HERNANDEZ CLOSES GAP IN JOCKEYS’ RACE
BUSY MAN BALTAS ROLLS A SEVEN MONDAY
LEWIS LOOKS FORWARD TO A BIG WEEKEND
TRIPLE MOVES HERNANDEZ TWO WITHIN RIDING LEAD
With his third triple in the last three racing days on Saturday, hot riding Juan Hernandez moved within two victories of tying Flavien Prat for the riding lead at Santa Anita’s Autumn Meet that concludes on Oct. 25.
While Prat has been fulfilling stakes engagements at Keeneland during this holiday weekend, Hernandez closed the gap. Prat’s record reads 16-17-9 from 56 mounts, a 29 percent winning clip, while Hernandez has a 14-3-5 mark from 55 mounts, 25 percent.
The success of the 28-year-old native of Veracruz, Mexico, who was a force in the Bay Area before coming to Southern California under the astute guidance of veteran agent Craig O’Bryan, may have caught some observers by surprise, but not O’Bryan.
“He was the runaway leader at Golden Gate last year winning at 32 percent,” O’Bryan said. “His time has come. He knew he was ready.
“I think you’ll see him more and more confident the longer he stays. I’m not surprised at his success here, but I was surprised that I got him; (Northern California-based trainer) Blaine Wright kind of put it all together, so that part was great, but Juan is a good rider, very smooth and a really nice guy, too, a good family man with two kids.”
Humility aside, winning races on a major circuit requires equal amounts of desire and diligence from both jockey and agent. Juan and Craig have those attributes in abundance.
Among the jockeys O’Bryan has represented are three Hall of Fame members: Eddie Delahoussaye, Alex Solis and Gary Stevens.
“Juan is definitely holding up his end of the bargain; he’s a very good jockey,” said Craig, whose father George was a top agent and whose 33-year-old son, Brandon, represents apprentice Jessica Pyfer, winner of her first race Friday on only her sixth mount.
Craig has been plying his trade as an agent for 49 years and George, bless his soul, “will be 100 late this month,” Craig said. “Brandon got off to a good start. You never want to go too long without getting your first win.”
SEVEN ENTERED MONDAY, BALTAS COMES TO RUN
Richard Baltas means it when he says his is “a racing stable.”
The man comes to run. Proof of that is Monday, when the 59-year-old trainer has seven horses entered on the nine-race program, two in the second race.
That’s not even close to his personal record, however.
“I had 10 entered on one day,” said Baltas, who ranks second in the most starters category this meet, 36-31, behind Doug O’Neill.
“Here’s the thing; when there are short fields, if I can enter a horse and make a race go, it’s going to go,” Baltas said. “But on Monday, I think my horses are all well-spotted and we’ll see what happens.”
Baltas could be running for bigger bucks come next weekend as he has three horses nominated to the Grade II Autumn Miss Stakes on Saturday and Taishan nominated to the Grade II Twilight Derby on Sunday.
WARREN’S SHOWTIME, MARGOT’S BOY READY TO ROLL
Craig Lewis, who gave apprentice jockey Alexis Centeno a leg up on Prince Ricky to break his maiden by a desperate nose in Saturday’s ninth race, hopes to continue on a roll next weekend.
The veteran trainer plans to send out Warren’s Showtime in the Grade III Autumn Miss Stakes Saturday and Margot’s Boy in the Grade II Twilight Derby Sunday.
Each is an offspring of red hot sire Clubhouse Ride, who stands at Legacy Ranch just outside of Clements, CA, for $3,500 live foal.
“Both horses are doing fine,” Lewis said. “Margot’s Boy ran very well in the Del Mar Derby (nailed in the last jump, losing a head photo Sept. 6 in the Grade II turf event at 1 1/8 miles by Michael Stidham-trained Pixelate, who also is nominated to the Twilight Derby).
Tiago Pereira, who was aboard Margot’s Boy for the first time competitively in the Del Mar Derby, retains the mount. Margot’s Boy worked five furlongs Sunday morning in 1:01 flat.
