- McKINZIE IN ‘MAINTENANCE’ WORK FOR BAFFERT
- TRAINER EYES GOOD TRIP FOR STEPH BEING STEPH
- SANTA ANITA HORSEMEN PICK SUNDAY’S BIG GAME
- VICTOR ESPINOZA’S NEPHEW IN DEBUT TOMORROW
McKINZIE BREEZES IN COMPANY FOR NEXT START
McKinzie, who stamped himself as a leading Kentucky Derby contender based on his authoritative 3 ½-length victory in the Grade III Sham Stakes at one mile on Jan. 6, worked four furlongs in 49.40 at 7:55 on a picturesque Saturday morning under jockey Drayden Van Dyke.
Going in company with Downtowner, McKinzie was outside his workmate by about a length and a half until they entered the homestretch, when he began to gradually wear him down, putting his head in front as they hit the wire. Downtowner was clocked in 49.60.
“They went off real easy,” Bob Baffert said. “It was just a little maintenance drill.”
Asked if he was considering the San Felipe on March 10 for McKinzie, an undefeated son of Street Sense, four-time Kentucky Derby winner Baffert said. “I’ve got a lot of options. I won’t know until I get closer.”
McKinzie’s last recorded work prior to Saturday came on Jan. 21, when he went four furlongs in 49 flat under Mike Smith. “He’s been good,” Baffert said of the bay colt. “I’ve just been waiting. I’ve been taking my time with him.
“I just want to keep him healthy.”
Also working Saturday for Baffert was Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Solomini, who went four furlongs in 49.60.
TWO-TURN VICTORY IS THE GOAL FOR STEPH BEING STEPH
Steph Being Steph tries two turns for the first time Sunday in the Grade II, $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes for three-year-old fillies at one mile. Trainer Brian Koriner feels she’s up to the task, based on her solid second in the seven furlong Santa Ynez Stakes at 25-1 last out.
“We hope she’ll relax and finish,” Koriner said of the Kentucky-bred daughter of Majestic Warrior, named for Golden State Warriors prolific three-point superstar Steph Curry.
“There’s enough speed in there where she’ll be able to lay a few lengths off them and be in the right spot.”
The Las Virgenes, race four of nine, with an 11 a.m. first post time: Thirteen Squared, Tyler Baze, 5-2; She’s No Drama, Kyle Frey, 8-1; Dream Tree, Drayden Van Dyke, 3-5; Exuberance, Corey Nakatani, 15-1; Steph Being Steph, Stewart Elliott, 4-1; and Holy Diver, Cesar Franco, 50-1.
PATS OR EAGLES? HORSEMEN AREN’T PUNTING
Big Game LII (52, for those not proficient with Roman numerals) between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles kicks off Sunday in Minneapolis at 3:30 p.m. The Patriots opened a 5 ½-point favorite, but a late flow of dough on the Eagles (or Iggles, as Rocky Balboa and residents of the City of Brotherly Love call them) has reduced the spread to 4 ½, with the over/under on total points holding steady at 48.
The world will be watching, including horsemen at Santa Anita, who took time from their busy schedules to render their opinions in a random poll:
Barry Abrams: Philadelphia.
Bob Baffert: I have to go with the Patriots. Bill Belichick presented me with the trophy when Point Given was Horse of the Year (in 2001), plus, when my wife (Jill) wakes up in the middle of the night, she yells out, ‘Tom Brady, Tom Brady!’
Richard Baltas: The Eagles.
Rafael Becerra: Eagles.
Ray Bell: New England.
Vann Belvoir: The Patriots. You can’t knock Brady, right?
David Bernstein: The Pats will win because they always do.
Jack Carava: No opinion.
Ben Cecil: New England. I’m from England.
Vladimir Cerin: I don’t like New England but I’m a big Tom Brady fan.
Keith Desormeaux: The Eagles, because they’re in the NFC, and the (New Orleans) Saints (Desormeaux is a native of Louisiana) are in the NFC. I’m glad the Eagles whipped Minnesota (because the Vikings produced the Minnesota Miracle to oust the Saints).
Phil D’Amato: Philly. It’s a team that’s peaking.
Caesar Dominguez: New England, but it will be a tight game.
Neil Drysdale: The Eagles plus the points.
Peter Eurton: Pats by 10.
Victor Garcia: The Eagles with the points.
Mark Glatt: Eagles.
Jorge Gutierrez: Philadelphia.
