The Pamplemousse, Pioneerof the Nile and Chocolate Candy, the three favorites for the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 4, each worked on Pro-Ride Wednesday as the countdown began in earnest for the West Coast’s major prep for the Kentucky Derby on May 2.

Sham Stakes winner The Pamplemousse, expected to be a slight favorite over Pioneerof the Nile in the mile and an eighth Santa Anita Derby, worked six furlongs under regular rider Alex Solis in 1:13 flat.

Pioneerof the Nile, winner of three straight graded stakes, including the San Felipe on March 14, went six furlongs under former jockey Joey Steiner in a bullet 1:11.40, fastest of 12 drills at the distance, while Chocolate Candy worked one mile in 1:38.60 under Joel Rosario, who rides the son of Candy Ride in the Santa Anita Derby for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

“They gave him 13 flat, but I caught him in 1:12 3/5,” said Miguel Delgado, assistant to Julio Canani, who is in Dubai for World Cup day on Saturday. “He galloped out (seven furlongs) in (one) 27 and three (fifths).”

Added Solis: “That’s what we wanted. He was five or six wide, and the last 16th, he tends to get a little bored. But he won't be bored on the fourth of April. He better have his running shoes on.”

“He went very nice,” Bob Baffert said of Pioneerof the Nile under blue skies and sunshine at Clockers’ Corner. “He relaxed early and picked it up in the lane. It looks like it didn’t take much out of him. So far, so good.” Added Steiner: “I kind of wanted to get something in front him, because he likes a little bit of a target, but he went perfect. He was very comfortable. He’s traveling good and showing some class, and that’s all you can ask.”

“He went the half in about :50, five-eighths in 1:02.25, six furlongs in 1:14.25, seven in 1:26.53, and I got 1:38.91,” Hollendorfer said of El Camino Real Derby winner Chocolate Candy. “So if the clockers gave him 1:38 3/5, that’s very close. Dan (Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward) got 1:38.75.”

Wednesday’s drill was an improvement from last Thursday, when Chocolate Candy went a mile at Golden Gate Fields in 1:41.20. “I wasn’t satisfied with the way he did it up there,” Hollendorfer said. “That’s why I wanted to go a mile here, to see if the Golden Gate track was dead that day, which it was. I started him off too fast up there, and went slower today, and Rosario did an excellent job. We went slow the first part, the first eighth in :13.66, and then :25.91, and he finished up really good, so that’s what we were looking for.”

Hollendorfer said if all goes well, Chocolate Candy will blow out a half-mile Tuesday before the race.

Probable for the 72nd Santa Anita Derby, one of five stakes to be decided on April 4: Chocolate Candy, Joel Rosario; Feisty Suances, no rider; Mr. Hot Stuff, Corey Nakatani; The Pamplemousse, Alex Solis; and Pioneerof the Nile, Garrett Gomez.
In other Santa Anita Derby news:

Take the Points will pass the race in favor of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 11. “He had a tough ship out here (when he finished second in the Sham Stakes on Feb. 28),” said Mike McCarthy, assistant to Todd Pletcher. “The plane was delayed a couple of times and he ran hard when he got here. The Blue Grass will give him extra time. He leaves Santa Anita on April 7 for Kentucky.”

Santa Anita will host a media post position draw breakfast, 10 a.m. at Clockers’ Corner on Wednesday, April 1, which happens to be April Fool’s Day. Baffert and Canani will be among a contingent of Derby horsemen participating.

HRTV’s Gary Stevens will assist Santa Anita racing office officials with the draw. The retired Hall of Fame jockey won a record nine Santa Anita derbies from 1988 through 2003. Along with participating horsemen, Stevens will also be available for media interviews.


Trainer Bob Baffert will guest on a special edition of HRTV’s “Across the Board” tonight at 5 p.m. Baffert, who is nearly certain to be a first-year inductee in the National Racing Museum’s Hall of Fame this spring, has Pioneerof the Nile set for the Santa Anita Derby, and champion Indian Blessing in Dubai for the $2 million Golden Shaheen on Saturday.

A week ago, Julio Canani, trainer of Santa Anita Derby favorite The Pamplemousse, appeared on ‘Across the Board’ and drew rave reviews.

A group of Santa Anita-based jockeys will participate in a “meet and greet” gathering with special-needs youngsters provided by AbilityFirst, in Santa Anita’s fabled Seabiscuit Walking Ring from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. tomorrow to promote Santa Anita’s Derby Day 5K Walk and Run on April 4.

AbilityFirst is a Pasadena-based charity that enables children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities to realize their full potential. AbilityFirst also works to meet the needs of those afflicted with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and epilepsy.

