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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• ACCLAMATION AND AMAZOMBIE: CALIFORNIA’S ‘A TEAM’
• FLORES-PUYPE DUO OPTIMISTIC ABOUT LA CAŇADA STAKES
• BAFFERT DUO DRILLS FOR UPCOMING STAKES RACES
AMAZOMBIE SET FOR SATURDAY’S GRADE II PALOS VERDES, WEATHER PERMITTING
Less than 72 hours after being honored with Thoroughbred racing’s greatest award, it was business as usual for two of California’s most devoted horsemen.
Both Bill Spawr and Don Warren were back at their Santa Anita headquarters Thursday morning, directing operations for their charges at Barn 37 and 66, respectively, Spawr focusing on Amazombie and Warren rendering TLC to Acclamation.
Monday night at the Eclipse Awards dinner at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Amazombie was honored as the nation’s Outstanding Sprinter of 2011, and Acclamation was duly recognized as outstanding Older Male.
“I was a little surprised,” said Spawr, who saddled his first winner in 1977. “The straw polls I saw had Caleb’s Posse winning. But Amazombie’s a champion now.”
After thanking everyone in his barn by name in his acceptance speech, Spawr otherwise didn’t waste a moment in celebration. A staunch advocate of Ben Franklin’s “early to bed, early to rise” credo, the 72-year-old native of Bell, California, was off and running to finalize preparation for Amazombie’s 2012 debut in Saturday’s Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes, weather permitting.
Saturday’s Arcadia weather forecast calls for a 70 percent chance of rain.
“I have no Plan B if he doesn’t run,” said Spawr. “I’ll just enjoy last year. He’s really ready to run, but we want to make it through the year. If they don’t seal the track, he’ll run.”
Amazombie, who would be making his first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5, drew post position two in a field of eight, no concern to Spawr.
“There’s enough speed in the race for him, but it’s all about the track,” Spawr said.
As to Spawr’s penchant for the “night shift,” he said he has no thoughts of doing away with his alarm clock when and if he retires from training.
“Working my stock early is easier on the difficult horses, the nervous ones, when the track is like a pool table,” Spawr said. “It’s got more moisture in it.
“As for me, I’m up at 2:30 in the morning and in bed sometimes at 6 at night. Seven-thirty would be late for me.”
Spawr doubted he would sleep late should circumstances allow. “I’ll try that,” he said, “but I won’t be able to do it.”
As for Warren, he didn’t even make the Eclipse Awards dinner. At 4:15 p.m. Monday, he was on his way to the winner’s circle to participate in Norvsky’s victory over Jeranimo and The Usual Q.T. in the Grade II San Gabriel Stakes. Even had he made an express excursion to the dinner that called for a 5 p.m. start, his chronically bad back prevented such a trip.
“I didn’t go,” Warren said. “The timing of (winning the San Gabriel) and with my back, you know, that was just too long of a day for me.
“I thought Acclamation had the best chance of winning the Older Male, but I would rather have seen him win the Turf. Older Male’s kind of a funny category, because actually the Older Male should be the Horse of the Year. It seems like they go together, but I guess in that case you wouldn’t be able to vote for a filly for Horse of the Year, so I guess it’s all right.
“This is by far the best achievement and the best year we’ve had, and especially since Acclamation is a Cal-bred. Acclamation is with me at Santa Anita and he’s going to the track every morning, just jogging though. It will be a long, slow process (until he resumes racing). I don’t think you’ll see him at Santa Anita this meet.
“We’ll probably look at the San Marcos (on Feb. 11) for Norvsky. That was a surprise for me, too, winning the San Gabriel, because I really didn’t think he could beat Jeranimo and The Usual Q.T. I thought he might be third, or even second, but The Usual Q.T. wasn’t quite ready and came up a little bit short but he ran a great race.”
The field for the Palos Verdes: M One Rifle, Joe Talamo; Amazombie, Mike Smith; Galientos, Corey Nakatani; Mensa Heat, Rafael Bejarano; Frumious, Antonio Castanon; Canonize, Victor Espinoza; Courtside, Joel Rosario; and Euroears, Martin Garcia.
M One Rifle blew out three furlongs Thursday in 35.60 for Bruce Headley, while Mensa Heat went the same distance in a bullet 34.20, breezing, for Ted H. West.
FLORES EYES FAST PACE FOR MISS RADIANCE IN LA CAŇADA
David Flores is looking forward to riding Miss Radiance in her first stakes race Sunday, the Grade II La Caňada Stakes at a mile and a sixteenth.
Flores has ridden Miss Radiance in the last four starts of her five-race career, winning only a maiden race last Oct. 16. But the Tijuana native, who turns 44 on Feb. 5, is optimistic that the 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Yes It’s True trained by Mike Puype will give a good account of herself in the La Caňada.
“I love the distance for her,” said Flores, who was aboard last out when Miss Radiance stumbled at the start of a one-mile race at Santa Anita on Dec. 30 but still rallied to finish third in a field of eight.
“It looks like there’s going to be a good pace in the La Caňada,” continued Flores, who noted that the mishap at the start “cost her the race right there. She lost five lengths, and she got beat just over three.”
Flores, still going strong with just over 3,400 career wins in his 28th year of riding, has enjoyed a solid run with Puype, in particular aboard Santa Anita Oaks winner Turbulent Descent, recently sidelined after finishing sixth as the 1-2 favorite in the Grade I La Brea Stakes on Dec. 31.
“Mike is great,” said Flores, who is represented by agent Craig O’Bryan. “He’s got great people working for him. It’s a great team and I’m very happy working for him. If I keep riding good horses,” Flores continued with a chuckle, “hopefully it will keep me going for another 10 years.”
The field for the La Caňada, the eighth of nine races: May Day Rose, Martin Garcia; Love Theway Youare, Alonso Quinonez; Big Tiz, Corey Nakatani; Great Hot, Chantal Sutherland; Miss Radiance, David Flores; Include Me Out, Joe Talamo; Capital Plan, Rafael Bejarano; and Tiz Flirtatious, Joel Rosario.
LEWIS HOPEFUL LIAISON IN BULLET WORK FOR BAFFERT
Liaison, winner of the Grade I CashCall Futurity, worked six furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Thursday in a bullet 1:11 under Martin Garcia.
“I got him going seven-eighths in 1:23 3/5,” said trainer Bob Baffert, who has the Grade II Robert Lewis penciled in for the son of Indian Charlie owned by Arnold Zetcher, who was on hand for the drill.
Baffert also sent Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint winner Secret Circle five furlongs in company with maiden Red Ace. Secret Circle, a candidate for the Grade II San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs on Feb. 19, was clocked in 59.40 with Garcia up, while Red Ace got 1:00.20.
“He relaxed really well,” Baffert said of Secret Circle, who suffered his first loss in the one-mile Sham Stakes on Jan. 7. “I worked him in company to try and get him to settle down during a race. I have no plans for him right now, but the San Vicente is an option.”
FINISH LINES: After the California Horse Racing Board turned down a stay requested by agent Ron Ebanks on behalf of his jockey, Joel Rosario, a court judge granted an appeal allowing Rosario to continue riding pending further ruling, according to Ebanks. “This will give us time to present our case and continue to ride,” Ebanks said. The 27-year-old jockey was handed a five day suspension (Jan. 21, 22, 26, 27 and 28) by Santa Anita’s stewards representing the CHRB for “failure to make the proper effort to maintain a straight course in the stretch” aboard Mon Couer in Saturday’s ninth race, resulting in a spill and a disqualification of his horse from first to ninth.”. . . The Usual Q.T. came out of his third-place finish behind Norvsky and Jeranimo in Monday’s San Gabriel Stakes in good shape and could make his next start in the Grade II Arcadia Stakes at one mile on turf Feb. 4. “He looks better now than he did going into the San Gabriel,” trainer Jim Cassidy said. “I might try to squeeze the lemon again and run him in the Arcadia. I don’t know; we’ll see. I’ll go over it in my mind and see how he is when he goes back to the track tomorrow.” . . . John Sadler reports that Switch, winner of the Grade I La Brea Stakes in 2010, is due back at his barn Feb. 1 from Rancho Paseana Training Center in Rancho Santa Fe. “We gave her some time off because she was in training for two years straight,” the trainer said . . . Trainer Peter Miller says Sanagas, 3 ¼-length winner of the Grade I Hollywood Turf Cup last Nov. 19, is scheduled to make his next start in the Grade II San Marcos Stakes at 1 ¼ miles on turf on Feb. 11. Rosario has the mount, Miller said. Sanagas worked five furlongs on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track Wednesday in a bullet 58.60, fastest of 17 drills at the distance, the average time of which was1:00.92 . . . ShowVivor lost only five players Monday, leaving 94 alive going into Thursday’s races . . . Santa Anita will present another in its popular Food Truck Festivals on Sunshine Millions Day, Saturday, Jan. 28. Entry to the Festival is free with $5 general admission to the track. Also on that day, all THOROUGHBREDS members will receive free a Santa Anita Folding Beach Chair with paid admission at Santa Anita, while supplies last . . . Starting today, the new phone number for changes and results from Santa Anita is (858) 704-0532.