Santa Anita News
STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• ‘ACCOMPLISHED HORSES’ FACE ULTIMATE EAGLE IN BIG ’CAP
• MIKE SMITH HAS INSIDE TRACK IN THREE GRADE I RACES SATURDAY
• BEJARANO, MADE TO LOVE HER SET FOR LAS VIRGENES STAKES
FAVORED ULTIMATE EAGLE ONE TO CATCH IN GRADE I BIG ’CAP
Mike Pender has ample respect for the 12 rivals of Ultimate Eagle in Saturday’s Santa Anita Handicap presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino, in spite of the defection of defending champion Game On Dude from the Grade I, $750,000 race at a mile and a quarter.
“I don’t think it simplifies anything with Game On Dude out,” said Pender, who trains the runaway, front-running winner of the Strub Stakes, who has been installed the 5-2 morning line favorite in Santa Anita’s marquee race for older horses. “It’s still a very legitimate field with some very accomplished race horses in there.
“There’s plenty of speed signed on. All I can worry about is how my horse is doing. I can’t worry about the competition, because when my horse is on his game, he’s brilliant. And he is on his game.”
Pender also has Jeranimo primed for his meeting with favored Mr. Commons in the Grade I, $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf Saturday. A Big ‘Cap/Kilroe sweep would be oh so sweet for Pender and B.J. Wright, who owns both horses, but Pender is keeping both feet on the ground for now.
“It feels good just to have two horses in big races like this,” Pender said. “From Day One, B.J. bought horses with the intention of trying to have a Triple Crown runner. As it turns out, we’ve got really nice older horses instead. To reward B.J. with a day like Saturday, this has been our goal from the beginning.”
In other Big ‘Cap news:
Don Warren didn’t even have the Santa Anita Handicap on his radar screen four days before Wednesday’s draw. That’s why California-bred Norvsky, who’s been a “second stringer” to the stable’s star, Eclipse Award winner Acclamation, was a last-minute entry into the race. The 6-year-old gelding will be making only his second start on conventional dirt in this, his 20th start.
“It’s a big purse and I said all last year that the caliber of older handicap horses on dirt were not as strong as those on the grass,” Warren said in explaining the 11th-hour decision to enter. “Excluding Game On Dude,” he was quick to add.
“Once I heard the rumor that he wasn’t going to run, we thought we’d better take a chance for that kind of money.”
Victor Espinoza on Setsuko, who missed beating Game On Dude by a nose at 25-1 last year: “It’s going to make a difference in the sense that Game On Dude’s not in the race. But it’s good that it’s a full field. It makes it fun and exciting to have a big field for this kind of race.
“The outside post doesn’t bother me. I like my post. It’s good. He’s training well, so we’ll see what happens.” A win by Setsuko would give Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella his fourth Big ‘Cap victory.
The field for the Santa Anita Handicap, the 11th and final race of the day: Un Oh Bango, Mike Smith, 6-1; Ultimate Eagle, Martin Pedroza, 5-2; Ron the Greek, Jose Lescano, 6-1; Boxeur des Rues, Mario Gutierrez, 50-1; Thirtyfirststreet, Eswan Flores, 30-1; Twice the Appeal, Christian Santiago Reyes, 30-1; Fiddlers Afleet, Kevin Krigger, 50-1; Gladding, Joel Rosario, 12-1; Setsuko, Victor Espinoza, 4-1; Norvsky, Joe Talamo, 6-1; Prayer for Relief, Martin Garcia, 8-1; Holladay Road, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; and Victory Pete, Corey Nakatani, 50-1.
On Big ‘Cap Day, Santa Anita offers a $500,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4 presented by DRF TicketMaker, and in honor of the marquee race, fans at Santa Anita will be given free Big ‘Cap hats with paid admission while supplies last.
There will be another popular Food Truck Festival in the infield. First post time is 12 noon.
SEVEN SHY OF 5,000, SMITH IS ‘NO. 1’ IN KILROE, TWO OTHER STAKES SATURDAY
If Mike Smith inches closer to career win No. 5,000 on Saturday, chances are he’ll do it from an inside post.
The Hall of Fame jockey has been riding for three decades, but couldn’t remember ever drawing post position No. 1 in three straight races, let alone three straight Grade I races.
