STABLE NOTES BY MIKE WILLMAN & ED GOLDEN -THURSDAY, JANUARY 30, 2020

  • SAN MARCOS STAKES: UNITED WE STAND
  • CLEOPATRA’S STRIKE COULD BE CROWNED IN SATURDAY’S SAN MARCOS
  • ROADSTER ‘RAILED’ IN SATURDAY’S SAN PASQUAL STAKES
  • MIDCOURT NEEDS FAST START IN SATURDAY’S SAN PASQUAL
  • WIFE OF THE BALD EAGLE, PEGGY WHITTINGHAM DIES AT 95
  • ASSISTANT STARTER RAMIREZ HAS SUPER BOWL CONNECTION

SAN MARCOS STAKES: UNITED WE STAND

 United finished only a head behind eventual 2019 Runhappy Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar at monstrous odds of 51-1 in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 2, and has been steady as they come since Richard Mandella received the five-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway eight races back from Roger Attfield, who conditioned the gelding for his first three career starts in 2018 at Woodbine.

Mandella expects the stretch-running chestnut to continue to show good form in Saturday’s Grade II San Marcos Stakes at a mile and a quarter on grass even though he’s “shortening up” from two straight mile and a half marathons.

“He’s doing very well and he’s run well all year,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “He’ll need to be a little sharper going a mile and a quarter instead of a mile and a half, but I think he is.”

The Breeders’ Cup Turf and the Grade II Hollywood Turf Cup, United’s last race Dec. 1 at Del Mar, each were contested at a mile and a half.

Owned by LNJ Foxwoods and bred by Rosemont Farm, LLC in Kentucky, United has a 3-3-1 record from 11 starts with earnings of $893,549. Victory in the San Marcos is worth $120,000 and would make United a millionaire with a bankroll of $1,013,549.

The San Marcos, race seven on Saturday: Chosen Vessel, (12-1) Drayden Van Dyke; Cleopatra’s Strike, (2-1) Abel Cedillo; Multiplier, (12-1) Umberto Rispoli; United, (8-5) Flavien Prat; Brown Storm, (6-1) Hector Berrios; Campaign, (scratched) Rafael Bejarano and Oscar Dominguez, (5-2) Joel Rosario.

CLEOPATRA’S STRIKE COULD BE CROWNED IN SATURDAY’S SAN MARCOS

Most recently, beaten a neck going a mile and one eighth on turf in the Grade II San Gabriel Stakes Jan. 4, trainer Phil D’Amato’s Cleopatra’s Strike rates a huge chance in Saturday’s Grade II San Marcos Stakes at 1 ¼ miles on turf.

“He’s found his top form,” said D’Amato on Thursday.  “I like the distance.  He’s one for two at a mile and a quarter and his win came here in a Grade II (John Henry Turf Classic, three starts back on Sept. 28), so we feel good about his chances.  Abel (Cedillo) rode him last time and he won on him in the John Henry. He works him every time and he knows him well. This horse is very tactical, so we’re ready to go.”

A 7-year-old Ontario, Canadian-bred gelding by Smart Strike out of the Sky Classic mare Cleopatra’s Needle, Cleopatra’s Strike, who was originally based in Toronto, will be making his fifth start for D’Amato on Saturday.  With an overall mark of 27-4-10-2, he has earnings of $428,844.

BAFFERT WOULD PREFER FAST LANE FOR ROADSTER IN SAN PASQUAL

A winner of last year’s Grade I Santa Anita Derby, Bob Baffert’s Roadster has drawn the rail in a field of 10 older horses going a mile and one eighth in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes, an iconic prep for the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 7.

Winless in five subsequent starts, the 4-year-old Quality Road colt comes off a solid second place finish to Omaha Beach going seven furlongs in the Grade I Malibu Stakes on Dec. 28.

“I got the damn rail again,” mused Baffert on Thursday morning.  “This horse is doing really well.  He got too far back early in that race, but he came running.  I’d like to see him in the race a little more…I’m happy to see we got a large field.”

Dating back to 1999 with Silver Charm, Baffert has won the San Pasqual a record five times, most recently with Hoppertunity in 2015.

SHIRREFFS SAYS MIDCOURT NEEDS FAST START IN SATURDAY’S SAN PASQUAL

Most recently a well beaten third by top older horse Gift Box going a mile and one sixteenth in the Grade II San Antonio Stakes on Dec. 28, trainer John Shirreffs is quietly confident about Midcourt’s chances going a mile and one eighth in Saturday’s Grade II San Pasqual Stakes.

“He kind of stumbled away from the gate in the San Antonio,” said Shirreffs on Thursday. “Victor (Espinoza) said he thought the ground broke away from under him.  Then he got carried wide by Pete Eurton’s horse (Draft Pick, also owned by C R K Stable) going into the first turn and you knew it was gonna be pretty tough from there.

