- BAFFERT SEEKS HIS SEVENTH SAN FELIPE VICTORY
- OUTSIDER AQUILA EYES UPSET IN THE SAN FELIPE
- SADLER GOES FOR GRADE I DOUBLE ON SATURDAY
- MOTT CHARGE LOOMS LARGE VS. WORLD APPROVAL
- BALTAS TWO-TEAMS THE FRANK E. KILROE FAVORITE
FAVORED McKINZIE DOING WELL FOR ‘TOUGH’ SAN FELIPE
Bob Baffert eyes his seventh San Felipe victory Saturday, his second in a row and his third in the last four years when he sends out unbeaten favorite McKinzie in the major steppingstone to the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 7.
The Hall of Fame trainer won the San Felipe last year with the ill-fated Mastery; in 2015 with Dortmund; and prior to that with Pioneerof the Nile (2009), Preachinatthebar (2004), Point Given (2001) and Prime Timber (1999).
“He’s trained really well,” Baffert said of the bay son of Street Sense owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Karl Weitman. “It’s always a tough race, but he’s doing well. We’re happy with the way we’re going in there.”
Should McKinzie win, it would add to Baffert’s record of six San Felipe victories.
Meanwhile, private clocker Toby Turrell gave Jon White’s 2-1 San Felipe morning line second choice Bolt d’Oro a solid endorsement after watching the colt gallop a mile and a quarter this morning.
“He looked so good,” Turrell said, “you dropped everything you were doing just to watch him. Phenomenal.”
The San Felipe awards 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, 20 to the runner-up, 10 to the third-place finisher and five to the fourth.
The field for the San Felipe, race six on a blockbuster 11-race card that starts at 12 noon: Bolt d’Oro, Javier Castellano, 2-1; Lombo, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Ayacara, Kent Desormeaux, 8-1; McKinzie, Mike Smith, 8-5; Aquila, Martin Pedroza, 15-1; Calexman, Alonso Quinonez, 30-1; Peace, Drayden Van Dyke, 15-1; and Kanthaka, Flavien Prat, 4-1.
Santa Anita offers free gym bags to all THOROUGHBREDS members Saturday with paid admission while supplies last. Fans can also enjoy a beer and cider trackside festival; wine tasting in the Chandelier Room; a $500,000 guaranteed Late Pick four pool; and a rhythm and brews reggae festival.
First post time is 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.
AQUILA TACKLES HEAVYWEIGHTS IN SAN FELIPE
Aquila has the benefit of a two-turn maiden victory when he faces leading Triple Crown contenders McKinzie and Bolt d’Oro in Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes, but Simon Callaghan realizes full well the $685,000 son of Union Rags will have to move forward to win.
“He looks like he’s progressed and going in the right direction,” the trainer said of the chestnut colt owned by Kaleem Shah. “We’re looking forward to stepping up against better company to see where we’re going to fit.”
Martin Pedroza, who rode Aquila to his maiden victory, will be back aboard for the San Felipe. The indefatigable 52-year-old veteran resumed riding Thursday after serving a 15-day (seven racing days) suspension and promptly visited the Winner’s Circle following the sixth race with the Peter Eurton-trained Wise Curlin ($14.80), his only mount of the day.
SADLER EYES GRADE I DOUBLE IN TRIPLE BEND, BIG CAP
John Sadler is optimistic about the chances of Accelerate in Saturday’s Grade I, $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap presented by San Manuel Casino, and Edwards Going Left in the Grade I Triple Bend Stakes at seven furlongs.
Both horses are owned by Sadler’s principal clients, Kosta and Peter Hronis.
Having started nine horses in this, the 81st edition of the Big ‘Cap, Sadler will be seeking his first win in Santa Anita’s signature race for older horses and he’ll be after his second victory in the Triple Bend, having won in 2001 with Ceeband.
“Edwards Going Left is doing unbelievable,” Sadler said of the bargain $50,000 claim who has won six of 10 subsequent starts including two stakes. “The horse is still improving.
“He’s run great every time. The only downside Saturday is he drew the one (post position, for the second straight race). Although he’s run well from there before, it’s not our favorite post.”
Accelerate, a five-year-old full horse sired by Lookin At Lucky, is coming off an eventful but impressive victory in the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes on Feb. 3.
“Accelerate is doing super,” Sadler said. “He had a really good work last Sunday and looks good. We’re excited.”