The Santa Anita Derby Day 5K is part of AbilityFirst’s Marathon Campaign, which raises money to enhance programs and services to children and adults with disabilities at all 24 of its locations.
In addition to meeting such jockeys as Tyler Baze, Rafael Bejarano, David Flores, Garrett Gomez, Aaron Gryder, Joel Rosario, Mike Smith, Alex Solis, Chantal Sutherland and Joe Talamo, AbilityFirst participants will be able to meet the actual horse who portrayed the immortal Seabiscuit in the 2003 blockbuster film of the same name. Along with the jockeys, “Seabiscuit” will be available for photos, candies and carrots.

“We’re very excited to have the opportunity to work with AbilityFirst this year,” said Santa Anita Community Events Coordinator Pete Siberell. “AbilityFirst is a first-class, highly respected organization that helps those who need it the most.

“The meet and greet that we have planned next week should be a big hit with their special-needs kids and to have the jockeys participating in this is just tremendous. We’re confident this is going to attract many more people’s attention to the Derby 5K Walk and Run, and to the race itself.”

AbilityFirst Marathon Campaign information can be found, and sponsorships made, at

In addition to its association with AbilityFirst, Santa Anita will also make community donations to the Arcadia High School Athletic Boosters Club, the Arcadia Historical Museum and the Arcadia-area Explorer Scouts.

The 72nd Santa Anita Derby will be run on Santa Anita Derby Day, Saturday, April 4. The Derby Day 5K Walk and Run will get under way at 7:45 a.m. For more information on registration, go to

HRTV will play an important role in the world feed from Dubai when the network once again provides live coverage of Dubai World Cup Day from Nad Al Sheba Racecourse in the United Arab Emirates this Saturday.

HRTV's on-air tandem of Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens and Scott Hazelton will be reporting from Dubai. Stevens and Hazelton will also contribute to HRTV's shows, including "Pursuit of the Crown" and "Across the Board," providing up-to-date information and insight throughout the week.

This marks Hazelton’s second trip to the world’s richest race day, having chronicled Curlin’s invasion last year. Stevens is well-versed on what it takes to win in Dubai, having won the 1998 World Cup with Silver Charm.

Carolyn Conley, Hazelton's usual co-host on HRTV's "RaceDay America," will anchor the network's Dubai World Cup coverage from its studios in Arcadia, CA. Dubai World Cup is the culmination of the annual Dubai Racing Carnival, which HRTV has aired this winter.

The 14th running of the Dubai World Cup program offers seven stakes races with a combined $21 million-plus in purse money. The highlight of the day is the $6 million Dubai World Cup at 1 1/4 miles. Early favorites are Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and Donn Handicap winner Albertus Maximus, Asiatic Boy, Casino Drive and Well Armed. Post time for the World Cup is expected to be 10:30 a.m.

The undercard features two $5 million turf races -- the Dubai Duty Free (1 1/8 miles) and Dubai Sheema Classic (1 1/2 miles).

FINISH LINES: Newcomer Channing Hill, who has been riding regularly on the New York circuit since 2005, was on hand at Clockers’ Corner as he prepared for his Santa Anita riding debut today. The 21-year-old Nebraska native was named on two horses. “I like it,” Hill said when asked his impression of the picturesque setting. “You can’t beat the weather. I’m impressed with that. So far, everyone’s been real friendly and I’m excited to get started.” Former Southern California regular Richard Migliore, now riding again full time in New York, recommended that Hill head west and hook up with Migliore’s former agent, Tom Knust . . . Christiana’s Heat has been retired. Winner of the $125,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes by a nose on March 15--her first stakes win--in her final start, the 5-year-old California-bred daughter of Unusual Heat had swelling on the inside of her left front leg about four days after the race. “She would have needed to go to the farm for six or eight months to recover, so we just decided to retire her,” trainer Steve Knapp said. “Most likely, she’ll go to Three Chimneys (in Kentucky) and we’ll find a sire for her and breed her there.” Christiana’s Heat, who earned $332,332 from 24 career starts, is owned by Albert and Kathleen Mattivi of Oxnard . . . Agent Brad Pegram reports David Flores will be in Arkansas on April 4 to ride San Antonio Handicap winner Magnum for Darrell Vienna in the $500,000, Grade II Oaklawn Handicap . . . Bruno DeJulio, clocker for Today’s Racing Digest, will be Jerry Antonucci’s guest at Saturday’s Today’s Racing Digest seminar, 11 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . With 19 racing days left, there were six participants alive in Santa Anita’s popular on line handicapping contest, ShowVivor II, going into Wednesday’s races.