“Horses weren’t closing that day, but he did make a good run, so we were happy with that.  With this horse, just getting away from the gate well is important…He needs to get into stride and when he does, he’s much more comfortable.”

The San Pasqual, race eight on Saturday: Roadster, (7-2) Joel Rosario; Route Six Six, (20-1) Jose Valdivia, Jr.; Restrainedvengence, (4-1) Abel Cedillo; King Abner, (4-1) Flavien Prat; Midcourt, (3-1) Victor Espinoza; Instagrand, (12-1) Umberto Rispoli; California Street, (12-1) Mike Smith; Two Thirty Five, (8-1) Ruben Fuentes; Bold Endeavor, (30-1) Mario Gutierrez and Combatant, (10-1) Drayden Van Dyke.

PEGGY WHITTINGHAM DIES AT 95

Story by Evan Hammonds, BloodHorse.com

Peggy Whittingham, wife of the late Hall of Fame trainer Charlie Whittingham, died Jan. 28 at her home in San Marcos, Calif. She passed with her family by her side following a long battle with breast cancer. She was 95.

A service will be held at Solano Beach (near Del Mar) on Feb. 29, Leap Day, on what would have been her 96th birthday.

“She had been dealing with the cancer for quite a few years,” said son Mike Whittingham. “It was very slow growing for a long time, and then all of a sudden it decided not to be. She’s been in decline for a few months.”

“My mother was a real force,” said daughter Charlene von Bluecher. “Anybody who knew her would agree. She was a world traveler. One of the hospice workers who came to help kept calling her ‘princess,’ and I said, ‘Oh, no. She is not a princess, she’s a queen.'”

“A lot of the older folks would know that she went toe-to-toe with dad,” Mike Whittingham said. “They were very social and social among a lot of the old-time celebrities. “And what I mean by toe to toe, sometimes dad would call from the track, ‘Hey, I’m bringing home so-and-so … it might be 20 people …and mom would have dinner ready and a party prepped by the time they got home. She was quite an entertainer.”

And a world traveler.

“She went on quite a few trips with Marie Jones,” von Bluecher said. “They took a motor home all over the place and toured Asia together. Back in the old days she ran around with quite a few people like Doc Harthill, the Maddens, and the Hirschs,” Mike Whittingham added. “One of her best friends was (actress) Angie Dickinson. They spent a lot of time together and she was very supportive after Dad died.”

Dickinson at one time was married to the musician and successful Thoroughbred owner Burt Bacharach.

Peggy “was a lovely person,” said breeder/owner Arthur Hancock III, who raced the Whittingham-trained Sunday Silence. “She and Charlie were very much in love; you could tell they had a great relationship. They were very compatible. She certainly was Charlie’s rock.”

She is survived by her two children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by Charlie, who died at age 86 in 1999, and her son, Taylor.

COMEBACKING ASSISTANT STARTER RAMIREZ HAS SUPER BOWL CONNECTION

Santa Anita welcomed back popular assistant starter Hector Ramirez this morning, as this will be his first race day since being sidelined with a heart issue this past July at Del Mar.

“The doctors at Scripps La Jolla did a fantastic job,” said Ramirez, 58, on a bright sunny Thursday morning in Santa Anita’s quarter mile chute.  “They found the problem right away, operated on me and I’m really happy to be back.”

Originally an exercise rider, Ramirez has been working on the starting gate since 1986.  “My brother Gilbert rode for a long time and my wife Cathy actually rode races for a short time on the fairs up north,” he said.

And speaking of his wife, Ramirez noted that his family is a bit conflicted as to who to root for in this Sunday’s Super Bowl.

“It’s kind of amazing.  My father-in-law, Chuck Kenney, was an offensive lineman with the 49ers in 1947, and my brother-in-law, Bill Kenney, played quarterback for the Chiefs from 1980 to 1988 (made the Pro Bowl in 1983).”

So, who is Hector Ramirez rooting for?

“I’m from New Mexico and I’m a Cowboy fan at heart,” he said pointing to his cap.  “But in this game, I gotta go for the Chiefs.  They’re hitting on all cylinders and I love watching Mahomes play quarterback.”

SIMULCAST WAGERING NOW OFFERED IN SANTA ANITA SPORTS BOOK

In addition to the Grandstand Paddock Room, Santa Anita is now offering free parking and admission on Wednesdays and Thursdays for fans attending its Sports Book, which adjoins the Turf Terrace on the Mezzanine level. State of the art in every respect, the Santa Anita Sports Book features wall-to-wall flat screen television monitors and plenty of betting windows. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com.

