Santa Anita Stable Notes Friday, May 19, 2023
STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN
FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2023
- • JOCKEY UMBERTO RISPOLI ENJOYING A STRONG HOLLYWOOD MEET
- __• MCCARTHY DEBUTS PUSHINESS, A REPOLE-OWNED CAL-BRED __
- • BIG SUMMER LANDS FAVORITE’S ROLE IN SATURDAY’S MIZDIRECTION
- • BEHOLDER’S TEENA ELLA LEADS FRIDAY’S NOTABLE WORKERS
- • TICKETS FOR BREEDERS’ CUP AT SANTA ANITA NOW ON SALE
JOCKEY UMBERTO RISPOLI ENJOYING A STRONG HOLLYWOOD MEET
After a relatively quiet winter at Santa Anita, jockey Umberto Rispoli has been in a groove since the start of the inaugural Hollywood Meet April 21.
Entering Friday’s action, Rispoli has connected at a 30 percent clip (10-for-33) at the stand. Furthermore, Rispoli has bagged five stakes wins in California the past three weekends. On April 29, he won a trio of stakes at Golden Gate for trainer Phil D’Amato. He has since added wins here in the Singletary Stakes May 7 with Mi Hermano Ramon and the GIII San Luis Rey last Saturday with Offlee Naughty.
Rispoli this week noted “I’m the same person and rider I was Dec. 26,” when the Classic Meet opened, but the recent run of success has been largely due to having the right horses.
“I do the best I can. But like every jockey, you need the right horses and support from the big barns to get where you want to be,” he said.
Rispoli’s run of success has largely coincided with the hiring of Matt Nakatani as his agent. They started their business relationship March 9.
“Matt is doing a great job,” Rispoli said. “It’s always complicated to pick up the right horses. But he’s doing it and I’m driving them to the wire.”
Nakatani is the son of retired jockey Corey Nakatani, who earlier this year was voted into the Racing Hall of Fame. Matt Nakatani described the 34-year-old Rispoli, who has ridden all across the globe, as a “world-class rider.
“Umberto’s a really smart jockey who knows the business inside and out,” Natakani said. “He was his own agent when he rode in Hong Kong. He knows how it works. So we’re able to bounce ideas off each other.
“But at the end of the day, it’s let me focus on the business and you ride in the afternoon,” Nakatani continued. “That’s helped take his mind off what’s going on in the morning and I think it’s really paid off.”
Through 12 racing days at the Hollywood Meet, Rispoli trails leading rider Juan Hernandez 15-10. He is booked on five mounts both Friday and Saturday and has three more mounts on Sunday. He’ll ride in both stakes this weekend aboard Honey Pants (6-1) in Saturday’s Mizdirection Stakes for trainer Phil D’Amato and Acquired Class (6-1) in Sunday’s Desert Code for trainer Peter Miller. Both stakes will be run on the hillside turf course.
“Umberto is one of the most competitive people I’ve ever been around,” Nakatani said. “He reminds me of my father, who I represented for two years when I was starting out. They demand excellence and only want to win. So for Umberto and I, the goal is to compete for leading rider titles and win graded stakes. So far, it’s been going as we hoped.”
MCCARTHY UNVEILS PUSHINESS, A REPOLE-OWNED CAL-BRED ON SATURDAY
High-profile owner Mike Repole is a born and raised New Yorker whose vast racing stable typically competes on the eastern and Midwest circuits. But in recent years, the founder of VitaminWater has increasingly dabbled with California-breds.
Repole’s California presence will be on full display Saturday with first-time starter Pushiness, a 2-year-old filly by Kantharos who debuts in the opener for trainer Michael McCarthy. Repole purchased Pushiness for $115,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton California Fall Yearlings and Horses of All Ages Sale.
McCarthy’s relationship with Repole dates to McCarthy’s time serving as an assistant for Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, who is Repole’s main trainer in New York. Repole and Pletcher had the morning-line favorite for this year’s Kentucky Derby, Forte, but that colt was scratched the morning of the race.
McCarthy says he currently has a “handful” of California-bred 2-year-olds owned by Repole and more are expected in the coming days.
“He likes the statebred program and tries to take advantage of it,” McCarthy said referring to the purse incentives that are offered for horses bred in California.
As for Pushiness, she is listed as the 2-1 morning-line favorite for her debut, a 4 ½-furlong dash on the main track. She has worked six times since April 10 including a pair of quick gate drills. On April 22 she went a half mile in 46.80 seconds and added another gate work in 46.60 seconds two weeks later.
