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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• BAFFERT ON HIS FAB FOUR IN GRADE I MALIBU: EVERY JOCK FOR HIMSELF
• WESLEY WARD HAS ‘KITTEN’ PURRING FOR SIR BEAUFORT
• SADLER JUVENILES SET FOR OPENING DAY CAL-BRED STAKES
THE FACTOR GOES FROM INSIDE TO OUTSIDE IN OPENING DAY MALIBU
As the trainer of four of the 11 horses entered, Bob Baffert has more than one-third of the field scheduled to start in Monday’s opening day feature at Santa Anita, the Grade I Malibu Stakes. But the Hall of Fame trainer plans to let the chips fall where they may as far as giving instructions to the riders of his Fab Four: Racing Aptitude and Mike Smith; Hoorayforhollywood and Garrett Gomez; Smash and Rafael Bejarano; and The Factor and Martin Garcia.
“The outside (No. 11 post position) is a much better spot for The Factor,” said Baffert, who has seen the only graded stakes winner in the lineup break from the dreaded rail in his last two races, the Grade I Ancient Title Stakes on Oct. 8, in which he finished fourth as the 2-5 favorite, and the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on Nov. 5, in which he faded to eighth, beaten nearly 12 lengths after setting the pace early on.
Asked if The Factor would be sent from the more advantageous post, Baffert said, “I don’t know. I just let Martin ride his race. There’s a lot of speed in there, so I just let my jockeys ride their race and see what happens. I quit giving instructions. If you have to give instructions (to jockeys), you shouldn’t use them.”
Baffert dismissed a Malibu mano-a-mano with fellow trainer Steve Asmussen, who entered three in the race for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs: Rothko, Light Up the Score and Wine Police.
“(Richard) Dutrow (Jr.), he’s in there (with Associate),” said Baffert, who is seeking his first win in the Malibu, having failed to reach the winner’s circle with 20 previous starters. “And like I said, there’s other speed, so we’ll just have to see what happens.”
The Factor blew out four furlongs Thursday on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track in 48.60, while Centralinteligence went the same distance at the Inglewood oval in 47.60 for Ron Ellis.
The field for the Malibu, which goes as the ninth and final race on opening day: El Pocho, Kevin Krigger, 50-1; Centralinteligence, Joel Rosario, 8-1; Luckarack, Hector Berrios, 30-1; Rothko, Corey Nakatani, 9-2; Racing Aptitude, Mike Smith, 8-1; Hoorayforhollywood, Garrett Gomez, 8-1; Light Up the Score, Victor Espinoza, 12-1; Smash, Rafael Bejarano, 9-2; Associate, Ramon Dominguez, 6-1; Wine Police, Joe Talamo, 8-1; and The Factor, Martin Garcia, 7-2.
WARD HOPING FOR ‘HEAP’ OF FUN DURING HOLIDAYS AT SANTA ANITA
Trainer Blake Heap is looking forward to seeing trainer Wesley Ward when his long-time friend and fellow trainer arrives from Florida for the Christmas holidays.
Ward’s visit is two-fold: to see his family and to saddle Cozy Kitten in the Grade II Sir Beaufort Stakes at one mile on the grass on opening day.
Cozy Kitten worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s turf course Tuesday in 48.60. “He worked real good around the dogs,” Heap said. “He’s doing really well.
“Wesley is coming in with his wife (Kim) to see her grandmother. He was going to be here next Monday anyway, so he said, ‘We might as well run.’”
Cozy Kitten is coming off a seventh-place finish in the Grade I Hollywood Derby on Nov. 27, but was beaten less than three lengths.
“He had a lot of trouble in the race,” Heap said. “He might want a little longer than the one mile of the Sir Beaufort, but hopefully we’ll have opportunities later in the meet in the turf marathons at a mile and a half and the San Juan Capistrano (at about 1 ¾ miles) on closing day.”
The field for the 12th running of the Sir Beaufort, which goes as the eighth race: Cozy Kitten, Alonso Quinonez, 12-1; Venomous, Joel Rosario, 4-1; Comma to the Top, Joe Talamo, 4-1; Mr. Commons, Mike Smith, 9-5; Thirtyfirststreet, Hector Berrios,20-1; Irish Art, Rafael Bejarano, 10-1; Moment of Weakness, Kevin Krigger, 30-1; Ultimate Eagle, Martin Pedroza, 3-1; and Riveting Reason, Victor Espinoza, 20-1.
