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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• O’NEILL HOPES ‘SCARLET’ IS GONE WITH THE WIND ON SUNDAY
• ‘UNUSUAL’ SUPERFECTA RECORD SET BY UNREAL SIRE
• BLIND LUCK DRILLS FOR 4-YEAR-OLD DEBUT IN EL ENCINO
O’NEILL EXPECTS BETTER START FOR FILLY IN SANTA YSABEL STAKES
Doug O’Neill anticipates marked improvement from Scarlet Starlet Sunday when the 3-year-old Florida-bred daughter of Congrats runs in the Grade III, $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.
“She broke in a tangle up north,” said Santa Anita’s leading trainer from 2004 through 2007. “She had trouble leaving there, and I think she ran a really mature race, considering the start and the fact that she only had one race under her belt.”
Scarlet Starlet finished sixth by 3 ¼ lengths in the one mile race over Golden Gate’s Tapeta main track on Dec. 4. Daily Racing Form’s trouble line reads, “hopped start, rail trip.” In her first start, last Nov. 14, she led throughout going six furlongs on Hollywood Park’s turf course, winning by a half-length under Martin Pedroza, who retains the mount in the Santa Ysabel.
“She came back great out of the Golden Gate race and she’s training great,” O’Neill said. “We’re excited to see how she fares on the dirt. She’s training great on it.”
Scarlet Starlet is owned by Tom Ludt of Lexington, Ky., who races as Vinery Stables, LLC.
The field for the Santa Ysabel, which is the third race on a nine-race program: Bluegrass Chatter, Joel Rosario; Scarlet Starlet, Pedroza; Zazu, Joe Talamo; May Day Rose, Rafael Bejarano; and Plum Pretty, Garrett Gomez. Each filly is assigned 118 pounds.
STALLION UNUSUAL HEAT HITS ‘GRAND SLAM’ AT SANTA ANITA
The rarest of racing oddities occurred at Santa Anita Thursday when the first four finishers in the fifth race, a $55,600, one-mile maiden allowance event on turf, were all sired by the same horse—leading California stallion Unusual Heat. They were the $43.60 winner, Phi Beta Heat, ridden by Corey Nakatani; runner-up Bitt a Heat; third-place finisher Unknown Heat; and Favoloso, who ran fourth. Unusual Heat, now 21, stands at Harris Farms in Coalinga for $20,000. He covered 83 mares last season and is managed by Madeline Auerbach, who owns Phi Beta Heat and has a share of Unknown Heat. Barry Abrams, who trains Phi Beta Heat and Unknown Heat, said he did not bet on the Unusual Heat superfecta, which paid $614.90.
“I didn’t want to jinx my chance of winning,” Abrams said in explaining why he avoided the mutuel windows. “Between my 10 percent trainer’s fee, the Breeders’ awards and the stallion awards, I’d have had to bet two or three thousand dollars to win just as much as I won without betting anything.
“I got $4,000 for my trainer’s fee for the horses finishing first and third; my share of the Breeders’ award was probably around $2,000; and the stallion award was probably around $5,000. I made between 10 and fifteen thousand without betting anything. I think the superfecta was relatively low because a lot of people boxed the four Unusual Heats.”
Abrams said it was rare enough for a sire to have four horses in one race, let alone the same stud’s progeny capturing the first four positions. “The only place that could happen is Japan, with Sunday Silence, but not in the United States,” Abrams said.
“I have never, ever seen that in my entire life,” said Santa Anita track announcer Trevor Denman. “I’ve been in racing for 53 years, 40 years as a professional, and that’s for sure a first in my experience.”
BLIND LUCK NEARS RETURN IN EL ENCINO STAKES JAN. 16
Blind Luck worked seven furlongs on Santa Anita’s traditional dirt main track Friday morning in 1:25.20. The favorite for an Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding 3-year-old filly of 2010 is preparing for her 4-year-old debut in the El Encino Stakes on Jan. 16.
“She just needs a little blowout and we’re all ready to go for next week,” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. “It’ll be a half-mile. We’re very happy with how she’s training.” Exercise rider Marco Ramirez was aboard for the drill. Blind Luck’s work was one of 201 recorded on the main track Friday.
LATE AND EARLY 50 CENT PICK FOUR WAGERING STARTS SATURDAY
Santa Anita announced on Thursday that beginning tomorrow, Saturday, the Early and Late Pick 4’s will both become a 50 cent minimum wager. The change was made due to desire on the part of many fans to reduce the minimum Pick 4 from $1 to 50 cents. Santa Anita will continue to offer an Early and Late Pick 4 on the first and last four races each racing day.
FINISH LINES: Mike Machowsky plans to work Caracortado on Santa Anita’s turf course Saturday for a race to be determined on Sunshine Millions Day Jan. 29. “He’ll go a half mile and gallop out a little after that,” the trainer said . . . Trainer Jim Cassidy has the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff at 1 1/16 miles on dirt ticketed for Evening Jewel, who finished fifth in the Monrovia Stakes at about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf after making a menacing move into the stretch . . . Revised rules for Santa Anita’s $40 handicapping contest held Friday through Sunday are available on the track’s website, www/santaanita.com. Each daily winner will now qualify for a two-day final contest held April 16-17, with a $20,000 first-place cash prize . . . With two wins Thursday, Bob Baffert leads the trainers’ standings through eight days with eight wins from 17 starts, 47 percent. . . . Tomorrow, Santa Anita offers a Text-to-Win (four) passes contest for the track’s Food Truck Festival, to be held Sunshine Millions Day, Jan. 29. Texting “foodtruck” to 91904 gains access to the contest. The winner will be contacted by Santa Anita to claim the prize. Contestants must be present at Santa Anita to win . . . Congratulations to Santa Anita paddock captain John Shear, who will celebrate his 90th birthday on Jan. 17.