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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• HEAVYWEIGHTS BAFFERT, ASMUSSEN DOMINATE ENTRIES FOR GRADE I MALIBU
• ‘HOMEBODY’ GOMEZ SETTLES IN FOR SANTA ANITA OPENING
• LAST-MINUTE CHANGE PUTS ULTIMATE EAGLE IN GRADE II SIR BEAUFORT
• HENDRICKS HAS HIGH HOPES FOR CAL-BRED FILLY BELLOMA
TURF TITANS BAFFERT, ASMUSSEN SQUARE OFF IN MALIBU STAKES
Between the two of them, Bob Baffert and Steve Asmussen have seven of the 11 horses entered in the Grade I Malibu Stakes, Santa Anita’s opening day feature on Monday.
Baffert, a nine-time Santa Anita training king and a member of the Hall of Fame, has entered Racing Aptitude, Hoorayforhollywood, Smash and The Factor. Asmussen, Eclipse Award winner as the nation’s outstanding conditioner in 2008 and 2009, entered Rothko, Light Up the Score and Wine Police.
The Factor is Baffert’s most accomplished runner, with three graded stakes wins on his resume, including the Grade I Pat O’Brien at Del Mar in August. Hoorayforhollywood was second by a neck in the Delta Mile; Smash was second in the Grade II Carry Back at Calder, while Racing Aptitude shows two minor stakes victories, including the Yo Eleven at Hollywood Park on Nov. 11.
Asmussen sends out Rothko and Light Up the Score on their first stakes sojourn, but each is on a winning streak. Rothko has won three in a row by a combined margin of 15 lengths, while Light Up the Score has two straight wins by a combined 4 ¼ lengths.
Rothko’s most recent tally, a 6 ½ length romp on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs earned him a career-best Beyer speed figure of 96. Under Julien Leparoux, the bay colt by Arch negotiated the six furlong distance run over a muddy strip in 1:09.40. Rothko was attentive to the pace and never looked a loser while dominating a nine-horse field.
Light Up the Score’s most recent win also came in a nine-horse field, at Churchill Downs on Nov. 25. The Kentucky-bred son of Even the Score won easily by 2 ½ lengths as the 7-5 favorite. He was ridden by Javier Castellano.
Wine Police was second in the Jimmy V in the mud at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4, and was third in the Grade I Hopeful at Saratoga as a 2-year-old. A Kentucky-bred son of Eclipse Champion Sprinter Speightstown, Wine Police has an overall record of 3-1-2 from seven starts.
The field for the Malibu, which goes as the ninth and final race on opening day: El Pocho, Kevin Krigger; Centralinteligence, Joel Rosario; Luckarack, Hector Berrios; Rothko, Corey Nakatani; Racing Aptitude, Mike Smith; Hoorayforhollywood, Gomez; Light Up the Score, Victor Espinoza; Smash, Rafael Bejarano; Associate, Ramon Dominguez; Wine Police, Joe Talamo; and The Factor, Martin Garcia.
Hoorayforhollywood blew out four furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Wednesday in 47.20 and the Baffert-trained Racing Aptitude went five furlongs in a bullet 58.60, while Associate went five furlongs in 1:01.40 for Richard Dutrow Jr.
GOMEZ MAKES DEBUT ON HOORAYFORHOLLYWOOD IN MALIBU
Home is where the heart is. For Garrett Gomez these days, that’s Santa Anita. The Tucson native, who turns 40 on New Year’s Day, has made Southern California his home in recent years and resides in Duarte, a few furlongs from Santa Anita, with his wife, Pam, and children Jared, Collin and Shelby.
Along with his many other accolades en route to a career that should one day lead to enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, Gomez will be singularly remembered as the only jockey to vanquish the peerless mare Zenyatta, who suffered her only defeat in 20 career races when Gomez guided Blame to a pulsating head victory in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
At the moment, Gomez is focused on Monday’s opening day at Santa Anita, where among his mounts will be Hoorayforhollywood in the marquee event, the Grade I Malibu Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.
Hoorayforhollywood is a son of Storm Cat who has been second in photo finishes in his last three starts, losing by a nose last May 29, a nose on Oct. 7 and a neck in the Delta Mile on Nov. 19. He broke his maiden at first asking last Feb. 21 at Santa Anita.
Gomez has never ridden the Storm Cat colt owned by George Krikorian and trained by Bob Baffert, so the jockey will do his homework before the race.
“The past performances show you how he wants to run and what he’s been doing, but of course I’ll consult with Bob and see what he wants to do with him,” Gomez said. “Every race is a little different and could require a different strategy. It depends on the other horses in the race, the pace factor and everything that plays into each race.”
