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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
LOOKIN AT LUCKY DRAWS POST POSITION SEVEN FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY
Lookin At Lucky drew post position seven Wednesday morning in a field of 10 for Saturday’s Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles, the West Coast’s major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby on May 1.
“It’s better than the 13,” Bob Baffert quipped when advised of the draw. The Hall of Fame trainer was making an obvious reference to the post position Lookin At Lucky had for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, in which the male 2-year-old champion of 2009 suffered his only defeat, losing by a head following an eventful trip.
“I just want to get a nice race out of this,” Baffert said before the draw. “It’s a good field and a lot will depend on the pace. That will be the key to the race. I never have to worry about losing the race. It’s about luck. If I keep the horse healthy, fit and happy, he carries me the rest of the way.”
Baffert has won the Santa Anita Derby five times, with Cavonnier in 1996; Indian Charlie in 1998; General Challenge in 1999; Horse of the Year Point Given in 2001; and Pioneerof the Nile last year. He has won the Run for the Roses three times, with Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998 and War Emblem in 2002.
Lookin At Lucky made his 3-year-old debut with a game head victory following a troubled trip in the 1 1/16-miles Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park March 13. Should the son of Smart Strike win the Santa Anita Derby, he would be the first 2-year-old champion to win the track’s marquee race for 3-year-olds since Affirmed in 1978. Lookin At Lucky galloped a mile and a half Wednesday on Santa Anita’s main track under Manny Avila.
In other Santa Anita Derby news:
Caracortado, winner of the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes, galloped a mile and a quarter on Santa Anita’s training track Wednesday under Amy Mullins, trainer Mike Machowsky said. San Vicente and San Felipe Stakes winner Sidney’s Candy galloped a mile and a half Wednesday on Santa Anita’s main track under Ricardo Peniche. “Uneventful” is how trainer John Sadler described the move.
Skipshot galloped a mile and a half and stood in the gate before walking through the paddock, according to Dan Ward, assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Marco Ramirez was on for the gallop.
The M Racing duo of Who’s Up and Cardiff Giant continued their final preparations under trainer Mike Puhich. “Who’s Up galloped a mile and three quarters and Cardiff Giant just jogged a mile,” Puhich said. “Andy Hernandez was aboard both horses. Cardiff Giant is pretty fit. Who’s Up just went awesome. I’m getting real excited about the way he’s going into the race.”
Posse Power galloped a mile and a half under John Ferzacka for trainer Frank Lucarelli. “He’s doing good,” Lucarelli said of the bay colt who was third in the Grade III El Camino Real Derby. Setsuko walked Wednesday after working four furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Tuesday in a bullet :46.40 under regular rider Rafael Bejarano. “The clockers got a fast time,” Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella said. “I didn’t get that. I think we might have been looking at a different horse. He worked real nice. We’ll just gallop into the race.”
Sham Stakes winner Alphie’s Bet walked today at his Hollywood Park headquarters after galloping two miles Tuesday under Andy Durnin. Trainer Alexis Barba plans to bring the California-bred son of Tribal Rule to Santa Anita on Friday.
Thomas Baines galloped a mile and a quarter at his Hollywood Park base under Tony Romero and will gallop into the race, trainer Doug O’Neill said. O’Neill entered Stephen’s Got Hope in Saturday’s Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Race Course. Julio Garcia rides the son of Stephen Got Even.
The field for the 73rd Santa Anita Derby, which is the sixth race on an 11-race program: Posse Power, Leslie Mawing, 50-1; Thomas Baines, Joel Rosario, 50-1; Who’s Up, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; Sidney’s Candy, Joe Talamo, 3-1; Setsuko, Rafael Bejarano, 20-1; Caracortado, Paul Atkinson, 5-1; Lookin At Lucky, Garrett Gomez, 4-5; Cardiff Giant, Christian Santiago Reyes, 30-1; Skipshot, Frank Alvarado, 15-1; and Alphie’s Bet, Alex Solis, 8-1. Each carries 122 pounds.
All fans in attendance at Santa Anita Saturday will receive a free, high-quality casual shirt with paid admission, while supplies last. There will also be a $500,000 guaranteed Pick 4. First post time is 12 noon. Gates open at 10 a.m.
