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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• BEHOLDER IN PEAK FORM FOR BREEDERS’ CUP DISTAFF
• TRAINER KEEPS BC OPTIONS OPEN FOR SPEEDY FILLY
• AGENT BRAD PEGRAM BENEFITS FROM GOOD VALUE SYSTEM
BEHOLDER AT HER BEST AS BREEDERS’ CUP DISTAFF AWAITS
Here’s a frightening thought for Beholder’s rivals in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita on Nov. 1. Richard Mandella thinks “she continues to get a little better as we go along, just through experience. She’s turned into a professional filly.”
Coming off her smashing, front-running 1 ¼-length triumph in the Grade I Zenyatta Stakes on Sept. 28, that’s a mouthful, and Mandella is not big on braggadocio.
The Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old filly of 2012, Beholder took to the track at once under Gary Stevens in winning the “Win and You’re In” Zenyatta Stakes, beating her elders for the first time. She’s on course to tackle another senior champion, Royal Delta, in the Distaff.
“Beholder was on the lead but was very kind in winning the Zenyatta,” Mandella said. “Someday we’ll find out if she doesn’t have to be. In the Kentucky Oaks she wasn’t on the lead.
“She sat second and beat the filly in front (Midnight Lucky, who faded to fifth after leading to the three-quarter pole), but didn’t hold off Princess of Sylmar coming from behind, but Beholder tried her butt off.”
Princess of Sylmar beat Beholder by only a half-length in the Oaks, registering a 38-1 upset. Beholder was 9-1 in the race, a price bettors can only dream of getting in the Distaff.
MILLER WEIGHS BREEDERS’ CUP OPTIONS FOR RENEESGOTZIP
Peter Miller plans to run Reneesgotzip in a Breeders’ Cup race. The question is, which one?
The speedy 4-year-old City Zip filly could wind up in the Turf Sprint, the Sprint, or the Filly & Mare Sprint.
“Obviously, we haven’t entered anything yet,” Miller said of the Kentucky-bred chestnut. “We’ll cross-enter in the dirt Sprint and the Turf Sprint. She’s run against males before, and was third in the Turf Sprint last year (beaten less than two lengths), and a filly (Mizdirection) won the race.
“We’ll look at the Turf Sprint and the Sprint, but we could change our mind and look at the Filly & Mare Sprint,” Miller said. “We’re keeping all our options open at this point.”
SUCCESSFUL AGENTS WALK FINE LINE OF DIPLOMACY
Diplomacy, honesty, tact, respect: traits any parent with a virtuous sense of worth would teach their children.
Jockey agents do well to adhere to such principles. It’s a business fraught with pitfalls, one where a miscalculation or misjudgment could cost megabucks and put the kibosh on an otherwise fruitful relationship.
Brad Pegram, one of a plethora of racing Pegrams, adheres to Abraham Lincoln’s creed of “Honesty is the best policy,” which is why he is one of the most successful agents of his generation.
He currently represents Martin Garcia and Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who, as are their peers, pouring over daily potential mounts for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Nov. 1 and 2.
Pegram’s decision for Smith on what horse to ride in the Classic was on hold until last Saturday, after which the dice came up Game On Dude for Smith. He has ridden the Bob Baffert-trained gelding in five of his last six races, winning each. He chose to ride Royal Delta in the Personal Ensign on Aug. 25, the same day Game On Dude won the Pacific Classic with Garcia, his regular work rider, in the saddle.
Pegram, an agent since 1998 who has represented Smith since 2004, also has firm Breeders’ Cup commitments for Smith on Royal Delta in the Distaff and defending Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Little Mike.
“You’re in it for the long haul,” Pegram said, reflecting on the basic philosophy of agenting. “You want to deal with everybody the right way. You walk a fine line. You want things to go in your favor, but sometimes races just come up on the same day, and it usually works out best when you’re up front with everybody. That way a trainer you may not be able to ride for has an opportunity to get a rider he or she wants.
“When you’re talking about everyday races, it’s a bit different. But when you’re dealing with Grade I races, it’s best to be very open on all issues. If you don’t keep trainers in the dark, they’ll usually understand and respond in kind.
“Many times trainers just assume they’re going to have a rider back. They don’t know the conflicts involving other stakes around the country. That’s an agent’s job, to point out such conflicts.”
So far, for Brad Pegram, it’s a value system that’s worked.
FINISH LINES: Agent Tony Matos reported that Garrett Gomez missed his flight from Kentucky where he won two races at Keeneland yesterday and is off his scheduled six mounts at Santa Anita today . . . Trainer Kathy Ritvo says Awesome Again winner Mucho Macho Man is doing well since his victory on Sept. 28, and is scheduled to breeze this weekend as he prepares for the Breeders’ Cup Classic . . . What’s in a name? Mike Smith knows. The Hall of Fame jockey related this anecdote after winning Saturday’s Swingtime Stakes on a last-to-first ride aboard Miss Pippa for trainer John Sadler: “It’s funny. I went to England a few years ago and everyone asked me what I wanted to do when I was there. I told them I would love to meet ‘Miss Pippa’ (Pippa Middleton, sister of Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge). So everyone made fun of me, even the English papers wrote about it. Of course, John had this mare and people would say, ‘We should put you on her,’ but I never got a chance to ride her. So I finally got the chance and we win a stakes. I knew I wanted to meet her for a reason.” Smith won four races Saturday, thrusting him into a tie for second place in Santa Anita’s standings with Rafael Bejarano. Each has six wins, but Smith from only 13 mounts, a winning rate of 46 percent . . . Two-time stakes winner Ismene, scratched from yesterday’s L.A. Woman Stakes after drawing the one hole, worked six furlongs on the main track Sunday in a bullet 1:12.20. Trainer Bill Spawr has her nominated to next Saturday’s $100,000 California Distaff Handicap at about 6 ½ furlongs on the downhill turf. The California-bred daughter of Tribal Rule owned and bred by Stephen Ferraro was second over the same venue in the Irish O’Brien Stakes last March . . . With 1-2 favorite Obviously running fourth in the City of Hope Mile Stakes, 244 players went down in flames in ShowVivor yesterday, leaving 153 still playing . . . Bright Thought, who set a world record for a mile and a half on turf of 2:22.72 in winning last year’s San Luis Rey Stakes, worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s firm course Saturday 1:02.40. “Very happy,” trainer Jorge Gutierrez said after the drill. “He was just breezing.” . . . Next Monday, Oct. 14, Columbus Day, Santa Anita offers special holiday racing on “Dollar Day.” Beer, hot dogs and soda will be just a buck at The Great Race Place. First post time is 1 p.m.