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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• BLANC WANTS TO FIND HIS ‘WAY’ TO SAN FELIPE WINNER’S CIRCLE
• BIANCONE HOPES HIS FILLY IS UP TO LAS FLORES CHALLENGE ON SUNDAY
BLANC ON LIVE LONGSHOT IN GRADE II SAN FELIPE STAKES
Thanks to an 11th-hour game of “musical jockeys” prior to Wednesday’s draw for today’s San Felipe Stakes, Brice Blanc landed a welcome added-money opportunity on a live mount, 6-1 morning line choice Empire Way, in the Grade II race for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles, a major steppingstone to the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 7.
Garrett Gomez had been scheduled to ride Sham Stakes winner Out of Bounds in the San Felipe, but lost that mount when the colt was injured Monday at Hollywood Park.
Mike Harrington was in need of a rider for Robert B. Lewis Stakes runner-up Empire Way, with Joel Rosario committed to his other San Felipe entrant, 5-2 morning line choice Creative Cause. Agent Tony Matos pitched Gomez to Harrington for Empire Way, but despite Gomez’s obsession with fitness and a glowing resume that includes two Eclipse Awards as the nation’s outstanding jockey and four national money earnings titles, the trainer opted for Blanc, whom he deemed already racing-fit.
The 40-year-old Gomez resumed riding Friday after a two-month absence to recover from a fractured left heel suffered on Jan. 8. Named on two horses, he took off his second mount, Indecise, in the sixth race after suffering intense pain during his fifth-place finish on Miss Pippa in the third.
Matos said Saturday morning that Gomez “was glad he rode,” on Friday, but he experienced “a little pain” in his heel and now plans to resume riding the weekend of March 23.
The 39-year-old Blanc hopes to make the most of his opportunity.
“I was really excited when Mike (agent Mike Ciani) told me,” said Blanc, a native of Lyon, France, who is seeking his first stakes win this meet. “Empire Way is definitely a really nice horse. I’ve watched replays of his races and he’s got a legitimate shot, like everybody else.
“I don’t think the outside post will be a big issue because of his (come-from-behind) style. It looks like there’s a lot of speed in there, so that should help, too.”
The San Felipe field: Blingo, Mike Smith, 8-1; Bodemeister, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1; American Act, Martin Pedroza, 8-1; Midnight Transfer, Victor Espinoza, 6-1; Groovin’ Solo, Alonso Quinonez, 20-1; Liaison, Martin Garcia, 6-1; Creative Cause, Joel Rosario, 5-2; Rousing Sermon, Joe Talamo, 8-1; Tiz Point, Garrett Gomez, 20-1; and Empire Way, Brice Blanc, 6-1.
VELOCE CANZONE MAKES STAKES DEBUT IN GRADE III LAS FLORES
Veloce Canzone is unbeaten in two starts but faces her most daunting challenge in Sunday’s Grade III Las Flores Stakes for older fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs.
The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Songandaprayer won a Santa Anita allowance race at 11-1 on Feb. 24 after a year’s layoff.
“She had a chip in her ankle,” said trainer Patrick Biancone in explaining the lengthy absence. “Her win first time back wasn’t a surprise to me, really. She was supposed to run 10 days earlier but she had a paddock incident and was scratched.
“So we had to run her in the mile race. You cannot wait too long (when they’re ready to run), and she ran a good race. She’s bred to be a six or seven-furlong horse.”
The field for the Las Flores: She’s Cheeky, Joe Talamo, 9-2; Izzy Rules, Edwin Maldonado, 2-1; Veloce Canzone, Frederic Lenclud, 8-1; Home Sweet Aspen, Joel Rosario, 5-2; Great Hot, Mike Smith, 3-1; and Spectacular Sky, Rafael Bejarano, 9-2.
‘KISS ME, I’M IRISH’ CASINO NIGHT BENEFITS EYE ON JACOB FOUNDATION
“Kiss Me, I’m Irish” Casino Night will be held in Santa Anita’s Chandelier Room on St. Patrick’s Day, next Saturday, March 17, at 7 p.m. The event, featuring gambling, games and entertainment, benefits the Eye on Jacob Foundation.
The Eye on Jacob Foundation is a 501 c-3 nonprofit organization founded by Sonia Desormeaux in 2008. Sonia’s younger son, Jacob, the son of Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, suffers from Ushers Syndrome.
To become an Eye on Jacob sponsor, RSVP or visit www.EyeOnJacob.org.
FINISH LINES:Zenyatta and her newly arrived foal, a beautiful dark bay colt by Bernardini, are doing excellent at Lane's End Farm in Kentucky. Here is the link to exclusive video shot by HRTV on Friday: http://www.hrtv.com/videos/jerry-and-ann-moss-on-zenyattas-first-foal1/ . . . Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Amazombie, a candidate for either the Grade II Potrero Grande Stakes on April 7 or the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 14, is scheduled to work four furlongs Sunday morning for Bill Spawr. Alex Bisono will be aboard the California-bred gelding . . . Game On Dude, the 2011 Santa Anita Handicap winner, worked six furlongs in company on Santa Anita’s main track Saturday in 1:12 flat. The runner-up in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic, prepping for the Dubai World Cup on March 31, was ridden by Martin Garcia. Stablemate The Tweebster, Rafael Bejarano aboard, was given 1:13 . . . With Bejarano riding Secret Circle in the Rebel at Oaklawn Park next Saturday, Mike Smith will ride downhill turf course win machine Unzip Me for Marty Jones in next Saturday’s $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes. The Hall of Fame jockey needs seven wins to reach 5,000 in his career. Unzip Me worked five furlongs on Hollywood’s Cushion Track Saturday in 1:04 . . . Secret Circle and Castaway, winners of divisions of the Southwest Stakes, worked six furlongs in company for Bob Baffert at Santa Anita Saturday. Garcia rode Secret Circle, while Bejarano was on Castaway. Each horse was timed in 1:11.60 . . . California Flag, the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner, worked six furlongs on turf Saturday in company with Eldaafer for trainer Brian Koriner. California Flag was timed in 1:15, while Eldaafer was given 1:19.20 . . .Grade II Robert J. Frankel Stakes winner Bauble Queen worked six furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track in 1:14 for Eric Kruljac; 2010 California Cup Classic winner Soul Candy went five furlongs in 1:01.40 for Patrick Gallagher; and Fleet Treat Stakes winner Sugarinthemorning went six furlongs in 1:13.80 for Ron McAnally . . . With three wins Friday—the last three in a row—Bejarano drew to within 10 of Santa Anita leader Joel Rosario. The Bejarano Pick 3 paid $110.60 . . . There were 1,004 players alive in ShowVivor2 entering Saturday’s races . . . San Diego Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner was a Santa Anita visitor Friday with a Bolts entourage celebrating former USC football star and NFL coach Ernie Zampese’s 72nd birthday . . . Trainer Ron Ellis celebrates his 52nd birthday today . . . Congratulations to Kurt Hoover, HRTV’s Man for All Seasons, on being named Santa Anita’s Employee of the Week . . . Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday. Turn your clocks ahead one hour tonight.