Creative Cause makes his much-anticipated 3-year-old debut next Sunday in the San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs, and Joel Rosario is counting down to post time for the Grade II race he hopes will lead to greater glory on the Triple Crown trail, including the April 7 Santa Anita Derby and beyond.

Trained by Mike Harrington for owner Heinz Steinmann, Creative Cause will be making his first start since finishing third by a length despite a wide trip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs last Nov. 5. Prior to that, the gray son of Giant’s Causeway won the Grade I Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita by 3 ¼ lengths on Oct. 1. Rosario was aboard each time.

“I haven’t worked him, but he’s been working good,” Rosario said. “He’s a nice horse and I’m sure he’s doing good.”

Creative Cause has been working smartly and steadily at his Hollywood Park headquarters, producing a bullet 1:11 3/5 drill for six furlongs on Jan. 28, fastest of 20 at the distance that day, and another Sunday morning, going six furlongs in a bullet 1:11.40, fastest of 17 at the distance. The average time was 1:14.07.

“He worked very nice,” Harrington said. “He seems to be coming up to the race fine.”

Continued Rosario: “It looks like he could be a little fresh coming off a layoff, but he’s a great horse and I love to ride him. His Breeders’ Cup race was a good one. I was impressed with it. Maybe he’s the right horse for the Derby, who knows?”

In other San Vicente news: Del Mar Futurity winner Drill worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Sunday in 1:02, but Bob Baffert was still non-committal on whether the son of Lawyer Ron would run.


Here’s a frightening thought for rivals of Ultimate Eagle in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 3: the winner of the Grade II Strub Stakes on Feb. 4 by a widening 7 ¼ lengths in his first start on conventional dirt is doing better now than he was before the Strub.

“He came out of the race better than when he went in,” trainer Mike Pender said of the 4-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Mizzen Mast owned by B.J. Wright. “He’s tearing down the barn. He’s peaking at the right time.”

That would be for the 76th running of Santa Anita’s signature race, the Grade I, $750,000 Big ‘Cap at 1 ¼ miles. Should the front-running Ultimate Eagle run, he could face pre-race favorite and defending champion Game On Dude, another horse with a penchant for speed.

It would mark a rematch of sorts between Pender and Game On Dude’s trainer, Bob Baffert. The Hall of Fame conditioner sent out Misremembered to win the 2010 Big ‘Cap, in which Pender’s Jeranimo finished fourth.

March 3 looms an exciting afternoon for Pender, who also is scheduled to run Jeranimo in the Grade I, $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf that day.

But back to Ultimate Eagle. “He has the staying power of a marathoner, but he’s got the gate speed of a Quarter Horse,” Pender said. “That’s a pretty potent combination.”


Garrett Gomez was a visitor to Clockers’ Corner Sunday morning, sporting crutches but otherwise in good shape as he recovers from a broken left heel leaving the Seabiscuit Walking Ring for the Daytona Stakes on Jan. 8.

The Eclipse Award-winning rider and four-time national money leader hopes to resume riding in time to pilot Sham Stakes winner Out of Bounds in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes on March 10.

“I was a little disappointed last Sunday because I felt like I wasn’t making the progress that I wanted to make,” the 40-year-old Tucson native said. “Then they took the stitches out on Tuesday and that gave me more freedom as far as what I could do.

“I started pedaling a (stationary) bike and I’m up to eight miles already. I swam a little in the pool yesterday for the first time and lifted weights for my legs, my thighs and my calves to build up muscle, because when they do surgery, your muscles tend to atrophy. So I have to build up the muscles.

“I’m able to get up on my feet and stand without crutches. Now it’s just a matter of making sure the injury heals and not overdoing what I’m doing, yet still do enough to improve the range of motion.” Gomez has had to make an emotional adjustment, as well as physical.

“I can’t look back at what I lost,” he said. “It’s a matter of looking to the future and how fast I can come back. I’m trying to make sure I’m back in time for Out of Bounds to run. I want to have 3-year-old options to try an reach my ultimate goal of winning the Kentucky Derby.”


Fans can join up to five cast members from HBO’s hit show, “Luck,” Monday night at 6 p.m. on Twitter’s #LuckChat.

“Luck” characters Turo Escalante (John Ortiz), Ronnie Jenkins (Gary Stevens) and other surprise guests will join the chat and answer fans’ questions about the show, which is filmed in large part at Santa Anita.

The “LuckChat” will be presented via @NTRA and @thoroughtrends.


Lena Yasui is the winner of the latest version of ShowVivor, Santa Anita’s popular on-line handicapping contest. The Chino resident picked Last Sting to at least finish third in Saturday’s second race. The Florida-bred mare won, making Yasui winner of the $3,000 first prize.

The other four players yesterday were eliminated when Sanagas, 4-5 favorite in the San Marcos Stakes, finished sixth and last. The four who tied for second—Ken Egan, Don Escalante, Ellen Meyers and Michael Superstein—will split the remainder of the $2,000 in prize money, each getting $500.

ShowVivor 2 begins on Friday, March 2.

