- JUSTIFY LOOKS ‘INCREDIBLE’ IN HIS GALLOP
- RAFAEL BEJARANO RESUMES RIDING TODAY
- KANTHAKA BACK SPRINTING IN LAZ BARRERA
- SHOW IT N MOE IT VS. GRADE I FOE SATURDAY
- STEVENS RETURNS TO SANTA ANITA ON MAY 17
ALL SYSTEMS GO FOR DERBY WINNER JUSTIFY
Conquering hero Bob Baffert was back on the beat at his home base of Santa Anita Thursday morning, five days after winning his fifth Kentucky Derby, this time on a sloppy track with undefeated Santa Anita Derby winner Justify, now the odds-on favorite to win the May 19 Preakness, despite a social media frenzy that erupted when Baffert brought the colt out for all to observe Sunday morning at Churchill Downs.
Substantiation was summarily dismissed by social media misanthropes after seeing Justify favor his left hind leg, their rambling rants ranging from his being “off” to “lame.”
More accurately described, it was “a minor foot bruise.”
“It’s not an issue,” Baffert said after Sunday’s hubbub, which proved to be much ado about nothing. “It was sensitive there. It’s like a diaper rash . . . He did not run down. They call them scratches or whatever.
“He’s had it before. You get it from wet (tracks) and you have to soften it up. It can be irritating. When he stepped on those rocks (outside the barn), it bit him . . . ”
This morning, Baffert reaffirmed Justify’s soundness.
“Justify went back to the track at Churchill Downs today,” Baffert said sans entourage Thursday morning, where he directed a four furlong workout of 48.80 by Mubtaahij for the Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita on May 26.
“He galloped today for the first time (since winning the Run for the Roses) and there must have been 500 people there to watch him. Jim (assistant Jim Barnes) and everybody said he looked incredible, so we’re good there.
“Maybe that will wash away all the rumors. It was my fault, though. I brought him out and tried to do the right thing, but his feet were sensitive on those rocks (gravel). I know one thing: we got rid of those rocks.
“It was a minor issue and we tried to downplay it, but he is the Derby winner, so it’s going to be like that. He’s going to draw all kinds of attention.”
POPULAR BEJARANO RESUMES RIDING TODAY
Rafael Bejarano rides for the first time today since suffering a fractured left wrist in a mishap seven weeks ago. Both he and his agent, Tora Yamaguchi, are happy to be back.
“He’s been working hard and we’re looking forward to it,” Yamaguchi said. “Rafael’s been responding well to physical therapy. Sitting on the sidelines is no fun. We want to be in the action. The wrist has healed up very well.
“Just like anything else, when you’re off for a prolonged period, you’ve got to start slowly and build your way back up, but he’s a popular name. We’re starting from zero, but people know who he is.”
Bejarano, a native of Peru who turns 36 on June 23, is named on three horses today, True Valor for Keith Desormeaux in the fourth race, Stormin Monarcho for David Jacobson in the seventh, and Pulpacheeks for Peter Eurton in the eighth.
KANTHAKA RETURNS TO SPRINT IN LAZ BARRERA
Kanthaka, last seen finishing sixth behind Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic in the Grade II Blue Grass at 1 1/8 miles April 7 at Keeneland, returns to a distance at which he won in Saturday’s Grade III Lazaro Barerra Stakes for three-year-olds at seven furlongs.
“At least we know he can do that,” Jerry Hollendorfer said, referring to Kanthaka’s victory in the Grade II San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs Feb. 10 at Santa Anita.
A chestnut son of Jimmy Creed owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, Kanthaka drew the rail against six rivals.
“That’s not ideal,” Hollendorfer said, “but I don’t think we were planning on being on the lead anyway.
As to the next race for Instilled Regard, who outran his odds of 85-1 in finishing a creditable but troubled fourth in the Kentucky Derby, Hollendofer said, “We’re discussing what to do next. We don’t have a solid plan yet.”
The Laz Barrera, race five of nine with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Kanthaka, Flavien Prat, 9-5; Calexman, Alonso Quinonez, 8-1; McKale, Drayden Van Dyke, 2-1; Zulfikhar, Martin Garcia, 5-2; King Cause, Geovanni Franco, 20-1; Bocephus, Stewart Elliott, 30-1; and $2,000 supplemental nominee Beautiful Shot, Kent Desormeaux, 6-1.
SHOW IT N MOE IT MEETS GRADE I WINNER IN ANGELS FLIGHT
Show It N Moe It seeks to make amends in Saturday’s salty $75,000 Angels Flight Stakes after missing by a neck as the 2-5 favorite in the Evening Jewel Stakes on April 7.
“It’s a tough race,” said part owner and trainer Gary Sherlock. “(Trainer Simon) Callaghan’s filly is a Grade I winner.” That would be $1,500 supplemental entry Moonshine Memories, winner of a pair of Grade I events as a two-year-old, the Del Mar Debutante and the Chandelier at Santa Anita, both last September.
Show It N Moe It drew the inside post position in a field of 10, but Sherlock wasn’t unduly concerned about that. “It’s about the competition, and also about the distance, so we’ll see,” he said. “We’ll find out.”
The Angels Flight, race eight of nine: Show It N Moe It, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; Moonshine Memories, Flavien Prat, 5-2; First Dudette, Stewart Elliott, 15-1; Emboldened, Martin Garcia, 8-1; Surrender Now, Victor Espinoza, 15-1; Uppercut, Mike Smith, 7-2; Highland Lass, Tyler Conner, 12-1; True Royalty, Drayden Van Dyke, 8-1; Thirteen Squared, Joe Talamo, 4-1; and Film Actress, Brayan Pena, 30-1.
GARY STEVENS TO RESUME RIDING AT SANTA ANITA
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens will begin riding regularly at Santa Anita next Thursday, May 17, after a successful winter campaign at Oaklawn Park where he won 25 races and compiled purse earnings of more than $1.7 million.
His agent will be Tony Matos, who will continue to represent Evin Roman, Eclipse Award winner as outstanding apprentice of 2017, currently recovering from a fracture to his left foot.
Matos said Roman has an appointment with Dr. James Tibone on May 17 and hopes to be cleared to resume riding in a matter of weeks.
FINISH LINES: Kenny Black is considering three races for American Stakes winner What a View: the $100,000 Crystal Water for Cal-breds on May 20; the Grade II, $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes the same day; and the Grade I, $400,000 Shoemaker Mile on Memorial Day, May 28. ‘We’ll see what the nominations look like,” the trainer said, “but right now we’re leaning towards the Whittingham.”
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, May 6)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||43||7||7||7||16%||49%||$363,513|