The Pamplemousse, Pioneerof the Nile and Chocolate Candy—the three morning line choices—dominated selections made by local horsemen in an informal backstretch poll on Saturday’s Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, which drew a field of 10 going a mile and an eighth.

Retired Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, now an analyst for HRTV and NBC-TV, who won the Santa Anita Derby a record nine times: “It’s a good race. Some people think The Pamplemousse has a bad post (No. 10). I think he’s got a great draw on the outside. With the speed horse, Z Day, on the inside (No. 2), The Pamplemousse can sit off him. If Z Day goes crazy, The Pamplemousse can kind of control the race. I think he’s ratable.

“Chocolate Candy drew great in the one hole. He can save ground, and he’s going to have to find the gaps, but he’s got good acceleration.

“Pioneerof the Nile, it doesn’t look like he’s got any holes in him. He can sit wherever he needs to. He’s drawn good in the four hole and Garrett (Gomez) can pretty much do what he wants.

“Eoin Harty’s on fire right now (winning the $6 million Dubai World Cup last Saturday). It wouldn’t take much for Mr. Hot Stuff to turn the tables, so it’s a wide open race. Tactically, Garret and Alex (Solis, rider of The Pamplemousse) may think they’re in a match race and it may set things up for Chocolate Candy.”

So, who would Stevens ride, going for Santa Anita Derby No. 10? “I’d flip a coin between Chocolate Candy and Pioneerof the Nile.”

Barry Abrams: “I love The Pamplemousse.”

Rafael Becerra: “Chocolate Candy. I think he’ll come from off the pace.”

David Bernstein: “I like The Pamplemousse on a speed-favoring track like this at a mile and an eighth. I like Pioneerof the Nile and Chocolate Candy for the trifecta.”
Patrick Biancone: “Pioneerof the Nile, because I think he’s the one who’s worked the best. He’s a good horse, and all he does is win.”

Jack Carava: “Chocolate Candy looked good the other day. I definitely like the way he worked.”

Jim Cassidy: “It’s a tough race, but I kind of like Chocolate Candy.”

Ron Ellis: “I wasn’t impressed with Pioneerof the Nile the other day. The Pamplemousse just keeps surprising me. I didn’t think he’d ever be able to go a mile and an eighth (winning the Sham Stakes by six lengths), being by Kafwain. I haven’t really looked at the race, but it should be interesting.”

Carla Gaines: “I like The Pamplemousse. I just like the horse.”

Greg Gilchrist: “It looks pretty wide open. I’ve heard stories that The Pamplemousse is not doing well; I don’t know. That’s just a story I heard. I think you’d have to like Pioneerof the Nile.”

Peter Eurton: “I love Pamplemousse. He’s my favorite. He’s everybody’s favorite, isn’t he? I think the post position is great for him. If anybody wants to go with him, they’re going to have to do it on the inside. You couldn’t have asked for any better post going a mile and an eighth.”

Dan Hendricks: “There should be hot fractions with The Pamplemousse out on the lead. It sets up good for Pioneerof the Nile. It could go one-two like that.”

David Hofmans: “Chocolate Candy. I like the way he’s been running, training, and I think there’s going to be a little heat in there to set it up for him.”

Mike Machowsky: “Pioneerof the Nile is the horse to beat. I haven’t been impressed with the way The Pamplemousse has been training, and Chocolate Candy is kind of unproven running against these type of horses.”

Mark Molina: “I’m rooting for Eoin (Harty, Mr. Hot Stuff). I’ve watched him gallop out after his race. I think he’s a bit immature, but if he gets the right pace, he’ll make a big run.”

Frank Monteleone: “I want The Pamplemousse to win, but I think because of the ‘rabbit,’ (Z Day), that Pioneerof the Nile’s got a better chance.”

Steve Knapp: “Pioneerof the Nile. He hasn’t done anything wrong. Each race, he seems to get a little better. I think he’s going to win the race.”

Eric Kruljac: “It looks like an exciting race with those three. It’s hard to draw any conclusive opinion. They all have an equal chance. You’ve got to like Chocolate Candy for a lot of reasons.”

Gary Mandella: “Chocolate Candy. He’s done well here and he might get the jump on Bob’s horse (Pioneerof the Nile) and that might be the difference.”

Richard Mandella: “I don’t know which of the three would be better. They all have a pretty good shot, I’d say. It makes for an interesting race.”

Ron McAnally: “Chocolate Candy. His sire (Candy Ride) is a horse we trained for the Craigs, and they’ve always been first-class owners. But I would be OK if The Pamplemousse or Pioneerof the Nile won, too.