CHRB MEDICATION COMMITTEE NAMES ADVISORY PANEL Trainer John Shirreffs has been named chair of a newly created Medication Advisory Committee, which will provide input and consultation with the California Horse racing Board Medication and Track Safety Committee as it continues to address critical issues relating to equine medication and the health and safety of all racing participants.

CHRB Commissioner Bo Derek, who chairs the Medication and Track Safety Committee, also named Scott Chaney and Lou Raffetto to the three-member advisory panel. Chaney is a steward on the Southern California Thoroughbred circuit. Raffetto is president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California.

“We are very fortunate that three individuals with their levels of expertise have stepped up and volunteered to work with our committee to help deal with some of the most significant issues in horse racing today,” said Derek. “They will complement the excellent support we’re already receiving from Dr. Rick Arthur, our equine medical director, and other faculty at UC Davis. Together they will provide the California Horse Racing Board with the input we require to make well-informed, critical decisions affecting all of horse racing.”

Some of the issues currently before the Medication and Track Safety Committee include the national proposal to eliminate or greatly restrict the administration of medication to horses in races, continued monitoring of the CHRB Track Safety Program in an effort to identify the causes of equine racing injuries with the goal of reducing them, and various drug-testing issues pertaining to the health of the horse and the integrity of racing.

Shirreffs, while well-known for his conditioning and management of 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta, as well as Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner Life Is Sweet and Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, has for some years been quietly involved in the regulatory process for matters pertaining to racetrack surfaces, equine medication, horseshoeing practices, drug testing, and related concerns. He has attended numerous CHRB meetings to provide a horseman’s perspective on proposed rules, procedures, and policies.

Raffetto also will provide a horsemen’s perspective as the representative of the official thoroughbred owners’ organization in California. Raffetto previously served as racing secretary at Laurel Park, assistant general manager at Monmouth Park, executive vice president of racing at Suffolk Downs, and chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club.

Chaney earned a law degree at USC after graduating from Dartmouth College, passed the California Bar exam, and currently is licensed to practice law in California. He became interested in working in the horse-racing business while walking hots and grooming for Darrell Vienna during the summers while attending USC. After law school, he became Vienna’s assistant. He became a California steward in 2005 and has since worked with the Medication and Track Safety Committee and the Board on a variety of projects.

FINISH LINES: Probable for next Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles: Downhill Diva, Brice Blanc; Ellafitz, Martin Garcia; Great Hot, Chantal Sutherland; Kayce Ace, Joe Talamo; Love Theway Youare, Alonso Quinonez; Miss Mittagong, no rider; Spirit Seeker, no rider; and Vision in Gold, Joel Rosario. Paseana Handicap winner Ellafitz worked six furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Sunday in a bullet 1:11.60 for Bob Baffert, while Santa Maria winner Vision in Gold went six furlongs on Hollywood’s Cushion Track in 1:16.40 for Ron Ellis . . . Probable for the Grade II Buena Vista Handicap for older fillies and mares at one mile on turf on Presidents’ Day, Feb. 20: Andina, no rider; Cambina, no rider; City to City, Corey Nakatani; So Belle, no rider; Strawberrydaiquiri, Rosario; Up In Time, no rider; Megahertz winner Vamo a Galupiar, Talamo; and Wild Mia, no rider . . . San Pedro Stakes winner Midnight Transfer worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Sunday in 59.40 for Carla Gaines, while last year’s San Antonio winner Gladding worked six furlongs in 1:12 flat. Trainer John Sadler said the gelded son of 2002 Belmont Stakes winner Sarava is a candidate for the Santa Anita Handicap, if scheduling permits . . . Also at Hollywood, Arcadia winner Mr. Commons, prepping for the Grade I Kilroe Mile on March 3, worked three furlongs on Cushion Track in a bullet 35.20 for John Shirreffs, while San Gabriel runner-up Jeranimo went four furlongs in 48.60 for Mike Pender . . . The Usual Q.T. was on Santa Anita’s track Sunday morning after suffering a quarter crack to his left front leg Saturday that forced him to miss the San Marcos Stakes. “He was all right,” trainer Jim Cassidy said. “I had to put a bandage on him. It will take a couple weeks to get him straightened out and we’ll look for the next one.” . . . Representatives of Treasure Island Las Vegas will present the trophy to the winning connections of the Grade I, $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Santa Anita Handicap Day, March 3 . . . Jockey Alex Bisono, agentless early in the meet, has been represented by Brandon O’Bryan for the past three weeks. Bisono has two wins from 22 mounts this meet, both for trainer Janet Armstrong . . . Go-Go Golfing For(e) the Winners Foundation will hold a golf outing on Monday, April 9, at the Angeles National Golf Club in Sunland in an effort to raise funds for the Winners Foundation, as well as to celebrate the release of “The Garrett Gomez Story: A Jockey’s Journey Through Addiction & Salvation.” The keynote speaker will be two-time Eclipse Award winner Gomez, who is co-chairman of the event along with Joe Harper, President and General Manager of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club . . . Popular “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak and actor Kevin Dillon of “Entourage” were Santa Anita visitors Saturday.