LITTLE BIRD COULD FLY HIGH IN HER U.S. DEBUT
VICTOR ESPINOZA HAPPY TO BE BACK IN ACTION
PRAT ILL, TAKES OFF HIS OPENING DAY MOUNTS
LITTLE BIRD MAKES U.S. DEBUT IN SUNDAY’S BLUE NORTHER
Little Bird, a two-year-old Irish-bred filly, makes her United States debut in Sunday’s $75,000 Blue Norther Stakes which drew a salty field of nine despite its relatively small purse.
“She’s a filly with an attitude,” said trainer Richard Baltas. “I’ve had her for a month and a half, she’s had three works and seems to be getting better.
“This is a two-year-old filly stakes and most of these horses just broke their maiden, and she’s already won two races (in England), but there are some really nice fillies in there that look like they have a ton of potential.”
The Blue Norther, race eight of 10 with a first post time of 11:30 a.m.: Lighthouse, Drayden Van Dyke, 4-1; Guitty, Joel Rosario, 5-1; Parkour, Flavien Prat, 10-1; Madame Bourbon, Joe Talamo; Overjoyed, Mike Smith, 8-1; Laura’s Light, Abel Cedillo, 3-1; Blue Sky Baby, Tyler Baze, 12-1; Croughavouke, Umberto Rispoli, 7-2; and Little Bird, Geovanni Franco, 8-1.
Supplementing Sunday’s program is the $75,000 Eddie Logan Stakes at a mile on turf for two-year-olds going as race six: Goliad, Flavien Prat, 3-1; Encoder, Joel Rosario, 8-1; The Stiff, Abel Cedillo, 20-1; Liar Liar, Drayden Van Dyke, 12-1; Royal Act, Rafael Bejarano, Hariboux, Umberto Rispoli, 8-1; Air Force Jet, Evin Roman, 12-1; Kanderel, Mike Smith, 6-1; and Smooth Like Strait, Geovanni Franco, 5-2.
BRIGHT OUTLOOK PREVAILS FOR VICTOR ESPINOZA, WHO PICKS UP BELLAFINA
Victor Espinoza, his smile and attitude bright as ever, is looking forward to Santa Anita’s Winter Meet that starts today.
“My health and business are both good,” said the 47-year-old Hall of Fame member as his agent, Brian Beach, looked on. “I’m excited to be back again and looking forward to winning as many races as I can.
“I’m focused on winning and I’ll go from there.”
With Flavien Prat off of his opening day horses due to illness, Espinoza picked up a big mount in the Grade I La Brea today, as Simon Callaghan has named him to ride 9-5 morning line favorite Bellafina.
FINISH LINES: Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Flavien Prat took off his scheduled six mounts today due to a stomach virus. “He texted me at four this morning saying he was throwing up and might not be able to ride, then contacted me later and confirmed that he wouldn’t,” said his agent, Derek Lawson. “He said he was sorry and apologized to the trainers who had booked him to ride. Hopefully, he’ll have a quick recovery.” . . . Santa Anita’s popular Dollar Day will be offered on New Year’s Day, Wednesday, Jan. 1. Fans can purchase hot dogs for $2 and soda and beer for a buck apiece . . . Today’s 20 cent Rainbow Pick 6 that starts in race six has a guaranteed single ticket jackpot of $500,000 . . . Santa Anita offers a live-money handicapping contest on select Saturdays and Sundays. Fans can sign up at the Main THOROUGHBREDS Center. For details, visit santaanita.com/contest . . . There were 221 recorded workouts at Santa Anita on a busy Saturday morning, including 22 on the training track . . . Agent Craig Stephen, who hit a home run with Santiago Gonzalez, is back in action representing 33-year-old Mexico City native Israel Ocampo. “He’s been working for John Sadler and he’s fit and hungry and wants back in,” Stephen said . . . Agent Ken Huth has taken the book of seven-pound apprentice Victor Flores, who has nine wins at Golden Gate Fields . . . Ron McAnally, who first came to Santa Anita in 1948, was back at Clockers’ Corner on a chilly Saturday morning, ensconced at his familiar table. “It’s been so many years, I can’t count ’em,” said the 87-year-old Hall of Fame trainer, best known for conditioning legendary two-time Horse of the Year John Henry. “I won a race at Del Mar this summer with a 70-1 shot named It’s Tiz Time owned by my wife, Debbie,” McAnally said proudly. “That shows I’ve still got it.” . . . FIRST POST TIME FOR A 10-RACE CARD ON SUNDAY IS AT 11:30 A.M.
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