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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• BAFFERT HAS ‘LONG’ TERM PLANS IN SAN JUAN FOR SKY KINGDOM
• TEAM O’NEILL: DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN FOR KENTUCKY DERBY?
• MASSIVE PICK SIX PAYOFF BOILED DOWN TO TWO NUMBERS
MARATHONER SKY KINGDOM MAKES TURF DEBUT IN SUNDAY’S SAN JUAN
Sky Kingdom makes his turf debut in Santa Anita’s traditional finale Sunday, the San Juan Capistrano Stakes at about a mile and three-quarters on turf.
Little question the son of 2003 Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker can get the distance. He won the Tokyo City Cup at a mile and a half on dirt on March 23.
“It looks like he can handle a mile and a half pretty well,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “The only longer races here are turf races going that far, so the San Juan gives me more options with him down the road. We’ll find out what I have.”
Should Baffert win the San Juan, it would be his first. He leads all trainers in stakes wins this meet, however, with 11, three in front of Jerry Hollendorfer.
The field for the San Juan, the seventh of nine races on closing day: Interaction, Joe Talamo, 3-1; All Squared Away, Edwin Maldonado, 7-2; Fire With Fire, Tyler Baze, 6-1; Lime Rickey, Rafael Bejarano, 10-1; Sky Kingdom, Martin Garcia, 5-2; Oilisblackgold, Martin Pedroza, 8-1; and Smart Ellis, Garrett Gomez, 4-1.
KRIGGER PLANS TO DO HIS THING, JUST LIKE GUTIERREZ DID
Mario Gutierrez and Kevin Krigger aren’t what you’d call best friends, but they do have one thing in common.
Both have emerged from racing’s doldrums to its pinnacle, Gutierrez having done so by winning the Kentucky Derby on I’ll Have Another last year in his very first attempt, Krigger poised to do the same thing if Goldencents can capture the Run for the Roses on May 4.
There are other similarities. Gutierrez is 26, 5-7 and weighs 114 pounds. Krigger is 29, 5-7 and weighs 114 pounds. Each resides near Santa Anita, Gutierrrez in Arcadia and Krigger in Azusa.
Gutierrez won the Santa Anita Derby last year on I’ll Have Another trained by Doug O’Neill. Krigger won the Santa Anita Derby on April 6 aboard Goldencents trained by Doug O’Neill. Next up: the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in two weeks.
There, except for their passion for the sport, similarities dissipate. Gutierrez, from Veracruz, Mexico, has been riding since 2006. Krigger, from St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, has been riding since 2001.
Gutierrez would be the last to counsel Krigger as the first Saturday in May approaches. “Krigger is far more experienced than I am,” Gutierrez said. “He has more years riding, and I’m no one to give him advice. He has his own people and his own horse. He believes in them and that’s the most important thing, to have confidence.
“Krigger started way before me. I only have seven years riding experience with Thoroughbreds.”
Still, his achievement and memories are etched in stone, never to be erased. Gutierrez recognizes that.
“You look back and see what you’ve accomplished and it’s unbelievable that you’ve won the Kentucky Derby,” he said. “Kevin can look forward to a great experience.”
Krigger vows not to be nonplused by what lies ahead.
“I’m going to approach it as any other race,” he said of the Derby. “It is what it is. It’s a mile and a quarter with 20 horses and I’m just going to go ahead and do what I’ve been doing with Goldencents all along, which is make sure he runs his race.
“I’m not trying to dictate his race because it’s the Derby. I’m just going to ride my horse and ride the race. Goldencents, he has dealt with the crowds pretty easily so far.
“We had a good crowd (33,005) on Santa Anita Derby Day. Before the race he handled the paddock pretty well. After the race, he handled the winner’s circle pretty well, and we had a huge crowd in there.
“We’re pretty confident the horse is going to handle everything, and we know that I am. “We’re just ready to win.”
There’s more to the tale of tape, according to O’Neill.
“Horses like to run for both of them,” he said. “They’re both very confident in their skills, and yet not arrogant. They’re both very appreciative to the connections who give them chances.
“They’re both talented guys who were just looking for opportunity to knock, and it did, and they’ve really taken advantage of it.”
WINNING NUMBERS IN DOLLAR PICK SIX PAYOUT WERE TWOS AND SEVENS
Santa Anita’s single winning Pick Six ticket yesterday after a two-day carryover ballooned the pool to $1,723,706 paid $1,093,518, purchased off track for $768 through Xpressbet.
