Here’s the best bet of the meet: Barring the unforeseen, Reneesgotzip will be in front as far as she goes in Saturday’s inaugural Grade I, Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Santa Anita Sprint Championship at six furlongs.

The speedy daughter of City Zip has led in each of her six career races save one, when she was out-footed by the ultra-fleet filly Eden’s Moon in the Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita last March.

But when Reneesgotzip breaks from the outside number seven post position against six male rivals in the $250,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship, formerly run as the Ancient Title Stakes, trainer Peter Miller makes no bones about strategy as she takes on the opposite sex for the first time.

“It’s a great draw but it shouldn’t matter,” said Miller, who turned 46 on Tuesday. “We’re going to be up on the front. She’s got one way to go and she looks like the speed of the race.

“She’s doing super; she’s doing great. She looks good, she’s feeling good, she’s fit and she should run her race.”

Reneesgotzip would become only the third female and the first 3-year-old filly to win the race in 27 previous runnings when it was the Ancient Title. Kalookan Queen won it in 2002 as a 6-year-old, and Track Gal won it in 1995 at age four.

If Reneesgotzip fares well Saturday, Miller, fresh from winning the Del Mar training title with 21 victories, didn’t rule out facing males again in the $1.5 million XpressBet Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. The $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at six furlongs will be run the same day.

“We’ll kind of play it by ear,” Miller said when asked if he would tackle males again or return to facing her own sex. “But if she runs her race against the boys on Saturday, we’ll definitely consider running her back against the boys in the Breeders’ Cup.”

The field for the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, which goes as race eight on a 10-race program: Castletown, Edwin Maldonado, 20-1; Amazombie, Mike Smith, 9-5; Coil, Martin Garcia, 4-1; Camp Victory, Joe Talamo, 9-2; Capital Account, David Flores, 3-1; Jimmy Creed, Garrett Gomez, 6-1; and Reneesgotzip, Corey Nakatani, 6-1.


It sounded like Bob Baffert had mixed emotions about running Capital Account and Coil in Saturday’s Grade I, Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Santa Anita Sprint Championship at six furlongs.

“That’s going to be tough,” Baffert said. “To me, both those horses need seven-eighths but I want to get a prep. I want to run them in the (Breeders’ Cup Dirt) Mile.”

Martin Garcia, who has ridden Coil in half of his 10 career races, winning the Grade I Haskell Invitational at 1 1/8 miles, says that over time, the 4-year-old son of 2001 Horse of the Year Point Given has found his running niche.

“When he was a baby, he couldn’t decide how he wanted to run,” said Garcia of Coil, who adds blinkers on Saturday. “He hadn’t developed a style. But now, I think he can run any distance. He’s been working really well. I worked him his last work and he was just cruising.

“Coil always tries. In the Haskell, even though it was a mile and an eighth, he ran a big race. The way he came off the pace you might have thought it was six furlongs.”


They don’t call Brice Blanc a journeyman jockey for nothing. Not once, not twice, but three times the 39-year-rider drove some 200 miles just to exercise a horse for one minute or thereabouts. Now that’s a journey, man.

The trip was from Del Mar to Hollywood Park and back, and the horse was Mr. Commons, trained by John Shirreffs. Quid pro quo resulted as Blanc rides the 4-year-old Artie Schiller colt Saturday in the inaugural Arroyo Seco Mile, a Grade II event on the turf.

“I had been working some horses for John, and one morning he asked me to work Mr. Commons, because Mike (Smith, who had ridden Mr. Commons nine straight times and 12 overall) had a commitment on Royal Delta in New York,” Blanc explained.

“When John gave me the opportunity to ride Mr. Commons, I was really excited about it.” First time was not the charm, however. In his maiden voyage on Mr. Commons, Blanc was second by a nose to Obviously in the Grade II Del Mar Mile on Aug. 26 in track record time.

“When you get beat a nose and they set a track record, it’s a tough beat,” Blanc said. “Mr. Commons is a good horse and his last two works have been awesome.”

Blanc, who is represented by agent Mike Ciani, has been a mainstay in Southern California for more than 15 years. He has managed to keep the wolf away from the door, but not without persistent faith and effort.

“It’s tough; it’s always been tough here,” said Blanc, who still carries unmistakable traces of a French accent. “You don’t come to Southern California and expect to jump from nothing to being on top. It’s hard when you’re kind of ticketed as a certain type of rider.

“I just don’t have that type of business to ride in a lot of claiming races. People don’t really come to me. It’s not that I don’t want to ride them, but they don’t come to me to ride speed horses.

