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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
PLETCHER HAS READY’S ECHO SET FOR SATURDAY’S SAN PASQUAL
Ready’s Echo missed a 24-1 upset by less than a length when finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita last Nov. 7. On Saturday, the 5-year-old son of More Than Ready trained by Todd Pletcher tries Santa Anita’s synthetic Pro-Ride again in the Grade II $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap at 1 1/16 miles, a major prep for the Grade I $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 6.
Calvin Borel, who rode Ready’s Echo in the Dirt Mile and who registered a 50-1 shocker aboard Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby, retains the mount. Borel also is the regular rider of the fabulous filly and Horse of the Year contender Rachel Alexandra.
“The horse has trained well here at Santa Anita,” said Mike (Whitey) McCarthy, who directs Pletcher’s operation in Southern California. “The spacing is perfect from the Breeders’ Cup to this race. We hope it leads to a nice winter here.”
Ready’s Echo, who had raced exclusively on the East Coast prior to the Dirt Mile, has a 2-5-4 record from 14 starts with earnings of $517,988. In four starts on synthetics, he has one win and three seconds.
Probable for the San Pasqual: Dakota Phone, no rider; Furthest Land, Garrett Gomez; Neko Bay, Mike Smith; Nownownow, Joe Talamo; and Ready’s Echo, Calvin Borel.
BLIND LUCK DRILLS FOR GRADE I LAS VIRGENES ON FEB. 6
Team Hollendorfer worked 15 horses on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride Sunday morning, including multiple Grade I stakes winner Blind Luck, who was third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and is a leading contender for an Eclipse Award in that category. The finalists will be announced Wednesday.
Under jockey Rafael Bejarano, Blind Luck worked a half mile in :50 seconds at 6:20 a.m. as she prepares for her 3-year-old debut in the Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes at one mile on Feb. 6.
“She was really, really good the last quarter,” said Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward. Other prominent Hollendorfer workers included San Fernando Stakes candidate Rendezvous, who went seven furlongs under Bejarano in 1:26.80; She’s Funomenal, pointing to the Grade II $150,000 Santa Ynez Stakes at seven furlongs on Jan. 16, who went four furlongs in :49:80 under Joel Rosario; and Chocolate Candy, who went five furlongs in a minute flat with Bejarano aboard. “Rendezvous really finished good,” Ward said.
Dakota Phone, prepping for Saturday’s San Pasqual Handicap, worked seven furlongs in 1:28.80.
GARCIA MAKING MOST OF OPPORTUNITY WITH BAFFERT
Martin Garcia had 29 mounts through the first seven days of the meet, winning with five. All five were trained by Bob Baffert, who has given the 25-year-old Garcia a genuine opportunity aboard his blueblood stock, and the native of Veracruz, Mexico is making the most of it.
“He needs some polishing,” Baffert said of the hard-working Garcia, who achieved a remarkable feat by deadlocking on the final day of the 2006 Bay Meadows riding title with perennial Bay Area kingpin and Hall of Fame member Russell Baze. Each rode 47 winners.
“He’s a good little athlete,” Baffert said of Garcia. “He’s been working most of the horses he rides for me and he knows them well. He’s a good, strong finisher, and the better horses these guys ride, the better they get. It sharpens them up.
“Martin understands that he’s not going to ride all my good ones all the time. Garrett’s (Gomez) going to get his share, but Martin knows that, and at least he’s making money and working horses. But I wouldn’t use him unless I thought he was capable and could do the job, and so far, he’s doing it. The fact that he unseated Russell Baze up there one meet says a lot. “
FINISH LINES: Rafael Bejarano, Garrett Gomez and Victor Espinoza were tied for the riding lead with seven wins each through seven days. Joel Rosario and Martin Garcia were deadlocked for second with five each . . . Probable for Saturday’s $65,000 Paseana Handicap for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles: Floating Heart, Joe Talamo; My Baby Baby, Gomez; Silver Swallow, Mike Smith; and St Trinians, Rosario. St Trinians, an English-bred mare trained by Mike Mitchell, is undefeated in her two U.S. starts, winning by a combined margin of 11 lengths . . . Spurrier, being considered for the Grade III $100,000 San Rafael Stakes at one mile on Jan. 16 by Bob Baffert, worked five furlongs on Pro-Ride Sunday under Gomez in 1:02.20. Spurrier worked in company with American Story, who was clocked in 1:02.40 . . . Connie and Michael, working for next Sunday’s Grade III $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes, went five furlongs for trainer Ken McPeek in :59.60 . . . Next Friday, Jan. 8, is the first Free Friday at Santa Anita this meet. General Admission is free, as are box seats, while supplies last. Hot dogs, beers, sodas, popcorn and coffee are only $1 . . . Santa Anita will have special holiday racing on Monday, Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. All THOROUGHBREDS members will receive a free Santa Anita collectible ice bucket with paid admission, while supplies last. First post time will be 12:30 p.m. . . . Entering Sunday’s races, there were 1,185 alive in ShowVivor and 993 in WinVivor.