Warren’s Showtime led into the stretch in the Grade I Del Mar Oaks at 1 1/8 miles on turf Aug. 22 before finishing third by a length and a half. The Autumn Miss for three-year-old fillies will be decided at a flat mile on grass, where Warren’s Showtime has a 4-0-2 record from seven starts. She has a 3-0-1 mark in four starts on Santa Anita’s turf course.
The Twilight Derby, for three-year-olds with a purse of $200,000, also will be decided at a mile and an eighth on turf, where Margot’s Boy has yet to win, although he does have another near-miss at the distance, in the restricted Snow Chief Stakes last June when he was third by a half-length as the 11-10 favorite.
Owned by his breeder, Alfred Pais, the bay gelding favors Santa Anita’s grass course where he has three wins and a third in four starts.
“I don’t think distance is a factor with Warren’s Showtime,” Lewis said of the consistent chestnut who has a 5-0-5 record from 12 starts for owner/breeders Benjamin Warren and his wife, Sally.
“She’s a nice filly that shows up every time.”
Leading rider Flavien Prat has the mount.
NEW $1 GOLDEN HOUR PICK 4
Santa Anita offers a comprehensive betting menu including the new $1 Golden Hour Pick 4. The wager, which features a low 15% takeout popular with players, links the last two races from Santa Anita and the last two races from Golden Gate Fields each racing day. It complements the popular $5 Golden Hour Double, which premiered earlier this year during Santa Anita’s winter-spring season.
While Santa Anita remains closed to the public due to Los Angeles County’s COVID-19 restrictions, fans can watch the live races streaming in HD free of charge on santaanita.com. There are several on-line wagering options available, including 1stBet.com, Santa Anita’s official wagering platform, which can be downloaded for free at the App Store. All of Santa Anita’s races also will be shown live on TVG.
The heart of Santa Anita’s player friendly program belongs to the early Pick 5, linking the first five races offered each day. At 14%, the popular wager features one of the lowest takeout rates in the country on a multi-race wager. Bookending the card is a late Pick 5, featuring the last five races each day.
Santa Anita’s 20 cent Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot returns, consisting of the final six races each day. The 20 cent Rainbow Pick Six has developed a following as it has the propensity to grow into a massive jackpot pool of millions of dollars, paid only to a single ticket with all six winners.
All bets, including the Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot, have mandatory payouts on closing day, Oct. 25.
Santa Anita’s betting menu is rounded out by numerous wagering opportunities that players have come to expect from The Great Race Place, including $2 Win, Place and Show wagering featuring the lowest takeout of any major racetrack in North America, plus $1 Exactas, $2 rolling Daily Doubles, 50 cent rolling Pick 3s, early and late 50 cent Pick 4s, early and late 50 cent Pick 5s, the $1 Super High 5 and 10 cent Superfectas on all races with a minimum of six runners.
RUNHAPPY WINNER’S CIRCLE FAN CUT OUTS
If you love horses and jockeys, Santa Anita’s new Virtual Runhappy Winner’s Circle Fan Cut Out is a great way to show your appreciation and benefit retired racehorses and injured riders.
Fans can have their cut-out images appear in Santa Anita’s Runhappy Winner’s Circle with the San Gabriel Mountains serving as a backdrop.
For a donation of $200, one hundred percent of which will go to support the California Retirement Management Account (CARMA) and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF), a personalized fan cut out will be displayed throughout the Autumn Meet.
Once a donation is received, Santa Anita will assist in submitting individual pictures within 48 hours.
Headquartered at Santa Anita, CARMA, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that is dedicated to providing funding for rehabilitation, re-training, and/or retirement of California-raced Thoroughbreds.
Based in Lexington, KY, the PDJF is also a 501(c)(3) public charity that provides financial assistance to jockeys that have suffered catastrophic injuries on the track.
For more information on how to participate in Santa Anita’s Virtual Winner’s Circle Fan Cut Out, please visit santaanita.com.
FINISH LINES: There were 157 recorded workouts this morning, including 19 on the training track. Improbable and Maximum Security, bound for the Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 7 at Keeneland, each went four furlongs on the main track for Bob Baffert, in 47.20 and 48.80, respectively . . . There is holiday racing tomorrow, Oct. 12, Columbus Day. First post time is 1 p.m.
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