- FATHER AND SON HESS MAKE HISTORY IN CAL DERBY
- BALTAS HAS TWO FOR THE MONEY IN BUENA VISTA
- CITIZEN KITTY EYES LAS FLORES UPSET ON SUNDAY
- EARLY FIRST POST TIME OF 12 NOON ON SATURDAY
- BOLT D’ORO WORKS LIKE A CHAMP FOR SAN FELIPE
FATHER AND SON HESS VIE FOR FIRST TIME IN STAKES MONDAY
You can’t tell the players without a scorecard, the old saying goes, and at Santa Anita on Presidents Day, fans may need a magnifying glass to scrutinize fine print on the racing program to see which Hess, Bob Sr., or Bob Jr., runs which horse in the California Derby.
History will be made in the race. In careers combining three decades, for the first time, father and son Hess will run horses against each another in a stakes race, this one with a purse of $200,000 for three-year-olds going a mile and one sixteenth.
Hess Jr., 52, based at Santa Anita with 34 head and a trainer since 1987, sends out two horses, Fire When Ready, a gelded son of Empire Way, and Kaleidoscope Kid, a gelding by Papa Clem.
Hess Sr., 83 and a long-time fixture in the Bay Area where he currently has 14 head, has been training since 1959. He will be represented in the Derby by Intimidate, a chestnut Vronsky colt who already has a stakes win on his resume, having captured the King Glorious at Los Alamitos, in addition to two lesser triumphs at Golden Gate Fields.
“I think we’ve run in claimers against each other up north, but we’ve never run in a stakes together,” Hess Jr. said. “We try to stay away from each other. I don’t want him to make me look too bad.
“The joke is, my father tells me he’s taught me everything I know, not everything he knows, but the truth is, he’s my number one fan and has always put not only me but all of his four children first.
“He’s my number one supporter and my best friend in the world, and it’s really an honor, not to work against him in this race, but to work with him. His horse is probably going to kick my ass but we’re going to try to kick his ass back.”
Asked about running against his son for a lucrative prize, the elder Hess said, “We’re taking a shot,” but summarily dismissed overt emotions. “I don’t worry about things like that,” he said. Told his son didn’t want his father “to make me look too bad,” Hess Sr. said, “He’ll probably win it.”
Despite being slightly under the weather recently, Hess Sr. planned to be at Santa Anita for Monday’s race. “I’ve got a little cold,” he said, “but I think I’ll be all right. You have to maintain an even outlook in racing. This business is too up and down, so you have to keep the proper perspective.”
Hess Jr. sent his two horses and his dad’s through their final major drills last Monday at Santa Anita. Fire When Ready went five furlongs in 1:01; Kaleidoscope Kid five furlongs in 1:02.40; and Intimidate the same distance in 1:01.80.
“Fire When Ready worked well,” said Bob, who played college ball at Stanford with future Major Leaguers Jack McDowell, Mike Aldrete and Ed Sprague before an arm injury prevented him from pursuing that dream.
“(Rajiv) Maragh worked him and will ride him the race. He liked him quite a bit. The horse is still green and learning. When he got to the lead the other day he kind of pulled himself up and ducked in and didn’t want to switch leads. He didn’t do that in Monday’s work so I think he should move forward and run a good race.
“Kaleidoscope Kid also worked really well, but he’ll be a longshot (ridden Santiago Gonzalez). The horse got pretty rank the other day so we’re taking blinkers off for this race. That should help him relax and perhaps pick up a piece and earn a nice check.”
Intimidate arrived from Golden Gate five days in advance of working Monday at Santa Anita under Corey Nakatani, who rides him in the race. “The horse worked extremely well,” said Bob Jr., in whose barn his father’s horse is bedded down. “Intimidate is going to be really tough to beat. He’s ready to go. Dad told us what he wanted us to do and we deputized for him.”
Now, it’s a matter of the three horses getting to the post, having a good trip, and, as they say in pre-fight instructions, “May the best man win.”
In this case, a dead-heat would seem appropriate.
BALTAS HAS STRONG PAIR IN GRADE II BUENA VISTA
Richard Baltas, tied for second with 14 wins among trainers through 28 days of the Winter Meet, has two horses entered in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes for fillies and mares, four and older, in a bid to close the gap on Peter Miller, who leads the pack with 17 victories,three more than Baltas and Bob Baffert.
Baltas has entered Insta Erma and Madame Dancealot in the one mile turf race, each a consistent mare with a penchant for success on the grass.
“Insta Erma moved a little early last time (second in the Grade II Megahertz on Jan. 15),” said Baltas, who has run her four times since receiving the five-year-old Pioneerof the Nile mare from previous trainer Bill Mott.
“She won the restricted Swingtime Stakes, was third in the Grade I Matriarch, second in the Grade III Megahertz and we moved a little early with her in that race. We thought the pace was fairly slow. I think she wants a target, that’s the main thing.”
