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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• BLIND LUCK WORKS FOR RETURN IN EL ENCINO STAKES
• ASMUSSEN BREAKS HIS MAIDEN AT SANTA ANITA
• GOMEZ REFLECTS ON CONQUEST OF ZENYATTA
BLIND LUCK DRILLS, WILL MAKE 4-YEAR-OLD DEBUT IN JAN. 16 EL ENCINO
Blind Luck, favored to win an Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding 3-year-old filly of 2010, worked six furlongs on Santa Anita’s traditional dirt main track Saturday in 1:11.80 as she prepares for her 4-year-old debut in the Grade II El Encino Stakes on Jan. 16.
“Fantastic” is how Jerry Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward termed the drill. “She’s all cranked up and ready to go. She’ll have at least one more breeze before the race.”
Asked if the multiple Grade I stakes winner has had any physical changes as she turns four today, Ward said, “She’s the same. She looks like a 3-year-old filly champion.”
Blind Luck’s workout was one of 216 recorded at Santa Anita Saturday, including Spurrier’s for Bob Baffert. The gray son of Dixieland Band owned by Arnold Zetcher is ticketed for next Saturday’s Grade II San Pasqual Stakes, which also is expected to attract Dakota Phone and Aggie Engineer.
ASMUSSEN BARN CELEBRATES FIRST-EVER WIN AT SANTA ANITA
The Steve Asmussen barn was enjoying its first victory ever at Santa Anita as the New Year dawned Saturday. With 504 wins entering 2010’s final day and winner of the Eclipse Award for trainers the past two years, Asmussen won the $75,000 Eddie Logan Stakes with Silver Medallion, who was saddled by top Asmussen aide Steve Blasi.
“We haven’t run that many horses here,” Blasi said. “I think the first one we ran was Valid Appeal in the 1996 Malibu (the horse finished eighth in a field of nine). The Logan wasn’t a big race as far as money is concerned, but if it’s a win, we’re happy. A win is a win.”
Tapizar, one of Asmussen’s top Triple Crown prospects, worked six furlongs at Santa Anita Friday in 1:13.40. “I’m impressed with the direction he’s going,” Blasi said. “As long as he continues to improve, we’re going to point to the Sham Stakes (Jan. 15).”
Blasi had no word on where the stakes-winning Astrology would surface. “He’s got a little more seasoning (than Tapizar),” Blasi said, “so it shouldn’t take as long to get him ready.”
Astrology, a son of A.P. Indy, won the Grade III Iroquois at Churchill Downs last Oct. 31 before finishing second by a half-length in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes Nov. 27. He has had five races. Tapizar, a son of Tapit, broke his maiden by 10 ½ lengths at Churchill Nov. 17 in his fourth start.
GOMEZ TAKES NO BLAME IN DEFEATING ZENYATTA
A hero in some eyes, a villain in others. But Garrett Gomez was merely doing his job, and that was winning.
Riding Blame to conquer Zenyatta wasn’t just another day at the races, however. It made history, because the then 6-year-old mare’s head loss to Blame in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6 was the first of her career after 19 straight pulsating victories.
Gomez was ambivalent about the landmark event. “We’re expected to go out there and do exactly what we did,” said Gomez, who celebrates his 39th birthday today.
“I’m glad I’ll go down as the only one to ever beat Zenyatta,” Gomez said. “It was fun. On the other hand, you hate to see her lose. But if she did, I’m glad I was able to accomplish it. After all, it’s the Breeders’ Cup Classic, a $5 million race.”
As to whether Blame or Zenyatta deserves to be Horse of the Year, which will be announced Jan. 17, Gomez leaned towards impartiality. “I try to stay in the middle,” he said, “but if you just go by statistics, you would think Blame would be Horse of the Year. He won in open company, against older horses and three Grade I’s against the best horses.”
“Zenyatta won (five) Grade I’s, but they were against fillies and mares, and when Zenyatta and Blame competed against each other, he beat her. But they don’t give me a vote, so what I think doesn’t really matter.”
FINISH LINES: Jockey Omar Berrio was doing well in Arcadia Methodist Hospital after suffering an apparent stroke following Thursday’s races. “I visited him twice yesterday,” said trainer A.C. Avila, Berrio’s friend who gives the 42-year-old Panamanian first call on his horses. “He had his first MRI Thursday night, with more scheduled. He has responded well to medication but has to be evaluated again. He’s moving his (left) arm and it looks like he’s going to be OK.” . . . Bob Baffert has three of the eight nominations to the Grade III, $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes a week from Sunday, but as of Saturday, planned to run only May Day Rose. Of the 10 fillies and mares nominated to next Friday’s $75,000 Kalookan Queen Handicap, six are trained by Baffert . . . Syndicated handicapper Bob Ike and HRTV’s Aaron Vercruysse will be Jack Disney’s guests on Sunday’s Fans’ Forum, 11:15 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Mel Stute was back at his regular table Friday at Clockers’ Corner after a nightmarish 10-day trip to Ireland where he visited family in Cork. “I was stuck at airports in New York for three days,” said the 83-year-old trainer, who returned to California on Wednesday. “It was terrible. Nothing could move because of the snow and they ran out of food at the airport.” Sounds like Mel and his fellow travelers could have used another “Snow Chief.”