A BUSY OPENING DAY FOR BALTAS ON SATURDAY
DRAFT PICK IN THE TRENCHES FOR SAN ANTONIO
POST SHOULD AID BELLAFINA IN GRADE I LA BREA
GLATT DUO MAKE U.S. DEBUT IN MATHIS BROS. MILE
POLANCO REMEMBERS THE LATE BOBBY FRANKEL
POPULAR WALL CALENDAR FREE ON OPENING DAY
BEER AND CIDER FESTIVAL IS SET FOR TOMORROW
BALTAS HAS 10 ENTERED FOR SANTA ANITA OPENER
Richard Baltas prides himself in having a “racing stable,” and race he will when Santa Anita’s Winter Meet starts tomorrow, showcasing seven stakes, three of them Grade I’s.
Fresh from capturing the Del Mar training championship, Baltas has 10 horses entered on the 11-race opening day card, eight of them in stakes, including Lady Prancealot in the Grade I American Oaks, Del Mar May and Motion Emotion in the Grade I La Brea, Excellent Sunset in the Grade III Robert J. Frankel and Neptune’s Storm and Bob and Jackie in the Grade II Mathis Brothers Mile.
“She got a very good trip last time with (Joe) Bravo,” Baltas said of Lady Prancealot, a consistent but trouble prone Irish-bred filly that won the Grade III Valley View at Keeneland Oct. 18. “She got a big number (91 Beyer), and if she can duplicate that, she’ll probably win.”
Motion Emotion shortens up in the seven furlong La Brea after two straight races at a
mile and one-sixteenth, including victory last out in the Zia Park Oaks.
“It might be too short for her, but it’s the last Grade I race in her three-year-old year and she came out of the race good, she’s doing well, so we’re going to take a chance,” Baltas said.
Excellent Sunrise was beaten a head and a nose as the favorite in her last two starts
at a mile on turf at Del Mar, and Baltas removes the blinkers from the Irish-bred mare in the Frankel at 1 1/8 miles on turf. “She seems to be training really well,” he said.
Neptune’s Storm has never been out of the money in his last 11 races and figures to have another strong showing in the Grade II Mathis Brothers Mile on turf.
“He lost to Mo Forza twice and Mo Forza’s the race favorite, but Neptune’s Storm is a damn good horse who’s made over $600,000. We’re looking for a good start and a good meet.”
Santa Anita’s opening week schedule offers live racing Sunday, Dec. 29; New Year’s Day, Wednesday, Jan. 1; and Friday, Jan. 3 through Sunday, Jan. 5.
First post time opening day is 11 a.m. Admission gates open at 9 a.m. Santa Anita’s opening day stakes: the $75,000 Lady of Shamrock, race two: Keeper Ofthe Stars, Abel Cedillo, 5-2; Brill, Flavien Prat, 3-1; Bodhicitta, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Mischiffie, Drayden Van Dyke, 6-1; Angel Alessandra, Joel Rosario, 6-1; Lucky Peridot, Javier Castellano, 4-1; Sold It, Mario Gutierrez, 10-1; and Lakerball, Joe Talamo, 12-1.
The Grade II San Antonio, race five: Gray Magician, Javier Castellano, 4-1; Gift Box, Joel Rosario, 9-5; King Abner, Tyler Baze, 10-1; Draft Pick, Joe Talamo, 9-2; Mugaritz, Ricardo Gonzalez, 10-1; Midcourt, Victor Espinoza, 2-1; and Fight On, Abel Cedillo, 20-1.
The Grade I American Oaks, race six: So Much Happy, Tiago Pereira, 30-1; Apache Princess, Javier Castellano, 5-1; Mucho Unusual, Joel Rosario, 4-1; K P Slickem, Jorge Velez, 15-1; Lady Prancealot, Joe Bravo, 2-1; Pretty Point, Mike Smith, 30-1; Giza Goddess, Victor Espinoza, 7-2; and Vibrance, Abel Cedillo, 3-1.
The Grade I La Brea, presented as race seven: First Star, Drayden Van Dyke, 4-1; Del Mar May, Joe Bravo, 12-1; Free Cover, Abel Cedillo, 15-1; Stirred, Geovanni Franco, 20-1; Bellafina, Flavien Prat, 9-5; Bell’s the One, Javier Castellano, 7-2; Hard Not to Love, Mike Smith, 6-1; Motion Emotion, Mario Gutierrez, 15-1; and Mother Mother, Joel Rosario, 6-1.
