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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• BEJARANO BACK ON LIAISON IN GRADE I SANTA ANITA DERBY
• AMAZOMBIE AT THE READY FOR POTRERO GRANDE STAKES
• GRASS LOOKS GREENER FOR CHARM THE MAKER IN PROVIDENCIA
• GRATEFUL TALAMO REACHES CAREER VICTORY NO. 1,000
DISTANCE, BETTER LUCK WILL HELP LIAISON IN GRADE I SANTA ANITA DERBY
Rafael Bejarano has ridden Liaison five times, winning three, including the Grade I CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park last Dec. 17. When Bejarano rode the son of Indian Charlie in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 4, the result was decidedly different. Liaison clipped heels into the stretch, unseating Bejarano. Fortunately, both horse and rider emerged none the worse for wear.
Bejarano is back aboard Liaison Saturday in the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, the West’s major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby on May 5. Bejarano is looking forward to the reunion.
“He was awesome when I won on him,” Bejarano said, “but in the Lewis when I fell, we were in perfect position. He was coming from behind and was making a move at the end but when he came to the stretch, both horses in front of him were completely spread out, so I had a really good chance to come between them.
“But when I got close and tried to go through, the horse on the rail came out and the horse on the outside came in, so I had no choice. My horse clipped heels. It was not my fault. My horse was running, so you’d have to draw a line through that race.
“The last time (fourth in the San Felipe on March 10 with Martin Garcia aboard), he ran pretty good but it was a tough race and I don’t think he was quite ready. This time, he’s going to be ready.
“With a little luck and a good trip, he’s going to be tough. I know Creative Cause is a good horse but we’ll be closing, so we’ll see what happens.”
Trained by Bob Baffert for owner Arnold Zetcher, who teamed to win last year’s Santa Anita Derby with 13-1 shot Midnight Interlude, Liaison is coming up to the race well.
“Bejarano worked him the other morning (April 2, six furlongs in 1:10 4/5),” Zetcher said. “The horse is looking good, he schooled Thursday and I couldn’t be happier with the way he’s getting ready for the race. A mile and an eighth should be good for him; hopefully, a mile and quarter (Kentucky Derby distance) will be even better, but first things first.”
Retired Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens, winner of the Santa Anita Derby a record nine times and now an analyst for HRTV and NBC, on his Santa Anita Derby selection: “Creative Cause. He has the experience and class and he’s coming along the right way at the right time.”
Private clocker Gary Young: “Creative Cause, Holy Candy and Midnight Transfer.”
Private clocker Toby Turrell of Winners Card: “Holy Candy, if he runs, I’ll Have Another and Creative Cause.”
This from Dennis O’Neill, brother of Doug O’Neill, who trains Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner I’ll Have Another for owner J. Paul Reddam:
“The van driver called this morning and asked Doug what horses he was to bring from Hollywood Park Saturday to Santa Anita, and Doug said, ‘Lava Man and I’ll Have Another.’
“The van company guy obviously wasn’t too savvy on horse racing and asked if both horses were runners. Doug said, “no, only one of them is running.’”
Lava Man, now 12, has been a stable pony since his retirement from racing some four years ago. “He and I’ll Have Another are best buds,” Dennis said. “They’re inseparable.”
The Santa Anita Derby is one of four stakes on the 11-race program that starts at 12 noon. Gates open at 10 a.m.
Post time for the Santa Anita Derby is 2:46 p.m. Frank Stronach, Founder and Chairman of The Stronach Group, will present the winning trophy.
Saturday’s local weather forecast calls for sunny skies with temperatures near 80 degrees.
The field for the Santa Anita Derby: Creative Cause, Joel Rosario, 6-5; Liaison, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Holy Candy, Alonso Quinonez, 8-1; I’ll Have Another, Mario Gutierrez, 5-2; Longview Drive, Russell Baze, 12-1; Paynter, Martin Garcia, 12-1; Senor Rain, Eswan Flores, 15-1; Midnight Transfer, Mike Smith, 10-1; Blueskiesnrainbows, Joe Talamo, 20-1; and Brother Francis, Garrett Gomez, 20-1.
There will be a $750,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4. Elliott Yamin, who earned prestige for his third album, “Let’s Get To What’s Real,” will sing the National Anthem and God Bless America on Saturday.