But that’s the case on Saturday, when Smith rides Your Special Day in the Las Virgenes Stakes, race nine of 11; Mr. Commons in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (race 10); and Uh Oh Bango in the Santa Anita Handicap (the 11th and final race of the day). Each horse drew the rail.
“It is pretty rare to draw the one hole in all three stakes,” said Smith, who needs seven wins to reach 5,000 in his illustrious career. “But it’s what we drew. We couldn’t do much about it. It wouldn’t be my favorite post, but I’ve seen a lot of great things happen out of the one hole, too.
“In the Kilroe, it just depends on how Mr. Commons breaks. If he gets away well, he could be a little closer than normal from the inside. Sometimes he falls a little ways back, but if he breaks fairly well we’d like to be in mid-pack, in behind the first group and then see where we’re at, and I look for that from all three of my mounts, to tell you the truth.
“There are a couple others in there (Big ‘Cap) that have some speed (to run with Ultimate Eagle), so hopefully they’ll push him along a little.”
In other Kilroe news:
Massone outran his odds when he finished third at 45-1 despite a troubled trip in the Grade II Arcadia Stakes on Feb. 4, beaten only a length and a half by 2-5 favorite Mr. Commons. The two meet again in the Kilroe, and Tim Yakteen, who said Massone would run big in the Arcadia, is confident of another solid performance by the stretch-running chestnut.
“He’s doing great,” the trainer said of the 6-year-old Menifee horse. “Hopefully we’ll have a cleaner trip. I think we’ll have a legitimate pace in the race, so we’re looking for a big race.”
Massone has only two wins from 30 starts, but pays his way thanks to eight seconds and nine thirds, which have gleaned $531,342. “As soon as he gets another win,” Yakteen said, “I think he’ll go on a rampage and knock a few out back to back. He’s a very honest horse. He always shows up.”
The field for the Kilroe: Mr. Commons, Mike Smith, 4-5; Jimmy Simms, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Willyconker, Joel Rosario, 8-1; Compari, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; Jeranimo, Martin Garcia, 3-1; Massone, Alonso Quinonez, 15-1; Make Music for Me, Chantal Sutherland, 20-1; and Mega Heat, Joe Talamo, 15-1.
BEJARANO MADE TO ORDER FOR MADE TO LOVE HER IN GRADE I LAS VIRGENES
Rafael Bejarano is looking forward to Made to Love Her’s first distance race on the main track. The 29-year-old native of Peru, who recently became a U.S. citizen, rides the Florida-bred daughter of Stevie Wonderboy for trainer James Kasparoff in Saturday’s Grade I, $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile.
“She ran once at a mile, but it was on the turf at Del Mar,” Bejarano said, referring to a maiden race last August. “Her last three races were sprints and I rode her. She’s always run good for me.
“I’ve been working her the last three or four times and I’ve been trying to teach her to relax so she can get the distance.”
Made to Love Her was a distant second to Reneesgotzip in the Grade II Santa Ynez at 6 ½ furlongs last out on Jan. 15. Prior to that, she won the Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park for owner Alina Muther of Ft. Washington, PA, who races as Copper Penny Stables.
The field for the Las Virgenes: Your Special Day, Mike Smith, 30-1; Charm the Maker, Joel Rosario, 5-1; Willa B Awesome, Martin Pedroza, 6-1; Killer Graces, Joe Talamo, 5-1; Eden’s Moon, Martin Garcia, 9-5; Made to Love Her, Rafael Bejarano, 12-1; Reneesgotzip, Corey Nakatani, 8-5; and Open Water, Victor Espinoza, 20-1.
OLD ENGLISH RANCHO FEATURED ON HRTV'S ‘INSIDE INFORMATION’ SUNDAY
The Old English Rancho has been synonymous with California racing for nearly 80 years, and HRTV's award-winning documentary show, "Inside Information: Old English Rancho," will provide an intriguing historical retrospective on the facility this Sunday at 5:30 p.m.
The 30-minute show takes a comprehensive look at the rich history surrounding Old English Rancho. From a dedicated vision formed by Ellwood Johnston, and his determination to satisfy his lifelong passion with horses, he established a farm and breeding operation in California--first in Chino, and later moved to Ontario. While Johnston and partner Ted Tepper unwaveringly followed their blueprint, there were tough, lean times and general uncertainty.
