BAFFERT KEEPS BREEDERS’ CUP OPTIONS OPEN
HORSEMEN FANCY NO FRILLS SWINGTIME STAKES
LINE MAKER WHITE HAS KNICKS GO AS CLASSIC FAVORITE
STAKES RACE IS NAMED FOR 100-YEAR-OLD SHEAR
‘DOOR OPEN’ FOR BAFFERT BREEDERS’ CUP HORSES
After a successful opening weekend at Santa Anita, Bob Baffert is keeping his Breeders’ Cup options open.
The good news is his runners last Friday and Saturday came out of their races in good order and now it’s a matter of continued good health and good luck in advance of the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar on Nov. 5 and 6.
“Medina (Spirit) and Corniche came back really well,” said the two-time Triple Crowning-winning trainer, who with 17 Breeders’ Cup victories ranks second only to fellow Hall of Fame member D. Wayne Lukas with 20.
“Actually, all my horses came out well. I was disappointed in my fillies (Censorship and Grace Adler, a distant fourth and fifth in the Chandelier Stakes). I’m going to work them back and see where we are. Everybody ran well except for the fillies.
“Private Mission (2 ¼-length winner of the Zenyatta Stakes over stablemate As Time Goes By) definitely goes on to the Breeders’ Cup. As Time Goes By, we don’t know yet.
“Eight Rings (possible for the Dirt Mile) ran a big race (winning a 1 1/16-mile allowance race), but right now we’re keeping our options open with nothing set in stone except the ‘Win and You’re In’ horses are definitely going.
“Corniche (3 ¼-length winner of the American Pharoah as the 2-5 favorite) is going, as well as Pinehurst. Rockefeller (fourth by seven lengths to Corniche), he got tired.
“Being as the Breeders’ Cup is close (to his home base of Santa Anita), it gives me the advantage of coming back and working some horses to see how they do before shipping.
“I’m leaving the door open for those horses since we still have a little bit of time before the pre-entries and all that.”
BALTAS HAS TWO FOR THE MONEY IN SWINGTIME
Saturday’s Swingtime Stakes, a restricted event for fillies and mares three and up at a mile on turf, offers a relatively trifling $70,000 in purse money yet drew 27 nominations, five from trainer Richard Baltas, who entered two.
What’s the allure?
“People have horses with conditions that don’t win the big races, so a race like this has appeal,” said Baltas, who entered Ippodamia’s Girl and Nasty, each coming off recent graded stakes races.
Ippodamia’s Girl, a six-year-old Stormy Atlantic mare bred by George Schwary and owned by George and Martha Schwary Racing, LLC, numbers the restricted Osunitas Stakes among her five victories.
Nasty, a four-year-old daughter of Street Sense owned by LNJ Foxwoods and bred by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC, also has a restricted victory among her three from 11 starts.
The field for the Swingtime, race seven of nine with a 1 p.m. first post time: Global Brand, Drayden Van Dyke, 12-1; Cowboys Daughter, Geovanni Franco, 15-1; Avenue de France, Umberto Rispoli, 5-1; Ippodemia’s Girl, Mario Gutierrez, 7-2; Brooke, Kyle Frey, 4-1; Ellie Arroway, Mike Smith, 15-1; Norma Jean B., Abel Cedillo, 6-1; Nasty, Juan Hernandez, 12-1; England’s Rose, Victor Espinoza, 5-1; and Quiet Secretary, Tyler Baze, 6-1.
LINE MAKER JON WHITE MAKES KNICKS GO EARLY CLASSIC FAVORITE
Santa Anita Morning Line Maker Jon White has installed a pair of Brad Cox trainees, recent Grade III Lukas Classic Stakes winner Knicks Go and top three-year-old Essential Quality, as the early 5-2 and 3-1 favorites among a list 12 Breeders’ Cup Classic hopefuls. To be run on Nov. 6 at Del Mar, the 38th running of the Classic offers a purse of $6 million.