And when he gets aboard Hoorayforhollywood for the post parade?
“Someone who’s never ridden a particular horse before can’t get a good line on how the horse is feeling,” Gomez said. “If you haven’t ridden it before, you aren’t familiar with the horse’s routine, so you wouldn’t know if it was doing anything different just from being on it one time.
“There’s no precedent, so you have nothing to gauge it on. But if you’ve ridden a horse a few times and it’s usually nice and laid back, and you get on and it’s worked up and a little sweaty, well, you wouldn’t want to see that.”
After extensive travel this year, Gomez is content to be home for the Santa Anita meet, where he and agent Tony Matos will focus on winning races and earning purse money.
“We have to regroup and find an approach that works for us and for the schedule here,” Gomez said. “Me and Tony, we went to Keeneland, and right before the Breeders’ Cup we had to do a lot of traveling, so we’ve had to kind of restart a couple of times.
“At Del Mar, we got a little momentum going into the fall meet at Santa Anita and then we had to start traveling again. It’s hard to get your momentum going when you’re in and out and other riders are here on a consistent basis, but we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to ride some of the better horses, and that’s living on airplanes and traveling. It’s a give and take proposition, but we’re happy with the way it’s going.
“We’ve got to make it work maybe a little bit better. We’ll figure it out. This is the big meet and to be home in Southern California, this is where I want to be, with my family. Hopefully, we make a nice impact throughout the meet, so we’ll see what we can do.”
AUDIBLE SENDS STREAKING ULTIMATE EAGLE TO SIR BEAUFORT STAKES
After working five furlongs on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track in 59.80 Tuesday, Mike Pender decided Wednesday to enter streaking Ultimate Eagle in the Grade II, $150,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes for 3-year-olds at one mile on turf on opening day.
Winner of all four of his grass races—the last four in a row—Ultimate Eagle had been ticketed for a start on dirt, possibly in the San Fernando Stakes on Jan. 14 or the Strub Stakes on Feb. 4.
“We have certain goals to meet every year and within those goals, we can call some audibles, and this is one of them,” Pender said Wednesday morning at Santa Anita.
Ultimate Eagle, a Mizzen Mast colt owned by B.J. Wright of Pasadena, won two grass races at Del Mar some four months ago, then won the Grade II Oak Tree Derby at odds of 34-1 at Santa Anita on Oct. 15 before leading throughout to take the Grade I Hollywood Derby by nearly a length at 14-1.
Multiple stakes winner Jeranimo, eyeing a repeat win in the Grade II San Gabriel Stakes on Jan. 16, also worked Tuesday at Hollywood for Pender, going four furlongs in 48 seconds. “Jeranimo worked sensational,” Pender said. “He couldn’t have worked any better. Ultimate Eagle did the same thing. They both just went as easy as could be.”
Martin Pedroza, who has ridden Ultimate Eagle in his four victories, retains the mount. Whether the streak reaches five remains to be seen, since Pender has ample respect for his rivals.
“It’s probably the deepest Sir Beaufort I’ve ever seen,” he said.
The field for the 12th running of the Sir Beaufort, which goes as the eighth race: Cozy Kitten, Alonso Quinonez; Venomous, Joel Rosario; Comma to the Top, Joe Talamo; Mr. Commons, Mike Smith; Thirtyfirststreet, Hector Berrios; Irish Art, Rafael Bejarano; Moment of Weakness, Kevin Krigger; Ultimate Eagle, Martin Pedroza; and Riveting Reason, Victor Espinoza.
Mr. Commons worked five furlongs on Hollywood’s Cushion Track Wednesday in 1:00.80 for trainer John Shirreffs.
PROMISING BELLOMA SET FOR CAL BREEDERS’ FILLY TEST
It was no surprise to trainer Dan Hendricks that Belloma broke her maiden in style at first asking. She led throughout to win a 6 ½ furlong maiden allowance race at Hollywood Park by a length and three-quarters on Nov. 26. Next up: Monday’s $100,000 California Breeders’ Champion Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at seven furlongs on Monday.
“She was professional and showed a good way of going from the start,” Hendricks said of the daughter of Yankee Gentleman owned by Judi Partridge of Yorba Linda. “She worked nicely out of the gate before her first race and ran the same way. She worked so well here I don’t foresee any problem going from synthetic to dirt.”
Belloma worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Wednesday in 1:01. Hendricks has “some 20 horses for this meet.” Asked if it was a good number for him, he said, “You always want more.”
The field for the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes for fillies, which goes as the first race: Tangerine Tickle, Hector Berrios; Almost a Lady, Joel Rosario; Willa B Awesome, Martin Pedroza; Warren’s Amber, Victor Espinoza; Belloma, Martin Garcia; and Ismene, Mike Smith.