Pushiness is out of Imperial Pippin, a stakes-placed daughter of Empire Maker who got her start in Europe for international powerhouse Juddmonte Farms.
McCarthy said he had hoped to debut Pushiness on turf but landed on this spot in order to get a race under her girth.
“She’s had a couple of decent gate works. We’ll see what happens on the dirt,” he added.
Pushiness has lured Santa Anita leading rider Juan Hernandez for her debut but will have to overcome the inside post in a seven-horse field. Post time for the opener of Saturday’s 10-race card is 1 p.m.
BIG SUMMER LANDS FAVORITE’S ROLE IN SATURDAY’S MIZDIRECTION STAKES
Dirt or turf, short or long, Big Summer seems to always run her race.
On Saturday, trainer Carla Gaines hopes another of Big Summer’s typical performances will result in the mare’s first stakes win against open company in the Mizdirection Stakes on the hillside turf course. She is the slight 7-2 favorite on the morning line to do just that.
“She’s just as consistent as they come, this mare. And she’s doing great,” Gaines said Friday morning.
Big Summer has never missed the board in 13 career starts. Her record includes four wins, seven runner-up finishes and two thirds. She will face several familiar foes in the Mizdirection. After winning the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint on the hillside turf course Jan. 7, Big Summer lost by a neck to Freedom Flyer in the restricted Wishing Well going down the hill Feb. 18. Freedom Flyer returns in the Mizdirection and is the 4-1 co-second choice on the morning line.
Then on April 8, Big Summer tested the GIII Monrovia, which was scheduled for the hillside turf course but was moved to the main track. Despite the surface switch, Big Summer was beaten just three-quarters of a length by Elm Drive, who herself is a multiple graded-stakes winner on dirt. Elm Drive also returns in the Mizdirection and is 4-1 on the morning line.
In the 6 ½-furlong Monrovia, Big Summer was four-wide throughout. She launched a bid on the turn, grabbed a slight lead entering the stretch but could not sustain her rally. She grudgingly gave way to Elm Drive, who saved ground throughout racing on the rail.
“She ran really well, just she lost a of ground in that race. We’ll see if the can get them on the hill.”
Big Summer’s record on the hillside turf course is 3-2-1 in six starts. Jockey Joe Bravo, who has been aboard Big Summer for her last seven starts, again has the call on Saturday. The Mizdirection goes as Saturday’s eighth race with a scheduled post time of 5:30 p.m. The field in post position order: 1. Honey Pants, Umberto Rispoli (6-1); Canoodling, Mike Smith (4-1); Freedom Flyer, Juan Hernandez (4-1); Very Scary, Kent Desormeaux (5-1); Elm Drive, Ramon Vazquez (4-1); Lady Jae, Kyle Frey (15-1); Una Chiquita, Hector Berrios (20-1); Big Summer, Joe Bravo (7-2); One Silk Stocking, Antonio Fresu (15-1).
BEHOLDER’S TEENA ELLA LEADS THURSDAY’S NOTABLE WORKERS
Teena Ella returned to the work tab Friday 13 days after she won the GIII Senorita on the hillside turf course to become the first stakes-winning offspring of Hall of Famer Beholder.
Trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, Teena Ella worked an easy three furlongs in 37.60 seconds. The daughter of War Front won the Senorita by a neck under Edwin Maldonado. Mandella said the plan now is to test Teena Ella at longer distances this summer at Del Mar.
Also returning to the tab Thursday was Navy Man, who most recently was second as the favorite in the May 6 Lazaro Barrera for 3-year-old going seven furlongs. Trained by Michael McCarthy, the Bolt d’Oro colt worked four furlongs in a bullet 46.80 seconds.
In all, there were 101 timed workouts Friday on the main track and training track.
FINISH LINES: Every Friday at Santa Anita on-track fans receive free parking and admission plus $3 beer and $5 margaritas…Trainer Gary Mandella will be host Tom Quigley’s handicapping guest Saturday on the Santa Anita simulcast feed starting at 11:50 a.m…The win rate for favorites at the Hollywood Meet is 29.82 percent entering Friday’s eight-race card…Jose Valdivia, Jr. is one win away from career victory number 2,000…There is a Rainbow 6 Jackpot carryover of $126,911.75 for Friday…Tickets to this year’s Breeders’ Cup Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita are now on sale. Tickets can be purchased at BreedersCup.com/ticket.