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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
SANTA MARIA WINNER ST TRINIANS TO TACKLE BOYS IN GR. I SANTA ANITA HANDICAP
St Trinians, an impressive 1 ¾ lengths winner of Saturday’s Gr. II Santa Maria Handicap, will not face champion Zenyatta, as originally planned, in the Gr. I, $250,000 Santa Margarita Handicap on March 13, and will instead take on the boys in the Gr. I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 6.
“Vic (Stauffer, agent for jockey Joel Rosario) called me right after the race Saturday and pointed out that we’d be running for three times the money and we wouldn’t have to face Zenyatta,” said trainer Mike Mitchell. “Looking at it, I think Zenyatta would probably be about 6-5 if she ran in the Big ’Cap, so why face her (in the Santa Margarita) for a third of the money? My mare is really good right now and it looks like some of the big shooters, like Quality Road and Gio Ponti, won’t be here for the Big ’Cap.
“The only negative is that the Big ’Cap is one week earlier, but we think it’s enough time. She came out of the race really good and the way she’s been finishing in her races here, I don’t think the mile and a quarter is going to be a problem. If you look at her races in England, she faced colts five times and she won three of them. I know it was at lesser tracks (Wolverhampton and Southwell), but she did it in big fields.
“I spoke with Dr. (Dan) Capen (owner) and we’d like to look at the weights. I’d have to think we’d pack three more pounds if we ran against Zenyatta, but if we go to the Big ’Cap, we’d get the three pound sex allowance and I think that’s important going that distance. We’ll look at the weights, but I’d say we’re pretty much definite for the Big ’Cap.
“Beyond that, we’re going to keep her on synthetic. We would not consider the Apple Blossom ($5 million, April 9) because she’s going to stay on the synthetic.”
The English-bred St Trinians is undefeated in four stateside starts for Mitchell. Her record now stands at 7-0-3 from 11 starts. With the Santa Maria winner’s share of $150,000, her career earnings now stand at $268,587.
STRIKING DANCER GIVES TRAINER KENNY McPEEK FIRST SANTA ANITA STAKES VICTORY
Off at odds of 13.30-1, Striking Dancer provided Kentucky-based conditioner Kenny McPeek with his first-ever Santa Anita stakes win in Sunday’s Gr. II La Canada Stakes. Ridden by Alex Solis, the 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Smart Strike won by 1 ½ lengths and paid $28.60 to win.
“It’s not a surprise at all,” said McPeek assistant Jordan Blair. “This filly trains well on every surface she’s ever been on, dirt, turf and synthetic. She’s been a bad luck filly. She’s had a lot of bad, troubled trips, through nobody’s fault…Every time she gets clear, she wins…We knew she had it in her and she showed it today.”
Solis, who notched his fourth career win in the La Canada on Sunday, was pleased with the way the race unfolded. “I was able to save ground around the first turn and when we got to the five-eighths, I moved out where I had a good position and I had some options. She’s an awesome filly and she beat a nice group of horses.”
As for Striking Dancer’s next start, the Gr. I Santa Margarita, to be run March 13, is under consideration.
BOB BLACK JACK NEARS RETURN IN SATURDAY’S SAN CARLOS
Bob Black Jack, sidelined since winning the Grade I Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26, 2008, worked six furlongs at Hollywood Park Sunday in 1:11.40 as he prepares for next Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Carlos Handicap at seven furlongs. Regular rider David Flores was aboard for the drill.
“We plan on running as long as the horse comes out of the work good and has a good week,” trainer Jim Kasparoff said.
Bob Black Jack, who established a then-world record of 1:06.53 for six furlongs in winning the 2008 Sunshine Millions Dash, could meet 2009 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Dancing in Silks in the San Carlos. Like Bob Black Jack, Dancing in Silks is also a California-bred, who won the Sprint by a nose at 25-1. He finished third as the 9-10 favorite in the Palos Verdes Handicap in his 2010 debut on Jan. 23, carrying 123 pounds and breaking from the rail for trainer Carla Gaines.
CARACORTADO VS. LOOKIN AT LUCKY IN SAN FELIPE STAKES?
It could be David versus Goliath come March 13. That’s when undefeated and unsung Caracortado could square off against Kentucky Derby Future Book favorite Lookin At Lucky in the Grade II, $150,000 San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.
Caracortado (it means scarface in Spanish) won his fifth straight race Saturday, posting a one-and-three-quarter length triumph in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes under regular rider Paul Atkinson. Trainer Mike Machowsky has the San Felipe targeted for Caracortado, a California-bred gelding he bred and owns a part of, along with Mr. and Mrs. Don Blahut.
Lookin At Lucky is scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut in the San Felipe. The $475,000 son of Smart Strike has five wins from six starts, his only defeat coming by an unlucky head in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He already has bankrolled $1,243,000.
“That’s the plan right now,” Machowsky said Sunday morning, referring to the San Felipe for Caracortado. “I’m going to see how he reacts and how (promising maiden winner) Nextdoorneighbor runs in the Sham (Stakes on Feb. 27), and go from there. But the spacing would be good. Three weeks after the San Felipe is the Santa Anita Derby (April 3), and if everything goes well, it gives you a month after that to the Kentucky Derby (May 1).”
Meanwhile, Machowsky was still on Cloud Nine less than 24 hours after Caracortado’s victory. “I’m still pretty pumped up,” he said. “I woke about 1:30 (Sunday morning) and couldn’t sleep anymore. I watched the replays about 10 times and read all the articles about the race.”
Lookin At Lucky worked four furlongs on Pro-Ride in company Sunday with El Martillo under jockey Martin Garcia. Lookin At Lucky was timed in :48.20, while El Martillo was given :48.60.
“Nice” is how Baffert described the move, while Garcia said he went “really good.” Baffert was forthright in his praise for Caracortado. “He’s a good horse,” said the Hall of Fame trainer, a three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby. “Every year there’s a surprise horse like him among the 3-year-olds, like Georgie Boy and Brother Derek.”
FINISH LINES: Condolences to the family of longtime owner/breeder Ernest Auerbach, who passed away Feb. 1 at 93. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Auerbach owned E.A. Ranches in Ramona and his homebred filly Belle’s Flag won the 1997 La Canada Stakes. Through 34 days of racing, Rafael Bejarano has opened up a 14 length lead on Victor Espinoza in the jockeys’ standings, 44-34. Joel Rosario is next at 29, then comes Garrett Gomez at 27 and Joe Talamo with 20 wins. Rosario and Gomez are tied atop the stakes-won list with six each. Entering Monday’s card, Bob Baffert leads John Sadler 18-17 in the trainers race. Baffert also has the most stakes wins with six. Eight trainers are tied for second in the stakes-won category with two wins: Julio Canani, Bruce Headley, Jim Cassidy, Jerry Hollendorfer, Sadler, Marty Jones, Mike Machowsky and Mike Mitchell. Veteran jockey Martin Pedroza is the proud father of Brian Pedroza, who won his first race Sunday at Gulfstream Park for trainer Wesley Ward. The 18-year-old apprentice jockey won by 4 1/4 lengths on 8-5 favorite Fast n’ Clear in a 5 ½-furlong dash for $16,000 maiden claimers. “I’m very, very proud,” the elder Pedroza said. “He’s got a good seat on a horse and when Wesley asked him if he was interested in riding, I told Brian to make the decision. He’s 18. I can give him advice, but he’s old enough to make up his own mind.” His son is named for the late trainer Brian Mayberry, with whom Martin enjoyed considerable success during his career . . . Eoin Harty said American Lion came out of the Robert B. Lewis Stakes in good order, but “nothing is set in stone” for his next race. “I’ll have to talk it over with the owners first,” he said . . . Dan Ward, assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer, said Blind Luck came back “perfect” after her desperate nose victory as the 2-5 favorite in Saturday’s Las Virgenes Stakes. “She went the last quarter in :22.40, not too bad,” Ward pointed out. The Grade I, $250,000 Santa Anita Oaks on March 6 is likely to be the next race for the three-time Grade I winner . . . Agent Brad Pegram reports that Mike Smith rides Norfolk Stakes runner-up Pulsion for Patrick Biancone in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park next Saturday.