Michael Baze was disappointed when High Court Drama didn’t qualify for the Santa Anita Handicap on March 6. But the Las Vegas native, who turns 23 on April 14, hopes to make up for that letdown when he rides the son of 1987 male turf champion Theatrical in Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Luis Rey Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on turf.

“He’s a nice horse and he’s been running good,” said Baze, who will move his tack to Arlington Park when the Santa Anita meet ends on April 18. “I think he’ll run a great race. I actually like him in the San Luis Rey a little better than I would have in the Santa Anita Handicap.” Baze has ridden High Court Drama twice, finishing second each time, in the Grade III, 1 1/16-miles Native Diver Handicap on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track Dec. 12, and again in the Grade II San Marcos Stakes run at 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita on Jan. 24.

“I’ve worked the horse once, and he’s doing phenomenal,” Baze said. “He lost to a couple of tough horses (Mast Track and Loup Breton, respectively). I keep in touch with (trainer) Doug O’Neill’s barn about how the horse is doing, and they just love him.”

Marathon distances are uncommon in the U.S., but Baze cites one strategy that could be beneficial. “It’s a little bit different from the norm, so you have to be more patient,” Baze said. “But my horse will appreciate the distance. He’s kind of steady in his running style.

“He doesn’t possess a big turn of foot, so going a mile and a half, they’ll have to catch him, instead of him having to catch them. He’s more of a grinder, so the more distance, the better it is for him. He’ll keep going at the same pace.”

High Court Drama has a 3-5-1 record from 13 starts, with earnings of $141,459 for owner Chris McHale of Essex, in the United Kingdom.

The field for the San Luis Rey, which is the eighth of 10 races: Dynamic Range, David Flores, 119, 6-1; High Court Drama, Michael Baze, 118, 3-1; Bourbon Bay, Rafael Bejarano, 120, 9-5; Obrigado, Garrett Gomez, 117, 12-1; Sudden War, Alex Solis, 118, 6-1; Lease of Life, Joel Rosario, 116, 8-1; Unusual Suspect, Alonso Quinonez, 117, 12-1; Romp, Chantal Sutherland, 115, 20-1; Quasicobra, Joe Talamo, 116, 30-1; and Unusual Smoke, Martin Garcia, 117, 12-1.


U R All That I Am makes her first start on grass in Saturday’s $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes for older fillies and mares bred in California at about 6 1/2 furlongs. Dan Ward is optimistic.

“She had a good work on the turf, and the timing of the race is perfect to set her up for the B Thoughtful at Hollywood,” said trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s assistant. “That race is April 24 and 7 1/2 (furlongs) on the main track, so if she likes the turf, good; if not, it sets her up for the next race.”

U R All That I Am has won six of her 12 starts, with two seconds and a third. She won the 7 1/2-furlong Cat’s Cradle Handicap for state breds at Hollywood last November. “It looks like she’ll run really well on the turf,” added Ward, who is pleased with the barn’s success this meet, despite Eclipse Award finalist Blind Luck’s third-place finish as the 1-2 favorite in the Santa Anita Oaks.

“We’re third in money won (with $946,912, behind Bob Baffert, $1,923,228, and John Sadler, $1,565,642), and that’s more than we made last year,” Ward pointed out, “and last year we didn’t win any stakes; we’ve won four this year, so we’re very happy.”

The field for the Irish O’Brien, which goes as the fourth race: Dotsy Jean, Joel Rosario, 7-2; Unzip Me, Rafael Bejarano, 7-2; A Jealous Woman, Joe Talamo, 9-5; U R All That I Am, Martin Garcia, 8-1; Lady Alex, Mike Smith, 8-1; and Bootleg Annie, Garrett Gomez, 3-1. Each carries 117 pounds except Bootleg Annie, who carries 119. Burna Dette was scratched.


HRTV will present comprehensive, on-site coverage of Saturday's Grade I, $750,000 Florida Derby, a major Kentucky Derby prep.

HRTV's Laffit Pincay III, Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, and Scott Hazelton will be in South Florida to offer current information surrounding the track's signature race, as well as providing insight and analysis throughout the outstanding card. HRTV’s Jeff Siegel is under the weather and did not make the trip to Florida to participate in the telecast. He will report his observations on HRTV’s “Pursuit of the Crown” show from California. Gulfstream's Caton Bredar and Alyssa Ali will also contribute to the telecast.