CHAMP AMAZOMBIE SET TO RUN IN SATURDAY’S POTERO GRANDE
With the weather clear and the track fast and playing more fairly to horses coming from off the pace, trainer Bill Spawr said “right now, we’re probably going to run” when asked Friday morning about the status of Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Amazombie for tomorrow’s Grade II, $150,000 Potrero Grande Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs.
One defection from the nine entered could be Courtside for John Sadler. “If Amazombie runs, we probably won’t run,” the trainer said.
The field for the Potrero Grande, which goes as race eight: Sway Away, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; Amazombie, Mike Smith, 9-5; Mensa Heat, Garrett Gomez, 6-1; Smart Spending, Joel Rosario, 10-1; Roman Threat, Martin Garcia, 7-2; Camp Victory, Joe Talamo, 6-1; Courtside, Antonio Castanon, 10-1; Thunder of Zion, Alex Bisono, 15-1; and Thinking of Girls, Daniel Vergara, 20-1.
CHARM THE MAKER MAKES TURF DEBUT SATURDAY IN GRADE III PROVIDENCIA
Charm the Maker makes her grass debut in Saturday’s Grade III, $150,000 Providencia Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
“Her mother (Charm the Giant) ran well on grass,” pointed out Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, who, with his wife, Debbie, bred the 3-year-old daughter of Empire Maker. They also own the filly, who won the Sharp Cat Stakes on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track last Nov. 13.
“Joel Rosario rides her. He likes her. He worked her two or three times,” McAnally said. Rosario rode Charm the Maker for the first time in the Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes at one mile on March 3, finishing eighth to victorious Eden’s Moon, a candidate for the Kentucky Oaks on May 4.
Tim Conway Jr. of top-rated KFI Radio (640) in Los Angeles will present the trophy to the winning connections of the Providencia Stakes.
The field for the Providencia: Lady of Shamrock, Mike Smith, 6-5; Island Paradise, David Flores, 12-1; Killer Graces, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Byrama, Garrett Gomez, 3-1; Charm the Maker, Joel Rosario, 9-2; Ms Pianist, Martin Pedroza, 30-1; and Indigo River, Joe Talamo, 3-1.
TALAMO GRATEFUL TO REACH 1,000 CAREER WINS
Joe Talamo was both grateful and relieved to capture career win No. 1,000 with little delay Thursday aboard 2-5 favorite Splendid Fortune trained by Bob Baffert for Arnold Zetcher. The 3-year-old Kentucky-bred Giant’s Causeway filly took the lead at the start of the six furlongs race and improved her position, winning the fourth race by 7 1/4 lengths.
“It was a long trip (from his starting point on the East Coast), about 3,000 miles and five years,” said the 22-year-old Louisiana native. “I’ve been very fortunate. I have to thank my parents, the horsemen and my agent, Scott McClellan. They all did a great job.
“My mom (Joy) was the one who gave me permission to ride at a young age (16), but I had to toe the line. It was ‘Yes ma’am, no ma’am,’ or I got a whipping. I really have to give all the credit to my parents (father, Joe) for letting me start at such a young age to do what I wanted to do, and it paid off.
“That was fun (winning No. 1,000 as easily as he did). It was nice to get it done early. Everybody’s been wanting it for a while, so I’m glad it’s out of the way.”
Meanwhile, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith began Friday sitting on 4,997 career wins, but the 46-year-old rider won’t reach the 5,000 milestone at Santa Anita today. He was named on two horses, 3-1 morning line favorite El Vino in the fifth race and 7-2 shot Cat Talk in the seventh.
Smith will ride at Oaklawn Park next Wednesday through Saturday, agent Brad Pegram said.
‘LUCKY BENITO’S TAQUERIA’ TO OFFER TACOS AND MORE SATURDAY
Those attending the races on Saturday will be treated to the opening of “Lucky Benito’s, Taqueria,” which will offer fans authentic grilled chicken, carne asada soft tacos, nachos, churros, pretzels and a variety of beers.
“Lucky Benito’s” is in the East Paddock Gardens, adjacent to “Champions! Gifts & Apparel.”
“We think this is going to be a very popular addition to our overall food service approach,” said Santa Anita Director of Hospitality Randy Fowler. “We expect to see a lot of people coming to the paddock for tacos and a beer. We’re excited to be able to offer all of this on Derby Day.”