WHITE MAKES ‘FACTOR’ MILD MALIBU CHOICE; MR. COMMONS 9-5 IN SIR BEAUFORTSanta Anita’s oddsmaker, Jon White, has installed The Factor as the 7-2 morning line favorite for Monday’s Grade I Malibu Stakes, the main event on the track’s opening-day card.
“The Malibu is a race that many trainers point for,” White said. “It has become such a strong race that it makes it a real challenge in terms of making a morning line. The field for this year’s Malibu is very deep. Several horses have the credentials to win it, which also was the case last year.”
“One of the reasons I made The Factor the favorite for this year’s Malibu is he’s been the favorite in six of his eight career starts,” White explained. “He also is a Grade I winner at the Malibu distance. And on opening day last year, The Factor ran a lights-out race to win by a big margin (8 ¼ lengths) and break Santa Anita’s six-furlong track record.
“I think Rothko and Smash also are going to receive quite a bit of support from the bettors. And Associate might get quite a bit of play, too. Rothko, Smash and Associate all could appeal to those bettors who emphasize speed figures.
“Smash has earned some big Beyer Speed Figures, while both Rothko and Associate have excellent Thoro-Graph figures. Associate has turned into a tiger in his two starts for (trainer Rick) Dutrow since being claimed for $35,000 at Saratoga. In both of those starts Associate has run off and hid. He certainly could prove a tough customer in the Malibu off his Thoro-Graph figures for those two races.”
MALIBU FIELD WITH ODDS AND COMMENTS BY JON WHITE
1. El Pocho 50-1 Very tough spot for Chilean import to make U.S. debut
2. Centralinteligence 8-1 Won in fast time in his only start on the dirt
3. Luckarack 30-1 Big class hike to Grade I level off win for $40,000 tag
4. Rothko 9-2 Looks like major player while seeking 4th straight win
5. Racing Aptitude 8-1 Fast drills at Santa Anita after 16-1 upset at Hollywood
6. Hoorayforhollywood 8-1 A neck and a couple of noses away from being 4 for 4
7. Light Up the Score 12-1 Blossomed during the Churchill Downs fall meet
8. Smash 9-2 Contender off his fine record and 1:10 4/5 work
9. Associate 6-1 Two huge wins in NY for Dutrow since being claimed
10. Wine Police 8-1 Has faced the likes of Stay Thirsty & Caleb’s Posse
11. The Factor 7-2 Grade I winner at the Malibu distance
SIR BEAUFORT FIELD WITH ODDS AND COMMENTS BY JON WHITE
1. Cozy Kitten 12-1 Not without a chance off his 3rd in Oak Tree Derby
2. Venomous 4-1 Slow pace in Hollywood Derby did not help him
3. Comma to the Top 4-1 Sharp recent synthetic win; Grade III turf winner at 2
4. Mr. Commons 9-5 Exits BC Mile and looks tough vs. 3-year-olds
5. Thirtyfirststreet 20-1 Runner-up in Zia Park Derby on the dirt
6. Irish Art 10-1 Finished 9th in Hollywood Derby at 12-1
7. Moment of Weakness 30-1 Zero for 8 since coming to U.S. from Ireland
8. Ultimate Eagle 3-1 Won Oak Tree Derby & Hollywood Derby
9. Riveting Reason 20-1 Ran 6th twice during Santa Anita autumn meet
SADLER ON COURSE FOR OPENING DAY CAL-BRED STAKES RACES
John Sadler has promising 2-year-olds entered in both juvenile stakes races at Santa Anita on opening day, Almost a Lady in the $100,000 California Breeders’ Champion Stakes for fillies and Stoney Fleece in the $100,000 California Breeders’ Champion Stakes.
Each race is at seven furlongs on the main track. “They’re both doing well,” Sadler said. “Stoney Fleece is the more accomplished of the two. He’s won four out of six, so I’d imagine he’d be the favorite in there.
