ACCELERATE WARMS UP FOR RICH PEGASUS
ESPINOZA TO START WORKING HORSES SOON
AFLEET ASCENT IS BACK ON HILLSIDE COURSE
$1 MILLION JACKPOT GUARANTEE THIS WEEKEND
ACCELERATE ‘BETTER THAN EVER’ FOR PEGASUS WORLD CUP
At 6:30 Saturday morning, with temperatures hovering above freezing, Accelerate turned on the heat with a five furlong move in 1:00.40 as the Horse of the Year contender moved a step closer to the final race of his career in the $9 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26.
“Super, a really good work this morning,” trainer John Sadler said. “The next three or four works are all kind of key. Now we’re starting to let him do a little bit more, and he looked very sharp this morning, maybe better than ever. You hate to say that, but it’s the truth.”
Sadler plans to ship “Monday or Tuesday” before the richest race in North America, to be decided at a mile and an eighth. “He’ll gallop over the track there,” Sadler said. “He’s been a good shipper this year. The previous year, he wasn’t a good shipper; this year he’s been fine.”
Assistant trainer Juan Leyva was aboard for the workout, and will do honors next Saturday, when Accelerate is scheduled to breeze again.
Also working Saturday was Pegasus-bound City of Light, the only horse to conquer Accelerate this year, having done so in the Oaklawn Handicap last April 14. The hard-hitting son of Quality Road went five furlongs in a minute flat for trainer Michael McCarthy.
ESPINOZA TO WORK HORSES THIS SATURDAY
Triple Crown winning jockey Victor Espinoza is set to return to the saddle this Saturday after recovering from major injuries in a training accident at Del Mar last July 22.
“We plan to work horses next Saturday,” said his agent, Brian Beach, this morning. “We need to see where he is in his fitness, so there’s no set date as to when he’ll ride his first race.”
Previously, the middle of January had been mentioned as a target date.
AFLEET ASCENT RETURNS TO HILL ON NEW YEAR’S DAY
Afleet Ascent returns to a venue he favors, Santa Anita’s unique downhill turf course, in Tuesday’s Grade III, $100,000 Joe Hernandez Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs on grass.
Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for Ed and Susie Orr, Afleet Ascent is coming off a seventh-place finish in the restricted Let It Ride at one mile Nov. 10, but has two wins and a second down the hill at Santa Anita, the second coming in the Baffle Stakes last February.
The Joe Hernandez is named for the legendary Voice of Santa from opening day, Christmas, 1934, until he fainted at the microphone on Jan. 27, 1972. During that time, he called an incredible 15,587 races in a row–with each stanza beginning, “And There They Go…”
Hernandez was not only a race caller, but a highly respected sportswriter, handicapper, jockey and bloodstock agent, radio and television producer, music composer, actor, athlete and philanthropist.
First post time for the 10-race program on New Year’s Day will be 12 noon. Santa Anita offers Dollar Day on New Year’s Day, with beer and soda a buck apiece and hot dogs $2.
SANTA ANITA HAS $1 MILLION JACKPOT GUARANTEE THIS WEEKEND
Santa Anita Park will offer a $1 million guaranteed Jackpot in Saturday and Sunday’s 20 cent Rainbow Pick Six. Special early first post time is 12 noon.
With 10-race cards on tap this weekend, Saturday and Sunday’s fifth race will serve as leg one in the Rainbow Pick Six, with approximate “leg one” post time each day at 2 p.m.
FINISH LINES: Happy birthday number 72 to all-time great Laffit Pincay Jr., who will be on hand today to present the trophy for the Grade I American Oaks. Santa Anita’s Winter Meet leading rider a record 14 times, Pincay is also Santa Anita’s all time-leading rider, with 2,860 Arcadia wins…Longtime Bobby Frankel assistant Humberto Ascanio will here to present the trophy for the Grade III Robert J. Frankel Stakes earlier in the day …Bob Baffert plans to enter both promising maiden winner Coliseum and Much Better in the Grade III Sham Stakes on Jan. 5, an important starting point for three-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail. Joe Talamo rides the gray Coliseum, owned by Godolphin LLC . . . Congratulations to apprentice Heriberto Figueroa on recording a triple yesterday, winning the fourth race on Shut It Up ($16.20) for Doug O’Neill, the seventh on Aristocratic ($5) for Peter Miller and the featured Eddie Logan Stakes aboard Bob and Jackie (7.80) for Richard Baltas, who has nine–count ’em, nine–horses entered on Sunday’s program. He ran one-two in the Eddie Logan Stakes with Bob and Jackie and favored Rijeka. O’Neill, meanwhile, is off to a flying start with three wins the first two days. “Things are going well and the crew is doing a great job,” said O’Neill, who won Santa Anita’s Winter Meet title three straight times from 2004-5 through 2006-07. “We’ve got a great team and the horses are feeling good right now.” . . . Irad Ortiz Jr. has been suspended three days (Jan. 4, 5 and 6) for causing interference on Avalanche in the 10th race on opening day.
For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626)574-RACE.
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