FLASHBACK TO OPENING DAY: ROCK HARD TEN WINS 2004 MALIBU
Richard Mandella was optimistic when he saddled Rock Hard Ten for the 2004 Malibu Stakes. When Rock Hard Ten came from 10th and last at the half-mile marker to get up and win by a half-length, the Hall of Fame trainer was understandably thrilled.
“It was pretty nice,” Mandella recalled in typically understated fashion. “It was my first time to run him. He was given to me after his 3-year-old campaign, and he’d been rested, but trained good enough to make us think he could do anything, and he could.
“I just told Gary Stevens, ‘Look, don’t go chasing him out of there, trying to make him sharp.’ I wanted him eased back to make a big run that would set him up for the (Santa Anita) Handicap, which it did, but he won the Malibu, too.”
Rock Hard Ten would go on to win the Big ‘Cap, defeating Lava Man by a length and three-quarters.
ON-TRACK FANS AT SANTA ANITA HAVE MOBILE WAGERING OPTIONSanta Anita Park has announced that beginning opening day, Monday, it will offer all fans attending on-track the convenience of remote wagering via Santa Anita Mobile, a state-of-the-art mobile wagering application.
On-track fans can access the new mobile wagering site at: http://mobile.santaanita.com. This one-stop, one-source mobile application brings customer service to the palm of the customer’s hand and among its features are: On-track mobile wagering, streaming of live races, race replays, Cybertote (real time results, odds, will-pays, scratches, etc,) a betting calculator and a Santa Anita events and concerts calendar.
“This is the direction we need to be going,” said Santa Anita Vice President of Sales and Marketing Chris Quinn. “Technology is making our sport much more accessible and this mobile wagering platform is going to provide our on-track fans with a level of convenience that we haven’t been able to offer before. This is an exciting time and we feel these types of technologies hold great promise for the growth of our sport and the enhancement of our on-track experience.”
Santa Anita mobile wagering comes with a very simple sign-up process. Patrons can visit the sign-up booth in the first floor grandstand (just West of the THOROUGHBREDS Center in Mainline 2) or in FrontRunner Restaurant. Fill out a one page form to set up your THOROUGHBREDS mobile wagering account. Signing up for THOROUGHBREDS is free and easy to do if you are not already a member.
“Currently, we are working to provide the best infrastructure to support the mobile wagering platform,” said Nina Zukin, Santa Anita Director of Information Technology. “With the addition of numerous wireless towers and commercial access points, our customers can be assured of a convenient and secure mobile wagering experience.”
Following is a list of six potential questions likely to be posed by new customers:
Q: How do I sign up?
A: Take your THOROUGHBREDS card to the mobile wagering sign-up booth on the first floor grandstand (Just West of the THOROUGHBREDS Center in Mainline 2). Fill out a brief one page form and you are ready to go.
Q: How can money be deposited to open a Santa Anita Mobile account?
A: Santa Anita will dedicate Self Service terminals where money can be deposited. These terminals will be adjacent to Information Windows throughout the facility. Deposits with a voucher can be made on any self service terminal that accepts printed tickets.
Q: Do customers have the ability to change their PIN number?
A: Yes. From a security standpoint you must change your PIN number before being issued a new card. Customers can change their PIN at any time on any self-service terminal and should change their PIN when making their initial deposit.
Q: What if the customer forgets his or her PIN number, can that number be retrieved?
A: PIN numbers are easily retrieved at any Information Window. Customers must provide photo identification that matches the name on the account.
Q: Once the Santa Anita winter/spring meeting is over, where can account money be withdrawn?
A: Customers can withdraw monies by voucher from any self service terminal at any Southern California racetrack or off-track betting facility.
Q: If a Santa Anita Mobile card is lost, can someone else access the account?
A: Your account cannot be accessed without a pin number. If you have lost your card, please go to an Information Window. You will be asked security questions from your sign-up information and your old card will be cancelled and you will be issued a new card immediately.
FINISH LINES: First post time on opening day, Monday, is 12 noon . . . Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Amazombie, prepping for his 2012 debut in the Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes at six furlongs on Jan. 21, worked four furlongs Wednesday on Santa Anita’s fast main track in 48.40, breezing, for trainer Bill Spawr . . . Sham Stakes winner Tapizar worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 for Steve Asmussen . . . Eric Guillot plans to run Champagne d’Oro in the Grade III Monrovia Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf Jan. 2, but if the winner of the Grade I Test Stakes in 2010 doesn’t fare well, “she’ll be retired and bred to Bernardini,” the trainer said. Champagne d’Oro worked five furlongs Wednesday in 59.60.