The Triple Bend, race four of 11: Edwards Going Left, Tyler Baze, 9-5; Horse Greedy, Stewart Elliott, 20-1; Bobby Abu Dhabi, Victor Espinoza, 6-1, City of Light, Drayden Van Dyke, 6-5; and Captain Scotty, Javier Castellano, 5-2.
Giant Expectations was scratched to run in the Santa Anita Handicap.
The field for the Big ‘Cap, race 10: Top of the Game, Kent Desormeaux, 10-1; Prime Attraction, Tiago Pereira, 8-1; Curlin Road, Tyler Baze, 12-1; Giant Expectations, Corey Nakatani, 5-1; Hoppertunity, Flavien Prat, 7-2; Fear the Cowboy, Javier Castellano, 3-1; Accelerate, Victor Espinoza, 5-2; and Mubtaahij, Mike Smith, 4-1.
LIFE OF RILEY SUITS SON OF BILL MOTT
Deputizing for his Hall of Fame father, Riley Mott is on hand at Santa Anita with Channel Maker for Saturday’s Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile.
A four-year-old gelded son of English Channel, Channel Maker is on a streak of seven straight stakes, three of the last four Grade I’s. He was fifth in the Grade I Gulfstream Park Turf on Feb. 10 while lacking room.
“He shipped in great,” said Riley, 26-year-old son of Bill Mott. “It will be a tough assignment, but he’s doing well here. He’s a cool horse.”
Riley, not surprisingly, has been in racing “my whole life” and graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2014 with a degree in economics.
The Frank E. Kilroe Mile: Free Rose, Kent Desormeaux, 20-1; Bowies Hero, Corey Nakatani, 6-1; Next Shares, Rajiv Maragh, 8-1; Syntax, Geovanni Franco, 15-1; World Approval, Flavien Prat, 4-5; What a View, Tyler Baze, 15-1; Om, Mike Smith, 5-1; and Channel Maker, Javier Castellano, 5-1.
BALTAS HAS TWO AGAINST CHAMPION WORLD APPROVAL
Richard Baltas sends out two horses in an attempt to conquer Eclipse Award male turf champion of 2017 World Approval in Saturday’s Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile, but realizes he faces a daunting task.
Baltas entered Free Rose and Next Shares in the Kilroe, long a prestigious race on Santa Anita’s stakes calendar, with Grade I status and $400,000 in prize money.
“I was thinking maybe World Approval might not fire, but I looked at his form and he’s posted six straight 100 Beyers, so he usually shows up,” the trainer said. “Depending on the turf course and pace, I think we’re all going to be in a little bit of hot water.”
NEW ‘SUNDAY BRUNCH’ FIRST POST TIME OF 11:30 A.M.
Beginning with the start of Daylight Saving Time this Sunday, Santa Anita will adopt a new “Sunday Brunch” first post time of 11:30 a.m. which will continue on all Sundays through closing day of its current Winter/Spring Meet on June 24.
Effective Thursday, March 15, first post time on all other racing days except Sundays and Triple Crown Saturdays will be 12 noon.
Special early first post time for tomorrow’s 11-race card is at 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.
Santa Anita’s present 104-day Winter/Spring Meeting, which began Dec. 26, operates on a Thursday through Sunday basis, with few exceptions.
FINISH LINES: With Eclipse Award-winning apprentice and the meet’s leading rider Evin Roman losing his weight allowance on Sunday, five-pound apprentice rider Franklin Ceballos is in prime pouncing position to benefit from the transition. The 18-year-old native of Venezuela won back-to-back races Thursday, the third for trainer Sal Gonzalez on Second Gear ($8.20) and the fourth for Richard Baltas on Two Thirty Five ($5.40). “Business is picking up,” said Ceballos’ agent, Saul Marquez. “He’s winning at 23 percent, won seven races in six weeks and doesn’t lose his bug until May 26.” Roman, the nation’s top apprentice of 2017, will go out in style before riding as a full-fledged journeyman. “He’s named to ride in all nine races on Sunday,” said his agent, Tony Matos . . The California Horse Racing Board meeting scheduled for March 22 at Golden Gate Fields has been canceled. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 19, at Santa Anita. The CHRB Special Committee on Northern California racing will meet March 22 at Golden Gate Fields at 10:30 a.m. . . . Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday. Turn your clocks ahead one hour Saturday night.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Thursday, March 8)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||121||22||15||11||18%||40%||$1,318,693|
|William E. Morey||29||10||2||8||34%||69%||$403,203|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||35||7||3||6||20%||46%||$261,174|