It could have cost considerably less, if the right two numbers were played.
Trainer Barry Abrams pointed out that the winning ticket could have been bought for $128 merely by playing the numbers two and seven in each of the six legs.
No. 2 (Cook Inlet, $7.40) won the third race, No. 7 (Lord Kitra, $14.80) won the fourth, No. 7 (Summers Dignity, $44.80) took the fifth, No. 2 (Legal Separation, $32.80) won the sixth, No. 7 (Peppy Bolly, $9) took the seventh and No. 7 (Copper Bay, $7.40) captured the finale.
PEDROZA MAKES HAY WHEN PEERS LEAVE TOWN
Richie Silverstein calls Martin Pedroza “the greatest sixth man in Santa Anita history.”
With several Santa Anita-based jockeys out of town last Saturday, Pedroza benefited from their exodus, winning four races at Santa Anita. Under similar circumstances on Breeders’ Cup Day at Gulfstream Park on Oct. 31, 1992, Pedroza rode six consecutive winners at Oak Tree.
With two racing days remaining, Pedroza had 25 victories from 171 mounts, good for ninth in the standings.
“He doesn’t get his number called all the time, but when he does, he’s there and he produces,” said Silverstein, who has represented the 47-year-old Pedroza for the better part of 26 years.
A dominant figure at Fairplex Park where he has won 13 riding titles, Pedroza captured his first crown at a major track in 2005 with 31 wins at Hollywood Park.
“At Pomona, they come to him first because of his reputation there, and because a lot of the trainers here don’t race at Fairplex,” Silverstein said.
“But the bottom line is, for his whole career, whether it was 1992 or 2013, when Martin is put on the right horses, he gets the job done.”
HALL OF FAME TRAINER VAN BERG BOOK SIGNING TODAY AT CHAMPIONS
Legendary trainer Jack Van Berg autographs his book, “Jack: From Grit to Glory” today from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. across from Champions! Gift Shop in the East Paddock Gardens.
Fans have an opportunity to meet one of racing’s greats. Van Berg is one of only five trainers to saddle more than 6,000 winners.
Books will be available for $20 at the signing, $25 thereafter.
FINISH LINES: Santa Anita Derby winner and Kentucky Derby contender Goldencents jogged over Santa Anita’s fast main track Saturday morning. “He had an easy day today,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “He’ll go back to galloping tomorrow. He’s doing super.” . . . Rafael Bejarano is the landslide winner in the race for leading jockey this meet, but the rider who has ridden the most horses at Santa Anita remains a horse race. With two days left, Edwin Maldonado led the pack with 382 mounts, one ahead of Tyler Baze and four in front of Joe Talamo . . . The battle for leading trainer is not over. Through Friday, Bob Baffert led Jerry Hollendorfer, 38-35, with Doug O’Neill third at 34. Baffert was scheduled to run two horses Saturday and two Sunday, while Hollendorfer had only one in, Chosen Miracle, in today’s San Simeon Stakes. O’Neill, with two in today (A Thousand Aces was scratched from the fifth race) and four entered Sunday, still had a mathematical chance to overtake Baffert . . . Richard Mandella is counting down for champion Beholder before the Santa Anita Oaks winner leaves for Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Oaks on May 3. “She’ll get a good work here in a few days; I don’t know what day, towards the end of the week. Then she’ll fly there (April 27) and that’ll be it,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. Las Flores Stakes winner Rumor worked six furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track for Mandella Saturday in 1:13.40 with stablemate Power Foot, who was clocked in 1:13.80. “She couldn’t be in better shape,” said Mandella, who has Rumor ticketed for the Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs on Derby Day. Mike Smith retains the mount . . . Condolences to the family of Bob Hubbard, who passed away at the age of 87 April 11 at his home in La Cresta. Bob Hubbard Horse Transportation was the official transporter for the 1984 Olympics, as well as ground transport for the 2010 World Equestrian Games. Established more than 40 years ago, Bob Hubbard Horse Transportation has a national scope, with bases in Southern California, Florida, Kentucky and in Washington State. Their customers have included the legendary Black Stallion, the Budweiser Clydesdales and Horse of the Year champions Cigar and Point Given. Mr. Hubbard is survived by his wife, Pat, sons Tom and Jim, daughter Kim, and granddaughters Ashley, Samantha and Payton . . . Agent Tony Matos reports that Garrett Gomez rides maiden winner Demonic for John Sadler in the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs on April 27 and Al Khali for Bill Mott the day before in the Elkhorn at a mile and a half on turf.