three in this country. He won a race on the dirt at Hollywood Park by three lengths, followed by a win on the turf at Hollywood in the American Handicap.

“And then, in the final start of his career, Candy Ride won the Pacific Classic on the dirt at Del Mar by daylight (3 1/4 lengths) over Medaglia d’Oro. Candy Ride earned a whopping 123 Beyer Speed Figure in the Pacific Classic. That was the highest Beyer in the nation that year.

“And now Candy Ride is gaining more and more respect as a sire. Of course, there will be even more respect for him as a sire should Sidney’s Candy win the Kentucky Derby.”

FINISH LINES: Jockey Martin Garcia dismissed Vic Stauffer as his agent Wednesday morning. “He just told me, ‘I want to make a change. There’s no reason, and I have no new agent,’” Stauffer said . . . Michael Baze is leaving Santa Anita on a roll. The Las Vegas native, who celebrates his 23rd birthday today, departs to ride regularly back East following Wednesday’s eighth race. Baze is scheduled to ride regularly for Chicago-based leading trainer Wayne Catalano. From Sunday, April 4, through last Sunday, Baze won seven races from 16 mounts, “but I’m still going to go,” he said. “At least I’m leaving on a good note.” Ron Ebanks was Baze’s agent during most of the Santa Anita meet, “but now I’m just his manager,” Ebanks joked. Jay Fedor will represent Baze when he rides full time at Arlington Park (from April 29 through Sept. 26) following stopover stakes engagements at Keeneland and Hawthorne Race Course . . . Sunday’s one winning Pick Six ticket worth $160,989.80 was purchased at Santa Anita on an investment of $25,000 . . . Today’s seventh race is named “Happy 80th Birthday Gordon Jones” in honor of the veteran handicapper and turf writer’s birthday. Now based in Las Vegas, the former Los Angeles Herald-Examiner handicapping legend will be on hand today . . . With 13 wins--six of them stakes races--from 53 starters, Marty Jones is enjoying a remarkable Santa Anita meet. The 38-year-old trainer saddled Unzip Me for her fourth straight victory in Sunday’s Grade III Las Cienegas Handicap at about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course. “It’s been a great meet,” Jones said. “With horses like Unzip Me and Compari, we’ve been able to keep going. Every couple weeks, one of those horses is running. They’re good horses; good horses make you look good.” . . . Leading trainer John Sadler said Santa Anita Derby winner Sidney’s Candy and Santa Anita Oaks winner Crisp left Tuesday for the Kentucky Derby on May 1 and the Kentucky Oaks on April 30, respectively . . . Long-time Southern California regular Corey Nakatani returns to Santa Anita Saturday to ride Victor’s Cry for trainer Eoin Harty in the Grade III, $100,000 San Simeon Handicap at about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf . . . Trainer A.C. Avila will be today’s guest on HRTV’s “Across the Board” show hosted by Kurt Hoover and Peter Lurie from 5 to 5:30 p.m. . . . Jason Levin of “Inside Racing,” on XTRA AM Radio in Los Angeles weekends at 8 a.m. has been hot on Santa Anita’s free Fans’ Forum handicapping seminars. His $50 exotic plays have reaped a total of $1,324 to his followers. Last Sunday, he keyed two horses in the exotics, 9-1 winner Fair Kisses in the second race and 19-1 second-place finisher Great Bernardine in the eighth race. His $10 early double (all to Fair Kisses) paid $68; his $1 back wheel of Great Bernardine in the eighth race paid $217; and his $1 trifecta (1-3-6-8) with 7 with 1-3-6-8 in eighth race paid $1,041 . . . Saturday, all fans in attendance at Santa Anita will receive a free Santa Anita Park baseball cap, courtesy of San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino, with paid admission while supplies last . . . Charlie Whittingham would have been 97 yesterday. The legendary trainer, known affectionately as “The Bald Eagle,” was born on April 13, 1913, and died April 22, 1999 . . . Trainer Leonard Powell will be Jerry Antonucci’s guest on the Today’s Racing Digest seminar Saturday, 11 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens.