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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• ASMUSSEN HAS GREAT MILLS SETTLED IN FOR DAYTONA
• CALLAGHAN: THREE FOR THE MONEY IN SUNDAY’S FRANKEL
• PEDROZA STILL GOING STRONG AFTER CAREER WIN NO. 3,500
HOME IS WHERE THE TURF SPRINT IS FOR GREAT MILLS
For the first time in his last 12 races, turf sprint specialist Great Mills makes his first back-to-back start at the same track when he runs in Saturday’s Grade III Daytona Stakes for 3-year-olds and up scheduled for about 6 ½ furlongs on turf.
The 4-year-old son of War Front trained by Steve Asmussen will be making his first start since running fourth by three lengths at 29-1 in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita last Nov. 3. Owned and bred by Millennium Farms, Great Mills drew the No. 1 post position and will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, who was aboard in the Breeders’ Cup race and who got off to a flying start on opening day, winning four races including the La Brea Stakes and the Sir Beaufort Stakes.
“I looked at the weather all week and it looks good (for Saturday),” Asmussen said. “He likes firm ground. I’m not crazy about his draw at all, but he’s got enough experience with it that he’ll be all right.”
Great Mills’ journey since July 28, 2011 has taken him to turf sprints at Saratoga, Woodbine, Keeneland, Churchill Downs, Fair Grounds, Houston, Penn National, Presque Isle Downs and Santa Anita.
“How about him sitting still for a while?” Asmussen asked rhetorically. “I don’t know if he really knows how to do that. Every track has one race for him.”
The field for the Daytona, one of three stakes races Saturday: Great Mills, Rafael Bejarano, 7-2; Comma to the Top, Corey Nakatani, 9-2; Starspangled Heat, Mike Smith, 20-1; Circa’sgoldengear, Joe Talamo, 8-1; Clubhouse Ride, Aaron Gryder, 12-1; Capital Account, David Flores, 5-1; Guest Star, Victor Espinoza, 12-1; Red Sun, Julien Leparoux, 6-1; Wilkinson, Martin Pedroza, 6-1; Ain’t No Other, Juan Hernandez, 8-1; and Tale of Champion, Tyler Baze, 15-1. Byrama was scratched.
CALLAGHAN HAS TRIO READY FOR SUNDAY’S FRANKEL STAKES
Santa Anita remembers Bobby Frankel on Sunday with the second running of the stakes named in honor of the Hall of Fame trainer who died at 68 on Nov. 16, 2009.
Simon Callaghan has three horses scheduled to start in the 1 1/8-mile turf race formerly run as the San Gorgonio Handicap: Camelia Rose, Qaraaba and Imperialistic Diva.
“Camelia Rose has been a bit frustrating for us because she’s not won in America yet (in eight starts),” Callaghan said. “But she’s training well. We freshened her up after her last start (third on Oct. 19 at Santa Anita), then two starts ago she was fourth in that Grade I (Rodeo Drive on Sept. 29 at Santa Anita).
“She’s got ability and she’s now fresh and well, and it would be nice to get some graded stakes type for her.
“We also freshened Imperialistic Diva,” continued Callaghan. “She’ll be an outsider but she’s training well and runs her best races fresh. Hopefully, she can get a piece of it.”
As for Qaraaba: “She won her allowance race well and she’s training extremely well. She’s a filly we really like and she looks like she has a very good chance. She likes to be taken back, relax and finish.”
The field for the Frankel: Camelia Rose, Mario Gutierrez, 10-1; Halo Dolly, Joe Talamo, 5-2; Qaraaba, Julien Leparoux, 3-1; Hard to Resist, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Imperialistic Diva, David Flores, 20-1; I Dazzle, Jose Valdivia Jr., 20-1; Vivo Per Lei, Mike Smith, 6-1; More Chocolate, Garrett Gomez, 8-1; and Tiz Flirtatious, Rafael Bejarano, 2-1.
CANANI GIVES PEDROZA A LEG UP FOR CAREER WIN NO. 3,500
When it comes to milestones, jockeys would do well to get a leg up from Julio Canani.
The veteran trainer put Martin Pedroza aboard 8-year-old Irish-bred gelding Stoneside in Wednesday’s second race, and, thanks to a change in strategy, it resulted in Pedroza’s 3,500th career victory, Stoneside winning by three-quarters of a length at a $17 win payoff.
“Last time out (a sixth-place finish Nov. 17 at Betfair Hollywood Park), Martin told me he was going to send the horse to the lead because they were winning on the lead,” the colorful Canani said. “But the horse doesn’t like to run that way. He doesn’t like to be rushed.
“This time, I told him to make sure he was six or eight lengths behind. Don’t send the horse. So, we got $17.”
Pedroza achieved his richest victory when he rode Martial Law to a 50-1 upset for Canani in the 1989 Santa Anita Handicap, then worth $1 million.
Peruvian native Canani, who turned 74 on Nov. 13, said he also gave Garrett Gomez a leg up for his 2,000th and 3,000 career wins, and for Joel Rosario on No. 1,000.
Jack Carava, one of Pedroza’s long-time patrons, says the 47-year-old Panamanian is riding as well as ever.
“He tries hard and he’s always been a loyal guy,” Carava said. “He’s ridden for me for years. You know you’re going to get your money’s worth when you put him on. He’s got a lot of courage and as he’s gotten older, he’s become a better rider.
“He’s more of a positional rider now and he’s still got some of the good qualities he had when he was younger, but he’s become a smarter rider with age.”
FINISH LINES: According to Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of the Broadway League, Broadway will dim its lights for one minute at 8 o’clock tonight in honor of actor, horse owner, horse player and long-time friend of racing Jack Klugman, who died Monday at the age of 90 . . . Retired trainer Mel Stute, 85, recovering from a head injury in a fall two weeks ago, will be discharged from a rehab facility in Pomona tomorrow, said his son, trainer Gary Stute . . . Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, reports both My Miss Aurelia and Unbridled’s Note came out of their respective third-place finishes in the La Brea Stakes and the Malibu Stakes on opening day in good order, but had no announcement on their next races . . . Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Beholder, favored to win an Eclipse Award in that category, worked four furlongs under exercise rider David Neusch on Santa Anita’s fast main track Friday morning in 47.60. “She’s doing great,” Richard Mandella said of the Betfair Hollywood Starlet winner. “She couldn’t be doing any better. She’s on target (for the Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 6 ½ furlongs on Jan. 21).” . . . Mandella added that Jimmy Creed came out of his Malibu victory in good shape and likely will make his next start in the Grade II Strub Stakes for 4-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 2, “but I’ll give it more thought as I go.” . . . Champagne runner-up Goldenscents, prepping for the Grade III Sham Stakes on Jan. 5, worked six furlongs for Doug O’Neill on Santa Anita’s fast main track Thursday in a bullet 1:10.20. It was the fastest of 14 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 1:13.48. O’Neill also sent stretch-running stakes veteran Richard’s Kid four furlongs in 49 seconds flat . . . Betfair Hollywood Park jockey king Edwin Maldonado will be Steve Andersen’s guest at Saturday’s Daily Racing Form seminar, 11:15 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Santa Anita will offer $2 beers, hot dogs and sodas on Monday, Jan. 31, New Year’s Eve, and a free Santa Anita Commuter Mug to all THOROUGHBRED members at Santa Anita, while supplies last, on Tuesday, New Year’s Day. Santa Anita will be dark next Wednesday and Thursday and resume racing on Friday, Jan. 4 at 12:30 p.m.