EATON’S GIFT GAINS RESPECT FROM MITCHELL FOR POTRERO GRANDE
Mike Mitchell had reservations about Eaton’s Gift’s loss in the Palos Verdes Handicap, until the running of the Golden Shaheen in Dubai last Saturday. The winner of the $2 million race at six furlongs on Meydan’s straightaway Tapeta course was Kinsale King, the same horse who won the Grade II Palos Verdes, in which Eaton’s Gift faded to seventh after leading into the stretch. It was the first race for the 5-year-old Johannesburg horse in five months.
"I think he needed that last race,” Mitchell said, “and I have a lot more respect for the horse that he hooked, because he just won the Dubai race. I didn’t know how good Kinsale King was, but he beat me with Delta Storm (a Mitchell trainee who was second, beaten a neck by Kinsale King in the Grade III Vernon O. Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park last Dec. 6), and Delta Storm is an old warrior.
“I thought I was going to beat him in the Palos Verdes with Eaton’s Gift, but now I have a little more respect for Carl’s horse,” referring to Carl O’Callaghan, the effusive trainer of Kinsale King. “He’s a pretty nice horse. He’s done just about everything you can do.”
Meanwhile, it’s been another solid meet for Mitchell, who turns 62 on April 25. Through Sunday, he had won 20 races, three of them stakes.
“I’ve had a great meet,” said Mitchell, who recently shed more than 25 pounds through a procedure to normalize his blood pressure and alleviate sleep apnea. “It wasn’t a lap band,” Mitchell explained. “My procedure was called a ‘sleeve.’ They just kind of suture down two-thirds of your stomach. My blood pressure was out of whack, and sleep-apnea was the main problem. I was waking myself up all the time.
“My wife (Denise) tape-recorded me snoring and played it back to me. I couldn’t believe how loud it was.”
The field for the Potrero Grande: Eaton’s Gift, Tyler Baze, 119; Rush With Thunder, Omar Berrio, 117; E Z’s Gentleman, Joel Rosario, 116; Sangaree, Joe Talamo, 119; Off Kilter, Frank Alvarado, 114; Ventana, Garrett Gomez, 120; Gallant Son, Mike Smith, 118; Gato Go Win, Rafael Bejarano, 117; and Kanan Dume, Alonso Quinonez, 112.
SANTA ANITA BUSTLING WITH FILMING OF HBO PILOT ‘LUCK’
Santa Anita is a beehive of activity with the filming of the HBO pilot, “Luck,” in which two-time Academy Award-winning actor Dustin Hoffman is playing a lead role. Hoffman will portray a paroled ex-con in the David Milch-produced pilot which is directed by the internationally renowned Michael Mann.
“Today, the shooting was concentrated in the Paddock Room with actor John Ortiz, whose character is loosely-based on trainer Julio Canani,” said Santa Anita’s Director of Community Services & Special projects Pete Siberell, who is coordinating the event. “This afternoon, we’ll move to the grandstand to film some racing aficionados.”
“Luck” is being written by producer David Milch, who is a two-time Breeders’ Cup-winning Thoroughbred owner and whose credits include “Hill Street Blues,” “NYPD Blue” and “Deadwood.” In addition to Hofmann and Ortiz, other A-list actors featured include Nick Nolte and Dennis Farina. The series will be centered on the world of horseracing and will develop story lines relating to those involved in the industry.
Mann, whose directing credits include blockbuster hits “The Last of the Mohicans,” “Collateral,” “Miami Vice,” “The Insider” and “Ali,” is familiar with Santa Anita, as one of his latest films, “Public Enemies,” was shot at Santa Anita.
Ortiz, who has starred in “American Gangster” and “Public Enemies,” will play the part of a trainer based in part on Canani, who won the 1989 Santa Anita Handicap with 50-1 shot Martial Law.
Production on “Luck” began Monday and will continue through April. Of the 24 days allocated to shooting the pilot, 19 are scheduled to be shot at Santa Anita.
HBO has not announced an air date for the pilot, but it is expected that it will be ready to air in early 2011. Should HBO make a decision to proceed with “Luck” as an episodic series, shooting for multiple season-one episodes would begin at Santa Anita sometime next year.
FINISH LINES: Agent Craig O’Bryan reports that David Flores will be at Hawthorne Race Course Saturday to ride American Lion for trainer Eoin Harty in the Grade II, $500,000 Illinois Derby at 1 1/8 . . . Vince DeGregory, agent for jockey Alonso Quinonez, will be Jerry Antonucci’s guest Saturday at the Today’s Racing Digest seminar, 10:30 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens.