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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• ECLIPSE AWARD FINALIST AMAZOMBIE DRILLS FOR 2012 DEBUT
• IRISH ART TRIES DIRT IN SATURDAY’S SAN FERNANDO STAKES
• THE USUAL Q.T. TACKLES JERANIMO IN MONDAY’S SAN GABRIEL
• CANDREA RETURNS TO SPRINT IN GRADE II SANTA YNEZ
• JOCKEY GOMEZ RESTING COMFORTABLY, SURGERY SUCCESSFUL
AMAZOMBIE PROBABLE FOR PALOS VERDES STAKES ON JAN. 21
Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Amazombie, a finalist for an Eclipse Award as outstanding sprinter, is scheduled to work six furlongs before sun up on Santa Anita Anita’s main track Saturday.
Trainer Bill Spawr plans to send the California-bred son of Northern Afleet six furlongs shortly after 5 a.m. Owned by Spawr and Tom Sanford, Amazombie is nominated to the Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes at six furlongs on Jan. 21, but Spawr noted he had other options for the gelding’s 2012 debut, including the Grade III, $150,000 Toboggan at Aqueduct on Feb. 4 and a race Spawr has won three times, the Grade III, $200,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 14.
“He’s probable for the Palos Verdes,” Spawr said, “but there’s a race at Aqueduct and we always have the Count Fleet. I’ve run in it three times and won three times. I heard Caleb’s Posse (another finalist for outstanding sprinter) would probably run in it, so I’d love to do that.”
Eclipse Award winners will be announced Monday night at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles, an event Spawr and an entourage will attend. But he’s not counting any honors before they hatch.
“Maybe we’ll win it,” he said. “I keep hearing that Caleb’s Posse will win, but looking at his record, I’m not impressed with the horse except for his Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile win at Churchill Downs. The only (sprint) races he ran well in were at Saratoga (victories in the Grade II Amsterdam and the Grade I Kings Bishop). Take those out of it and he’s just a horse.
“In the Breeders’ Cup, Caleb’s Posse was cross-entered in the Dirt Mile and the Sprint, but ran in the Mile, so he had an option but chose to run in the Mile, not the Sprint, so what is that telling you?”
Spawr added that unbeaten filly Ismene is at his barn recovering well from having a minor chip removed from her knee following victory in the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes for fillies on Dec. 26.
“The sutures will be out in another week and there’s absolutely no swelling from the surgery,” Spawr said. “We’re excited that everything is going on schedule—maybe ahead of schedule—but we’re going to give her plenty of time. We’ll give her 90 days and have her back in training some time after that.”
NOTHING TO LOSE, GAINES SAYS, TRYING IRISH ART ON DIRT
Irish Art will make his first start on a surface other than turf in Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Fernando Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Santa Anita’s main track.
“It would give us another dimension for the horse,” trainer Carla Gaines said in explaining the decision to run the son of Artie Schiller in the San Fernando. “When you look at the milers out here right now on the grass, and the likelihood that they’re going to run in the Arcadia (at one mile on turf Feb. 4), you’re likely to run into Caracortado, Mr. Commons, the list goes on and on and on.
“Not to put Irish Art down at all, because he’s a very, very good horse, but he’s just maturing, just learning and has always trained well on the dirt. The San Fernando is a short field and it was tempting to try.”
Irish Art, owned by Warren Williamson, has a 2-3-0 record from nine starts, all on the grass.
The field for the San Fernando, second leg of the Strub Series: Prayer for Relief, Rafael Bejarano, 9-5; Balladry, Joe Talamo, 8-1; Riveting Reason, Alonso Quinonez, 15-1; Dreaminofthewin, Martin Garcia, 20-1; Irish Art, Joel Rosario, 4-1; Spud Spivens, Mike Smith, 8-1; First Strike, Victor Espinoza, 12-1; and Tapizar, Corey Nakatani, 8-5.
THE USUAL Q.T. ENTERED IN MONDAY’S SAN GABRIEL
Two-time Grade I stakes winner The Usual Q.T. is scheduled to make his first start in more than seven months when he runs in Monday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Gabriel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf. The Usual Q.T. has not raced since last May 28 when he finished third in the Grade II American Handicap at Hollywood Park.
“It’s farther than we wanted to run him, but right now our options are pretty much limited,” trainer James Cassidy said. “I prefer not to run him a mile and an eighth first time back, but it’s all that’s available.”
The field for the San Gabriel: Sandor, Corey Nakatani; Ashtar, Kevin Krigger; Norvsky, Rafael Bejarano; Jeranimo, Martin Garcia; The Usual Q.T., Victor Espinoza; and Imponente Purse, Chantal Sutherland.
Santa Anita will offer bargain concession fare on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, with $2 beers, hot dogs and soft drinks. First post time is 12:30 p.m.
CANDREA BACK IN SPRINT IN SUNDAY’S SANTA YNEZ
Bob Baffert had a succinct answer when asked the reasons for Candrea’s disappointing performances in her last two races: “Two turns.”
The daughter of Trippi was 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 4, followed by a ninth-place finish in the Delta Princess at one mile on Nov. 19. On Sunday, the Florida-bred filly returns to a sprint in the 6 ½ furlong Santa Ynez Stakes, a Grade II test with $150,000 in guaranteed purse money.