With the Florida Derby post time slated for 3:20 p.m., HRTV will devote a half-hour (3-3:30 p.m.) to in-depth coverage--analysis, post parade, and more--of the 1 1/8 mile test. The Florida Derby will be the 11th race on a 12-race card, with first post at 10:15 p.m.

"The Florida Derby has an outstanding tradition of producing winners of Triple Crown races," said Amy J. Zimmerman, HRTV's executive producer. "With Caton and Alyssa we've been able to provide HRTV viewers great coverage throughout Gulfstream's meet. It is a privilege to augment their coverage with our key announcers for this terrific day of racing."

The signature racing day of the Gulfstream winter meeting, the Florida Derby undercard features two additional Grade II events, the $150,000 Swale and the $200,000 Bonnie Miss, as well as a pair of Grade III contests, the $100,000 Appleton and the $150,000 Rampant.

HRTV's crew will remain in Hallandale the following day, hosting the network's twice-weekly "Pursuit of the Crown" Sunday at 5 p.m. "Pursuit of the Crown," which chronicles Triple Crown happenings, is produced by HRTV's senior producer, Michael Canale.


In a prelude to Saturday’s $1 million St. Pat’s Pitch presented by Budweiser following the seventh race, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and his wife, Jill, will join jockeys Rafael Bejarano, Victor Espinoza, Joel Rosario, Mike Smith, Alex Solis, Chantal Sutherland and Joe Talamo, who will participate in an exhibition horse shoe pitch following Saturday’s fourth race.

Santa Anita will donate $500 to the Jockeys’ Guild Disabled Riders’ Fund in the name of the contestant who gets “closest to the pin.”

The fun-filled event is a forerunner to the $1 million St. Pat’s Pitch. Five lucky fans will have an opportunity at Santa Anita tomorrow to win $1 million by throwing a ringer in a horse shoe pitch. On March 15, 2008, John Placzankis did just that.


FINISH LINES: Rebel Stakes winner Lookin At Lucky was back home on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface Friday after returning Thursday from Oaklawn Park. “He jogged today and we’re just keeping him happy,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “He’ll run next in either the Arkansas Derby or the Santa Anita Derby. I’ve ruled out the Wood.” . . . Jorge Periban said he will be the trainer of Santa Anita Derby candidate Who’s Up when the Generous Stakes winner arrives from Washington state shortly. . . Scoreboard: Four of the top five leading jockeys in purse earnings nationally are based at Santa Anita: Rafael Bejarano (first), Joel Rosario (third), Garrett Gomez (fourth) and Martin Garcia (fifth). . . Victor Espinoza, who won two races Thursday to climb within one of second-place Rosario (47-46), leaves Monday for Dubai where he rides The Usual Q.T. for Jim Cassidy in the $5 million Duty Free at 1 1/8 miles on turf March 27. Espinoza was second in the 2006 Duty Free aboard The Tin Man . . . Following his commitments in Dubai next weekend, agent Ron Anderson said Gomez will begin riding at Keeneland, then move on to Churchill Downs. “He’ll keep pretty much the same schedule as he has in the past,” Anderson said of Gomez, who is seeking his fifth consecutive national purse earnings title . . . Agent Ron Ebanks dismissed as “rumors” reports that Rosario will be leaving to ride at Keeneland when it opens April 2. “We’re not looking to leave Southern California except for major events. We’re looking for a (Kentucky) Derby horse,” said Ebanks, who added that Rosario has been booked to ride Thomas Baines for trainer Doug O’Neill in the Santa Anita Derby . . . San Carlos Handicap winner Bob Black Jack, prepping for the Grade II, $150,000 Potrero Grande Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs on April 3, worked five furlongs at Hollywood Friday in a bullet :59.60 for trainer James Kasparoff. Regular rider David Flores was aboard . . . Today’s second race is named for Rancheros Visitadores 42nd Annual Day at the Races. The group has been coming to the Great Race Place for 42 consecutive years . . . Three players were still alive in ShowVivor II entering Thursday’s races: Roland Frederick of Kaplan, La.; Orlando Arango of Los Angeles; and Mary Jo Lessell of La Grange, Ky. One selected Warren’s Moon, who was second in Thursday’s first race, and two picked Welken, winner in the seventh.