- CASTELLANO ON BOLT D’ORO IN SANTA ANITA DERBY
- GRADE I SANTA MARGARITA HAS 10 WITHOUT ‘UNIQUE’
- ONE MILE PASADENA DISTANCE IS OK FOR LA LA LAND
- TRAINER SEEKS MOVE TO THE DIRT FOR MISS SUNSET
- BRUCE HEADLEY ON MEND FOLLOWING BRAIN BLEED
CASTELLANO TO RIDE BOLT AGAIN IN SANTA ANITA DERBY
Javier Castellano, successful in his first ride on Bolt d’Oro in last Saturday’s dramatic San Felipe Stakes, will return from his East Coast base to pilot the colt in the Santa Anita Derby on April 7, owner/trainer Mick Ruis said Thursday morning.
Winner of four consecutive Eclipse Awards as the nation’s outstanding jockey from 2103 through 2016, the 40-year-old Castellano crossed the wire second by a head to McKinzie in the San Felipe after a stirring stretch duel, but following a lengthy stewards’ inquiry and an objection lodged by Castellano against Mike Smith on McKinzie for bumping incidents in the stretch run, the latter was disqualified from first to second.
“Bolt is doing fantastic,” Ruis said. “He’s eating everything up, he’s 100 percent sound and he’s as healthy as he was going in (to the San Felipe), which was 100 percent.
“Hopefully, he’ll move up off that race because he really needed it (having not run in four months, since finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last Nov. 4). He was about 80 percent (fit) for the San Felipe; everybody knows that.
“We’ve got high hopes that he’s going to run a huge race in the Santa Anita Derby, and then hopefully he’ll come back good and we’ll peak on May 5 (in the Kentucky Derby).”
Meanwhile, like countless fans who witnessed the exciting battle between Bolt and Mac in the San Felipe, Ruis is looking forward to round two.
“I hope we get a rematch in the Santa Anita Derby,” he said.
DISTANCE SUITS BALTAS FILLY IN SANTA MARGARITA
With the defection of superstar filly Unique Bella from Saturday’s Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes due to a cough, trainers got in line to enter the 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares, four and up, that offers $400,000 in purse money.
Ten were entered, including three supplemented at a cost of $8,000 each.
Richard Baltas entered Mistressofthenight, who is coming off an impressive 2 ¼-length win in an overnight race at one mile as she pursues her first stakes victory.
“She finished awesome, and this is what she wants to do,” Baltas said, referring to the nine furlong distance. “She’s training great, and everybody’s taking a shot because Unique Bella is not running. Otherwise, it would have been a six-horse field.
“I feel confident that we’ve got as legitimate a shot as anybody else.”
As to the success he’s having through 44 days of the Winter Meet, where he ranks third among trainers with 20 wins, behind Bob Baffert (25) and Peter Miller (24), Baltas is keeping things in perspective.
“I’m grateful, although everything hasn’t worked out perfect, but we’ve got plenty of wins and plenty of seconds (21), we’re making money for the owners ($1,142,805 so far this meet). It’s horse racing, and as I’ve said, we’re a racing stable.”
Statistics bear him out. Baltas has started 137 horses, more than any other trainer. Doug O’Neill ranks second with 115 starters and Miller third with 112.
The Santa Margarita, race nine of 10 with a 12 noon first post time: La Force, Mike Smith, 6-1; Turkish Tabby, Rajiv Maragh, 15-1; supplemental nominee Mended, Ricardo Gonzalez, 6-1; supplemental nominee Dalsaros, Tyler Baze, 12-1; Mistressofthenight, Kent Desormeaux, 8-1; supplemental nominee Majestic Heat, Corey Nakatani, 6-1; Bishop’s Pond, Victor Espinoza, 6-1; Eccentric Spinster, Joel Rosario, 15-1; Mopotism, Mario Gutierrez, 7-2; and Fault, Geovanni Franco, 4-1.
PASADENA DISTANCE SUITS LA LA LAND
La La Land seeks his first U.S. stakes victory Saturday in the $200,000 Pasadena Stakes for three-year-olds scheduled for one mile on turf. The Irish-bred colt was a promising third in his first U.S. start going about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf Feb. 25, rallying wide, beaten only a length and a quarter.
“Second time out, I think he definitely wants to go long,” said Phil D’Amato, who trains the son of Dark Angel for Michael House. “The Pasadena is around two turns and I think we’ve had a good prep. We’re going to face some nice horses, but it’s the distance he wants.”
The field for the Pasadena: Afleet Ascent, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; Platinum Equity, Geovanni Franco, 20-1; River Boyne, Joel Rosario, 3-1; Pubilius Syrus, Corey Nakatani, 5-2; Heck Yeah, Mike Smith, 5-1; Buckstopper Kit, Rajiv Maragh, 20-1; Ax Man, Evin Roman, 4-1; La La Land, Joe Talamo, 8-1; and Inscom, Tyler Baze, 7-2.
BONDE OPTS FOR MOVE TO DIRT IN IRISH O’BRIEN
Due to an erratic weather pattern over the last few days that caused Thursday’s grass races to be moved to the main track, Jeff Bonde is one who hopes Saturday’s $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes scheduled for about 6 ½ furlongs on turf will be moved to dirt.
“I’m looking to run on the main track,” said the trainer of Miss Sunset, 2 ½-length winner over four rivals in the Spring Fever Stakes at six furlongs on dirt Feb. 25. “She runs on grass all right, but down the hill, she looks around a little bit.”
The Irish O’Brien, which goes as race three: Barbara Beatrice, Tiago Pereira, 3-1; Desert Steel, Evin Roman, 6-1; Starlite Style, Geovanni Franco, 15-1; Miss Sunset, Mike Smith, 9-5; How About Zero, Mario Gutierrez, 8-5; and Cuddle Alert, Tyler Baze, 8-1.
TRAINER BRUCE HEADLEY RECOVERING ‘RAPIDLY’ FOLLOWING BRAIN BLEED
Although he was rushed to Arcadia Methodist Hospital last Friday morning with what was diagnosed as a brain bleed, popular veteran trainer Bruce Headley, 84, is on the mend, according to his daughter, trainer Karen Headley.
“He wasn’t feeling well last Thursday night,” said Karen. “I went over and checked on him at home, but other than a headache, he seemed fine. When I went back to see him Friday morning, it was obvious there was something wrong.
“The good news is, it was not a stroke or an aneurism. At first, the doctors thought he would be in the hospital for a long time, but he’s improving rapidly and they expect a full recovery. He’s being moved to re-hab today and it looks like he could be back home in 10 days to two weeks.”
A colorful fixture on the California racing scene dating back to the late 1950s, Headley has always been a hands-on conditioner with a knack for developing stakes winners with non- descript pedigrees, including his Kona Gold, who won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 2000 and who banked more than $2.2 million.
FINISH LINES: Evin Roman is scheduled to ride in six races Thursday, his first competitive day as a journeyman . . . Octavio Vergara Jr. makes his Santa Anita debut Friday, the 30-year-old son of former jockey Octavio Vergara Sr. named on Mongolian Empire in the third race and Over Promised in the eighth . . . Santa Anita Oaks winner Paradise Woods, fully recovered from a recent ailment and back breezing, is expected to work again “in the next day or two” for the Grade II Santa Monica Stakes at seven furlongs on March 24, Richard Mandella said . . . Mike Smith has been suspended three days (March 18, 22 and 23) for causing interference on McKinzie in Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, March 11)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||131||27||16||11||21%||41%||$1,730,227|