- BOLT D’ORO PICTURE-PERFECT IN DERBY BREEZE
- APPRENTICE RIDER ASA ESPINOZA IS ‘ACING IT’
- BEJARANO IS GETTING READY TO RESUME RIDING
- FIRST POST WILL BE 12:30 P.M. STARTING ON MAY 3
BOLT D’ORO, MIDNIGHT BISOU WORK FOR KENTUCKY
Under a verdant setting that would have buoyed the artistic heart of Monet, Bolt d’Oro
was poetry in motion as he glided over Santa Anita’s main track at 7:45 Saturday morning, working a half-mile in 48.20 for next Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
Victor Espinoza was merely along for the ride on the millionaire son of Medaglia d’Oro, owned and trained by Mick Ruis, who was ebullient in his praise after the drill.
“I loved it,” Ruis said. “I told Victor, ‘Don’t move a muscle; just work,’ because he is doing so good right now, and Victor never moved a muscle. We did not want him to shake a rein or anything at him. I don’t think we could ask for a more perfect work . . . If he doesn’t have the air in him now, he’s never going to have it.
“Yesterday, my exercise rider (Jose Velazquez) came back crying to the barn, saying, ‘Patron, I’m so sorry. He’s a different horse. There’s just too much power.’ Here’s a kid who gets on him every day. That’s how good the horse is now.”
Also working Saturday was Santa Anita Oaks winner Midnight Bisou, going six furlongs on the main track in 1:13 flat before sunrise.
Trainer Bill Spawr, a long-time advocate of the early bird catches the worm philosophy, at 4:30 a.m. watched Martin Pedroza guide the daughter of Midnight Lute through fractions of 12.80, 25, 37.40, 49.20 and 1:01.20 before galloping out seven furlongs in 1:27.80.
Midnight Bisou is a likely favorite for next Friday’s Grade I Kentucky Oaks.
APPRENTICE ASA ESPINOZA ‘ACES IT’ OVER LAST TWO DAYS
With a disarming smile and eager work ethic, 18-year-old apprentice Asa Espinoza is on the move, evidenced by the fact he’s won with his last four mounts, two on Thursday and another pair on Friday, culminating with trainer Peter Miller’s Palace Paynter ($7.40) in yesterday’s fourth race.
“He won those four races for four different trainers,” said Brian Beach, agent for the fledgling Espinoza and his Hall of Fame uncle, Victor. “It’s pretty unusual for an apprentice these days to start here at Santa Anita. Usually, when a bug boy comes here, they’ve ridden 60, 80 or more races at lesser tracks.
“He’s a quick learner. He’s focused on one thing, and that’s being a jockey. People are noticing his progression and we’ve got more and more trainers asking us to work horses in the morning. They’re looking to the future and they can see that he’s improving every day.”
After winning with his fourth consecutive mount in Friday’s fourth race, Michael Wrona exclaimed, “Asa’s Acing It!”
With six wins through eight Spring Meet racing days, Espinoza is currently a joint second in the jockey standings, three behind Flavien Prat while tied with Stewart Elliott and Giovanni Franco.
“It’s a results-oriented business,” said Beach. “The more he wins, the more things pick up. And, people like him. Vladimir Cerin says he’s got a smile that can overcome bad weather.”
Not a bad attribute for a bug boy who’s also got name recognition and plenty of talent in his corner.
FIRST POST TIME WILL BE 12:30 P.M. STARTING MAY 3
Beginning next Thursday, May 3, first post time on all Santa Anita live racing days except the three Triple Crown Saturdays will be at 12:30 p.m.
Although Santa Anita’s earlier post times over the past six weeks resulted in modest wagering increases, the gains were not as robust as had been hoped. The shift to a singular later post time reflects Santa Anita’s continued commitment to fans and horsemen to experiment with new ideas and concepts and to make adjustments according to market conditions and customer preferences.
In accordance with the shift to a later first post time, beginning this Monday, April 30, Santa Anita’s main track will be open for training from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., with three renovation breaks. The training track will be available from 4:45 a.m. to 10 a.m., with two renovation breaks. (Both surfaces are open for training seven days a week).
With the Kentucky Derby a week from tomorrow, on May 5, Santa Anita’s admission gates will open at 7:15 a.m. with first live race post time on Derby Day at 12 noon.
FINISH LINES: Agent Tora Yamaguchi reports that Rafael Bejarano will begin working horses next week and be ready to ride competitively the following week after recovering from a fractured left wrist in a riding mishap last March 18. Peruvian native Bejarano, who turns 36 on June 23, had 29 wins from 181 mounts at the recent Winter Meet before his injury . . . Santiago Gonzalez will move his tack to Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota, on Monday to ride full time there, according to his agent at Santa Anita, Tommy Ball, now back with Israel Ocampo, who rides Anatolian Heat for Peter Miller in Sunday’s San Simeon Stakes. Gonzalez, a 34-year-old native of Venezuela, has two wins from 11 mounts through eight days of the Spring Meet and was 11 for 114 at the Winter Meet. Ocampo had been sidelined since last October after undergoing surgery for a broken left thumb . . . Champion Unique Bella went five furlongs for Jerry Hollendorfer in 1:01.20 Saturday, while promising sprinter American Pastime had his first breeze since being sidelined with a bruise to his right coffin bone following the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last Nov. 4. American Pastime went three furlongs in 37.60 for trainer Bob Hess Jr. They were but two of 220 recorded workouts at Santa Anita, including 19 on the training track, where Skye Diamonds went six furlongs in 1:14.20 for Bill Spawr. . . Brian Beach, agent for Victor Espinoza and his nephew, hot-riding apprentice Asa Espinoza, will be Tom Quigley‘s guest handicapper 10:20 a.m. Sunday in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Santa Anita’s Paddock Room will open early at 7:15 a.m. for simulcast wagering on Kentucky Oaks Day, next Friday, May 4. On Saturday, May 5, Santa Anita hosts the Biggest Derby Party West of Kentucky. Patrons can watch and wager on the 144th Run for the Roses and enjoy a full wagering card at The Great Race Place. Featured will be a trackside craft beer festival, the Californian vintage motorcycle show, a Chandelier Room Derby party, a Kentucky Derby hat contest, the Family Fun Zone and a restaurant dining package. For tickets, please visit santaanita.com/events.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Friday, April 27)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||30||5||5||6||17%||53%||$257,325|