- JUSTIFY AND BOLT D’ORO IN ‘RACE OF THE YEAR’
- MIDNIGHT BISOU IN BRIEF BREEZE FOR RICH OAKS
- ENOLA GRAY RETURNS IN $200,000 ROYAL HEROINE
- FLORISTA SHARP FOR U.S DEBUT IN PROVIDENCIA
- SHOW IT N MOE IT ONE TO BEAT IN EVENING JEWEL
- KORINER IS CONFIDENT FOR ECHO EDDIE STAKES
- LEGENDARY LAFFIT PINCAY A SMASH HIT ON KTLA
JUSTIFY VS. BOLT IN SANTA ANITA DERBY
No McKinzie, no problema.
Bob Baffert just goes with the flow and taps Justify on the shoulder to take on Bolt d’Oro in the most anticipated race of the year, Saturday’s $1 million, Grade I, Santa Anita Derby.
“You hate to see a horse get hurt,” Baffert said, speaking of McKinzie, who will miss the race due to a minor hind end issue, “but things happen, so you just have to keep moving forward. You can’t look back.”
Justify, undefeated and unchallenged in two victories by a combined margin of 16 lengths, had been expected to run out of town, with McKinzie facing Bolt d’Oro in the Santa Anita Derby, before an injury dashed those plans.
Now, not only will Justify be favored against Bolt d’Or, he’ll likely be the one to catch in the mile and one-eighth steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby on May 5.
“I’ll let Mike Smith deal with that,” Baffert said. “Last time (winning a one mile overnight race by 6 ½ lengths on a muddy track March 11), he sat off a horse, but the jump (the start) is more important than the barrier.”
A $500,000 chestnut son of Scat Daddy, Justify is being heralded in many quarters as being “any kind,” despite beating only four horses in each of his victories.
“We call him Big Red at the barn,” Baffert said. “We’re always looking for the big red sonofagun, but he’s got to pass this test before we start calling him anything special.”
McKinzie, meanwhile, is recovering at Santa Anita and will be pointed for a summer campaign. “We’ll give him 30 days of R&R and point to races like the Haskell, the Pennsylvania Derby and the Travers,” Baffert said.
The Santa Anita Derby awards 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 for third and 10 for fourth. The winner’s share is $600,000. Second is worth $200,000, third $120,000 and fourth $50,000.
Estimated post time for the Santa Anita Derby is 4:12 p.m. Pacific Time. The race will be televised on NBC 2 Sports.
The 81st Santa Anita Derby, race nine on a 13-race program that starts at 11:30 a.m.: Instilled Regard, Joel Rosario, 5-1; Orbit Rain, Brice Blanc, 50-1; Bolt d’Oro, Javier Castellano, 6-5; Jimmy Chila, Mario Gutierrez, 30-1; $20,000 supplemental nominee Pepe Tono, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; Justify, Mike Smith, 4-5; and Core Beliefs, Tyler Baze, 20-1.
SPAWR HAPPY WITH MIDNIGHT BISOU FOR OAKS
Santa Anita Oaks favorite Midnight Bisou had a three furlong breeze Thursday morning in 38 flat for the Grade I race on Saturday that offers $400,000 in purse money.
“We’re happy with where she is now,” Spawr said of the daughter of Midnight Lute, who is only two noses from being unbeaten in four races.
She lost her first two starts by a nose, but won her last two by a combined margin of nearly seven lengths, including the Grade II Santa Ysabel Stakes and the Grade III Santa Ynez.
The Santa Anita Oaks, race 11: First Dudette, Rajiv Maragh, 30-1; Spring Lily, Victor Espinoza, 6-1; Midnight Bisou, Mike Smith, 6-5; Fool’s Paradise, Mario Gutierrez, 30-1; Finess Bere, Drayden Van Dyke, 15-1; Exuberance, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Spectator, Javier Castellano, 3-1; We All Have Dreams, Joel Rosario, 12-1; and Thirteen Squared, Tyler Baze, 9-2.
