- BAFFERT THREE-YEAR-OLDS BREEZE ON DERBY TRAIL
- MAJESTIC HEAT COMES BACK QUICK FOR SPRING FEVER
- ASA ESPINOZA WINS HIS FIRST RACE AT THE AGE OF 18
- NEW 11:30 A.M. SUNDAY FIRST POST STARTS MARCH 11
- MAIDEN RACE NEXT FOR CALIFORNIA CHROME’S BROTHER
McKINZIE, SOLOMINI IN TRIPLE CROWN DRILLS FOR BAFFERT
Bob Baffert’s booming, bottomless barn of Triple Crown bluebloods had two on Santa Anita’s work tab Saturday morning, undefeated McKinzie and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Solomini, each going in company for their next stakes engagements.
At 9 a.m., McKinzie, with Drayden Van Dyke up, went seven furlongs in 1:25.40, while stablemate Downtowner was given a six furlong clocking of 1:14.60.
An hour earlier, Solomini, ridden by Flavien Prat, went seven furlongs in 1:24.80, while Restoring Hope was timed in 1:25 flat.
Among the 168 recorded workouts Saturday, including nine on the training track, was a six furlong move of 1:13.60 for Peter Eurton’s San Antonio winner Giant Expectations, who is being considered for either the Grade I Triple Bend at seven furlongs or the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap presented by San Manuel Casino at 1 ¼ miles, both on March 10, and a five furlong drill of 1:00.60 for John Sadler’s San Pasqual winner Accelerate, also ticketed for the Big ‘Cap.
Also, a six furlong breeze by Big ‘Cap candidate Pavel in 1:14.80 for Doug O’Neill; a four furlong bullet move of 47 flat for Malibu Stakes winner City of Light, being prepped for the Triple Bend by trainer Michael McCarthy; and a bullet five furlong move on the training track in 1:00.80 by Jeff Mullins trainee Itsinthepost, a contender for the Grade I Kilroe Mile on March 10.
MAJESTIC HEAT TRIES SIX FURLONGS SUNDAY
Majestic Heat makes an uncharacteristically quick turnaround in Sunday’s $100,000 Spring Fever Stakes, one in the Golden State Series for California-bred or sired horses, this for fillies and mares, four and up at six furlongs.
The six-year-old daughter of the late, great Unusual Heat was a distant third behind champion Unique Bella in the Grade II Santa Maria Stakes at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 10, and on Sunday will be going six furlongs competitively for the first time in her 19-race career. She won the Betty Grable at seven furlongs for state-breds last Nov. 12 at Del Mar.
“I wish it was seven-eighths,” Richard Mandella said of the Spring Fever, “but you don’t always get what you want.”
Five of the eight horses nominated to the Spring Fever were entered. They are: Majestic Heat, Flavien Prat, 6-5; Shy Carmelita, Joe Talamo, 6-1; Miss Sunset, Mike Smith, 8-5; Cuddle Alert, Tyler Baze, 4-1; and Bad Ju Ju, Geovanni Franco, 10-1.
TO THE ESPINOZAS GO THE VICTORIES
The Espinozas celebrated from A to V at Santa Anita Friday.
Asa Espinoza, an 18-year-old apprentice rider, won his first race when he guided 5-1 shot South Texas Lingo to a 1 ¼-length score for trainer Vladimir Cerin in the seventh race, a one mile test for $6,250 claimers.
A half-hour earlier, his Hall of Fame uncle, 45-year-old Victor, piloted 2-1 favorite Mixed Emotions to a one-length maiden win for trainer Eric Kruljac in a field of nine going 5 ½ furlongs for a $50,000 claiming tag. The Espinoza Daily Double paid $45.80.
Their peers launched a traditional first-victory welcome before Asa returned to the jocks’ room, dousing him with buckets of liquid at hand, followed by gobs of talcum powder, both overflowing onto Victor, visually christening them for all to see.
“Asa has been here over a year,” Brian Beach, agent for both jockeys, said Saturday morning. “He’s been working horses in the mornings but we were waiting until he turned 18 last December for him to get his license, because his parents are back in Mexico.
“But he was born in Arcadia and went to Arcadia High School. He’s been working a lot of horses for a lot of people and this proved to be a good result, because he’s only had seven mounts, so it was faster than expected.
“He’s got some good people in his corner,” Beach continued. “He lives with Victor so he’s getting good advice on a daily basis, and I’ve observed a lot in 29 years as an agent, so the combination of those experiences helps a young rider avoid pitfalls he might otherwise not.
“Asa is a quick learner improving race by race. It’s exciting. I think he has a big future.”
NEW ‘SUNDAY BRUNCH’ FIRST POST TIME OF 11:30 A.M. STARTS MARCH 11
Santa Anita Park has announced that it will adopt a new “Sunday Brunch” first post time of 11:30 a.m. on all Sundays, beginning with the onset of Daylight Savings Time on March 11, through closing day of its current Winter/Spring Meet on June 24.
Effective Thursday, March 15, first post time on all other racing days except Sundays and Triple Crown Saturdays, will be at 12 noon.
Current post times will remain the same prior to Daylight Savings on March 11, with weekday starts at 1 p.m. and weekend first post time at 12:30 p.m.
Santa Anita’s current 104-day Winter/Spring Meeting, which began Dec. 26, operates on a Thursday through Sunday basis, with few exceptions.
For additional information on upcoming events and stakes races, please visit www.santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
FINISH LINES: Faversham, California Chrome‘s full brother who finished eighth in the California Cup Derby last Monday in only his second race, likely will make his next start against maidens, trainer Art Sherman said Saturday morning. “He got bumped pretty hard going into that first turn,” Sherman said, “and it was just a lot to ask, but he’ll be fine. I’m kind of going to freshen him up and run him in a maiden race at a route next time and give him a chance. You know, his brother ran on the grass and won, so that’s not out of the question.” . . . There is a Pick Six carryover today of $62,734 . . . Tom Quigley‘s guest handicapper Sunday will be mutuel clerk Doug Kempt, 11:20 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Friday, Feb. 23)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||103||18||10||9||17%||36%||$1,132,188|
|William E. Morey||25||9||1||7||36%||68%||$379,378|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||31||7||2||5||23%||45%||$249,965|