STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN -FRIDAY, JANUARY 24, 2020

  • CALIFORNIA STILL DREAMIN’ IN RICH PEGASUS
  • AX MAN MAKES HIS DEBUT ON GRASS SUNDAY
  • UNBEATEN SPEED PASS SEEKS THIRD IN A ROW

HIGHER POWER, MUCHO GUSTO HEAD PEGASUS WORLD CUP

With the 11th-hour defection of Santa Anita-based Omaha Beach from Saturday’s Grade I, $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park, two other locally based stalwarts have assumed the roles of likely favorites, the John Sadler-trained Higher Power and Mucho Gusto, conditioned by Bob Baffert.

Omaha Beach, the pre-race favorite for the Kentucky Derby last May 4, was declared out of that Triple Crown classic with a throat ailment the week of the race, and just yesterday, the star-crossed son of War Front trained by Richard Mandella was scratched from the Pegasus due to an issue with his right hind fetlock.

That leaves Higher Power and Mucho Gusto in prime pouncing position to win the mile and an eighth Pegasus, now down to 10 entrants. Not to worry, says private clocker and bloodstock agent Gary Young.

“Both those horses worked as good as a horse could work here before they left for Florida,” Young said. “Higher Power’s last work (five furlongs in 59:60 on Jan. 18) was as good as the one he had before he won the Pacific Classic (Aug. 17), and I bet on him that day.

“He worked good for his other races, but his work for the Pegasus was lights out, and the last time I saw him do that was before the Pacific Classic and we know what he did that day (a 5 ¼-length victory).

“Mucho Gusto breezed from the gate here (six furlongs on Jan. 16 in 1:11.60) and ironically (Flavien) Prat (who rides Higher Power in the Pegasus) worked him that day for Baffert, and it was terrific move. I texted Flavien after the work and he agreed with me. He said the work was unbelievable.”

So, as the sun sinks slowly in the west, racing bids a fond farewell to future stallion Omaha Beach, who at times conjured memories of an equine version of Joe Btfsplk, a character in the satirical comic strip of yesteryear Li’l Abner written by Al Capp.

Btfsplk was described as well-meaning but the world’s worst jinx, bringing misfortune to everyone around him. A small, dark rain cloud perpetually hovered over his head to symbolize his bad luck.

In reality, however, Omaha Beach’s unfulfilled greatness on the track will remain an impressively speculative apparition, his legend embellished with the passing of time.

Pundits will ponder “What might have been?” savor his memories and look to the future of his progeny, for, as the great statesman Winston Churchill said, “Now is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

The Pegasus will be televised on NBC Sports and TVG with a scheduled post time of 2:34 p.m. Pacific. The field: True Timber, Joe Bravo; Tax, Jose Ortiz; Diamond Oops, Julien Leparoux; Seeking the Soul, John Velazquez; Higher Power, Flavien Prat; War Story, Joel Rosario; Mr Freeze, Luis Saez; Mucho Gusto, Irad Ortiz Jr.; Tenfold, Tyler Gaffalione; and Bodexpress, Emisael Jaramillo.

Omaha Beach and Spun to Run were scratched.

First post time for Santa Anita’s nine race program Saturday is 12 noon.

AX MAN MAKES TURF DEBUT IN SUNDAY’S CLOCKERS’ CORNER

     Ax Man, a five-year-old gelded son of 2010 Santa Anita Handicap winner Misremembered, makes his turf debut Sunday in the $70,000 Clockers’ Corner Stakes for four-year-olds and up at 5 ½ furlongs.

Owned by Patti and Hal Earnhardt and bred by the latter, Ax Man will be making his first start in 10 months, having finished fifth in the Grade II San Carlos Stakes last March 30.

“We’ll see if he likes the grass,” said Bob Baffert, who also trained Misremembered for his wife, Jill, and George Jacobs. “His father ran on the grass one time and liked it.”

Ax Man has been favored in eight of his nine career starts, five times at odds-on. He also was entered in Saturday’s Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes on the main track.

The Clockers’ Corner, race seven of eight with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Oiseau de Guerre, Rafael Bejarano, 12-1; Ghoul, Joel Rosario, 7-2; Lil Milo, Ruben Fuentes, 6-1; Ax Man, Drayden Van Dyke, 4-1; What’sontheagenda, Tiago Periera, 4-1; Double Touch, Victor Espinoza, 3-1; and Bay Muzik, Abel Cedillo, 4-1.

Addressing the participation of Speed Pass, who will be ridden once again by apprentice J.C. Diaz Jr. in the Palos Verdes, Baffert said, “I wish the race was at Los Alamitos. He’s a fast horse and Diaz rides him well.” Represented by agent Tony Matos, Diaz loses his five-pound apprentice allowance on Feb. 10.

