SMITH FANCIES OMAHA BEACH IN A ‘TOUGH’ DERBY
SPAWR HAS ‘STARR’ IN GRADE II SANTA MARGARITA
SINGLE TICKET RAINBOW PICK 6 JACKPOT AT $159,584
SMITH HAS MUCH TO LIKE ABOUT ‘NOW HORSE’ OMAHA BEACH
Mike Smith stunned the racing world in 2005 when he piloted Giacamo to a 50-1 upset in the Kentucky Derby, although it was no great surprise to him.
If he wins the Kentucky Derby on Omaha Beach in less than two weeks, May 4 to be exact, it will have minimal shock value both in the main and to Smith, since Omaha Beach is the pre-race favorite.
The 53-year-old Hall of Fame member, among the gold standard of current jockeys, sees no additional pressure riding the favorite as opposed to a longshot such as Giacomo. After all, he did sweep the Triple Crown last year on Justify.
“Hopefully, Omaha Beach is getting better,” Smith said Sunday morning over coffee at Clockers’ Corner. “The Derby is a tough race with a tough bunch of three-year-olds, but Omaha Beach seems to be the ‘now’ horse.
“I love his running style and I love that he’ll handle mud and different surfaces, because that certainly can happen. There’s always a chance it can be muddy at Churchill (Downs).”
John Shirreffs recalls that Smith was optimistic about Giacomo’s chances on Derby Day in 2005.
“He was very positive,” said former Marine and surfing enthusiast Shirreffs, best known as the trainer of the fairytale filly Zenyatta. “He said, ‘Don’t worry, John. He’s coming, he’s coming, he’s coming. Everything’s good.’ He really loved Giacomo. Maybe it was because Giacomo was by Holy Bull (the favorite in the 1994 Derby who finished 12thunder Smith after breaking poorly on a sloppy track).
“He realized the first day Giacomo went on the track at Churchill Downs that he liked it, and when you ship, it’s important that a horse likes the surface.
“Giacomo also benefitted from Mike’s experience. Over the years, he’s learned how to ride the Derby really well. Going into the first turn, Giacomo was a little wide and he knew he couldn’t win going wide on two turns. He had to save ground somewhere.
“There was a horse in front of him going into the first turn, so he tried to get Giacomo to the rail even though it was a little close, and he did. A lot of riders might have been more cautious and not attempted that move, but I think because of Mike’s experience, knowing he couldn’t afford to go wide on the first and second turns, he had to do what he did.
“I remember people thinking Ron Turcotte moved too soon on the backside aboard Secretariat in the 1973 Derby, but in that race he had gone wide around the first turn, and Ron knew that he couldn’t go wide around the second turn as well, so that kind of experience really pays off.”
Smith and his agent Brad Pegram pondered whether to ride Omaha Beach or Santa Anita Derby winner Roadster in the 145th Run for the Roses. Smith has been the go-to guy for Roadster’s trainer Bob Baffert, who captured his second Triple Crown last year with Justify, following American Pharoah’s sweep in 2015.
“It was extremely tough,” Smith said of the decision. “They’re both live horses, and I think Omaha Beach has beaten two of the horses (Improbable and Game Winner) that probably would have been favored if he hadn’t have beaten them.
“He’s got Roadster to beat and a couple horses from New York that look really good, so it’s going to be a tough Derby, but he’s not without a big chance. Like I said, I love his running style and it suits the Derby.
“He’s quick out of there, he’ll be in a good position and then it’s just a matter of working out the trip. But is there more pressure on a favorite? I guess if you feel that way, but it all depends on the individual.
“It’s the kind of pressure that I like.”
‘STARR’ IN THE MAKING FOR BILL SPAWR?
Starr of Quality makes her graded stakes debut in her 22nd lifetime start Saturday
in the Grade II Santa Margarita Stakes, but Bill Spawr cautions not to readily dismiss the chances of the California-bred daughter of First Dude owned by Tom Acker and Jon Lindo.