ENOLA GRAY TRAINING WELL FOR SATURDAY’S RETURN
With seven wins from 11 starts, virtual win machine Enola Gray is expected to drop another bomb on her rivals in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Royal Heroine Stakes for fillies and mares, four and up, at one mile on turf.
The California-bred daughter of Grazen owned and bred by Nick Alexander will be making her first start in nine months, since winning the Grade III Wilshire Stakes at a mile on grass last July 1 at Santa Anita.
“Tyler (Baze) has been breezing and her last couple have been very good, with good, long gallop outs,” said trainer Phil D’Amato. “They’ve given her plenty of air and Tyler’s given her the green light. She’s ready to run.”
The five-year-old gray mare, out of the money only once in her career, has four wins and a second in five starts after a layoff.
The Royal Heroine, which goes as race 10: $4,000 supplemental nominee Instant Reflex, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; Sophie P, Drayden Van Dyke, 12-1; Beau Recall, Joel Rosario, 4-1; Midnight Crossing, Brice Blanc, 6-1; Thundering Sky, Rajiv Maragh, 5-1; Enola Gray, Tyler Baze, 3-1; Madame Stripes, Kent Desormeaux, 15-1; Mongolian Shopper, Stewart Elliott, 15=1; and Sassy Little Lila, Javier Castellano, 6-1.
FLORISTA TRAINING WELL FOR U.S. DEBUT IN PROVIDENCIA
Florista makes her U.S. debut and her first start on turf in only her second career outing Saturday in the Grade III, $150,000 Providencia Stakes for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles.
“She’s trained real well since she’s gotten here,” said Mark Glatt, who conditions the Irish-bred daughter of Casamento for Al and Sandee Kirkwood. “We were hoping to find a little different spot to start her off, but nothing materialized, so we’ll see what happens on Saturday.”
The bay filly vanquished 13 rivals by a length at odds of 33-1 in her only race, a seven furlong sprint over Dundalk’s synthetic surface in her native Ireland on Jan. 26.
The field for the Providencia, race five: Pulpit Rider, Corey Nakatani, 9-2; Lexington Grace, Javier Castellano, 8-1; Treasuring, Rajiv Maragh, 10-1; Paved, Drayden Van Dyke, 2-1; Ms Bad Behavior, Kent Desormeaux, 5-2; Fatale Bere, Joel Rosario, 6-1; Retro, Mike Smith, 10-1; Florista, Tyler Conner, 20-1; and Deep Breath, Tyler Baze, 50-1.
SHOW IT N MOE IT COULD SPARKLE IN EVENING JEWEL
Show It N Moe It comes off two facile wins by a combined margin of nearly 12 lengths in open company, and returns against California-breds in Saturday’s $200,000 Evening Jewel Stakes for three-year-old fillies at 6 ½ furlongs.
It is one in the lucrative Golden State Series for California-bred or sired horses.
“She’s back with Cal-breds and she drew perfect,” said Gary Sherlock, who trains the daughter of Grace Upon Grace for breeder Terry Lovingier, who also owns her in a partnership.
“It’s her race to lose,” Sherlock said in an air of confidence.
The field for the Evening Jewel, race four: Spiced Perfection, Joe Talamo, 4-1; Ismeluck, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1; One Fast Broad, Javier Castellano, 5-2; Smiling Tigress, Tyler Baze, 4-1; Empress of Lov, Tiago Pereira, 12-1; Wishful, Joel Rosario, 20-1; Blessed Lady, Evin Roman, 12-1; and Show It N Moe It, Mike Smith, 9-5.
CAN TAKE THE ONE O ONE AVOID TRAFFIC IN ECHO EDDIE?
With a game, front-running win under his belt after a five-month layoff, Take the One O One is primed to continue winning in Saturday’s $200,000 Echo Eddie Stakes for three-year-olds at 6 ½ furlongs, one in the Golden State Series for California-bred or sired horses.
