Santa Anita Stable Notes Thursday, January 25, 2024
STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN THURSDAY, JANUARY 25, 2024
• GII SAN PASQUAL: BAFFERT’S NEWGATE, MR FISK ARE ON THE RISE • JOCKEY MALDONADO RETURNS FROM INJURY FRIDAY • SANTA ANITA HORSES INVADE GULFSTREAM FOR PEGASUS DAY • ESCOBEDO EARNS JOURNEYMAN JOCKEY STATUS WITH 40th WIN • JOCKEY JEREMY LAPRIDA JOINS LOCAL COLONY FROM PARX
GII SAN PASQUAL: NEWGATE, MR FISK LOOM LARGE FOR BAFFERT While Bob Baffert has won the GII San Pasqual five times in his Hall of Fame career, it’s been nine years since his last victory in the traditional prep for the GI Santa Anita Handicap. On Saturday at Santa Anita, he’ll have two chances to end the dry spell.
Set to go postward for Baffert in the 1 1/8-mile San Pasqual are a pair of 4-year-olds seeking their highest-level wins, Newgate and Mr Fisk. Newgate wheels back three weeks after returning from an 11-month layoff and being beaten just a half-length in what was a fast second-level allowance going 6 ½ furlongs here Jan. 6. Mr Fisk will make his seasonal bow after closing out 2023 with wins in both the one-mile Shared Belief at on Sept. 3 and GIII Native Dive at 1 1/8 miles on Nov. 26, both at Del Mar.
“This is a tough little race,” said Baffert, whose last San Pasqual win came with Hoppertunity in 2015. “It should be a good prep for the Big Cap for both of them.”
The 87th running of the 1 1/4-mile Santa Anita Handicap is March 2.
In the San Pasqual, Newgate and Mr Fisk are among a field of eight that also includes last year’s winner and 5-2 morning line favorite, Newgrange for trainer Phil D’Amato.
As for Newgate, his abbreviated sophomore campaign ended Feb. 3 with a win in the GIII Robert B. Lewis for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles. The San Pasqual will be his furthest distance test to date.
In Newgate’s comeback effort 19 days ago, the Into Mischief colt sat off the early pace before mounting an unsuccessful rally in the stretch under Frankie Dettori. The winner, Big City Lights, finished in a final time of 1:14.85. 85. Newgrange earned a 98 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort, according to Daily Racing Form.
“That was a good effort after the layoff,” Baffert said. “The winner ran a huge race. They went fast.”
Newgate is owned by an extensive partnership that includes SF Racing, Starlight Racing and Madaket Stables. He will have a new rider on Saturday. With Dettori off to Gulfstream Park to ride its Pegasus World Cup card Saturday, Eclipse Award-winning jockey Joel Rosario takes over in the irons.
Second half of his sophomore season. In the Shared Belief Stakes for 3-year-olds, he aired by eight lengths. He next took on older, including Newgrange, in the Native Diver. He won going away by 2 ¼ lengths. Among those left in his wake were Newgrange, who finished third.
“He was a very immature horse last year. A little horse. But he’s changed a lot,” Baffert said. “It’s the further the better for him. He’s going to be a better 4-year-old, you can see it.” Top Santa Anita rider Juan Hernandez, who was aboard for both stakes wins last year, retains the mount on Mr Fisk Saturday. Mr Fisk races as a homebred for Sunny Brook Stables.
The GII San Pasqual goes as the eighth race on a nine-race card Saturday. Post time is approximately 4 p.m. PT. The field in post position order: Two Rivers Over, Edwin Maldonado (12-1); Stilleto Boy, Mike Smith (6-1); I’mgonnabesomebody, Kazushi Kimura (15-1); Newgate, Joel Rosario (3-1); Newgrange, Victor Espinoza (5-2); Mr Fisk, Juan Hernandez (3-1); Mixto, Antonio Fresu (12-1).