FINISH LINESMorning Line for Saturday’s Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes, Race 6: Encoder, (8-1) Mike Smith; Thousand Words, (4-5) Flavien Prat; Tizamagician, (3-1) Victor Espinoza; Royal Act, (15-1) Abel Cedillo; High Velocity, (3-1) Joel Rosario and Zimba Warrior, (15-1) Jose Valdivia, Jr…McKinzie and McKale both worked a bullet six furlongs Thursday in 1:11.60 for Bob Baffert.  Unbeaten in two starts, Derby hopeful Authentic worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 also for Baffert…Other notable works included the Craig Lewis pair of Club Aspen and Warren’s Showtime, with both drilling a half mile in 48 flat, and Bolo worked five furlongs from the gate in 1:01.40 for Carla Gaines…The following jockeys have been suspended: Iggy Puglisi (Feb. 1 and 2) for a riding crop violation on Heartfullofstars in the seventh race Jan. 24; Anthony Locke (10 days, Feb. 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 21) for causing interference on Grey Tsunami in the second race on Jan. 26; and Assael Espinoza (two days, Feb. 2 and 6) for interference on Fort Dodge in the eighth race on Jan. 20… Santa Anita offers $2 beer and $6 specialty cocktails each Friday at designated locations throughout the track. Specialty cocktails include a Baldwin Buck, Margarita and other selected cocktails. There is also free Club House (including Santa Anita’s Sports Book) and General Admission each Friday . . . FIRST POST ON BIG GAME SUNDAY, FEB. 2., IS EARLY AT 11 A.M.  COME FOR THE RACES AND STAY FOR THE BIG GAME!

LATEST CONTENT FROM XBTV:

FEATURES:

XBTV Thursday: What to Watch for at Santa Anita Park on January 30th, 2020

Stronach 5 All-Star Ticket for January 31st, 2020

WORKOUTS:
Authentic (Baffert) 1-30-20

Shanghai Truffles (Gallagher) 1-30-20

Ginger Nut (Sadler) 1-30-20

McKinzie (Outside) and McKale (Baffert) 1-30-20

Sold It (Outside) and Keno’d (O’Neill) 1-27-20

Tapitha Bonita (Miyadi) 1-27-20

Kitty Boom Boom (Baltas) 1-27-20

Gift Box (Sadler) 1-26-20

Roadster (Outside) and Heck Yeah (Baffert) 1-26-20

United (Mandella) 1-26-20

Clivetty (Outside) and Instagrand (Chatlos) 1-25-20

Campaign (Outside) and Combatant (Sadler) 1-25-20

SANTA ANITA STATISTICS
Jockey Standings
(Current Through Sunday, January 26, 2020 Inclusive)
Jockey

Mts

1st

2nd

3rd

Win%

ITM%

Money Won

Joel Rosario

72

18

16

11

25%

63%

$1,112,634

Abel Cedillo

113

17

16

12

15%

40%

$1,015,432

Drayden Van Dyke

60

13

11

5

22%

48%

$784,421

Flavien Prat

65

10

16

15

15%

63%

$708,954

Umberto Rispoli

53

8

9

6

15%

43%

$480,632

Tiago Pereira

48

8

6

8

17%

46%

$462,138

Jorge Velez

72

8

5

8

11%

29%

$406,527

J.C. Diaz, Jr.

42

7

4

9

17%

48%

$277,581

Mario Gutierrez

43

6

6

5

14%

40%

$363,677

Ruben Fuentes

37

6

6

1

16%

35%

$327,491

Mike Smith

25

6

2

2

24%

40%

$661,582

Geovanni Franco

38

5

6

3

13%

37%

$352,470

Edwin Maldonado

33

5

3

4

15%

36%

$145,075

Agapito Delgadillo

29

4

2

5

14%

38%

$212,481

Trainer

Sts

1st

2nd

3rd

Win%

ITM%

Money Won

Richard Baltas

53

12

9

4

23%

47%

$792,770

Peter Miller

34

11

4

3

32%

53%

$686,094

Bob Baffert

35

10

7

9

29%

74%

$833,612

Brian J. Koriner

20

6

1

4

30%

55%

$211,842

Doug F. O’Neill

49

5

7

4

10%

33%

$348,759

Richard E. Mandella

19

5

1

4

26%

53%

$393,165

Philip D’Amato

43

4

9

5

9%

42%

$423,428

Mark Glatt

31

4

3

7

13%

45%

$185,481

Mike Puype

20

4

3

3

20%

50%

$235,580

Hector O. Palma

17

4

1

2

24%

41%

$117,621

Michael W. McCarthy

18

4

1

2

22%

39%

$142,205

Jeff Bonde

11

4

1

1

36%

55%

$100,171