Santa Anita Stable Notes Thursday, February 8, 2024
STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2024
· GIII LAS VIRGENES: MANDELLA’S KOPION TAKES ON BAFFERT PAIR · RACING CANCELED FRIDAY; MAKEUP DAY ADDED NEXT THURSDAY · PRAT WINS 3 STAKES SATURDAY, LEADS NATION IN EARNINGS · EARLY 11 A.M. FIRST POST ON SUPER BOWL SUNDAY
GIII LAS VIRGENES: MANDELLA’S KOPION TAKES ON BAFFERT PAIR Among a trio of graded stakes Saturday at Santa Anita is an intriguing edition of the GIII Las Virgenes for 3-year-old fillies at a mile on dirt. Originally slated as part of last Sunday’s card, which was canceled due to rain, the rescheduled Las Virgenes includes GII Starlet winner Nothing Like You and a pair of unbeaten fillies, Kinza and Kopion, who will each be trying two turns for the first time.
Nothing Like You and Kinza are both trained by Bob Baffert. Kopion hails from the Richard Mandella barn. Both Hall of Fame trainers recently provided insight into Saturday’s matchup.
Kopion improved to 2-for-2 for Mandella when romping by 5 ¾ lengths in the GIII Santa Ynez going seven furlongs here Jan. 7. Previously, she won her bow going 6 ½ furlongs at Del Mar Nov. 26.
As impressive as Kopion has been in both starts, Mandella acknowledged the waters get much deeper on Saturday.
“This is a tough race, there are some new players in there,” Mandella “I just hope she continues to progress.”
Mandella does not foresee the added distance of the Las Virgenes as being a problem for Kopion, who was a $270,000 auction buy as yearling for owner Spendthrift Farm. Kopion’s pedigree suggests likewise. She is by Omaha Beach out of unraced Galloping Ami, who is a daughter of 1998 Belmont Stakes winner Victory Gallop.
“It’s just one more turn,” Mandella quipped of the Las Virgenes. “But really, she doesn’t give us any feeling that it should be an issue.”
The confidence expressed by Mandella in Kopion’s ability to get the distance wasn’t necessarily matched by Baffert when it comes Kinza. In Kinza’s only previous start, she blitzed six furlongs in 1:09.79 to crush a field of maidens by 7 ½ lengths here Dec. 29. The effort returned a field-high 96 Beyer Speed Figure.
By Carpe Diem out of the Quality Road mare Secret Wonder, Kinza was a $350,000 auction buy last year for owner Michael Lund Petersen,
“Kinza, I’m not sure about the distance,” Baffert said. “She is really fast. I think a mile maybe. There really isn’t anything else for her in a while. We’ll see if she can do it.
“But she has been working well and relaxing well,” he continued. “If she can handle it, then we’ll have a lot more options.”
Kinza is installed as the even-money favorite on Jon White’s morning line. Kopion is the second choice at 6-5.
Nothing Like You, the 6-1 co-third choice, is the most experienced in the field with three wins from six starts. Prior to her 5 ½-length romp in the GII Starlet going 1 1/16 miles at Los Alamitos Dec. 9, the daughter of Malibu Moon won the seven-furlong Desi Arnaz Stakes at Del Mar Nov. 18.
“She’s a big, tall filly. Distance is no problem for her,” Baffert said.
The Las Virgenes goes as the fifth race Saturday with post time at approximately 2:30 p.m. PT. The field in post position order: Nothing Like You, Frankie Dettori (6-1); She’s a Tempest, Tiago Pereira (6-1); Kinza, Juan Hernandez (1-1); Kopion, Flavien Prat (6-5); Great Forty Eight, Kazushi Kimura (20-1).
RACING CANCELED FRIDAY; MAKEUP DAY ADDED NEXT THURSDAY, FEB. 15 There is live no racing Friday at Santa Anita as originally scheduled after a series of winter storms dumped more than 10 inches of rain on The Great Race Place this week.
The historic series of storms, which finally cleared out early Thursday, resulted in the track being closed for training for four consecutive days beginning on Sunday. On Thursday, the track reopened for joggers on gallopers. Full training is set to resume on Friday.
“With training suspended… many of our trainers and horse owners have conveyed they would prefer an extra day for their horses to resume training before we race this weekend,” Nate Newby, Santa Anita Senior Vice President and General Manager, said on Wednesday.
As a result of Friday’s cancellation, Santa Anita has added makeup program for next Thursday. It will be the start of a five-day race week that ends with a special Presidents’ Day card Feb. 19.
Races that were scheduled for Friday will be offered back on next Thursday’s program. Entries for that card will be accepted on Saturday.
PRAT WINS 3 GRADED STAKES SATURDAY, LEADS NATION IN EARNINGS It’s been a banner start to 2024 for jockey Flavien Prat, who last Saturday won three of the four graded stakes contested at Santa Anita. Entering this week’s action, Prat is tops in the nation in earnings among jockeys with $3,292,550.
Prat’s wins Saturday came in the GII Robert B. Lewis with Nysos ($2.20), GII Santa Monica with Three Witches ($5.20) and GIII Megahertz with Bellabel ($5.80). Those victories added to his previous graded stakes wins this year in the GI Pegasus World Cup with National Treasure at Gulfstream Park and both the GIII La Canada with Desert Dawn and GIII Santa Ynez aboard Kopion, both at Santa Anita.
Prat’s closest pursuer in earnings this year is Irad Ortiz Jr with $2,495,892.
Prat, who is represented by agent Brad Pegram, has six rides booked for Saturday’s 10-race card at Santa Anita. His notable mounts include Big City Lights, the even-money favorite in the GIII Palos Verdes, and 6-5 second choice Kopion in the GIII Las Virgenes. Both horses are trained by Richard Mandella.
Prat, a 31-year-old native of France, has been riding full time in the U.S. since 2015. He has 1,659 wins in North America with more than $158 million in earnings. Prat’s victories include the 2019 Kentucky Derby with Country House via disqualification, 2021 Preakness with Rombauer, and five Breeders’ Cup wins including the 2022 Classic with Flightline.
FINISH LINES: Full training is set to resume Friday morning…Due to the Super Bowl, first post Sunday is 11 a.m…Sunday’s scheduled feature is the Sweet Life Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the hillside turf course…Flavien Prat and Juan Hernandez enter this week’s action tied atop the jockey’s standings with 23 wins each at the Classic Meet…Saturday’s $1 Pick Six returned $9,703 to 11 winning tickets…Santa Anita will host a special Presidents’ Day card Monday, Feb. 19.