Iotapa, a daughter of 2005 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Afleet Alex, makes her return to the races after a six-month layoff in Saturday’s Grade II Santa Monica Stakes.

“She won at seven-eighths and she’s got high-class form,” trainer John Sadler pointed out of Iotapa, who has not raced since finishing third in the Grade II San Clemente Handicap on grass at Del Mar last July and who last May won Hollywood Park’s Railbird Stakes at seven furlongs, the same distance as the Santa Monica.

“She was second to Beholder (in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks) and has always been right in there (never worse than third in six starts, three of them victories),” Sadler said. “We don’t think she liked the turf at all, even though she was third (in the San Clemente). We were a little disappointed in that race.

“She’s back on the main track, she’s won on the dirt here, so we’re looking forward to Saturday.”

The field for the Santa Monica, the fourth race on a 10-race card that starts at 12 noon: Iotapa, Rafael Bejarano, 9-2; Teddy’s Promise, Victor Espinoza, 2-1; Lexington Pearl, Joe Talamo, 6-1; Heir Kitty, Gary Stevens, 3-1; Socialbug, Martin Garcia, 9-2; Scherzinger, Mike Smith, 4-1; and Winding Way, Tyler Baze, 12-1.


Joe Talamo has ridden Weewinnin one time, finishing a game second in a six furlong turf sprint at Hollywood Park on Dec. 21. It was the first race in almost a year for Weewinnin, whose major claim to fame is a 60-1 upset against state-breds in the King Glorious at Hollywood in December of 2012.

Next up: Saturday’s $250,000 California Cup Turf Classic presented by City National Bank at 1 1/8 miles.

Talamo’s enthusiasm for the 4-year-old Comic Strip gelding is undeterred despite the significant increase in distance from six to nine furlongs.

“He ran a great race last out,” Talamo said. “It was his first in almost a year, so he probably needed the race. It should set him up well for this race. Even though it’s a mile and an eighth, I don’t see the distance being a problem.

“He should be fairly close, if not on the lead. Hopefully, we can try and get the jump on everybody.”

Talamo is named to ride in nine straight races Saturday, the second through the 10th. “I’ve done it before,” said the Louisiana native who recently celebrated his 24th birthday. “In fact, I rode in 11 races here one day and might have ridden in 12 once at Fairgrounds. It was easy back then when I was a kid.”

The field for the Turf Classic presented by City National Bank: Summer Hit, Rafael Bejarano, 7-2; Affrettando, Orlando Mojica, 20-1; Lucky Primo, Martin Garcia, 15-1; Empty Headed, Alonso Quinonez, 10-1; Huntsville, Mike Smith, 5-1; Weewinnin, Talamo, 8-1; Jules Journey, Gary Stevens, 5-1; Tiz a Minister, Saul Arias, 6-1; China Prince, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Unusual Meeting, Frank Alvarado, 20-1; Stoney Fleece, Victor Espinoza, 8-1; Hittheroadrunning, Tyler Baze, 20-1; Jonny’s Choice, Patrick Valenzuela, 30-1; and Maybe Tuesday, Kent Desormeaux, 8-1.

Santa Anita presents the California Wine Festival on Cal Cup Day. Fans can experience the best wine regions in the state by sampling fine wine and food pairings at The Great Race Place. Visit for details.


Irving Orozco is fifth in Santa Anita’s riding standings, with a bullet.

OK, so it’s Irving Daniel Orozco (his friends call him Danny), but by any name, the 20-year-old apprentice from nearby Glendale has caught the eye of horsemen and handicappers alike with his prowess in the saddle. Through 18 days of racing, Orozco has 11 wins, putting him fifth in the standings.

“He’s doing very well,” said his agent, Mike Ciani. “He’s grown up a lot in the last couple months. Obviously, it’s going to be difficult when he loses his ‘bug’ (five-pound apprentice allowance on Feb. 27), but we’ll be fighting for every mount we can get.

“He’s got a good head on his shoulders. He’s got a couple things that can’t be taught: he knows how to place horses in the right spots in races, and I think he’s got the mechanics and potential to be any kind of rider.”

FINISH LINES: Word from the Jerry Hollendorfer barn has male 2-year-old champion of 2013 Shared Belief scheduled to work tomorrow. Saturday will be a busy day for Hollendorfer. He has nine horses entered at Santa Anita, and six at Golden Gate Fields. Nine may not be the most Hollendorfer has run on a single card in one day, “but it’s the most we’ve run at Santa Anita, that’s for sure,” assistant Dan Ward said . . . Sham Stakes winner Midnight Hawk, likely for the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes Feb. 8, worked four furlongs Tuesday for Bob Baffert in 47.40. Also Tuesday, Game On Dude and Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Secret Circle worked six furlongs for Baffert. Game On Dude is ticketed for the Grade II San Antonio Stakes on Feb. 8, while Secret Circle is likely for the Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes on Feb. 2. Game On Dude was clocked in 1:12.20, while Secret Circle went in a bullet 1:11.80 . . . Santa Anita Director of Community Services and Special Projects Pete Siberell reminds that the highly acclaimed reality series “Horseplayers,” shot in-part at Santa Anita, airs Tuesday nights on the Esquire Network . . . Tom Quigley’s handicapping seminar guests this weekend will be Mike Puype, trainer of two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Mizdirection (Saturday) and Daily Racing Form handicapper Brad Free (Sunday). Saturday’s session begins at 10:50 a.m., Sunday’s at 11:20 a.m., both in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Congratulations to jockey Orlando Mojica, who celebrates his 32nd birthday today.