JOCKEY MALDONADO RETURNS FROM INJURY FRIDAY AT SANTA ANITA Jockey Edwin Maldonado returns to action this week at Santa Anita after recovering from a shoulder injury. The 41-year-old reinsman has six rides booked for Friday and four more Saturday, which includes on Two Rivers Over in the featured GII San Pasqual for trainer Doug O’Neill.
Maldonado injured his right shoulder Jan. 6 after he was unseated from his mount during training hours. He has been back galloping and working horses since last week.
“I’m ready to go,” Maldonado proclaimed Thursday morning.
Prior to the injury, Maldonado was off to a fast start at the Classic Meet. He was tied for fifth in the jockey’s standings with six wins from 15 mounts, a robust 40 percent strike rate. His wins included the Lady of Shamrock Stakes on New Year’s Eve aboard Ruby Nell, who returns in Saturday’s GII, $500,000 Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf at Gulfstream Park for trainer Richard Mandella. She will be ridden by Frankie Dettori, who was tapped by Mandella after Maldonado was injured.
Entering Friday, Maldonado has 1,544 career wins and more than $53.7 million in purse earnings.
SANTA ANITA HORSES INVADE GULFSTREAM FOR PEGASUS WORLD CUP DAY Four horses from Santa Anita are set to compete on Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup card at sister track Gulfstream Park.
The quartet includes a pair of morning-line favorites for Bob Baffert: National Treasure (9-5) in the GI, $3 million Pegasus World Cup and Hejazi (8-5) in the GIII Fred W. Hooper going a one-turn mile on dirt.
Also invading Gulfstream for the GII, $500,000 Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf are last year’s winner, Queen Goddess for trainer Michael McCarthy, and Ruby Nell for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella. Queen Goddess is the 6-1 third choice in a 13-horse field with Ruby Nell installed at 8-1.
National Treasure, last year’s Preakness winner, will be making his first start since a nose loss to likely Horse of the Year Cody’s Wish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile here Nov. 4. Flavien Prat, who rode National Treasure for the first time in the Dirt Mile, will again be in the irons Saturday.
Hejazi will be seeking his first stakes win in the Hooper. The 4-year-old Bernardini colt, who commanded $3.55 million at auction as a 2-year-old, exits a good second behind stablemate Speed Boat Beach in the GI Malibu going seven here Dec. 26. Prat will also ride Hejazi.
Queen Goddess scored at 4-1 when winning last year’s Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf by 1 ½ lengths under Luis Saez. This year she will be ridden for the first time by Tyler Gaffalione. Saez has opted to ride 5-2 morning-line favorite Star Fortress for trainer Cherie DeVeaux.
After last year’s Pegasus win, Queen Goddess went winless in four starts including an off-the-board finish most recently in the GI Matriarch at Del Mar
Ruby Nell enters with three stakes wins in her last four starts. Most recently, the 4-year-old daughter of Bolt d’Oro earned a dominant front-running victory by 4 ½ lengths in the one-mile Lady of Shamrock here Dec. 31. Edwin Maldonado had been aboard Ruby Nell for each of her last six starts, but he will be replaced on Saturday. A shoulder injury suffered by Maldonado earlier this month prompted Mandella to tap Frankie Dettori for Saturday’s ride on Ruby Nell.
The Pegasus World Cup and GI Pegasus World Cup Turf will both be broadcast on NBC and Peacock from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. PT.
FINISH LINES: Jockey Adrian Escobedo lost his apprentice status after winning his 40th race Sunday aboard Crypto Craze ($5) for trainer Luis Mendez. Escobedo, who does not have an agent, has been riding since 2021…Jockey Jeremy Laprida has relocated to Santa Anita from Parx. He has 278 wins and earnings of more than $9.1 million since launching his career in 2020. Laprida is represented by agent Patty Sterling…The 53rd annual Eclipse Awards will be broadcast Thursday on FanDuel TV. Coverage from the red carpet begins at 3:30 p.m. PT with the ceremony scheduled to start an hour later.