- BAFFERT SEEKS 10TH SAN VICENTE WIN SATURDAY
- CHAMPION UNIQUE BELLA READY FOR SANTA MARIA
- MILE ACE BOWIES HERO IS SET FOR THUNDER ROAD
PROMISING AX MAN HEADS SAN VICENTE FOR BAFFERT
Ax Man is one of three possible starters for Bob Baffert in next Saturday’s San Vicente
Stakes, a race the Hall of Fame trainer has won a record nine times, starting with Silver Charm in 1997 and culminating with Lord Nelson in 2015.
Baffert also plans to run Nero, and possibly Zulfikhar, in the Grade II, $200,000 race for three-year-olds at seven furlongs.
Ax Man, a son of 2010 Santa Anita Handicap winner Misremembered, who was owned by Baffert’s wife, Jill, won his debut race on Jan. 1 under Drayden Van Dyke for owner/breeder Hal Earnhardt and his wife, Patti, by 9 ½ lengths.
“He broke his maiden impressively and beat the Bob Lewis winner (Lombo, who was third in the race),” Baffert pointed out. “Ax Man is lightly raced and ran really fast first time out (covering six furlongs in 1:09.40).
“He’s training really well and is a half-brother to champion Indian Blessing. They’re out of the same mare (Shameful).”
Ax Man breezed five furlongs Sunday morning with Van Dyke aboard in 1:00.60.
Nero broke his maiden by a nose Jan. 13 after losing his first start by the same margin. Victor Espinoza, who rode the son of Pioneerof the Nile in his winning performance, rides back in the San Vicente, which also is expected to attract maiden winner Kanthaka for Jerry Hollendorfer. Surging Flavien Prat, who won two races Saturday to tie Rafael Bejarano for second in the Winter Meet standings at 18 victories each, rides Kanthaka.
UNIQUE BELLA READY FOR SANTA MARIA CLOSEUP
Eclipse Champion Female Sprinter of 2017 Unique Bella has been firing bullets for next Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes at 1 1/16 miles since winning the Grade I La Brea Stakes last Dec. 26, a victory that no doubt caught the eye of Eclipse Award voters, enabling the gray daughter of Tapit to clinch honors.
“We think the La Brea must have had a lot to do with it,” said Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains Unique Bella for the Don Alberto Stable. “She’s coming up to the Santa Maria really well.”
Unique Bella has had two bullet works since winning the La Brea, going five furlongs in the identical time of 59 flat on Jan. 15 and again on Jan. 21. Mike Smith, who has ridden her in all of her eight career starts, winning six, once again will be aboard.
Also set for the Santa Maria is Reddam Racing’s La Canada winner Mopotism for trainer Doug O’Neill. Mario Gutierrez rides.
BOWIES HERO DRILLS FOR THUNDER ROAD
Bowies Hero, winner of five races at one mile from seven career starts at the distance, seeks to embellish that mark next Saturday in the Grade III, $100,000 Thunder Road Stakes for four-year-olds and up at a mile on grass.
The son of 2005 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s training track Sunday in 1:01.
“He had a nice five-eighths and galloped out very, very well,” said Phil D’Amato, who trains the four-year-old colt for Agave Racing Stable. With Kent Desormeaux committed to ride Blackjackcat for Mark Glatt in the Thunder Road, D’Amato has engaged Corey Nakatani on Bowies Hero. The trainer was undecided on whether Peewee Reese would go in the race.
Multiple graded stakes winner Om, also a contender for the Thunder Road, worked four furlongs Sunday on the main track under Flavien Prat in 49.40 for trainer Dan Hendricks.
FINISH LINES: Agent Vic Lipton, back from being seriously ill, reunites with Edwin Maldonado soon at Santa Anita where they have enjoyed considerable success. The affable Maldonado has been riding at Oaklawn Park . . . Santa Anita will be dark for live racing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday but will be open Wednesday for simulcast wagering with free admission and free parking. Admission gates open at 10 a.m. . . . Super Bowl hunch? Baby Gronk worked three furlongs today for Bill Spawr in 37.20.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Saturday, Feb. 3)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||78||12||8||7||15%||35%||$797,318|
|William E. Morey||17||9||0||4||53%||76%||$341,023|