“Almost a Lady has won both her starts, but her (3 ¼-length) win (at 3-5) in a starter allowance is a little easier race than the race on Monday. I imagine she’ll be second choice to the Spawr filly.”
That would be Ismene, the unbeaten Anoakia Stakes winner, who is seeking her third straight win, this time from the outside No. 6 post. “It’s a nice post for her,” Spawr said. “Just color her gone.”
As for Sadler’s prospects for this meet, Santa Anita’s training champion in 2008-09 and 2009-10 was cautiously optimistic, using a line out of the Will Rogers handbook:
“We’ve got a lot of eggs,” Sadler said. “We’ll see how many hatch.”
The field for the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes for fillies, which goes as the first race: Tangerine Tickle, Hector Berrios, 6-1; Almost a Lady, Joel Rosario, 7-2; Willa B Awesome, Martin Pedroza, 5-2; Warren’s Amber, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; Belloma, Martin Garcia, 6-1; and Ismene, Mike Smith, 6-5.
The field for the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes: Forever Freedom, Joe Talamo, 10-1; Passing Game, David Flores, 7-2; Got Even, Garrett Gomez, 12-1; Johnny Be Mine, Martin Garcia, 4-1; Motown Men, Rafael Bejarano, 7-2; Crimson Giant, Modesto Linares, 50-1; Stoney Fleece, Joel Rosario, 5-2; Exotic Slew, Alonso Quinonez, 8-1; and Heart Fever, Corey Nakatani, 12-1.
FLASHBACK TO OPENING DAY: EDDIE D. RECALLS LORD GRILLO’S MALIBU WIN
It was a typically furious finish when Eddie Delahoussaye piloted Lord Grillo to a 9-1 victory in the 1997 Malibu Stakes, defeating 3-10 favorite Silver Charm by a half-length. The retired Hall of Fame rider came from next to last in the field of nine after a slow start.
“Lord Grillo came from off the pace that day,” Delahoussaye recalled. “I knew Silver Charm would be up close and naturally he was the horse to beat. I swung wide in the stretch and Silver Charm had to steady a little bit in the stretch.
“I got the jump on him and I don’t know if it would have made any difference if he got through or not, because when we galloped out, we were still in front of him. I was glad I got the jump on him.” Prior to Lord Grillo, the great Delahoussaye won the 1991 Malibu aboard the Ron McAnally-trained Olympio.
Now 60 and retired from riding since 2003, Delahoussaye has recovered from surgery on his right hip four years ago and is a frequent Santa Anita visitor during morning workouts, where his ingratiating, down-to-earth manner makes him one of the most popular people on the backstretch.
“I’m buying and selling horses and I’ve got a few clients,” he said. “I’m doing some consulting and going to the sales trying to find some horses. I’m keeping my hands in the game and doing a little PR for the track once in a while.”
FINISH LINES: Gates open on opening day at 10 a.m. First post time is 12 noon. Santa Anita’s popular wall calendar will be given free to all fans at Santa Anita with paid admission while supplies last . . . Bill Spawr on Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Amazombie’s four-furlong work Wednesday in 48.40, breezing, for his 2012 debut in the Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes on Jan. 21: “I’d say he’s on schedule or even ahead of schedule. I mapped everything out from the 21st back in case we get some bad weather, so I’ve got a little wiggle room.” . . . M One Rifle, also a Palos Verdes candidate, worked on Santa Anita’s fast main track Wednesday for Bruce Headley. The 2009 Malibu winner went six furlongs in 1:13.20 . . . Also at Santa Anita, Bob Baffert sent Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint winner Secret Circle six furlongs in a bullet 1:11.60, fastest of 12 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 1:13.23. Oak Leaf Stakes runner-up Candrea went five furlongs for Baffert in 1:01.20 as she prepares for the Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes on Jan. 15, while veteran stakes winner El Gato Malo went three furlongs in 37.20 under the direction of Craig Dollase . . . Ron McAnally said he spoke by phone to cancer-stricken trainer Lewis Cenicola yesterday. “He sounded weak, but it was good to talk with him,” the Hall of Fame trainer said of John Henry’s former exercise rider, who is undergoing Hospice care at his Arcadia home.