The Grade III Robert J. Frankel, race eight: Tiny Tina, Flavien Prat, 6-1; Excellent Sunset, Joel Rosario, 7-2; Don’t Blame Judy, Victor Espinoza, 5-1; Streak of Luck, Jose Valdivia Jr., 5-1; Curlin’s Journey, Ruben Fuentes, 6-1; Harmless, Abel Cedillo, 6-1; Mirth, Mike Smith, 5-2; and Ms Peintour, Brice Blanc, 20-1.
The Grade I Runhappy Malibu, race nine: Much Better, Flavien Prat, 12-1; Complexity, Javier Castellano, 5-2; Manny Wah, Channing Hill, 8-1; Roadster, Joel Rosario, 3-1; and Omaha Beach, Mike Smith, 4-5.
The Grade II Mathis Brothers Mile, race 10: Sash, Drayden Van Dyke, 12-1; Originaire, Umberto Rispoli, 15-1; Ocean Fury, Flavien Prat, 12-1; Never Easy, Rafael Bejarano, 15-1; Mo Forza, Joel Rosario, 9-5; Neptune’s Storm, Abel Cedillo, 3-1; Kingly, Mario Gutierrez, 6-1; Proud Pedro, Tyler Baze, 15-1; Barristan The Bold, Javier Castellano, 12-1; Loafers Boy, Tiago Pereira, 50-1; and Bob and Jackie, Heriberto Figueroa, 6-1.
DEPARTING TALAMO BACK ON DRAFT PICK IN SAN ANTONIO
Draft Pick deserves an “E” for effort if nothing else.
The four-year-old Candy Ride colt seldom runs a poor race, even against Grade I competition. He was second in the Pacific Classic and fourth in the Clark, each a Grade I, and has a 3-3-3 record from 14 starts with earnings of $541,680, not too shabby for winning just one stake, the Grade III Affirmed at Santa Anita last June 18.
Saturday he resurfaces in the Grade II San Antonio, a steppingstone to the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 7. The San Antonio marks one of the final mounts here for Joe Talamo, who on Jan. 5 leaves Santa Anita to ride regularly starting Jan. 24 at Oaklawn Park.
“We’ll miss Joe,” said Peter Eurton, himself a former jockey who trains Draft Pick. “He’s a good kid, a hard worker and a talented rider.”
Talamo, who turns 30 on Jan. 12, has ridden Draft Pick in eight of his last nine races, winning three.
As for Draft Pick, Eurton said “he seems to be pretty sharp, he likes the cooler weather and he’s trained well to this point.”
TRAINER ‘LOVES’ POST FOR BELLAFINA IN LA BREA
As her 9-5 morning line odds would suggest, Simon Callaghan expects an exemplary effort from Bellafina in Saturday’s Grade I La Brea Stakes for three-year-old fillies at seven furlongs. It is one of three Grade I races at Santa Anita tomorrow, the last three Grade I’s to be run in the United States this year.
Bellafina drew post position five in a field of nine.
“I love the post,” said Callaghan, who trains the daughter of Quality Road for Kaleem Shah. The La Brea will mark the sixth consecutive start in a Grade I for Bellafina, who has been ridden by Flavien Prat in each of her 12 races, winning six while earning $1,386,725.
ENGLISH INVADERS DEBUT IN MATHIS BROTHERS MILE FOR GLATT
Mark Glatt has a pair of double digit morning line outsiders making their United States debuts in Saturday’s Grade II Mathis Brothers Mile on turf: Sash and Barristan The Bold, both bred in England and entering off a brief layoff.
“They’re both coming up to it fine,” the trainer said of the pair, each owned by Red Baron’s Barn LLC or Rancho Temescal LLC. “We’ll get an idea of exactly where they’re going to fit here, but both are nice looking horses that have trained well.
“They’ve been away for a bit but I’m not too concerned about that. Good horses come over here pretty fit and they seem to have maintained their fitness, so we’ll see what happens.”
SANTA ANITA REMEMBERS THE LATE BOBBY FRANKEL TOMORROW
Google Bobby Frankel and it comes up “American horse trainer,” but he was much more than that. Infinitely more.
Irascible, cantankerous, gruff would seem to fit his exterior demeanor, but deep down, in crunch time, when push came to shove, Frankel’s best side came to the fore. He was humane.
Take it from Marcelo Polanco, a third generation horseman who learned the ropes under Frankel for a year and a half circa 1991-93 when the Hall of Fame trainer was in his prime.
Frankel, for whom Saturday’s Grade III Robert J. Frankel Stakes is named, died at the age of 68 on Nov. 16, 2009. Hard to believe he’s been gone for 10 years.
