- ESPINOZA TO WORK BOLT D’ORO ON TUESDAY
- EASY MAIDEN WINNER JUSTIFY GETS 104 BEYER
- ROMAN, PRAT DEADLOCKED IN JOCKEYS’ RACE
BOLT D’ORO TO BREEZE FOR SAN FELIPE UNDER ESPINOZA
Bolt d’Oro, a leading contender for the Triple Crown who is scheduled to make his three-year-old debut in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on March 10, will work towards that goal Tuesday morning with Victor Espinoza aboard.
“He’ll go five-eighths in company,” owner/trainer Mick Ruis said Monday morning at Clockers’ Corner. “I wanted to go out of the gate, but the gate is not available on Tuesdays (the gate crews’ day off), and I want to keep my six-day schedule, so it looks like I’ll go six furlongs from the gate next Monday when Javier (Castellano) is in town (from Florida) to work him.”
The San Felipe, a Grade II test at a mile and one-sixteenth, yields $400,000 in purse money and offers 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, 20 to the runner-up, 10 to the third-place finisher and five to the fourth.
With four-time Eclipse Award winner from 2013 through 2016 as outstanding jockey Castellano currently listed as the rider on two other Derby candidates, as well as Bolt d’Oro, and the Run for the Roses over two months away–light years in racing–anything can happen.
Thus Ruis could do worse than have three-time Kentucky Derby winner, Triple Crown champion, and newly-minted Hall of Fame member Espinoza waiting in the wings to ride Bolt d’Oro on the first Saturday in May, should the fates allow.
JUSTIFY WINS AS ADVERTISED IN DEBUT
Justify, rollicking 9 ½-length winner in his debut race Sunday, earned a Beyer Figure of 104 for his performance under Drayden Van Dyke.
The $500,000 son of Scat Daddy trained by Bob Baffert was head and head early and took control around the far turn, getting seven furlongs in 1:21.86 under 122 pounds. The chestnut colt had been firing bullets in advance of his first start, the most recent being a 1:12.40 clocking for six furlongs from the gate on Feb. 5.
When asked about the possibility of making the Triple Crown trail, Baffert responded, “It’s not too late. I’ve got a plan . . . We’re looking (for a graded stakes race). He’s shown his brilliance in the morning.”
Working Monday morning for Baffert were Las Virgenes winner Dream Tree, a candidate for the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks on April 7, who went six furlongs in a bullet 1:12.80, and the venerable and well-traveled Hoppertunity, who went the same distance in 1:14.60.
The Grade I, $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap presented by San Manuel Casino on March 10 and the Dubai World Cup on March 31 are options for the seven-year-old son of Any Given Saturday, who has earned more than $4.3 million.
ROMAN, PRAT ONCE AGAIN SHARE RIDING LEAD
Through 32 days of Santa Anita’s Winter Meet, apprentice Evin Roman and journeyman Flavien Prat were tied for the riding lead with 28 victories each.
Prat made up considerable ground in the past few weeks to catch Roman, winning at least one race at day for 12 straight days until yesterday, when he was blanked on three rides.
The 19-year-old Roman, Eclipse Award winner as outstanding apprentice of 2017, loses his five-pound apprentice weight allowance on March 12. He and Prat tied for honors at Santa Anita’s 2017 Summer Meet with 41 victories each, although Roman had 17 more mounts.
This meet, Roman has ridden 176 horses, 31 more than Prat, but the Frenchman leads everyone in purse money won with $1,584,008. Kent Desormeaux is second with $1,346,986 and ranks third behind Roman and Prat in victories with 25.
Desormeaux, who turns 48 on Feb. 27, leads in stakes victories with eight, one up on Tyler Baze and three up on Mike Smith.
Among trainers, Peter Miller holds an 18-16 lead over Bob Baffert, while sending out 12 more runners, 76-64. Baffert leads in money won with $1,007,489, the only conditioner to crack the million dollar mark to date.
Favorites are winning 35.48 percent of the time (99 of 279), slightly above the national average. On dirt, they’re coming home first at a 33.53 clip (57 of 170) and on turf considerably higher at 38.53 percent (42 of 109).
Odds-on favorites have captured 29 of 47 races, 61.70 percent, while in-the-money odds-on favorites have been successful in 44 of 47 races, 93.62 percent.
FINISH LINES: Champion female sprinter of 2017 Unique Bella worked four furlongs under the watchful eye of Jerry Hollendorfer Monday morning in a bullet 1:00.20, breezing, for the Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes at 1 1/8-miles on March 17. It was the fastest of 54 drills at the distance. Exercise rider Freddie Garcia was aboard the four-year-old gray daughter of Tapit, who rolled to a facile nine-length victory in the Grade II Santa Maria Stakes Feb. 10 . . . Reminder, Santa Anita has Win, Place and Show Parlay Wagering available every racing day . . . Santa Anita will be dark for live racing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but be open for simulcast wagering Wednesday and Thursday with free admission and free parking. Admission gates open those days at 10 a.m. Live racing resumes Friday, Feb. 23, at 1 p.m. . . . Sign on with the Los Angeles Times Horse Racing Newsletter. Authored by John Cherwa, it offers entries, charts and more at http://www.latimes.com/newsletters/la-newsletter-racing-signup-page-htmlstory.html.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, Feb. 18)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||101||18||10||8||18%||36%||$1,127,883|
|William E. Morey||24||9||1||7||38%||71%||$375,378|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||31||7||2||5||23%||45%||$249,965|