Candrea broke her maiden in a 5 ½ furlong sprint at Hollywood Park last July, won the Phil D. Shepherd going seven furlongs at Fairplex Park last September, then finished second in the Grade I Oak Leaf Stakes on Oct. 2.
The field for the Santa Ynez: Made to Love Her, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; Reneesgotzip, Corey Nakatani, even; Rowdy Gal, Joel Rosario, 5-2; Painted Woman, Mike Smith, 8-1; Lady Hokulea, Joe Talamo, 20-1; and Candrea, Martin Garcia, 3-1.
GOMEZ RECUPERATING AT HOME FROM HEEL SURGERY
Garrett Gomez was resting comfortably at his Duarte home Friday after undergoing surgery on his left heel which was injured in a mishap prior to Sunday’s Daytona Stakes. The 40-year-old Gomez, who was off to a flying start with six stakes wins through the first 10 days of the meet, underwent surgery Thursday morning at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles.
“The surgery went well,” agent Tony Matos said. “They inserted a plate so that the fracture doesn’t spread and it will heal quicker. It was a very successful operation.”
STAKES RACE NEXT FOR DERBY HOPEFUL SKY KINGDOM
Sky Kingdom, easy 4 ½ length winner of Thursday’s second race at odds of 3-10, is one of Bob Baffert’s most promising Triple Crown hopefuls.
“We definitely have (Kentucky) Derby hopes for him,” said the Hall of Fame trainer, who celebrates his 59th birthday today.
Sky Kingdom is a bay colt by Empire Maker owned by Joe Ford and his son, Scott, of Little Rock, Arkansas, who race as Westrock Stables, LLC. Joe Ford is vice chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the legendary Masters.
“It was a paid workout,” Baffert said after the victory. “I don’t know where (he’ll run next), but he’ll run in a stake next time.”
KTLA’S ALLIE MAC KAY VISITS ‘SEABISCUIT II’ AT MANDELLA BARN
Allie Mac Kay of KTLA may have seen the second coming of Seabiscuit when she visited with Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella at his Santa Anita barn Friday morning. Mac Kay, doing another of her hands-on gigs for her popular “Allie at Work” segment, got an up close view of Setsuko, runner-up in last year’s Santa Anita Handicap and possible for this year’s Big ‘Cap on March 3.
“Maybe he’ll be another Seabiscuit,” Mandella told Mac Kay as she groomed the horse and cleaned his hoof. The segment was shown live on KTLA Friday morning.
Mandella, meanwhile, was cautious as ever on Setsuko running in the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap this year.
“I’m not making any real plans yet,” Mandella said. “We’re getting him back ready to run and he’s doing good. It will be a little close to make the Handicap, but he’s been five-eighths twice’, so we’ll see what happens.”
ARTIST CAROLINE BOYDSTON, LAFFIT PINCAY JR. AT CHAMPIONS ON SUNDAY
Caroline Boydston, artist for the Vox Populi Trophy, will bring her unique creations to Champions! Gift Shop on Sunday.
A sculpture painter with an international following, Caroline presents a very special tribute to commemorate Rapid Redux’s Vox Populi award: hand-painted, collectible Rapid Redux lapel pins, available for purchase. Quantities are limited, so purchasers are urged to stop by early.
Also attending to sign autograph posters of Rapid Redux will be owner Robert L. Cole Jr. and trainer David Wells. Each poster sells for $40 and can be purchased at the signing.
Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. will join the signing to commemorate the great Secretariat’s connection with Vox Populi. Pincay will autograph photos of his and Sham’s epic duels with Secretariat in the 1973 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Each photo sells for $50 and will be available at the signing. The first group of fans will receive posters countersigned by Penny Chenery.
The signings will take place at a tent across from Champions! Gift Shop in the East Paddock Gardens.
DRF’S STEVE CRIST TO PRESENT SEMINAR SUNDAY AT SANTA ANITA
Steve Crist, Editor and Publisher Emeritus of Daily Racing Form, will conduct a seminar Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. in the East Paddock Gardens.
Crist will be covering the day’s races at Santa Anita and Daily Racing Form will show the seminar live on its website, drf.com.
FINISH LINES: Drill, winner of the Grade I Del Mar Futurity, worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Friday in 48 seconds under Martin Garcia. “He galloped out nice,” said trainer Bob Baffert, who has Drill ticketed for the Grade II San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs on Feb. 19 . . . Sharp Cat winner Charm the Maker worked seven furlongs with Rafael Bejarano up in 1:26.60 for Ron McAnally, who has designs on the Grade III Santa Ysabel Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 28 . . . At Hollywood Park Friday, Norfolk Stakes winner Creative Cause worked five furlongs on Cushion Track in 1:01 for Mike Harrington, while Sir Beaufort winner Mr. Commons went the same distance in a bullet 59 flat for John Shirreffs . . . Thanks to Sky Kingdom’s victory at 3-10 in Thursday’s second race, 372 ShowVivor players who backed the colt advanced to Friday’s competition, putting the total still active at 506 . . . A party of eight from Mayhem Pictures will visit Santa Anita on Saturday. A feature film and television production company headed by producers Gordon Gray and Mark Ciardi, the company possesses a first-look production deal with Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Group. Mayhem has produced the critically acclaimed and commercially successful feature films “The Rookie” (2002), starring Dennis Quaid, and “Miracle” (2004), starring Kurt Russell. That streak was extended in August 2006 with the release of “Invincible,” starring Mark Wahlberg.