Santa Anita Stable Notes Monday, December 26, 2022
__STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN MONDAY, DEC. 26, 2022 __
__- ALL-STAR JOCKEY CAST ON DISPLAY IN AMERICAN OAKS - JUSTIQUE EYES KENTUCKY OAKS POINTS IN SANTA YNEZ - GRADE I WINNER SMOOTH LIKE STRAIT WILL TRY THE HILL - SPEED BOAT BEACH COULD STAY ON TURF IN EDDIE LOGAN
ALL-STAR JOCKEY CAST ON DISPLAY IN AMERICAN OAKS
A substantial upgrade to this season’s jockey colony at Santa Anita will be on full display opening day when a field of 11 goes postward in the Grade I, $300,000 American Oaks, the nightcap of an 11-race card.
Named to ride in the 1 1/4-mile turf heat were three of North America’s top five riders based on 2022 earnings – Flavien Prat (2nd, $29.6 million), Joel Rosario (3rd, $29.1 million) and Tyler Gaffalione (4th, $27.0 million) – plus two more that rank in the top 10 in Juan Hernandez (9th, $14.1 million) and Hall of Famer John Velazquez (10th, $13.3 million).
Unfortunately, word came down early Monday that Rosario, the 2021 Eclipse Award winner for outstanding jockey, had fallen ill and had taken off all mounts Monday. In the Oaks, he was scheduled to ride Sparkle Blue (8-1). Joe Bravo will take over in the irons.
Three other riders ranking in the top 25 in 2022 North American earnings will also compete in the Oaks: Ramon Vazquez (19th, $9.5 million), Umberto Rispoli (23rd, $7.9 million) and Kazushi Kimura (25th, $7.6 million), who comes to Santa Anita after winning the jockey’s crown at Woodbine in Canada.
Rounding out the list of Oaks jockeys are none other than Mike Smith, a member of the Racing Hall of Fame and the all-time leader in Breeders’ Cup wins with 27; international superstar Frankie Dettori, who previously rode full time at Santa Anita in 1987 and will be retiring after next year’s Breeders’ Cup; and Hector Berrios, who has emerged as a prominent turf rider since arriving full-time in Southern California this summer.
Of the 11 jockeys named, only Gaffalione will not be riding full-time at Santa Anita the first couple months of the meet.
The American Oaks is scheduled for 4:11 p.m. The field: Rhea Moon, Juan Hernandez (8-1); Sparkle Blue, Joe Bravo, (8-1); Lady Clementine, Frankie Dettori (30-1); Oakhurst, Hector Berrios (30-1); Bellstreet Bridie, Mike Smith (4-1); Mise En Scene, Tyler Gaffalione (4-1); Skims, John Velazquez (6-1); Pizza Bianca, Umberto Rispoli (6-1); Salimah, Flavien Prat (7-2); Duvet Day
JUSTIQUE EYES KENTUCKY OAKS POINTS IN SANTA YNEZ
Following an eye-catching debut win sprinting at Del Mar this summer, Justique was promptly stretched out to 1 1/16 miles for the Grade II Chandelier and disappointed when a well-beaten third as the 6-5 favorite.
Following the Chandelier dud, Justique returned to sprinting in the seven-furlong Desi Arnaz at Del Mar on Nov. 19 where she rallied from dead last to win impressively by 2 1/2 lengths. Trainer John Shirreffs on Monday said the daughter of Triple Crown winner Justify will likely stay around one turn for her next start in Sunday’s Grade III, $200,000 Santa Ynez going seven furlongs.
“I think so,” Shirreffs said of Justique running in the Santa Ynez. “She’s been doing well and I’d like to see her run a good race.”
Justique has worked four times at Santa Anita since the Desi Arnaz, which includes a five-furlong move in 1:01 on Sunday.
The Santa Ynez is an official prep for next year’s Kentucky Oaks with qualifying points awarded to the top five finishers on a scale of 20-8-6-4-2.
Justique is among 10 nominees for the Santa Ynez, which will be drawn on Thursday along with the remainder pf the Sunday’s card.
SMOOTH LIKE STRAIT, HIT THE ROAD SET FOR HERNADEZ CLASH
While the Grade II, $250,000 Joe Hernandez on the hillside turf course at about 6 ½ furlongs is set to mark the return of Hit the Road after an 11-month layoff, he won’t be the only Grade 1-winning miler in the starting gate if everything goes according to plan. |
On Monday, trainer Michael McCarthy said Breeders Cup veteran Smooth Like Strait will make his hillside debut in the Joe Hernandez.
“We’ve been wanting to run him down the hill for a long time,” McCarthy said.
Smooth Like Strait has earned more than $1.7 million while compiling a record of 24-7-9-3 for owner Cannon Thoroughbreds. In the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Mile, the 5-year-old Midnight Lute horse faded late to finish ninth after setting the pace. He returned in last month’s Grade II Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar and again finished off the board.
Smooth Like Strait and Hit the Road, who will be making his first start since January’s Pegasus World Cup Turf, lead 22 nominees for the Joe Hernandez. The race along with the rest of Saturday’s card will be drawn on Wednesday.
Finish Lines: Speed Boat Beach, winner of the Speakeasy and Cecil B. DeMille Stakes (G3) on turf for Bob Baffert, leads the nominees for Friday’s Eddie Logan Stakes one mile on grass. Baffert said Monday he is considering running the Bayern colt but it will depend on the weather…With rain forecast for Arcadia later this week, both the main track and inner training track will be closed for training on Wednesday… Santa Anita will race four straight days beginning on Friday. A special New Year’s holiday card will be held on Monday…Every Friday of the Classic Meet fans will be offered free Infield admission and parking, plus $3 beers and $5 margaritas.