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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN, FRIDAY, MARCH 20TH, 2009
SANTA ANA GRASS IS GREENER FOR VISIT, FRANKEL SAYS
Bobby Frankel says there’s little doubt Visit is better on grass than she is on dirt or synthetic. Thus, the Hall of Fame trainer, Santa Anita’s career leader in victories with 913, expects considerable improvement from the English-bred daughter of Oasis Dream when she runs in Sunday’s Grade II, $150,000 Santa Ana Handicap for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
Visit was sixth by 11 ¼ lengths as the 3-2 favorite in the Grade I Santa Maria Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on Pro-Ride Feb. 14. It was her first race on synthetic. She has a 2-2-2 record from nine starts on turf.
Owned and bred by Frankel’s principal client, Juddmonte Farms, Visit “pulled early” in each of her last two races, according to Daily Racing Form trouble lines. Visit has run her last three races in the United States. Her first seven starts were in her native England.
“She pulls, but she settles after she pulls a little bit,” Frankel said. “European horses will do that for the first eighth of a mile, and then they’ll settle. (Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner) Ventura still pulls the first part of it leaving there, and then she settles.”
The field for the 42nd Santa Ana Handicap: Bel Air Sizzle, Rafael Bejarano, 115; In My Glory, Martin Garcia, 113; Sharp Susan, Mike Smith, 115; Eissoai, Victor Espinoza, 113; Exquisite, Alex Solis, 112; Visit, Garrett Gomez, 118; Belmont Cat, Joel Rosario, 115; Satan’s Circus, Joe Talamo, 116; and Dawn After Dawn, Tyler Baze, 116.
STEVENS SWEET ON ‘CANDY’ IN SANTA ANITA DERBY
Pioneerof the Nile and The Pamplemousse are the favorites among the select few
3-year-olds pointing to the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 4, but Gary Stevens, who won the West Coast’s major prep to the Kentucky Derby a record 9 times before retiring late in 2005, cautions not to overlook a Bay Area-based colt named Chocolate Candy.
“I love him, too,” said Stevens, who now analyzes races for HRTV and is a member of the NBC talent team that will televise the Santa Anita Derby. “He’s better than anybody gives him credit for. He’s running fast numbers. He’s running just as fast as those other two horses are, on the sheets. People seemed to have forgotten about Chocolate Candy.”
In other Santa Anita Derby news:
Todd Pletcher assistant Mike McCarthy said Take the Points “is training like he’ll run in the Santa Anita Derby,” as opposed to the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 11.
Bob Baffert said everything is “fantastic” with his barn, including Robert B. Lewis and San Felipe stakes winner Pioneerof the Nile.
Mike Machowsky said Kelly Leak is “80 percent” to run in the $800,000 Sunland Derby on March 29 and not the Santa Anita Derby. “The only way we would run here is if something happened to one of the big guns (Pioneerof the Nile or The Pamplemousse),” the trainer said, adding that Mike Smith has the mount in the New Mexico race.
Eoin Harty, en route to Dubai to saddle Well Armed, said Mr. Hot Stuff is scheduled to work Tuesday for the Santa Anita Derby. Mr. Hot Stuff was third to The Pamplemousse in the Sham Stakes, and is a full brother to last year’s Santa Anita Derby winner, Colonel John.
Mark Casse assistant Rick Griffith said Shafted likely would skip the Santa Anita Derby and ship to Woodbine for a race there. Shafted was fifth by six lengths to Pioneerof the Nile in the San Felipe Stakes last Saturday.
“We’ll have horses here through the end of the meet, but also send some to Keeneland and Woodbine,” said Griffith, who is supervising a division for Casse at Santa Anita for the first time. “Personally, I love it here,” said Griffith, a 43-year-old native of Barbados. “The people are great and you’re treated like people are supposed to treat one another.”
FINISH LINES: Trainer Ron Ellis said unbeaten Rail Trip is scheduled to work five furlongs Saturday under regular rider Jose Valdivia Jr. for the $70,000 Santana Mile on April 4 . . . Eoin Harty said Colonel John has recovered from temperature issues that forced him to miss the Santa Anita Handicap, and is due back on the track in a couple of days . . . Agent Brad Pegram reports Mike Smith will be at Keeneland April 4 to ride champion filly Stardom Bound in the Grade I, $400,000 Ashland Stakes . . . Agent Joe Ferrer said Rafael Bejarano, second to Garrett Gomez in the Santa Anita standings, 74-63, will remain here and not follow Gomez to ride full time at Keeneland when the Kentucky track opens on April 3. Gomez and Bejarano remained one-two in national purse earnings with $3,533,080 and $3,277,192, respectively . . . Trainer Dan Hendricks said Ginger Pop, second to champion Indian Blessing on Pro-Ride in the Grade I La Brea Stakes last Dec. 27, probably will make her next start on grass, at a mile or down the hill, as a “confidence builder.” Ginger Pop worked five furlongs on Pro-Ride Tuesday in 1:00.80 . . . Sunday’s sixth race is the “Rich Marotta/KFI Purse,” named for the Los Angeles-based sportscaster and ardent horse racing fan who will be in Santa Anita’s winner’s circle with family and friends following the race. Marotta will also present the trophy for the featured Santa Ana Handicap. Marotta’s sports updates can be heard on KFI AM 640’s Bill Handel Show Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. Marotta also hosts “Rich Marotta’s Neutral Corner” Sunday mornings on AM 570 . . . There were 16 participants alive in Santa Anita’s popular on line handicapping contest, ShowVivor II, going into Friday’s races.