"Inside Information" will chronicle Old English Rancho's acquisition of Fleet Nasrullah, which changed its fortunes and led to its prosperity in the early 1970s. The rollercoaster ride continued, with the untimely death of Johnston, downturn of business in the area, and a relocation of Old English Rancho to Sanger, CA. After a tragedy in 2005, their fortunes took a positive swing a year later when Acclamation was born.
Despite a slow start in his racing career, Acclamation gradually reached his potential in 2010 and 2011, and Old English Rancho reached its pinnacle when Acclamation, a horse they bred and owned in partnership, earned a 2011 Older Male Eclipse Award after a brilliant season for trainer Don Warren. Acclamation was also recognized as 2011 Cal-bred Horse of the Year.
Produced by Steve Scheidler, numerous interviews were conducted with the Johnston family, as well as Mary Fleming Simon, Eclipse Award-winning author of The History of the Thoroughbred in California.
EVEN DOZEN FROM SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA IN KENTUCKY DERBY FUTURE POOL 2
Twelve of the 23 individual horses in Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager are based in Southern California.
The 12 horses are: Bodemeister, 15-1; Castaway, 20-1; Creative Cause, 20-1; Empire Way, 50-1; Fed Biz, 12-1; I’ll Have Another, 30-1; Liaison, 50-1; Midnight Transfer, 30-1; Out of Bounds, 20-1; Rousing Sermon, 30-1; Sabercat, 30-1; and Secret Circle, 15-1.
The mutuel field (all other horses) remains the favorite, although rising to 3-1 from 3-2 in Pool 1. Pool 2 closes Sunday. Pool 3 runs from March 30 to April 1.
ASCANIO RECOVERING AT HOME FROM STROKE SUFFERED TWO MONTHS AGO
Humberto Ascanio is progressing at his Arcadia home from a stroke two months ago that forced the 64-year-old trainer and former long-time top aide to the late Bobby Frankel to give up training for the time being.
“He’s in good spirits and he’s doing therapy twice a week,” said his 53-year-old brother, Joaquin, who has manned the stable gates at Southern California tracks for 28 years. “He’s keeping active and he appreciates all the good wishes and support he’s received from everyone.”
PICTURESQUE BOOK ON HILLSIDE COURSE ON SALE SATURDAY
Photographer Katey Barrett will autograph her book, "The Hill," at Champions Gift Shop on Saturday.
For 40 years, Katey has staked out the hillside turf course, waiting for the opportune moment when horses, colors, light and shadow converge to offer an ideal setting. The coffee table book contains a collection of the most spectacular images from a lifetime of spectacular images, a "must-have" for those who enjoy Santa Anita, especially the hillside turf course.
From great horses, great riders and great images, collectors will want a signed version of this book. The signing will take place from 10:30 a.m. until 11:45 a.m.
FINISH LINES: Santa Anita’s on-line ShowVivor 2 closed Friday at 12:45 p.m. with a record 6,570 players engaged to play . . . Castaway, winner of the first division of the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, worked five furlongs under Martin Garcia in company on Santa Anita’s main track Friday in 1:01.20 for Bob Baffert. Workmate Captain Baker was clocked in 1:01.80. Castaway is under consideration for the Grade II San Felipe Stakes on March 10 . . . Of the 10 horses entered in today’s fifth race, three were sired by Decarchy and three were sired by Unusual Heat . . . Eclipse Award-winning jockey and four-time national earnings leader Garrett Gomez will host his Invitational Golf Tournament Monday, April 9, at Angeles National Golf Course in Sunland. For further information, call 626 574-6498 or contact www.winnersfoundation.org . . . Chantal Sutherland will be Steve Andersen’s guest on Saturday’s Daily Racing Form seminar, 11 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens. Sutherland will be the first woman to ride in the Dubai World Cup when she pilots Game On Dude in the $10 million race on March 31. “I was in Dubai 13 years ago,” Chantal said, “but I didn’t ride there.” . . . HRTV’s Laffit Pincay III and Jeff Siegel will be Jack Disney’s guest handicappers on Sunday’s Fans’ Forum, 11:15 a.m., also in the East Paddock Gardens.