BALDWIN AVE. CLOSED TEMPORARILY FOR 5K RUN EARLY TOMORROW
Baldwin Ave. will be temporarily closed from the 210 Freeway to Huntington Drive early Saturday morning in order to accommodate Santa Anita’s annual Derby Day 5K Walk and Run. The closure will apply to vehicular traffic from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Accordingly, Santa Anita’s Gate 8, which adjoins the Westfield Shopping Mall on Baldwin Ave., and Gate 7, at the track’s northeast end, will also be closed to vehicles during the same time frame.
Those wishing to visit Santa Anita’s popular Clockers’ Corner venue at the top of the stretch will be able to enter on Santa Anita’s east end, through Gate 5, or Gate 3, on the track’s southern perimeter. Gates 3 & 5 will be open for easy access to Clockers’ Corner beginning at 5 a.m. and will remain open throughout the day. Santa Anita’s main track will be closed for training at 7:30 a.m.
Gate 3 is located at the intersection of Holly Ave. and Huntington Drive. Gate 5 is located on the east-end of the racetrack, at the confluence of Colorado Place and Huntington Drive.
FINKELSTEIN, HOOVER TO CONDUCT DERBY SEMINAR SATURDAY
Top handicapper Bruce Finkelstein will conduct his annual Santa Anita Derby Seminar on Saturday beginning at 10:30 a.m. in the Baldwin Terrace Conference Room, above Clockers’ Corner. His featured guest will be HRTV’s Kurt Hoover.
“I’ve been doing Santa Anita seminars since the early 1990’s and I’m really looking forward to doing this one with Kurt,” said Finkelstein. “Kurt and I will be going over the entire card at Santa Anita and I’ll have selected plays at Keeneland and up north at Golden Gate Fields.
“We’ve got a tremendous 11-race card here at Santa Anita tomorrow and it sure looks like we’re going to have great weather and a huge crowd. It should be a lot of fun.”
Admission to the one-hour seminar is $20, which includes a racing program, coffee and pastries. For more information on the Finkelstein/Hoover Derby Seminar, visit www.betonbruce.com.
FORMER UFC CHAMP VISITS SANTA ANITA ON SATURDAY
Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Sebastiaan "Bas" Rutten will be a Santa Anita visitor Saturday. A retired Dutch mixed martial artist, Karate and Taekwondo blackbelt, and kickboxer, Rutten was a UFC Heavyweight Champion, a three time King of Pancrase world champion, and finished his career on a 22-fight unbeaten streak (21 wins, one draw). He is currently the star of Punk Payback on Fuel TV and co-host of Inside MMA on HDNet.
FINISH LINES: Agent Tommy Ball has taken the book of jockey Chantal Sutherland effective Thursday. “She called me yesterday and asked me to take her book,” Ball said. “I represented her before, and since we had success before when she came in from Canada, I was glad to do so.” . . . Hector Berrios, who had been represented by Ball, will complete his riding tour at Santa Anita Sunday to visit his brother in Florida and from there perhaps return to his native Chile. The 25-year-old Berrios had five wins from 72 mounts through Thursday . . . Jockey David Flores is the even-money favorite to win the riders’ bracket in Saturday’s 5K Santa Anita Derby Day run, with Sutherland at 4-1, Kayla Stra at 8-1 and Frederic Lenclud at 12-1. Tony Ortega of Security is 5-2 among Santa Anita male employees, while Mary Forney of the TOC is 3-5 among women . . . Garrett Gomez will sign copies of “The Garrett Gomez Story” at Champions Gift Shop Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.Santa Anita’s leading rider and pilot of Santa Anita Derby favorite Creative Cause Joel Rosario will be Steve Andersen’s guest on Saturday’s Daily Racing Form seminar, 10:45 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Jason Levin of “Inside Racing,” KTLK-AM (1150), Los Angeles at 7 a.m. Saturdays, and Santa Anita’s Ed Golden meet in Sunday’s semifinals of the Fans’ Forum hosted by Jack Disney, 11:45 a.m., also in the East Paddock Gardens . . . At Hollywood Park, downhill turf specialist Unzip Me worked five furlongs on Cushion Track in 1:01.20 for Marty Jones . . . There were 31 players remaining in ShowVivor2 going into Friday.