Sean McCarthy: “Pioneerof the Nile, and I’ll box my trifecta with him, Chocolate Candy and Mr. Hot Stuff. Mr. Hot Stuff is the closer, and he’s my sentimental pick."

Dennis O’Neill, brother and associate of trainer Doug O’Neill: “Pioneerof the Nile.

There’s a lot of speed in there, and I think he’s going to get a perfect trip. Bob’s (Baffert) always got him cranked up for the race before the (Kentucky) Derby, so I’m going with Bob’s horse.”

Hector Palma: “The Pamplemousse. He’s training well and he looks stronger every day. He’s done everything right, so far. He’s the horse to beat.”

Jorge Periban: “Pioneerof the Nile. I like the way he’s been training. He looks 100 percent to me when I see him in the mornings.”

Jay Robbins: “Mr. Hot Stuff (laughing at the obvious response).” Robbins trained the colt’s sire, 2000 Horse of the Year Tiznow.

Cliff Sise Jr.: “Julio’s horse (The Pamplemousse) looked good. It will be a good day of racing. I think if they (Z Day and The Pamplemousse) had flip-flopped post positions it would be a disadvantage for The Pamplemousse, but with him on the outside, I think he can rate. He can sit second, and he might have to. But I’m rooting for Chocolate Candy.”

Mel Stute: “Chocolate Candy could be the horse, if you’re looking for a price.”

Eddie Truman: “I watched all three work Tuesday. They all looked good. You’ve got to like The Pamplemousse, but Chocolate Candy could be the surprise. He sure looks like he’s coming up to it perfect. They’ll definitely know what they have after this.”

Danny Velazquez: “Mr. Hot Stuff. I like Eoin, but who knows? You never know how it’s going to turn out. There might be a little pressure on The Pamplemousse, but if he gets an easy lead, he’s going to be tough to catch.”

Tim Yakteen: “I think Bob’s horse (Pioneerof the Nile) is an ideal candidate for the race. He’s shown that he relaxes, you can place him wherever you need to. I think he’s coming into the race great. He had a nice prep race (winning the San Felipe Stakes). He would be my choice.”

The field for the 72nd Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles on Pro-Ride, which goes as race six with a scheduled 2:45 p.m. post time: Chocolate Candy, Joel Rosario, 6-1; Z Day, Aaron Gryder, 15-1; Unbridled Roman, Tyler Baze, 30-1; Pioneerof the Nile, Garrett Gomez, 2-1; Mr. Hot Stuff, Corey Nakatani, 8-1; Feisty Suances, Victor Espinoza, 15-1; Take the Points, Christopher DeCarlo, 10-1; Cape Truth, Michael Baze, 30-1; Gallant Son, Rafael Bejarano, 15-1; and The Pamplemousse, Alex Solis, 9-5.

NBC will televise the race from 2 to 3 p.m.

In other Santa Anita Derby news:

Kenny Rice is among the knowledgeable talent on hand for NBC’s telecast Saturday. He is looking forward to the race with great anticipation. “The 3-year-olds are always exciting this time of year,” Rice said. “Each region wants to see which horse is best. In Florida last week, I think a bar was set in the Florida Derby (won by Quality Road over Dunkirk at Gulfstream Park). But I think if The Pamplemousse or Pioneerof the Nile wins the Santa Anita Derby, and depending on how (impressively) they win it, you could have the Kentucky Derby favorite coming out of this race. At least it will make for a good debate, and that’s what always makes it exciting.”

Frank Lucarelli, who saddles Pasadena Stakes winner Gallant Son, was an outstanding baseball player before turning to training. The 52-year-old native of New York who was raised in Washington, pitched a perfect game for Western Washington University against Eastern Washington in 1977, and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Dan Ward, 50-year-old assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer, is quietly confident Chocolate Candy will give a good account of himself. “He’s coming into this as good as a horse can come up to a race,” Ward said. “No excuses. Perfect. There was plenty of space since his last race (Feb. 14). He’s fit, confident, improving and not over-trained. Everything is just perfect. Sometimes, when you have a long time between races, there’s a setback, but everything’s going as good as it could.”
Feisty Suances is 15-1 on the morning line, but 43-year-old Tim Cohen says the colt owned by his father, Jed, and trained by Darrell Vienna, has a longshot’s chance. “We feel he actually belongs here,” said Tim, who manages Rancho Temescal in Piru for his father. Suances, sire of Feisty Suances, stands there for $2,500. “We’re pretty confident in what Feisty Suances is going to do, and we know he’s going to give an honest run.

“He deserves to be here, there’s no doubt about that. He’s a nice colt of the first crop by Suances. Time will tell, but we’re very excited.”

First post time for the 11-race program Saturday is 12 noon.

