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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15TH, 2009
PIONEEROF THE NILE IN ‘BEST WORK’ FOR DERBY; JOCKEY STILL OPEN
Santa Anita Derby winner Pioneerof the Nile had his final workout at Santa Anita Wednesday on a blustery but sun-drenched morning before departing for Churchill Downs Thursday where the son of Empire Maker will prepare for the 135th Kentucky Derby on May 2.
Under former jockey Joey Steiner, Pioneerof the Nile, winner of the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes and the Grade II San Felipe Stakes this meet in addition to the Grade I Santa Anita Derby, went four furlongs on Pro-Ride in a bullet :46.20, fastest of 39 drills at the distance.
“He went in :46.62,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “(Clocker) Gary Young got him in :46 4/5, and he went out in :58 4/5. He did it pretty damn easy. I didn’t think he went that fast. He went really, really nice. It’s probably the best he’s ever worked. The track was in really great shape today. It had a lot of bounce to it and they were getting over it good.”
Baffert still had no commitment from Garrett Gomez on Pioneerof the Nile for the Derby. The nation’s Eclipse Award winner as outstanding jockey the last two years also is the rider of Florida Derby runner-up Dunkirk for Todd Pletcher.
“Well, it’s either Garrett Gomez or somebody from Los Alamitos,” Baffert joked when asked about the rider for Pioneerof the Nile in the Derby. “I don’t know yet. I’m still waiting.”
In other news:
Arkansas Derby winner Papa Clem jogged Wednesday at Churchill Downs, where he is readying for the Kentucky Derby. “He got there yesterday,” said trainer Gary Stute, who is preparing his first starter for the Derby.
Mr. Hot Stuff, third in the Santa Anita Derby, worked four furlongs on Pro-Ride Tuesday in :48 seconds. Eoin Harty still holds hope that the son of Tiznow can qualify for the Derby. “I’m training him like he’s going to the Derby right now,” Harty said. Corey Nakatani would ride.
Massone, third in Saturday’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, was en route to California today from Kentucky. “You’ll probably see him at Hollywood (Park),” trainer Ron McAnally said.
BLACK MAMBA MAKES 2009 DEBUT IN SANTA BARBARA, SADLER EYES TITLE
John Sadler has two objectives as Santa Anita’s 84 day winter/spring meet enters its last week: win Saturday’s Grade II Santa Barbara Handicap at 1 ¼ miles on turf with Black Mamba, and capture the training title.
With five racing days left, Sadler trailed leader Mike Mitchell, 38-35, but still had a mathematical chance to overtake the leader.
“We need a really good Thursday,” Sadler said. “We’ve got five in, and if we can jump up and win two, we can scare him. That’s not really our focus, but we’re still in the hunt.”
Mitchell, who bested Sadler last meet, 33-28, to win the crown, had started 132 horses and was winning at a 29 percent clip. Sadler had 182 starters for a 19 percent norm.
Black Mamba, a 6-year-old New Zealand-bred mare, has not raced since finishing fourth to males in the Grade I Hollywood Turf Cup last Dec. 6.
“We gave her a little break after her last race,” Sadler said. “A mile and a quarter is a good distance for her, so we’re looking forward to starting her back in her first race o the year.”
The field for the 61st Santa Barbara, which goes as the ninth race on a 10-race program: Magical Fantasy, Alex Solis, 117; Step Softly, Michael Baze, 112; Toque de Queda, Victor Espinoza, 115; Persian Express, Martin Garcia, 110; Grace Anatomy, Tyler Baze, 111; Tizfiz, Agapito Delgadillo, 117; Ainamaa, Mike Smith, 114; Foxysox, Rafael Bejarano, 118; and Black Mamba, Joel Rosario, 119.
TIZ WEST RETURNS IN SATURDAY’S SAN SIMEON HANDICAP
Tiz West is scheduled to make his first start in more than eight months in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 San Simeon Handicap at about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf.
It will be a dramatic change in venues for the 4-year-old son of Gone West, who has run in seven straight races at one mile or longer prior to his sabbatical, after finishing sixth in the Del Mar Derby last Aug. 31.
“He’s been away a long time, and I wouldn’t normally think to run him 6 ½ , but he’s fresh, and he might like it,” trainer Richard Mandella said. “It’s not that he wasn’t always quick enough (to sprint), and I don’t intend to put him in there to try and make the pace. I want him to settle back and finish good, and if this race is too short, it’s too short. But it should be a good starting point for his return.”
Tiz West, owned by Gerald Ford of Dallas, who races as Diamond A Racing Corporation, has a 3-1-2 record from nine starts, with earnings of $219,348.
The field for the 42nd San Simeon, which goes as race No. 7: Euroglide, Michael Baze, 114; Prussian, Rafael Bejarano, 115; Doppio, Alex Solis, 115; Tiz West, Victor Espinoza, 117; Jungle Prince, Agapito Delgadillo, 116; Headache, Julien Couten, 112; El Merito, Corey Nakatani, 115; Mr Gruff, Joel Rosario, 113; and Desert Code, Aaron Gryder, 122.
