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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• ROSARIO IN SYNC ABOARD HARMONIOUS
• MANDELLA HAS PAIR ENTERED IN STAKES FOR LATE FRIEND EDDIE LOGAN
• VETERAN AWESOME GEM EYES RETURN TO THE RACES
ROSARIO BACK IN RHYTHM ON HARMONIOUS FOR FRANKEL STAKES
If Harmonious wins Saturday’s inaugural Robert J. Frankel Stakes, it would give jockey Joel Rosario his fourth graded stakes win of the young Santa Anita meet. The native of the Dominican Republic, who turns 26 on Jan. 14, expects dramatic improvement over the 4-year-old filly’s 10th-place finish in her last start, the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Churchill Downs Nov. 5.
“Turning for home, I didn’t have much horse left,” Rosario said in explaining the disappointing Breeders’ Cup race. Rosario had ridden Harmonious to a 4 ¼ length victory in the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Oct. 16 prior to the Breeders’ Cup.
“It didn’t seem like she liked the grass very much in the Breeders’ Cup,” Rosario continued. “I got bumped by a horse outside of me, and my filly sort of lost control after that. But she has a really good chance on Saturday.”
Meanwhile, Rosario is taking his early success this meet in stride. “You have to work hard every day,” Rosario said. “That’s the only way to do it.”
In reaction to Rosario’s fast start at the meet, his free spirited agent, Ron Ebanks, has been regaling early morning attendees at Clockers’ Corner with a traditional Christmas Carol—with a slight twist—“Joel, Joel, Joel, Joel, long live the king of Turfdom…”
The field for the Frankel, which goes as the third race on a nine-race program: Go Forth North, David Flores, 118; Powerofvoodoo, Edwin Maldonado-Alicea, 118; Éclair de Lune, Rafael Bejarano, 123; Spring Style, Garrett Gomez, 118; and Harmonious, Joel Rosario, 123.
Éclair de Lune worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s turf course Thursday in :50.80 (dogs up) for Ron McAnally.
MANDELLA ENTERS PAIR FOR LATE FRIEND IN EDDIE LOGAN STAKES
Eddie Logan had no greater fan than Richard Mandella. Like countless others, the Hall of Fame trainer was enamored by the Santa Anita icon’s tales of the turf, and life in general, and thus was a frequent visitor to Logan’s shoe shine stand outside the racing office where Logan held forth from the day Santa Anita opened on Christmas Day, 1934, until his death at the age of 98 on Jan. 31, 2009.
It is appropriate that Mandella has two horses entered in Friday’s $75,000 Eddie Logan Stakes for 2-year-olds at one mile on turf, Robie the Cat and Ten Devils, for Jerry Ford’s Diamond A Racing Corporation.
“Eddie was one of my favorites and we were real good friends, one of my favorite friends, in fact,” Mandella said Thursday morning, “but this is the first time I’ve gotten to run in the race. Friendship aside, it’s business and I’m there to run. They’re two colts that broke their maidens very nice and I’m kind of anxious to see how they stack up in there.”
One of Mandella’s most memorable experiences with the sometimes cantankerous Logan goes like this: “I pissed him off good one day about 25 years ago when I didn’t know him all that well,” Mandella recalled. “Shoemaker had been on the stand before me, and Eddie gave him some kind of shoe shine, let me tell you.
“So I got up after him and I said, ‘Give me the same kind of shine you just gave Shoemaker.’ And Eddie got all pissed off. ‘Goddam it, I give everybody the same kinda shine. I don’t play favorites. What are you talkin’ ‘bout? I’m the footman…’
“He just went on and on. He was talking to himself. I said, ‘Just try and do as good a job for me as you did for Shoemaker,’ and it offended him.
“But he was a beautiful man. Every time I walk past the racing office I expect to see him. Racing at Santa Anita is not the same without him here.”
MULTI-MILLIONAIRE AWESOME GEM DUE BACK NEXT WEEK
Old warhorse Awesome Gem turns 8 on Jan. 1. Owners West Point Thoroughbreds and trainer Craig Dollase hope to have the earner of more than $2 million back to the races in 2011.
“I was just with him Tuesday at the farm,” said former jockey Jeff Bloom, vice president of West Coast operations for the ownership group. “He’s coming back in next week. He was at John Amerman’s Peacefield Farm in Temecula and last ran in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon in November. We gave him some R&R and now we plan to gear him up for another campaign.”
Awesome Gem, a Kentucky-bred Awesome Again gelding, has a career record of 7-13-4 from 39 starts, with earnings of $2,279,682. The multiple graded stakes winner captured the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup earlier this year on July 10.
“We were having a blast with him at the farm, because he deserves all the care and attention he can get,” Bloom said. “We cut up apples for him, gave him carrot treats, you name it. Hopefully, we can find a race for him at Santa Anita on the dirt.”
FINISH LINES: Belated Happy Birthday wishes to legendary Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay Jr., who celebrated his 64th lap with his son, Laffit III, on HRTV yesterday . . . Evening Jewel, prepping for Sunday’s Monrovia Stakes, blew out three furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Thursday in :35.40 for trainer Jim Cassidy, who said The Usual Q.T., third in the San Gabriel Stakes on Monday, is a candidate for the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita on Jan. 29 . . . Edwin Maldonado is fulfilling a life-long dream by riding at Santa Anita. The 28-year-old native of Puerto Rico has caught the eye of astute race trackers with his style and ability. “I always wanted to ride at Santa Anita,” Maldonado said after winning Wednesday’s third race on Bar Rock Omama for trainer Jeff Mullins. “But it’s tough to get here. I just got lucky. (Jockey) Felipe Valdez called me one Sunday and invited me to ride at Pomona where he was riding. The Evangeline meet where I had been riding had closed, so I came to Fairplex. I got off to a good start, winning some races, and made the move here.” Maldonado is represented by R.C. Ebanks, son of agent Ron Ebanks . . . The story behind the name of the 3-year-old filly Bar Rock Omama that won Wednesday’s third race by 4 ¾ lengths goes something like this: “We worked Biden My Time and Bar Rock Omama together,” said the filly’s owner, Mark Tatch of Bonsal. “But I’m a professional gambler and I went all in on Barack Obama to win the election. My barn hates the name, but at least we’ve still got a Dow-Jones.” . . . Bob Baffert had no late word Wednesday on The Factor’s next race. When asked where the 2-year-old Kentucky Derby hopeful that set a track record of 1:06.98 for six furlongs on opening day would run next, Baffert said, “I don’t know. We haven’t gotten the bugs off his teeth yet.”