STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN – SUNDAY, JANUARY 13, 2019

  • CONGRATS IN ORDER FOR BAFFERT AND SMITH
  • NO ESCAPING ESCAPE CLAUSE’S RISE TO FAME
  • ALEX SOLIS RECALLS MIGHTY MITE MEGAHERTZ
  • CTBA WINTER MIXED SALE SET FOR WEDNESDAY

SAN FELIPE ON AGENDA FOR UNBEATEN GAME WINNER

Bob Baffert celebrates his 66th birthday today.

The two-time Triple Crown winning trainer will highlight the occasion this afternoon by attending the wedding of fellow Hall of Fame member Mike Smith, who rode Horse of the Year finalist Justify to a Triple Crown sweep for Baffert last year and has been a reliable and trusted ally in the saddle for the most recognizable trainer on the planet.

Baffert, who has won the Kentucky Derby five times, currently is in good stead to win No. six with Game Winner, undefeated Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and a slam dunk to be named two-year-old champion male of 2018.

A daylight winner of his four career starts, three in Grade I stakes, the bay son of Candy Ride based at Santa Anita likely will use the venue as a steppingstone to the May 4 Run for the Roses, as Baffert said Sunday morning he plans to run Game Winner in the Grade II, $500,000 San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on March 9 “if all goes well.”

It would seem to be a prudent strategy. In the past seven years, from 2012 through 2018, five of the Kentucky Derby winners were based in Southern California, four of them at Santa Anita: Justify (2018), Nyquist (2016), American Pharoah (2015) and I’ll Have Another (2012). California Chrome (2014) was headquartered at Los Alamitos

As for additional rejoicing on his birthday, Baffert wasn’t pushing the envelope. “The only thing I’m going to do today,” Baffert said, “is go to Mike Smith’s wedding.”

McKinzie’s status for the $9 million, 1 1/8-mile Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26, meanwhile, was still undetermined, with the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes at the same distance on Feb. 2 a primary option.

“He’s doing well and it’s tempting,” Baffert said of McKinzie, impressive winner of the Grade I Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs on Dec. 26, “but the Pegasus still would be a little quick back off of a seven furlong race, so we’ll see.”

BUENA VISTA OR BEHOLDER MILE NEXT FOR ESCAPE CLAUSE

Escape Clause already has accomplished something that escapes most horses: winning 19 races, done in a career of 28 starts.

The five-year-old mare bred in Manitoba, Canada, captured Saturday’s Grade III La Canada Stakes by 5 ½ lengths under Tyler Baze for owner/trainer Don Schell and thus cemented her standing as one of the biggest Cinderella Stories in recent years.

By Going Commando-Danger Pay, Escape Clause is believed to be the first Manitoba-bred stakes winner in Santa Anita history. She covered a mile and one sixteenth on a wet-fast track in 1:41.89.

“She came out of the race great and we’re looking to run here in either the Buena Vista or the Beholder Mile,” Schnell said Sunday. The Buena Vista is a Grade II, $200,000 event at a mile on turf Feb. 23, while the Beholder is a Grade I on the main track worth $400,000 March 16. “We want to run her back here at Santa Anita; we’ll just have to figure out which race.

“She was just built like a horse that was gonna grow up and hopefully be something,” Schnell said in reference to buying Escape Clause as a youngster . . . “I used to say anytime I got a good horse, I’d like to come to Santa Anita and win a race . . . and I’m glad I did now.”

With the $60,000 earned in the La Canada, her first graded stakes win, Escape Clause increased her career earnings to $423,500.

SOLIS REMEMBERS MEGAHERTZ, ‘A SPECIAL HORSE’

On Monday, Jan. 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Santa Anita’s feature race is the Grade III, $100,000 Megahertz Stakes, named for the diminutive dynamo known for winning stakes in dramatic style, coming from absolutely last to overtake her rivals at the finish.