‘EDDIE LOGAN DAY’ IN ARCADIA THIS SUNDAY
The City of Arcadia has proclaimed this Sunday, April 19, as “Eddie Logan Day” in honor of Santa Anita’s iconic shoeshine attendant who passed away on Jan. 31 at the age of 98. Logan, a self-proclaimed “Footman,” ran his Santa Anita shoeshine stand from opening day, Dec. 25, 1934, until the morning of Jan. 3, when he suffered a seizure and stroke from which he never recovered. Born in 1910, he would have been 99 on May 20.
Santa Anita will also unveil a beautiful oversized bronze relief plaque in Logan’s image on April 19, with an inscription that captures the essence of what he meant to The Great Race Place over a span of eight decades. The plaque will be unveiled in a winner’s circle ceremony and will be installed for permanent display in the area overlooking his long-time work area adjacent to the racing office.
“There really has been a tangible void here since Eddie’s passing,” said Santa Anita President Ron Charles. “He meant so much to all of us who were in contact with him and we still have fans asking about him. When he had the stroke, we made a decision to leave his shoeshine stand vacant until he returned and then we decided to leave it unattended for the remainder of the meet, out of respect.
“We are very proud of the plaque and we think it’s only fitting that it overlooks the area where he brought so much joy and professionalism for so many years. It will become a permanent part of Santa Anita, just as the Kingsbury Fountain and the Seabiscuit monument in the paddock gardens area are. We’re confident Eddie’s family, friends and all of those who knew or heard of him are going to treasure this for all-time.”
A former boxer and professional baseball player, Logan was blessed with remarkably good health and an infectious smile. As recently as two years ago, he shadow-boxed for camera crews and regaled them with stories about his time spent in baseball’s Negro Leagues in the 1920s and early ‘30s.
Logan would often lecture horsemen about the care of their boots and shoes and perils the stable area presented for leather. “Salt, brace, alkali and urine,” were invariably cited as primary enemies of the leather he so skillfully treated.
“He had that great sense of humor and he’d make you laugh,” said Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella. “He’d talk about his days with the Kansas City Monarchs and he was just full of life. He said his dad always told him, ‘Keep your mouth shut and your eyes open, and you’ll learn something.’ I hope Santa Anita maintains his shoeshine stand forever, he was one of a kind.”
Sunday is also closing day at Santa Anita. First post time is 12:30 p.m.
FREE TOC CONFORMATION CLINICS THIS SATURDAY
The public is invited to free horse “Conformation Clinics” hosted by Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) this Saturday, 10 a.m., at Santa Anita’s Clockers’ Corner and the Owner/Trainer Lounge at Golden Gate Fields.
Participants will meet leading California trainers and have a chance to get a close-up look at racehorses. Trainers will cover the basics of racehorse conformation and how it relates to soundness and performance, after which attendees can ask questions.
Participating in the Santa Anita clinic will be trainer Matt Chew, bloodstock agent Gayle Van Leer, veterinarian Dr. Heidi Agnic, and Toby Turrell, handicapper and publisher of The Yellow Sheet and Winners Card. At Golden Gate Fields, TOC Director Tom Bachman will be joined by trainers Chuck Jenda, Michael Lenzini and Val Rhoden.
Although the events are free and open to the public, reservations are recommended and can be made by calling TOC at (800) 994-9909, or online at www.toconline.com.
FINISH LINES: Probable for Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Juan Invitational Handicap at about 1 ¾ miles on turf: Big Booster, Rafael Bejarano, 118; Church Service, Mike Smith, 117; Midships, Victor Espinoza, 115; and Obrigado, no rider, 114 . . . Joel Rosario took off his seven scheduled mounts Wednesday due to a “pretty bad cold,” agent Vic Stauffer said . . . There will be a memorial service for handicapper Tom Connolly Thursday, 6 p.m., at the Santa Anita Church, 226 W. Colorado Blvd., in Arcadia. Connolly, who conducted newcomer seminars at Santa Anita and Del Mar, died last Saturday after a prolonged illness. There will be a reception immediately following. Burial will be held at the Veteran’s National Cemetary in Riverside on Tuesday, April 21, at 12:45 p.m. Those wishing to say a few words at the ceremony will be welcome. Condolences may be sent to Connolly’s son, Tommy, at 3208 Brandon St., Pasadena, CA 91107 . . . Eoin Harty said Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed is on a “sabbatical,” while Colonel John is back in training. “He’ll work next week,” Harty said . . . Owner/breeder Bo Hirsch and Gary Stute, trainer of Arkansas Derby winner Papa Clem, will be tonight’s guests on HRTV’s “Across the Board” at 5 p.m. Other luminaries who have appeared on the show this meet include James Kasparoff, Patrick Husbands, Joe Talamo, Tina Gazzerro, Liz Bronstein, Chantal Sutherland, Mike Smith, Victor Espinoza, Helen Pitts-Blasi, John Velazquez, Julio Canani, Bob Baffert, Mike Mitchell and David Lanzman. The show is produced by Chris Speck . . . Trainer Vladimir Cerin will be Jerry Antonucci’s guest Saturday at the Today’s Racing Digest seminar, 11 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens.