Stable Notes by Ed Golden for Friday, May 6, 2022
- CLOCKER SCOUTS LOCALS IN KENTUCKY DERBY
- POWELL HOPES FOR BETTER LUCK IN SENORITA
- HERNANDEZ IS CLOSING IN ON DEPARTED PRAT
- TYLER BAZE OFF MOUNTS RETURNING FROM KY
- TAIBA A ‘SMART’ CHOICE IN RUN FOR THE ROSES
If either Taiba, Messier or Happy Jack wins the 148th running of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, it will mark the 20th time a horse that ran in the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby went on to officially win the Run for the Roses.
All three are based at Santa Anita, where observant clocker Andy Harrington has focused on their training and racing, thus well-qualified to render an opinion on their style and stamina for the mile and a quarter classic.
Each is a horse of a different color, not just literally, but in their training demeanor.
“Taiba has never been a super workhorse, even before he won his first race by 7 1/2 lengths (on March 5),” said Harrington, 58, who has been clocking since 1990, and whose long-standing workout reports are available at Nationalturf.com.
“Even prior to winning the Santa Anita Derby, he’s been kind of a lunch-bucket worker, doing only what he needs to in the morning, winning his works by a head. That’s my impression.
“He’s a very smart horse and knows the difference between the morning and the afternoon. In his last work at Santa Anita with his stablemate, American Admiral (a six-furlong bullet in 1:12.80 April 28 to American Admiral’s 1:13), Taiba wore blinkers, which he did not in winning the Santa Anita Derby (by 2 ¼ lengths over Messier on April 5).
“I’m guessing (trainer Tim) Yakteen put blinkers on just to keep him sharp, but he doesn’t race in blinkers, and that was true prior to his first race when he worked often in them but did not race in them, still running lights out twice with 100-plus Beyers (103 and 102).
“You’re not going to be wowed by his works, but clearly, he shows up in the afternoon. Like I said, he’s a very smart horse and that will serve him in good stead with 150,000-plus people at the Kentucky Debry screaming their heads off, which always shocks some horses, but my impression is he’ll handle it well.
“Messier will probably be one of the best-looking horses in the field, if not the best. He wows you every time. He’s kind of the opposite of Taiba in his works. Tim, and before that, Bob (Baffert) worked him exclusively alone because he doesn’t need company.
“He’s just a brilliant work horse. He’ll do a 1:12 (for six furlongs) at the drop of a hat without taking a deep breath. He has a right to be brilliant in the Derby; I can see it. Still, he got beat on the square (in the Santa Anita Derby) by Taiba, so he’s going to have to overcome that plus all the other horses.
“But you’re never going to get a better-looking horse, and workwise, he’s a dream.”
That leaves Happy Jack as the only other Santa Anita-based entrant in the Derby. Trained by Doug O’Neill, on record as saying he hopes to “shock the world” with a victory, the son of Oxbow is 30-1 on the morning line.
“I haven’t seen the horse recently,” Harrington said. “A win would shock me, too, but it could rain, and if that’s the case, who knows? (Saturday’s Louisville weather forecast calls for a high of 63 degrees, cloudy skies and a 24 percent chance of rain).
“I agree with Doug: if you’re not in it, you can’t win it, so why not run? I think the horse will get the distance, maybe not very quickly, but he’ll get it.”
Makes sense. After all, Happy Jack deserves a chance, and shouldn’t have to suffer the plight of infamous musician Johnny Hutchinson, who, when asked if he wanted to become the Beatles’ drummer, said “No.”
The field for the $3 million Kentucky Derby with the morning line odds:
Mo Donegal, Irad Ortiz Jr., 10-1; Happy Jack, Rafael Bejarano, 30-1; Epicenter, Joel Rosario, 7-2; Summer Is Tomorrow, Mickael Barzalona, 30-1; Smile Happy, Corey Lanerie, 20-1; Messier, John Velazquez, 8-1; Crown Pride, Christophe Lemaire, 20-1; Charge It, Luis Saez, 20-1; Tiz the Bomb, Brian Hernandez Jr., 30-1; Zandon, Flavien Prat, 3-1; Pioneer of Medina, Joe Bravo, 30-1; Taiba, Mike Smith, 12-1; Simplification, Jose Ortiz, 20-1; Barber Road, Reylu Gutierrez, 30-1; White Abarrio, 10-1; Cyberknife, Florent Geroux, 20-1; Classic Causeway, Julien Leperoux, 30-1; Tawny Port, Ricardo Santana Jr., 30-1; Zoros, Manny Franco, 20-1; Rich Strike, Sonny Leon, 30-1.
Ethereal Road and Rattle N Roll were scratched.
NBC will televise the race live from 1:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with post time for the Derby 3:57 p.m. ALL ARE PACIFIC COAST TIMES.
First post time for Santa Anita’s live 10-race program Saturday is 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 7:15 a.m. to accommodate an appetizing stakes-laden Kentucky Derby undercard with its first race set for 7:30 a.m. Pacific Time.
POWELL BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD IN SENORITA
If Fuente Ovejuna hadn’t had bad luck in her only two United States races, she would have had no luck at all.
The English-bred filly was off slow and impeded at the start in the restricted Blue Norther Stakes on Jan. 2, then was crowded and steadied Jan. 30 in the restricted Lady Shamrock, each at one mile on Santa Anita’s turf.
The three-year-old chestnut owned by Farfellow Farm Ltd. finished far back in each race, but Leonard Powell hopes her fortunes take a turn for the better in Saturday’s Grade III Senorita Stakes, once again on the grass at a mile for three-year-old fillies.
“She was off slow and bothered at the start but she made a mild rally to finish fourth (beaten seven lengths) in the Blue Norther,” said her 45-year-old trainer, a native of France who is enjoying a solid meet with 15 wins from 57 starts, 26 percent.
“I thought blinkers would help in her second start, keeping her closer to the pace and a bit more focused, and that kind of backfired, because she got too rank for the jockey (finishing sixth and last by 14 ½ lengths).
“So, we went back to the drawing board and we’ll run without blinkers this time.”
That said, Powell is pleased with his success this meet where he is tied for sixth in the trainers’ standings while his stable has accumulated purse earnings of $612,100.
“The horses are running well, so I’m very happy for our clients’ trust,” Powell said.
One explanation for the origin of the filly’s name is that Fuente Ovejuna is a small town in the south of Spain (near Cordoba) mentioned in a play published in 1619 that became sort of a tag line in Spanish literature, literally translated as the sheep’s well or the sheep fountain.
The 58th Angel’s Flight, race five of 10 with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Lucky Girl, Ramon Vazquez, 2-1; Sterling Crest, Victor Espinoza, 5-2; Island of Love, Juan Hernandez, 5-2; Fuente Ovejuna, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1; Delmona, Tyler Baze, 3-1; and Baby Steps, Diego Herrera, 12-1.
FINISH LINES: Juan Hernandez, who once trailed Santa Anita riding leader Flavien Prat by more than 30 victories before the Frenchman moved east a month ago, now is in prime pouncing position to take the lead as he trails by only four through 54 racing days at 72-68 . . . Tyler Baze, victorious aboard the Jorge Periban-trained Tom’s Regret, a California-bred filly running against colts in yesterday’s $200,000 Kentucky Juvenile at Churchill Downs, is off mounts today at Santa Anita due to a cancelled connector flight via Dallas/Fort Worth…Clocker and Publisher of Winner’s Card Toby Turrell is host Tom Quigley‘s guest at 11:50 a.m. today, while Santa Anita track announcer Frank Mirahmadi will do honors Saturday at 11:20 a.m., both days from the XBTV Studios . . . There were 76 recorded workouts Friday, 16 on the training track . . . Congratulations to David Peterson, son of the late Doug Peterson, who trained Seattle Slew in his four-year-old season, on being the winning pitcher Tuesday for the National League East’s first-place New York Mets in their 5-4 victory over Atlanta in the first game of a doubleheader. The 6-6, 26-year-old lefthander was born in Arcadia, site of Santa Anita Park, where his burly father was known to brr-brr-brr-brave the bitterest winter mornings wearing only a white T-shirt on his Bunyanesque torso.
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