“I get horses that need to relax, or grass horses, so it slows my business down quite a bit and it’s hard to stay on top all the time. I don’t have big barns where I ride a lot of horses. When you do that, you have a flow of horses every week and that helps keep your business going and helps you win.

“When you ride only a few horses in each barn, if they get hurt you’re out of the loop until they come back. But it’s tough everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you go, especially nowadays. The economy being so bad, it’s really hurt the business everywhere.

“When I rode in Kentucky years ago, there were 30 (horses) excluded in a maiden grass race, so you had maybe three calls to get lucky and have one get in . . . It’s hurting everywhere, so I’m not looking to leave California.

“The beauty of California is, you never know. You can pick up a horse like Mr. Commons at any time. You just have to stick to it, you have to work hard and just get lucky.”

The field for the Arroyo Seco: Mr. Commons, Brice Blanc, 8-5; Trailblazer, Yutaka Take, 5-1; Obviously, Joe Talamo, 1-1; Kettle Corn, Garrett Gomez, 6-1; and Midnight Interlude, Martin Garcia, 8-1.


World-class jockey Julien Leparoux will be joining the Southern California jockey colony on a regular basis following the conclusion on the Keeneland meet on October 27, said agent Joe Ferrer, who will represent the 29-year-old Frenchman. Ferrer will continue as agent for current Southern California kingpin Rafael Bejarano.

Leparoux, the Eclipse Award winner as Outstanding Apprentice Jockey in 2006, became the second jockey in history to win three Breeders’ Cup races in a single year in 2009. He joined a group of the most celebrated jockeys in history when on Jan. 8, 2010, he again was named Eclipse Award winner, this time as Outstanding Jockey of 2009.

“He’s a very nice kid,” Ferrer said of Leparoux, who grew up in a racing family. “He and Bejarano are good friends, so I think it will work out.”

Leparoux, who will ride at Santa Anita in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 2 and 3, is engaged to Shea Mitchell, daughter of trainer Mike Mitchell and his wife, Denise. A December 10 wedding is planned.


For the first time ever, Santa Anita is offering “Pumpkin Patch Family Days” in its spacious Infield area every weekend throughout the current Autumn Meet.

Seasonal pumpkins of all sizes are available, starting at just $1.00. In addition to pumpkins, a myriad of activities are available to youngsters, including pony rides, an obstacle course, super slide, moon bounce, a chance to meet the horse who played Seabiscuit in the blockbuster movie and more.

“We want families to know there’s something for everyone here in our Infield every weekend,” said John Niedzwiedz, Santa Anita Senior Director of Marketing. “The pumpkins were a big hit the first weekend and we expect to have a lot of folks coming out for more over the next month. We’re going to have some great racing to go along with all the activities we offer, and then to be able to take a pumpkin home for Halloween or Thanksgiving is the icing on the cake.”

Santa Anita will offer a special five-day week of racing through Monday, Oct. 8, Columbus Day. The Infield area will be open on Saturday and Sunday.

FINISH LINES: Beholder, smashing 11-length winner of Thursday’s six-furlong fourth race in 1:09, fastest clocking at that distance thus far this meet, likely will go on to the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita on Nov. 2 and 3, but Richard Mandella was undecided on the race for the 2-year-old daughter of Henny Hughes. “I’m 50-50 between the Juvenile Fillies and the Juvenile Fillies Sprint,” the Hall of Fame trainer said Friday morning. “Depending on how she acts next week, we’ll make a decision. She cruised along so easy it’s just amazing. Garrett (Gomez) said he felt like he could do whatever he wanted with her, so we’ll wait and see.” . . . Veteran rider David Flores has engaged agent Brandon O’Bryan, who also handles Alex Bisono . . . Tyler Baze was listed to ride two horses today at Santa Anita, his first competitive mounts since he was suspended indefinitely by Del Mar stewards over a year ago for failing to submit to a random Breathalyzer test. The Seattle native, who turns 30 on Oct. 19, was recently reinstated by Los Alamitos stewards. Baze, the Eclipse Award winner as North America’s outstanding apprentice jockey in 2000, is named to ride 12-1 morning line chance Roulette It Roll in the first race and 20-1 shot Warren’s Sugarbuzz in the sixth . . . HRTV will air the prestigious Prix de l’Arc Triomphe live Sunday. Approximate post time is 7:25 a.m. PDT . . . Santa Anita offers special holiday racing next Monday, Oct. 8, Columbus Day. Fans can enjoy hot dogs, sodas and beer for only $1. Post time is 1 p.m.