Rafael Bejarano is looking forward to a big holiday weekend at The Great Race Place. Santa Anita’s leading rider with 21 wins through the first 11 days of the 76-day meet, six ahead of runner-up Joel Rosario, has been named on Uncle Sam in the Sham Stakes; Plum Pretty in the Santa Ynez Stakes; and Tweebster in the San Fernando Stakes, all on Saturday and all for leading trainer Bob Baffert.

On Sunday, he rides Always a Princess for Baffert in the El Encino Stakes against Blind Luck, the favorite to win an Eclipse Award as outstanding 3-year-old filly of 2010; and on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, he reunites with turf marathon monster Bourbon Bay for trainer Neil Drysdale in the San Marcos Stakes.

Bejarano rode Tweebster to a front-running 3 ¾-length victory at Hollywood Park Dec. 18. It was the third straight win for the son of Tapit, who will be running in his first stakes race and will face the daunting challenge of outrunning another with a passion to be on the pace, favored Sidney’s Candy, winner of the Sir Beaufort Stakes by 7 ¼ lengths after it was moved from grass to dirt on opening day.

“I don’t think my horse has to be on the lead,” said Bejarano, whose command of the English language has made dramatic progress since he became a regular on the Southern California circuit four years ago. “We’ll do whatever the boss says. The horse worked the last time real easy (a bullet :58 1/5 for five furlongs Jan. 6). I think this horse can go fast anytime you ask him.

“But it will depend on how the race shapes up once the gates open. The horse has been working really good, so he’s going to be ready.”

Bejarano won three straight Grade II turf marathons on Bourbon Bay at Santa Anita last season. The streak came to end Oct. 3 when the 5-year-old gelding finished third by one length in the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Hollywood Park. It was Bourbon Bay’s first race in more than five months.

“He definitely needed the race,” said Bejarano, a 28-year-old native of Peru. “He closed some ground and was in against some good horses. I think he’s going to be tough in this race. A mile and a quarter should be perfect for him.”

Bejarano and his agent, Joe Ferrer, obviously, are appreciative of their support from Baffert and other horsemen. “We make a good team,” Bejarano said. “But we still have a lot of opportunities from everybody, so we’ll keep working hard every day and try to make things even better.”

The field for the San Fernando, one of three graded stakes Saturday which is the eighth of nine races: Tweebster, Bejarano; Paris Vegas, Brice Blanc; Sidney’s Candy, Joel Rosario; Haimish Hy, Joe Talamo; Do It All, Patrick Valenzuela; Thiskyhasnolimit, Garrett Gomez; Indian Firewater, Mike Smith; Make Music for Me, Chantal Sutherland; and Victory with Honor, Alonso Quinonez. Each carries 118 pounds except Sidney’s Candy and Haimish Hy, who tote 123.


Chantal Sutherland has hired Brian Beach as her new agent. The popular 34-year-old Canadian rider had been represented by Tommy Ball.

“Tommy’s having a good run with Corey (Nakatani),” Beach explained. “They’ve got the good 3-year-old (CashCall Futurity winner Comma to the Top for trainer Peter Miller), so they want to be able to concentrate on Corey’s business. We’re all friends, so it worked out good that way.

“It’s kind of coincidental that Chantal and I got together, because I first met her back in 1999 at Gulfstream Park when I had Mike Smith’s book. She was an exercise rider there, but she wasn’t a jockey. She would tell me once or twice a week that she would be a top jockey some day and I was going to have her book. All these years later, it’s finally come true.”

FINISH LINES: Garrett Gomez, a finalist for an Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding jockey, rides at the Fair Grounds on Saturday, Jan. 22. Among the stakes mounts agent Ron Anderson has lined up are Aide for trainer Al Stall of Blame fame in the Silverbulletday Stakes; Apart for Stall in the Louisiana Handicap; and Wilkinson for Neil Howard in the Le Comte Stakes . . . Agent Jerry Palermo has taken the book of Alex Jimenez. The 30-year-old rider was born in Mexico City but is no stranger to scenic Santa Anita. “I graduated from Arcadia High School,” said Jimenez, a nephew of Patrick Valenzuela, who is named to ride in all eight races Thursday. “I’ve been riding in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Iowa, every place that has a casino,” Jimenez said . . . Zayat Stables’ Triple Crown hopeful Sinai, two-length maiden winner in his debut for Bob Baffert, worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s main dirt track Thursday in :47 flat . . . Tapizar had a four-furlong blowout for Saturday’s Sham Stakes in :47.20 for Steve Asmussen . . . Sunshine Millions candidate The Usual Q.T. worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s firm turf course Thursday in 1:04.20 (dogs up) for Jim Cassidy, while Beverly D winner Éclair de Lune went six furlongs on grass in 1:16.60 for Ron McAnally . . . Reynoldo Solis of the Accounting Department will be recognized as Santa Anita’s Employee of the Week after today’s fifth race . . . Christian Santiago Reyes, Eclipse Award-winning apprentice rider of 2009, finished fourth in a field of 25 in the King’s Cup Jan. 7 in Saudi Arabia, agent Tony Matos reports . . . Steve Andersen of Daily Racing Form and Jason Levin, host of “Inside Racing” on XTRA 570 AM Radio. 8 a.m. weekends in Los Angeles, will be Jack Disney’s guests on Sunday’s Fans’ Forum, 11:15 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Daily Racing Form will conduct a free handicapping seminar in the East Paddock Gardens on Saturday. Steve Andersen will host and his guest will be HRTV’s Kurt Hoover. Daily Racing Form will also conduct a free handicapping seminar in the East Paddock Gardens this Monday, Jan. 17, hosted by Brad Free. His guest will be Jon Lindo, of the “Thoroughbred LA” radio show, which airs on AM 830, weekend mornings at 9 a.m. . . . Both seminars will begin at 11:15 a.m. and conclude at 12 noon . . . Zenyatta is among the Thoroughbred greats Eclipse Award artists will offer in the EBay Moneigh Auction Jan. 13-17. A Moneigh is a 16” x 20” original, abstract painting created by a famous horse. Proceeds benefit the retired Thoroughbreds in Rerun’s adoption program. For further information, call Barbara Neel at 732-449 1002.