Corey Nakatani had ridden both mares last out but lands on Madam Dancealot in the Buena Vista. Brice Blanc rides Insta Erma.
Madam Dancealot captured the Grade II San Clemente Handicap, was third in the Grade I Del Mar Oaks and second in the Grade I American Oaks, “and she’s running against older Saturday,” Baltas pointed out.
The Las Cienegas, race seven of 10 with a 12 noon first post time: Insta Erma, Brice Blanc, 7-2; Madam Dancealot, Corey Nakatani, 7-2; Sweet Charity, Rafael Bejarano, 10-1; Madame Stripes, Kent Desormeaux, 3-1; Thundering Sky, Rajiv Maragh, 8-1; Sassy Little Lila, Flavien Prat, 4-1; Fault, Geovanni Franco, 15-1; Pricedtoperfection, Mike Smith, 15-1; and Juno, Joe Talamo, 12-1.
WASHINGTON INVADER SEEKS LAS FLORES UPSET FOR METZ
With seven wins, five seconds, five thirds and earnings of just under $200,000 in 26 starts, Citizen Kitty certainly pays her way, but the Washington-bred daughter of Proud Citizen faces her sternest test yet in Sunday’s Grade III Las Flores Stakes for fillies and mares,
The six-year-old mare will be making her first start in more than four months, having last raced Oct. 8, 2017 at Hastings in Canada, with 17 of her starts coming at Emerald Downs.
“We just wanted to give her a freshener after a pretty good campaign at Emerald Downs”, said Jeff Metz, who trains Citizen Kitty for the Highlander Racing Stable of Bruce and Cass Maller of Incline Village in Lake Tahoe.
“But she’s coming back well, with a bullet work here Feb. 8 of 1:14.40 for six furlongs. She was the champion older mare in Washington, but I know that doesn’t always stack up here at Santa Anita.
“Still, we’re going to give it a try. She has won some stakes, but to get graded placing would be nice for her down the road as a broodmare.”
EARLY 12 NOON FIRST POST FOR SATURDAY’S 10-RACE CARD
With a 10-race card on tap this Saturday, Santa Anita Park has announced there will be a special early first post time of 12 noon. The grade II, $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes for older fillies and mares at one mile on turf has been carded as race seven, with an approximate post time of 3 p.m.
This Saturday marks the second consecutive Saturday Santa Anita has opted to go with an early 12 noon post time. Last Saturday’s 10-race card, which included four graded stakes, produced a total pari-mutuel handle of $13,713,042, a $3.7 million increase over the corresponding date one year ago, which had one fewer race and was conducted over a wet/fast main track and a turf course that was listed as good.
A total of 99 horses have been entered for Saturday, with 97 eligible to run, putting average field size for the 10-race program at 9.7 runners per race. Saturday’s entries are now available at santaanita.com. For additional information, please call (626) 574-RACE.
BOLT D’ORO IN BULLET DRILL FOR SAN FELIPE
Leading Triple Crown candidate Bolt d’Oro, prepping for his three-year-old debut in the San Felipe Stakes on March 10, worked five furlongs Wednesday in a bullet 59.40, fastest of 29 drills at the distance. Private clocker Gary Young gave the son of Medaglia d’Oro a six furlong gallop out time of 1:12.80.
“He worked like a champ and came back like a champ,” owner/trainer Mick Ruis said Thursday morning. “He’ll work five furlongs out of the gate in company next Tuesday, work with Javier Castellano on Monday, the 26th (of February), then likely have a half-mile blowout Sunday (March 4) before the race.”
Castellano, winner of four consecutive Eclipse Awards as the nation’s outstanding jockey from 2013 through 2016, will ride Bolt d’Oro in the San Felipe, which also could attract undefeated McKinzie, Los Alamitos Futurity winner Solomini, Robert B. Lewis winner Lombo and San Vicente winner Kanthaka.
FINISH LINES: Edwin Maldonado returns to Santa Anita Friday after a tour at Oaklawn Park where he won seven races. The 35-year-old jockey, reunited once again with agent Vic Lipton, is named to ride Perfection Tale for trainer Howard Zucker in Friday’s eighth race. “I had been at Santa Anita seven years but wanted to make a change,” the Ohio native said. “I went to Oaklawn but quickly realized I had it good in California and decided to come back with Vic. I appreciated being here.” . . . Multiple graded stakes winner Masochistic worked four furlongs for Bob Baffert Thursday in a bullet 47.60, galloping out five furlongs in a minute flat. It was the fastest of 25 drills at the distance . . . Seattle Serenade, 6-1 morning line chance who adds blinkers for Jerry Hollendorfer in today’s sixth race, has run at six different tracks in her last six races.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, Feb. 11)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||96||15||10||8||16%||34%||$1,035,738|
|William E. Morey||20||9||0||6||45%||75%||$347,968|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||27||5||1||5||19%||41%||$182,365|
|Robert Falcone, Jr.||10||5||1||2||50%||80%||$118,305|