“It was the most wonderful time,” the 59-year-old Polanco recalled Friday morning. “We had horses for Juddmonte Farms, Jerry Moss, and Bobby would send me to other tracks when we ran in stakes, so I was on the road frequently. He sent me to Louisiana Downs for the turf festival, and of the six horses we ran, five won. I went to Hawthorne with Marquetry for a $500,000 race and it was very cold, and he used to call me every day with four questions, always very quick: “‘How’s the horse?’ Fine. ‘Temperature?” No. ‘How’s he eating?’ Good. ‘How’s the weather?’ Super cold.
“I said, ‘What do I do?’ He said, ‘Walk him.’ This was five days before the race. Next day, same conversation. Finally, the day before the race I opened my mouth and asked him, ‘Do you want me to walk the horse before the race?’ and he said, ‘Listen, the horse has been running all year, he’s got all his conditioning, do you want to get him sick?’
“The horse won super easy that day and I still have the picture.”
Polanco, a trainer in his own right, is a native of Santiago, Chile, the country where his grandfather, Pedro, won the Chilean Triple Crown circa 1912. Marcelo was assistant to Julio Canani for 6 ½ years before joining Frankel with Dan Ward and Humberto Ascanio. Prior to that, he served with Ron McAnally, but his time with Frankel understandably remains indelible.
“He was a great guy,” Polanco said.
SANTA ANITA’S POPULAR WALL CALENDAR FREE ON OPENING DAY
A “must-have” among racegoers for decades, Santa Anita’s traditional wall calendar will be available free to all fans with paid admission on opening day. This year’s calendar will include racing highlights from the past 12 months and information about the California Retirement Management Account (CARMA), which is based at Santa Anita and assists retired racehorses in finding their next career and home.
CARMA, which operates largely on purse money which is designated by Thoroughbred owners, facilitates funding and networking for over 20 aftercare charities in addition to running a placement program serving horses that have competed at Santa Anita, Del Mar and Golden Gate Fields.
CARMA hosts a variety of fund raising events on a monthly basis, including Thoroughbred Classic Horse Shows, in which retired racehorses can compete against each other in multiple disciplines. CARMA also assists with aftercare awareness events and placement success stories.
Special first post time opening day is 11 a.m. and admission gates open at 9 a.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
SANTA ANITA HOSTS CRAFT BEER & CIDER FESTIVAL OPENING DAY
In addition to world class racing and Santa Anita’s coveted traditional wall calendar on opening day, fans will be treated to some of the best brews and ciders in Southern California as the track stages it’s popular Craft Beer and Cider Trackside Festival as well.
Available to those 21 and over, the Opening Day Beer and Cider Festival will provide attendees with trackside seating and mouth-watering barbeque, provided by Meathead BBQ. The following packages are available at santaanita.com:
VIP PACKAGE ($55):
–Eight (3 oz.) Beer or Cider tastings
–3 oz. Tasting Cup
–One Signature BBQ Plate from Meathead BBQ
–$5 Wagering Voucher
–Access to Special VIP Trackside Seating
–Club House Admission
–Wagering Tip Sheet
–Access to Trackside and Grandstand Seating
GENERAL PACKAGE ($32):
–Eight (3 oz.) Beer or Cider Tastings
–3 oz. Tasting Cup
–$5 Wagering Voucher
–Club House Admission
–Wagering Tip Sheet
–Access to Trackside and Grandstand Seating Areas
Please note, children are welcome in trackside seating areas, but you must be 21 or over to purchase the package. Seating is not guaranteed.
For additional information regarding opening day and Santa Anita’s upcoming Winter Meet, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
FINISH LINES: American Theorem, second to Eight Rings in the American Pharoah Stakes on Sept. 27 in his most recent start, could begin breezing in January for a possible start on the Triple Crown trail in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes on March 7, trainer George Papaprodromou said . . . Santa Anita track announcer Frank Mirahmadi will be Tom Quigley‘s guest 10 a.m. Saturday, while Toby Turrell, clocker and publisher of The Winners Card, will do honors 10:20 a.m. Sunday, each day in the XBTV studios . . . Thanks to Santa Anita’s Marketing Department, fans at Clockers’ Corner on a brisk but invigorating Friday morning were treated to free burritos courtesy of Burrito Break of Los Angeles, which caters to groups from 20 to 200. They can be reached at burrito-break.com . . . First post time for Sunday’s 10-race card is 11:30 a.m.
LATEST CONTENT FROM XBTV:
XBTV Saturday: What to Watch for at Santa Anita Park on December 28th, 2019
Richard Mandella Discusses Omaha Beach’s Final Work Ahead of the Grade I Malibu Stakes.
Peter Eurton Discusses Draft Pick’s Last Race Heading into the San Antonio.
Gift Box (Sadler) 12-20-19