“At this point, I expect Knicks Go to be sent off as the Classic favorite,” said White in his weekly XpressBet.com column. “But I also think it’s a pretty close call between Knicks Go and Essential Quality.” A winner of five out of his six starts this year, Godolphin’s homebred Essential Quality comes off a win in the Grade I Travers Stakes on Aug. 28.
“As for Essential Quality, I think there is a chance that he ends up being the favorite when the Classic field breaks from the gate,” White continued. “After all, Essential Quality has been the favorite in every single one of his nine career starts. He’s won two of the nation’s premier races for three-year-olds, the Belmont and the Travers. The only time Essential Quality has been defeated, he had a very wide trip and finished (a close) fourth in the Kentucky Derby.”
White also weighed in on a pair of highly regarded sophomores based at Santa Anita–Doug O’Neill’s Hot Rod Charlie and Bob Baffert’s Kentucky Derby winning Medina Spirit.
“Hot Rod Charlie is going into the Classic off a terrific win in the (Grade I) Pennsylvania Derby in which he received a 111 Beyer Speed Figure,” said White. “That’s the highest Beyer in a race at a mile or longer by a three-year-old this year. Essential Quality’s top Beyer is the 109 he got when he won the Belmont.
“Medina Spirit won Santa Anita’s Grade I Awesome Again Stakes by five lengths last Saturday when facing his elders for the first time. It’s certainly to Medina Spirit’s credit that he not only clobbered older horses, he beat the winner of this year’s Pacific Classic (Tripoli) and Santa Anita Handicap (Idol). He also got a strong 107 Beyer, his best figure yet.”
White, who will be making the morning line for his seventh Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 5 and 6, lists the following 12 horses as his top Classic prospects: Knicks Go (5-2), Essential Quality (3-1), Hot Rod Charlie (5-1), Medina Spirit (6-1), Art Collector (10-1), Max Player (10-1), Maxfield (12-1), Tripoli (15-1), Dr Post (20-1), Happy Saver (20-1), Idol (30-1) and Stilleto Boy (30-1).
SHEAR MILE HONORS CENTURIAN PADDOCK CAPTAIN
Last Saturday when Santa Anita unveiled a plaque commemorating six decades of dedicated service to its recently retired 100-year-old Paddock Captain John Shear, the track also announced it will further honor him by renaming the Santana Mile the “John Shear Mile.”
For older horses, the $75,000 John Shear Mile will be run on Sunday, April 10.
Employed by Santa Anita since 1961, Shear, who retired this past June, gained national recognition when on March 12, 2011, he sustained life threatening injuries as he threw himself between an on-rushing loose horse and a 5-year-old girl just outside Santa Anita’s Seabiscuit Walking Ring.
“John Shear is a legend among all of us here at Santa Anita, fans, jockeys, horsemen and employees,” said Chris Merz, Santa Anita’s Director of Racing and Racing Secretary. “We are proud to rename this race in his honor and to help share his legacy of kindness, compassion and dedication to the well-being of our sport with many generations of future racegoers.”
Orphaned at a young age in his native England, Shear aspired to be a jockey as a young man but emigrated to Canada as an exercise rider who later worked as an assistant trainer. Asked in the fall of 1954 if he’d like to accompany a group of horses from Vancouver, B.C. to Santa Anita, Shear leapt at the chance and the rest, as could be said, is history.
FINISH LINES: Flavien Prat and Bob Baffert are in familiar spots after the first three days of the meet, leading in wins (seven and five, respectively) and purse earnings, $868,048 and $637,820 . . . Santa Anita Handicap winner Idol, sixth by 16 lengths behind front-running winner Medina Spirit in a wide trip in the Awesome Again Stakes last Saturday, his first race in seven months, came back in good order and will be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 6. “He needed the race and it was a slow pace,” trainer Richard Baltas said . . . Ready to run: there were 82 horses entered in Friday’s nine-race program, an average of more than nine per race . . . Of 97 recorded workouts Friday, one was a four-furlong drill in 50 seconds by American Stakes winner Restrainedvengence for Val Brinkerhoff, and a five-furlong training track move in 1:02.20 by Senorita winner Madone for Simon Callaghan . . .There is holiday racing Monday, Columbus Day, Oct. 11. First post time is 1 p.m.