Santa Anita Stable Notes Monday, January 15, 2024
STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN
MONDAY, JANUARY 15, 2024
- VAN DYKE: ‘I FEEL REBORN’ WITH RETURN TO THE SADDLE - TRAINER AGUIRRE LIGHTS UP TOTEBOARD WITH $111 WINNER - FRESU WINS 3 RACES SUNDAY TO TIGHTEN JOCKEY’S RACE - SUNDAY’S COAST-TO-COAST PICK 5 RETURNS ALMOST $22K - GIII LA CANADA, ASTRA STAKES ON TAP THIS WEEKEND - RACING RESUMES FRIDAY WITH 12:30 P.M FIRST POST
VAN DYKE: ‘I FEEL REBORN’ WITH RETURN TO THE SADDLE After stepping away from the game in early October to reset his “mind and body,” jockey Drayden Van Dyke returned to action Sunday with two rides at Santa Anita.
The 29-year-old jockey, a winner of 809 races and more than $52 million in prize money, finished fourth in the third race aboard Apple Fest (5-1) and eighth in the GIII Las Cienegas aboard Fast and Shiny (24-1). Both mounts came for Bob Baffert, who has had a long relationship with Van Dyke.
“I feel reborn,” the jockey said after his ride abord Apple Fest. “It’s crazy how taking that time off did so much good for my mind and body. I’m glad I did it.”
In his comeback on Apple Fest going 6 ½ furlongs on turf, Van Dyke had his mount forwardly placed throughout and held a half-length lead with a furlong to go. The 4-year-old Bolt d’Oro filly then got leg weary late and was overhauled. The winner, Make it Snow, paid $6.80 as the second choice for trainer George Papaprodromou.
“I got a little excited there until I got passed,” Van Dyke said. “We were going good and she just flattened out a bit.” For Van Dyke, getting his comeback started with Baffert at his side was particularly special. He said his favorite memory in racing was winning two Grade Is on the same day for Baffert in 2018. On Dec. 8 of that year, Van Dyke piloted Improbable to victory in the GI Los Alamitos Futurity and Chasing Yesterday to a head victory in the GI Starlet.
“I’m so thankful to Bob for doing this for me,” Van Dyke said. “He put me on a few breezers in the morning to get my legs underneath me again. Hopefully I can do well.”
Winner of the 2014 Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice, Van Dyke had not ridden in a race since last Oct. 6 at Santa Anita. Prior to the self-imposed hiatus, Van Dyke’s business had been waning. His peak year came in 2018 when he won 150 race and more than $11 million in earnings. Four years later in 2022 he was down to 46 wins and $3 million in earnings. Last year, Van Dyke won just five races from 136 mounts.
“I decided it was time to step away. I needed it,” said Van Dyke, who won his first race at the age of 19 on Nov. 21, 2013 at Hollywood Park. “My point of view and perspective is so much better now. It’s better than it’s ever been.”
Van Dyke’s return also includes a change in agent. Now carrying his book is Ryan Cosato, son of Slam Dunk Racing’s Nick Cosato.
“It really feels amazing to be back and hopefully we can build on this start,” Van Dyke said. “I really missed it. Especially the horses”
TRAINER AGUIRRE LIGHTS UP TOTEBOARD WITH $111 WINNER SUNDAY Shamrockin, a first-time starter for trainer Paul Aguirre, got Sunday’s card off to a stunning start when winning the opener and returning $111.80 as the longest shot on the board.
Listed at 12-1 on the morning line, Shamrockin rallied from last under Armando Ayuso to win by a nose against statebred maidens going six furlongs on turf. For Aguirre, who operates a modest 10-horse stable, it was his first win at Santa Anita since Oct. 23, 2022 with Bag’s Gold in a $50,000 maiden claimer.
It wasn’t just bettors who were shocked by Shamrockin’s win. Aguirre Sunday morning said “I thought she would need a race.”
Shamrockin had worked six times for her bow beginning Nov. 21.