Eoin Harty: I was going to say Patriots, but now I’m waiting to see who Tom Knust picks and go against him.
Bruce Headley: Eagles.
Karen Headley: Eagles.
Dan Hendricks: Eagles, although Belichick seems to find a way to win every year.
Bob Hess Jr.: I have all the respect in the world for Tom Brady, but I like the Eagles.
David Hofmans: New England.
Jerry Hollendorfer: How can you bet against the Patriots? Even when it looks like they’re going to lose, they win.
David Jacobson: The Patriots. Brady’s experience has to mean something.
Brian Koriner: No team. I’m a basketball and baseball guy.
Eric Kruljac: I defer to the kid (his son, Ian).
Ian Kruljac: Eagles.
Mike Machowsky: I like Philly, but (Mark) Glatt likes them too, so I could be in trouble.
Ron McAnally: It’s a no brainer. New England and Brady, another Irishman.
Michael McCarthy: New England.
Steve Miyadi: The guys who never pick a winner are going with Philly, so I’m going with New England.
Leandro Mora: I usually like the underdog–Philadelphia.
Bill Morey: I’m sticking with Tom Brady. He’s a local boy to us. He went to Serra High in San Mateo and that’s where my dad went, so it’s hard not to root for him.
Dennis O’Neill: Philadelphia, absolutely.
Doug O’Neill: I love the Eagles on the money line.
Hector Palma: I think I have to go for the favorite. Brady has won this championship so many times.
Dean Pederson: As long as Brady is standing upright, he’ll be OK, and he’s a San Mateo boy.
Jorge Periban: Patriots.
Marcelo Polanco: The Brady team.
Mike Puype: The Eagles defense will put pressure on Brady, and when he’s under pressure, he’s not the same.
Mick Ruis: Eagles. The Pats know how to win but this is the time for the Eagles.
Gary Sherlock: New England.
Alan Sherman: New England. Brady is from San Mateo and grew up about three-quarters of a mile from Bay Meadows, as the crow flies.
Art Sherman: I’m going with the underdog. I’m tired of the other team winning. You know me (trainer of consummate underdog California Chrome)–I’m an underdog.
John Shirreffs: Philadelphia every quarter!
Steve Specht, from Golden Gate Fields: Belichick, he finds a way, doesn’t he?
Gary Stute: Got to go with Brady. He reminds me of Joe Montana.
Dan Ward: It’s un-American to pick against the Patriots.
Kathy Walsh: I’ve always been a Patriots’ fan. Brady is great.
Tim Yakteen: I hope it’s a great game–Philadelphia.
Howard Zucker: Pats.
Fans can enjoy live racing at Santa Anita before Sunday’s Big Game. First post time is 11 a.m., allowing patrons after the races to park themselves in front of a plethora of TVs at Sirona’s Sports Bar for the entire game. Admission to Sirona’s is free and drink specials will be offered throughout the day. Admission gates open at 9 a.m.
FINISH LINES: Trainer Art Sherman reports that California Chrome‘s full brother, Faversham, remains on course for the $200,000 California Cup Derby on Presidents Day, Monday, Feb. 19. Faversham worked five furlongs at Santa Anita Saturday in 1:01.40 under the watchful eye of Art’s son, Alan . . . Champion Unique Bella, prepping for the Grade II Santa Maria Stakes at 1 1/16 miles next Saturday, worked six furlongs under Freddie Garcia in 1:13, galloping out seven furlongs in 1:26.40. “Very nice” is how Jerry Hollendorfer termed the move . . . Asa Espinoza, 18-year-old nephew of Hall of Fame and Triple Crown-winning jockey Victor Espinoza, makes his riding debut Sunday as a 10-pound apprentice aboard Misty Slew for owner Stuart Tsujimoto and trainer Vann Belvoir in the seventh race. “He’s been working horses for Hollendorfer the past year,” said Brian Beach, agent for both Espinozas. “Vann was my first jock as an agent back around 1990.” Asa, who tacks 111 pounds, was born in Arcadia and attended Arcadia High School . . . There is a single ticket Pick Six carryover today of $145,141 . . . Mario Gutierrez, having withdrawn his appeal of a suspension handed down on Jan. 1, will serve three days, Feb. 15, 16 and 17.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Friday, Feb. 2)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||73||12||7||6||16%||34%||$757,733|
|William E. Morey||16||9||0||3||56%||75%||$317,023|