Speed Pass is undefeated in two starts, both coming at Los Alamitos where the four-year-old gelded son of Bodemeister won by a combined margin of nearly nine lengths.

The Palos Verdes, goes as race eight: Ax Man, Drayden Van Dyke, 5-2; Captain Scotty, Abel Cedillo, 8-1; Flagstaff, Victor Espinoza, 2-1; Grinning Tiger, Umberto Rispoli, 15-1; St. Joe Bay, Rafael Bejarano, 7-2; and Speed Pass, J.C. Diaz Jr., 5-2.

     FINISH LINES: Trivia from the current issue of Midwest Gaming Magazine: How much money is wagered annually on the Super Bowl, and how many Americans wager on the Super Bowl each year? . . . Trainer Ed Moger Jr. is a man on the move today at Golden Gate Fields where has six horses entered in the eight races . . . He’s No. One: Taco Waco makes his fourth start in today’s eighth race, each time breaking from the inside post . . . On Jan. 11, Ohio won the Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile at Turf Paradise for the second year in a row. “One more,” says trainer Michael McCarthy, “and he retires the Cup.” Ohio could make his next start here in either the Grade III Thunder Road Stakes on Feb. 8 or the Grade I Kilroe Mile on March 7, a race he won by a nose last year at 9-1 . . . TGIF: Santa Anita offers $2 beer and $6 specialty cocktails each Friday at designated locations throughout the track. Specialty cocktails include a Baldwin Buck, Margarita and other selected cocktails. There is also free Club House (including Santa Anita’s Sports Book) and General Admission each Friday . . . Trivia answers: $6 billion and 23 million.

LATEST CONTENT FROM XBTV:

FEATURES: 

XBTV Friday: What to Watch for at Santa Anita Park on January 24th, 2020

Stronach 5 All-Star Ticket for January 24th, 2020

John Sadler is Confident Higher Power Will Handle Gulfstream Park’s Surface in the Pegasus World Cup

Bob Baffert Talks About Mucho Gusto Ahead of the Pegasus World Cup

WORKOUTS:

Gingham (Outside) and Golden Principal  (Baffert) 1-24-20

Sothalis (D’Amato) 1-24-20

McKinzie (Outside) and McKale (Baffert) 1-24-20

Bolo (Outside) and Blues Rapper (Gaines) 1-23-20

Succeedandsurpass (Baltas) 1-23-20

Railman (Outside) and Platinum Nights (Eurton) 1-23-20

Roadster (Outside) (Baffert) 1-20-20

SANTA ANITA STATISTICS

(Current Through Monday, Jan. 20)

Jockey

Mts

1st

2nd

3rd

Win%

ITM%

Money Won

Joel Rosario

66

16

16

9

24%

62%

$1,062,672

Abel Cedillo

94

12

16

11

13%

41%

$791,342

Drayden Van Dyke

52

11

9

4

21%

46%

$695,149

Flavien Prat

59

9

14

12

15%

59%

$660,354

Tiago Pereira

38

8

4

6

21%

47%

$427,856

Jorge Velez

56

7

2

7

13%

29%

$334,507

Umberto Rispoli

37

6

6

5

16%

46%

$371,682

J.C. Diaz, Jr.

35

6

3

7

17%

46%

$220,151

Mario Gutierrez

35

6

3

5

17%

40%

$333,177

Mike Smith

25

6

2

2

24%

40%

$661,582

Ruben Fuentes

31

4

5

1

13%

32%

$250,271

Agapito Delgadillo

29

4

2

5

14%

38%

$212,481

Geovanni Franco

32

3

6

1

9%

31%

$274,910

Edwin Maldonado

21

3

2

3

14%

38%

$92,575

Assael Espinoza

19

3

1

2

16%

32%

$71,002

Brice Blanc

22

3

0

1

14%

18%

$145,732

Victor Espinoza

19

2

4

2

11%

42%

$282,521

Trainer

Sts

1st

2nd

3rd

Win%

ITM%

Money Won

Bob Baffert

31

10

6

7

32%

74%

$789,040

Peter Miller

29

10

3

2

34%

52%

$551,122

Richard Baltas

46

9

6

4

20%

41%

$698,040

Brian Koriner

18

5

1

4

28%

56%

$178,342

Richard Mandella

18

5

1

4

28%

56%

$392,665

Philip D’Amato

37

4

8

4

11%

43%

$397,508

Doug O’Neill

42

4

6

3

10%

31%

$306,679

Craig Anthony Lewis

16

4

0

4

25%

50%

$228,391

Mike Puype

16

3

3

2

19%

50%

$211,180

Steve Knapp

16

3

2

1

19%

38%

$135,560

Jeff Bonde

9

3

1

1

33%

56%

$88,671

Michael McCarthy

14

3

1

1

21%

36%

$101,715

Andrew Lerner

12

3

1

0

25%

33%

$171,022