“I didn’t expect her to win,” the veteran trainer added. “She’s not a bad filly or I wouldn’t have put her in there. But I didn’t train her too hard for this.”
Shamrockin is a 3-year-old filly by Clubhouse Ride out of the productive broodmare Irish Winnie, by Broken Vow. Campaigned by Metanoia Racing and Craig Siedler, Shamrockin was purchased for $20,000 by agent Tari Brocklebank at the 2022 Fasig-Tipton California Fall Yearlings and Horses of All Ages Sale.
“Tari has a good eye for horses,” Aguirre said. “He presented her to me and I loved the pedigree. Then I saw she was very racy, has all the angles. She’s small, but really built well.”
Shamrockin became the sixth winner from six foals out of Irish Winnie. Her best offspring to date is Irish Heatwave, a stakes winner and earner of $426,830 currently in training with Mike Puype.
Shamrockin was the first of two winners on Sunday’s card ridden by Ayuso, who now has six wins from 25 mounts (24 percent) at the Classic Meet. The former top rider in Northern California also scored in the sixth race aboard Panda Peak ($8) for Puype.
“I think he’s a really solid rider,” Aguirre said. “He knows what he’s doing.”
FRESU WINS 3 RACES SUNDAY TO TIGHTEN JOCKEY’S RACE Jockey Antonio Fresu had a hat trick on Sunday’s nine-race card to become a clear-cut third in the jockey’s standings behind Juan Hernandez and Flavien Prat, who himself rode two winners on Sunday.
Fresu now has 11 wins at the Classic Meet to trail both Hernandez (15) and Prat (14). Next in the standings is Frankie Dettori, who also rode two winners Sunday to give him nine at the Classic Meet.
Fresu’s wins came in the third race with Make It Snow ($6.80) for trainer George Papaprodromou, the fifth race with The Shushala ($10) for trainer Doug O’Neill and the eighth race with Midnight Love ($4) for trainer Hector Palma.
Fresu is also tied with Prat for most stakes wins at the meet with four. On Monday, Fresu has mounts in five of the nine races at Santa Anita.
SUNDAY’S $1 COAST-TO-COAST PICK 5 RETURNS ALMOST 22K The $1 Coast-to-Coast Pick 5 Sunday paid a cool $21,950.60 to eight winning tickets. The Coast-to-Coast Pick 5, which features a player-friendly 15 percent takeout rate, combines races from Santa Anita and sister track Gulfstream Park.
Sunday’s sequence included races eight, nine and 10 from Gulfstream and races three and seven from Santa Anita. The three winners at Gulfstream were Chick’s Shadow ($18.60) in the eighth race, favorite Caramel Chip ($3) in the ninth and Swiss Slang ($25.20) in the 10th. The two Santa Anita winners were Make It Snow ($6.80) in the third and Honey Pants ($40.40) in the seventh, which was the featured GIII Las Cienegas.
The Coast-to-Coast Pick 5 is offered every Saturday and Sunday through the end of the Santa Anita Classic Meet April 7.
FINISH LINES: Trainer Phil D’Amato reported all was well Sunday morning with Honey Pants, who won Saturday’s GIII Las Cienegas as a massive overlay. Listed at 6-1 on the morning line, Honey Pants scored by a head under Frankie Dettori and returned $40.40 to her backers…This weekend’s stakes slate includes the GIII La Canada Stakes on Saturday for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on dirt and Astra Stakes on Sunday for older fillies and mares at 1 ½ miles on turf. Nominees for the La Canada include recent GIII Bayakoa winner Midnight Memories for Bob Baffert and Big Pond for Tim Yakteen, who was beaten a nose in the GI La Brea going seven furlongs here on opening day Dec. 26. Nominees for the Astra include the top-three finishers in the GIII Red Carpet at Del Mar Nov. 23—Linda’s Gift for Richard Mandella, Musical Rhapsody for Phil D’Amato and Sister Otoole for Graham Motion… Each Friday during the Classic Meet, on-track fans receive free admission and parking plus $3 beers and $5 margaritas.