“I’ll be disappointed if he loses,” said a confident Brian Koriner, who trains the son of Acclimation for the Jay Em Ess Stable. “He’s very good right now and he’s a real horse.”
The Echo Eddie, race six: Rewired, Tyler Baze, 12-1; Campaigner, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1; Heck Yeah, Mike Smith, 7-5; Take the One O One, Joe Talamo, 8-5; supplemental nominee Shaymin, Mario Gutierrez, 15-1; Fire When Ready, Javier Castellano, 8-1; Generally Lucky, Stewart Elliott, 20-1; and Psycho Dar, Evin Roman, 6-1.
LEGENDARY PINCAY IS A HIT ON KTLA MORNING NEWS
After more than 48,000 career mounts and a record 9,530 victories, Laffit Pincay, Jr. called it a career in April 2003, following a broken neck sustained in a spill coming down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course. Thoroughbred racing’s winningest rider at the time of his retirement, the incomparable Pincay was and is regarded by many as the greatest jockey of all time.
Fast forward to April 5, 2018, at 7:35 a.m., Pincay was on-hand in the Santa Anita Walking Ring to do a “walk and talk” interview with Elizabeth Espinosa of the KTLA Morning News. In the pre-broadcast routine of getting acquainted, it was suggested that Pincay get a leg up on a retired Thoroughbred named Freckles from the Matt Chew stable.
As he showed Espinosa how to take a mane hold and the importance of keeping one’s hands low on a horse’s neck, the legendary Pincay turned and said, “You know, this is the first horse I’ve been on since I retired.”
A winner of six Eclipse Awards, a member of the Hall of Fame since 1975, a 14-time leading rider at Santa Anita’s prestigious Winter/Spring Meeting, a winner of a record 138 races at the 1970-71 stand, seven Santa Anita Derbies, a Kentucky Derby, three Belmonts, seven Breeders’ Cup races and a dominant force in America from 1966 up until his retirement at the age of 56–this was the first time Pincay had been astride a horse, any horse, in 15 years.
To say the least, it was an emotional moment, not only for Pincay, but for anyone within earshot. The classiest of athletes throughout his remarkable career, which began in his native Panama in 1964, Pincay artfully explained the nuances of how to approach a horse and most importantly, what makes them run.
“My whole career, I had to watch my weight,” he said. “I needed to weigh 112 pounds, stripped, so I could tack 117. But even though I had to be careful with what I ate, I always made sure my legs were strong. Your legs are the most important thing. If your legs get tired, horses know that and they won’t run for you like they do when you are really fit.
“I know, because there was a few times when my legs didn’t feel good and I lost races that I should have won. It’s the same thing with your attitude. Horses know. They feel that positive energy and they respond.”
And, safe to say, so did hundreds of thousands of KTLA viewers this morning who shared a truly special moment with a living legend.
FINISH LINES: Fans wishing to attend Clockers’ Corner on Santa Anita Derby Day are advised that Baldwin Ave. will be closed to vehicular traffic between the 210 Freeway and Huntington Drive from 7:45 a.m. until 9 a.m. in order to accommodate foot traffic related to Santa Anita’s annual Derby Day 5k Run and Walk. Those visiting Clockers’ Corner Derby Day morning can enter the track at Santa Anita’s northeastern perimeter via Gate 5, or on the track’s southern perimeter, via Gate 3 at Holly Avenue . . . Not “Gone With The Wind” will be a memorable line uttered Sunday by The Voice of Santa Anita Michael Wrona as a field of $20,000 maiden claimers going 5 ½ furlongs reached deep stretch in the third race. A three-year-old gelding named Rhettbutler would go on to win by three lengths, but not before holding off a wall of pursuers. As the margin narrowed in mid-stretch, then grew as the wire neared, Wrona noted full well of what by then was a fait accompli with a classic last line from a classic movie: . . . but “Rhettbutler doesn’t give a damn.” (And, the late mega-star Clark Gable would have no-doubt delighted in it).
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, April 1)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||163||35||21||19||21%||46%||$2,141,034|