“Look at her record, and look who won the (Grade I) Beholder (Mile),” Spawr
said, noting that Starr of Quality finished second in the race, a half-length in front of Secret Spice, the likely favorite had she opted to run in the Santa Margarita.
“Also,” Spawr pointed out, “the Santa Margarita is a mile and an eighth, and the
farther the better for my mare.”
Starr of Quality has two wins from nine starts since being claimed for $32,000 in February 2018. She has a 5-4-6 record from 21 starts and earned $230,308.
SANTA ANITA SINGLE TICKET RAINBOW PICK SIX JACKPOT IS $159,584
Santa Anita’s popular 20 cent Single Ticket Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot went unsolved again Saturday, creating a tidy Jackpot carryover of $159,584 into Sunday.
With $157,240 in “new” Rainbow Six money wagered yesterday, the total Jackpot pool reached $280,825. Although there was no single ticket winner, there were 27 consolation tickets with six, each of them worth $3,111.
Leg one in today’s Rainbow Six is the third race, with approximate post time of 2 p.m.
PUGLISI BACK AND LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Ignacio Puglisi is back on track in a career that began 29 years ago when he
was a mere pup of 16. Now 45, but still fit, formidable and friendly, the jockey pals refer to as ‘Iggy’ is doing what he loves best–riding horses.
“I’ve been back since mid-November now, so it’s been a while,” said the native of
Rosario, Argentina, currently flying without an agent. “Unfortunately, we got stuck with all the rough stuff and it just slowed things down, but now I feel good, physically and emotionally.
“I’m doing real well and riding for a great group of guys. Michael McCarthy told
me this morning he had a horse for me to ride; Andrew Lerner has been real cool. He named me on one, Jack Carava also, and of course (longtime patron) Paul Aguirre.
“It’s going OK. For me, I’m loving it, I’m enjoying it and hoping we survive this storm because it’s a great game and I think we’re back on the upswing.”
LATEST CONTENT FROM XBTV:
Tizarunner works 4 furlongs (McCarthy) 4-21-19
Starr of Quality works 5 furlongs (Spawr) 4-21-19
Ax Man works 5 furlongs (Baffert) 4-21-19
Roadster works 6 furlongs (Baffert) 4-20-19
River Boyne worked 5 furlongs (Mullins) 4-19-19
McKinzie works 5 furlongs (Baffert) 4-19-19
Bellafina likely Kentucky Oaks favorite works 4 furlongs (Callaghan) 4-19-19
Quick Questions with jockey Aaron Gryder
Sejo worked 4 furlongs (Sadler) 4-19-19
FINISH LINES: Mike Smith rides Paradise Woods for John Shirreffs in Saturday’s Grade II Santa Margarita Stakes. The multiple Grade I winner worked four furlongs yesterday in 47.40 . . . There were 188 recorded workout at Santa Anita Sunday, including a five furlong move on the training track in 1:05 by Vasilika, ticketed for the Grade I Gamely on May 27 for Jerry Hollendorfer. Multiple graded stakes winner Ashleyluvssugar worked in 51 seconds flat on the main track for Peter Eurton. The eight-year-old Game Plan gelding is nominated to Saturday’s $100,000 Crystal Water Stakes for California-breds at a mile on the grass . . . Hollendorfer-trained Blind Luck is among the Hall of Fame contemporary Thoroughbred finalists that include Gio Ponti, Havre de Grace, Rags to Riches and Royal Delta. The winners are scheduled to be announced tomorrow . . . Fans can participate in the biggest Derby party west of Kentucky on Saturday, May 4, at Santa Anita. Live racing, music, food trucks and hat contests will be the order of the day. For tickets and reservations, visit santaanita.com . . . Santa Anita will be dark for live racing Monday through Thursday, with live action resuming at 1 p.m. Friday, April 26. Simulcast racing is offered Wednesday and Thursday with free general admission and free parking. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.