From Jan. 9, 2002 through her last race, on Oct. 29, 2005, Alex Solis rode the chestnut daughter of Pivotal in 21 of her 26 starts in the United States, winning 11. 

In each of those 26 starts, none shorter than one mile and none longer than 1 3/8 miles, the earliest Megahertz ever made the lead was when the field turned into the stretch.

A Hall of Fame jockey and current member of the California Horse Racing Board, Solis, who turns 55 on March 25, understandably had fond memories of the multiple Grade I winner, who won 14 of 34 starts and earned $2,261,594. She was second six times and third five times.

Megahertz was bred in England by Cheveley Park Stud and trained in the United States by the late Bobby Frankel.

“She was a little tiny horse owned by my friend Mike Bello that had an incredible kick,” Solis recalled, a smile beaming on his face.

“I don’t think I ever rode a horse that had the kind of finish that she did. She probably weighed 800 pounds but she ran like a 1,200 pound horse. She was very special.”

CTBA WINTER MIXED SALE SET FOR JAN. 16 AT FAIRPLEX

The California Thoroughbred Breeders Association will conduct a Winter Mixed Sale this Wednesday, Jan. 16, beginning at 12 noon in the Hinds Pavilion at Fairplex Park.

Horsemen are advised that CTBA Winter Mixed Sale catalogues are available in the Santa Anita racing office and at ctba.com.

For additional information, prospective buyers are encouraged to visit the CTBA website, or contact Loretta Veiga at (800) 573-2822, ext. 227 or via email atloretta@ctba.com.  An additional Sale contact is Christy Chapman, at (800) 573-2822, ext. 247 or via email at christy@ctba.com.

The main office number for the CTBA, located just across the street from Santa Anita on Colorado Place, is (626) 445-7800.

FINISH LINES: With rain forecast Monday evening and off and on into Thursday, training could be dicey for the upcoming week, but currently Jerry Hollendorfer plans to enter Awesome Anywhere (Mike Smith) and Kanthaka (Flavien Prat) in Saturday’s Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes for older horses at six furlongs. Prat also would ride Vasilika for Hollendorfer in the Megahertz at a mile on turf Monday, Jan. 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Joe Talamo has the mount on Last Promise Kept for Tom Proctor in the holiday race . . . Having withdrawn his appeal of a suspension issued last Sept.29, jockey Drayden Van Dyke will serve a three-day ban Jan. 19, 20 and 21. . . Santa Anita is dark for live racing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Live racing resumes 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17. There is simulcast racing Wednesday with free general admission and parking. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.

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SANTA ANITA STATISTICS

 

(Current Through Saturday, Jan. 12)

Jockey

Mts

1st

2nd

3rd

Win%

ITM%

Money Won

Flavien Prat

68

15

14

9

22%

56%

$1,095,012

Heriberto Figueroa

56

12

4

8

21%

43%

$386,183

Joel Rosario

62

10

11

11

16%

52%

$794,476

Mike Smith

24

9

4

4

38%

71%

$599,609

Drayden Van Dyke

52

7

9

9

13%

48%

$421,551

Assael Espinoza

36

7

1

5

19%

36%

$185,530

Tyler Baze

63

6

12

9

10%

43%

$491,336

Rafael Bejarano

42

6

6

5

14%

40%

$325,918

Geovanni Franco

47

6

4

5

13%

32%

$362,282

Tiago Pereira

36

5

2

3

14%

28%

$164,992

Trainer

Mts

1st

2nd

3rd

Win%

ITM%

Money Won

Doug O’Neill

42

10

3

3

24%

38%

$352,956

Richard Baltas

40

8

11

4

20%

58%

$542,690

Peter Miller

36

7

6

5

19%

50%

$363,834

Jerry Hollendorfer

32

7

4

5

22%

50%

$354,938

J. Keith Desormeaux

21

5

3

3

24%

52%

$211,918

John Sadler

27

4

5

5

15%

52%

$344,817

William E. Morey

21

4

2

5

19%

52%

$129,559