West Coast and Collected, in their final major drills for the world’s richest race, the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park next Saturday, each went in company Sunday morning at Santa Anita under jockey Drayden Van Dyke.

West Coast, favored to win an Eclipse Award this Thursday as the outstanding three-year-old male of 2017, went five furlongs in a minute flat, while stablemate Coil’s Gold was given a four furlong time of 47.80.

Pacific Classic winner Collected, also with Van Dyke in the irons, went four furlongs in 46.20. Workmate Power Cat was clocked in 47.20.

Also working Sunday morning for Baffert was undefeated Triple Crown contender McKinzie, a candidate for the Grade II San Felipe Stakes on March 10. The son of Street Sense, with Van Dyke yet again aboard, went four furlongs in 49 flat, while stablemate Downtowner was given 49.40.

“West Coast went really well,” Baffert said after the drill at 7:45, when temperatures were rising from just above the freezing mark of two hours earlier. “He’s coming into the race without any bumps in the road, like any other big race.

“I’m pretty happy. We gave him a stiff work the other day (a six furlong gate drill in a bullet 1:12, in company with Cat Burglar, last Sunday), but today he was on it. He wanted to do more. He looked great coming off the track. I felt really good about his work.”

As for Collected, who gave Pegasus favorite and likely Horse of the Year Gun Runner a serious test before finishing second to him in the Pacific Classic, but who failed to show his usual alacrity when a disappointing third behind Giant Expectations in the San Antonio Stakes Dec. 26, Baffert was inclined to draw a proverbial line through that race.

“We didn’t really super-crank him for it,” said the Hall of Fame trainer, who celebrated his 65th birthday on Jan. 13. “We’re taking the Pegasus with a different approach.

“He’ll be ready.”


Bill Morey, sizzling at Santa Anita winning at a 55 percent clip thanks to six victories from 11 starts, hopes to continue his hot streak when he sends out Rye in next Saturday’s $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic presented by City National Bank.

The Unusual Heat is one of four stakes that day restricted to California-bred or sired horses, with total purses of $600,000 supported by an overnight card of allowance, maiden and claiming races with purses supercharged by the Cal-bred race fund.

Rye, a five-year-old full horse sired by English Channel out of the Unusual Heat dam Phi Beta Heat, has two wins from four starts at the mile and an eighth distance of the Turf Classic.

“He’s training great,” Morey said of the chestnut, who has won seven of 15 career starts. “He likes the mile and an eighth on the turf, and how often do you get a chance to run a Cal-bred for $200,000?  You’ve got to take your best shot at it, right? A race like this only comes along once a year. It’s nice to run a Cal-bred for a number like $200,000.”

Rye, who will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux, worked five furlongs Sunday in 1:01.40.

Supporting the Unusual Heat Turf Classic will be the $150,000 guaranteed Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint for fillies and mares, four and up at about 6 ½ furlongs on the hillside course; the $150,000 guaranteed Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint for four-year-olds and up at six furlongs; and the $100,000 guaranteed California Cup Turf Sprint Stakes for three-year-olds at about 6 ½ furlongs on the hillside course.

The Cal-bred card also includes a $70,000 first-condition allowance for four-year-olds and up at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf; a $65,000 maiden special weight race for three-year-olds at a mile on turf; a $65,000 maiden special weight race for three-year-old fillies at 5 ½ furlongs; a $35,000 purse maiden claimer ($50,000 claiming price) for three-year-olds at 6 ½ furlongs; and a $30,000 purse claimer ($16,000 claiming price) for four-year-olds and up.

First post time next Saturday is 11:45 a.m. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.


Roy H, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner and favorite to win an Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding male sprinter of 2017, is working forwardly for his 2018 debut in the Grade II, $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes for four-year-olds and up at six furlongs Feb. 3.

“He’s doing great,” trainer Peter Miller said of the gelded son of More Than Ready owned by Rockingham Ranch and David Bernson. “Things couldn’t have gone better in the Breeders’ Cup. He came out of it great and we gave him a little break after that, just backed off him, but he’s training super now.”

Addressing the recovery process from the devastating Dec. 7 fire at San Luis Rey Downs where Miller had a large division, he said, “They’re cleaning it, trying to fix it up and reopen it. I’m thinking it will probably be another month or two.

“Right now, my horses are at Del Mar and Santa Anita.”

Through 15 days of the Winter Meet, Miller holds a 9-6 lead over runners-up Richard Baltas, Vladimir Cerin, Jerry Hollendorfer, Bob Baffert and Bill Morey, each deadlocked for second, Morey winning two races Saturday including the Grade III Las Cienegas Stakes with Coniah and Kent Desormeaux, who ranks third in the jockey standings with 11 wins.

The leader with 17 wins is Evin Roman, who leaves for Gulfstream Park shortly where he is odds-on to accept an Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding apprentice of 2017 at the 47th annual ceremony on Thursday.

 FINISH LINES: Unique Bella, prepping for the Grade II Santa Maria Stakes on Feb. 10, worked five furlongs under Freddie Garcia for Jerry Hollendorfer Sunday in a bullet 59 seconds flat, fastest of 109 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 1:01.80. The trainer called the move “nice and easy.” Tough Sunday, working for the Donald Valpredo Sprint, went six furlongs on the training track for Steve Miyadi in 1:15.80 as owner/breeder Nick Alexander looked on. Other notable workers included Moonless Sky (four furlongs in 49 flat; Cat Burglar (five furlongs in 1:00); Hollywood Strike (five furlongs in 1:04.80); Ike Walker (five furlongs in 59.80); and Ward ‘n Jerry (five furlongs in 1:02.20). Overall, there were 255 recorded workouts Sunday, 13 on the training track.  . . . The California Horse Racing Board will conduct its regular monthly meeting this Thursday, Jan. 25, 9:30 a.m. at Santa Anita. The public is invited to attend. An audio-only webcast of the meeting can be heard through a link on the CHRB website (webcast) . . . Santa Anita is dark for live racing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Live racing resumes Thursday, Jan. 25, at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m. Santa Anita offers simulcast wagering on Wednesday, Jan. 24, with free admission and free parking. Admission gates open that day at 10 a.m. . . . Sign on with the Los Angeles Times horse racing newsletter. Authored by John Cherwa, it offers entries, charts and more at the following link:

(Current Through Saturday, Jan. 20)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Evin Roman 96 17 13 10 18% 42% $507,469
Rafael Bejarano 65 14 7 12 22% 51% $519,022
Kent Desormeaux 62 11 9 6 18% 42% $618,862
Tyler Baze 81 9 14 12 11% 43% $572,094
Joseph Talamo 64 8 8 5 13% 33% $375,582
Drayden Van Dyke 54 8 3 5 15% 30% $537,218
Flavien Prat 64 7 12 7 11% 41% $481,798
Tiago Pereira 52 7 4 2 13% 25% $213,655
Mike Smith 33 6 6 5 18% 52% $758,338
Mario Gutierrez 40 5 2 6 13% 33% $334,296
Trainer Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Peter Miller 44 9 11 6 20% 59% $411,044
Richard Baltas 50 6 8 8 12% 44% $428,125
Vladimir Cerin 22 6 8 0 27% 64% $167,595
Jerry Hollendorfer 37 6 4 5 16% 41% $379,966
Bob Baffert 31 6 3 2 19% 35% $360,873
William E. Morey 11 6 0 2 55% 73% $163,923
Mark Glatt 30 5 6 2 17% 43% $234,355
Philip D’Amato 42 5 4 8 12% 40% $367,225
Doug O’Neill 40 5 2 6 13% 33% $342,456