Santa Anita Stable Notes Saturday, January 14, 2023
STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN SATURDAY, JAN. 14, 2023
- GRADE I-PLACED HEJAZI SPICES UP SUNDAY MAIDEN RACE
- WORKERS OUT IN FORCE SATURDAY AHEAD OF WET WEATHER
- PLAYER-FRIENDLY ‘COAST TO COAST PICK 5’ RETURNS SUNDAY
- SANTA ANITA OPEN FOR SIMO-WAGERING TODAY & MONDAY
GRADE I-PLACED HEJAZI SPICES UP SUNDAY MAIDEN RACE
After selling for $3.55 million at auction as a 2-year-old last May, Hejazi arrived at trainer Bob Baffert’s barn with sky-high expectations. Eight months and three starts later, the son of Bernardini is Grade I-placed but still a maiden.
In Sunday’s opener, an intriguing 6 ½-furlong maiden race for 3-year-olds, Hejazi will try to finally earn that elusive diploma.
“It’s hard to believe he’s still a maiden given the (speed) figures he’s run, and the way he works, but here we are,” said bloodstock agent Gary Young, who advised owner Amr Zedan in the purchase of Hejazi at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale.
Hejazi kicked off his career with two starts at Del Mar last summer going 5 ½ furlongs and was runner-up each time behind subsequent stakes winners. In his second outing, he uncorked a 100 Beyer Speed Figure but was still no match for stablemate Speed Boat Beach, who won in a track record time of 1:01.8.
Hejazi was then sent around two turns in the Grade I American Pharoah and this time finished third behind Cave Rock, an Eclipse Award finalist, and National Treasure, who would go on to be third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Young said Hejazi received a brief freshening after the American Pharoah and “he’s come back and is working very well.” Hejazi has worked seven times since late November, which includes consecutive six-furlong drills most recently, both completed in 1:12.60.
“We expect him to run very well,” Young said. “Drawing the rail isn’t ideal, but we expect him to be able to handle these horses. Anything less than a win would be a disappointment.”
In addition to his role as bloodstock agent, Young is also a highly respected clocker on the Southern California circuit. He noted Hejazi’s chief rivals on Sunday could be first-time starter I Don’t Get It for trainer Doug O’Neill and Sully, who was beaten just 1 ¼ lengths after setting a contentious pace in his Nov. 12 debut at Del Mar for trainer John Shirreffs.
“Those are nice horses who look to be coming into this well,” Young said.
Like several in the field, Hejazi will be racing with the anti-bleeding medication Lasix for the first time Sunday. Hall of Famer Mike Smith, who has been aboard Hejazi for all three starts, will again be in the irons. The field in post position order: Hejazi, Mike Smith (4-5); I Don’t Get It, Mario Gutierrez (4-1); The Last One Perk, Geovanni Franco (30-1); Worcester, Juan Hernandez (4-1); Speed of the Nile, Ramon Vazquez (20-1); Sully, Victor Espinoza (4-1); Tiz Tok, Edwin Maldonado (15-1).
WORKERS STAY AHEAD OF WET WEATHER WITH MORNING DRILLS
With Saturday’s races canceled due to a looming rainstorm, the workers were out in force during an abbreviated training session at Santa Anita earlier in the day.
Both the main track and training track were open for full training until 8:30 a.m. and 300 horses took advantage with timed workouts. About 90 minutes after both tracks closed, the storm arrived as scheduled in Arcadia.
Among Saturday’s workers were several for Bob Baffert including highly touted maiden winner Arabian Knight and Defunded, who is prepping for a start in the Grade I, $3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28. Defunded drilled six furlongs in 1:12.6 while Arabian Knight, a 7 ¼-length debut winner at Keeneland on the Breeders’ Cup Saturday undercard Nov. 5, completed five furlongs in 59.60 seconds.
Several stakes performers from opening weekend at Santa Anita also returned to the work tab. Dicey Mo Chara, winner of the Grade II San Gabriel Dec. 26, and Classical Cat, winner of the Dec. 30 Eddie Logan, each worked an easy half mile. Dicey Mo went in 49.0 seconds for trainer Leonard Powell while Classical Cat completed the distance in 48.2 seconds for Phil D’Amato. Also working for D’Amato was Balnikhov, who was beaten a nose as the favorite in the Grade II Mathis Mile on Dec. 26. He went a half mile in 47.6 seconds.
Also continuing to gear up for an expected start in the Grade III Las Virgenes on Jan. 28 was Faiza, winner of the Grade I Starlet on Dec. 10 for Baffert. Faiza worked five furlongs in 59.8 seconds, which was the sixth fastest of 79 moves at the distance.
PLAYER-FRIENDLY ‘COAST TO COAST PICK 5’ RETURNS SUNDAY
After being canceled Saturday due to no racing at Santa Anita, the “Coast to Coast Pick 5” featuring a 15 percent takeout is scheduled to return Sunday.
The Coast-to-Coast Pick 5 is a $1 minimum wager and includes races from Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park. Last Saturday’s inaugural Coast to Coast Pick 5 attracted a pool of $464,021 and returned $1,017.70 for those able to successfully navigate the sequence.
Sunday’s Coast to Coast Pick 5 kicks off at 12:37 p.m. with the eighth race at Gulfstream Park, a first-level allowance for older fillies and mares going five furlongs on turf. The wager also includes the ninth race and 10th race at Gulfstream Park. Santa Anita joins the party with the third race and ends the sequence with the fifth race at 2:29 p.m.
The Coast to Coast Pick 5 is scheduled to be offered every Saturday and Sunday during the Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park meets.
Finish Lines: With Saturday’s card canceled, admission passes and Mystery Mutuel Vouchers mailed to Thoroughbred club members can be redeemed on Sunday…Monday’s special Martin Luther King Jr. program has been canceled due to a forecast of more rain. In response, Santa Anita announced it will now race this Friday, which was a scheduled dark day. Entries for Friday will be taken Sunday morning…Next Saturday’s feature, the $100,000 Astra for older fillies and mare going 1 ½ miles on turf, attracted 13 nominees. Among the group is Grade III-placed Queen Ofthe Temple, multiple stakes-winning California-bred Warrens Candy Girl and Ballet Dancing, an impressive allowance winner on opening day for trainer Simon Callaghan… Santa Anita is open for simulcast wagering today and will also be open for simo-wagering on Monday, beginning at 10 a.m.
PHOTO: ERNIE BELMONTE