In deference to its annual Santa Anita Derby 5K Walk and Run, Santa Anita Park and the city of Arcadia have announced that Baldwin Ave., from the 210 Freeway to Huntington Drive, will be closed to vehicular traffic from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. this Saturday.

Accordingly, Santa Anita’s Gate Eight, which adjoins the Westfield Shopping Mall on Baldwin Ave., will also be closed to vehicles during the same time period.

Those wishing to visit Santa Anita’s popular Clockers’ Corner at the top of the stretch will be able to enter on Santa Anita’s east end, through parking lot Gate Five. Gate Five will be open to Clockers’ Corner beginning at 5 a.m. and will remain open throughout the day. Gate Five is located on the east end of the racetrack, at the confluence of Colorado Place and Huntington Drive.

For additional information on the Santa Anita Derby and on the Santa Anita Derby 5K Walk and Run, fans are encouraged to visit, or call (626) 574-7223.


With defending champions Scott Chaney and Crystal Starr returning for the Santa Anita Derby Day 5K Run & Walk on Saturday, there were short fields in the Santa Anita Employee division.

Last year, California Horse Racing Board official Chaney ran a speedy 18:15 for the 3.1 miles, ahead of Robert Stone of Mutuels. Albert Fernandez (Mutuels), who finished sixth among employees last year, has a chance to fare well again this year, and based on last year’s time of 24:15, Rene Henriquez, assistant Gate Starter, should get a good jump on the rest of the field. Two wild cards in the male division are Francisco Solis of the Receiving Barn and Martin Tennison of Security. Neither ran last year.

Among women, last year’s top three finishers, Crystal, Christine Beer of Receiving Barn and Sandy Hoar of Hospitality, came across the wire within 2 ½ minutes of each other. Marta Aleman, also from the Receiving Barn, may give Christine a run for her money.

The Morning Line for the Santa Anita Derby Day 5K


Scott Chaney Stewards 2-5

Albert Fernandez Mutuels 4-1

Rene Henriquez Starting Gate 8-1

Jerry Gutierrez Physical Plant 10-1

Martin Tennison Security 12-1

Francisco Solis Receiving Barn 15-1

Thomas Brucks Mutuels 30-1

Howard Abrams Group Events 50-1

Birley Harper Mutuels 99-1


Crystal Starr Operations 2-1

Christine Beer Receiving Barn 4-1

Sandy Hoar Hospitality 6-1

Marta Aleman Receiving Barn 10-1

Kati Morris Mutuels 15-1


High Resolve goes for her eighth victory from 11 starts when she runs in Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Las Flores Handicap for older fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs. The fleet Florida-bred daughter of Put It Back hasn’t raced since Jan. 24, when she won the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint at Gulfstream Park.

“She hasn’t done much since,” said Greg Gilchrist, who trains the 4-year-old gray filly for the Estate of Harry Aleo. “We kind of freshened her up and looked for a place to run. We were going to go to the Distaff a couple of weeks ago (March 21) at Aqueduct, but I don’t think she’s Breeders’ Cup-eligible, so it reduced that purse. The Las Flores was just as much, and pretty close to home.”

The field for the 57th Las Flores: High Resolve, Russell Baze, 118; Sweet August Moon, Aaron Gryder, 118; Petite Cherie, Rafael Bejarano, 114; Ashley’s Kitty, Michael Baze, 115; Foxy Danseur, Joel Rosario, 118; Coco Belle, Mike Smith, 118; and Starry Pursuit, Joe Talamo, 115.


Fans coming to Santa Anita on the meet’s final three Sundays—April 5, 12 and 19—could have their mortgage or rent paid for the month of May (up to $3,500).

Interested fans should enter the Santa Anita Stimulus drawing at any admission gate. One name will be selected each Sunday immediately following the sixth race. Sponsored by Westside Rentals, the winner’s mortgage or rent for the month of May, up to $3,500.

FINISH LINES: Joe Talamo takes the redeye at midnight tonight for New York where he rides favored I Want Revenge from the No. 1 post position in Saturday’s Wood Memorial, a race the 19-year-old rider hopes will lead to his first Kentucky Derby on May 2. “I wasn’t distressed at all that he got the rail,” Talamo said. “I think it will be good for him. It looks like there are two or three speed horses outside of him. People think he’s a speed horse, but he’s so versatile. If they go fast, he can be anywhere from five to 10 (lengths) back on a loose rein. We’re just looking for a good race for him. I think he’ll get a little dirt in his face, relax pretty well, and we’ll get him home.” . . . Aaron Gryder, racing’s “Six Million Dollar Man,” has been inundated by well-wishers since guiding Well Armed to a record 14-length victory in last Saturday’s $6 million Dubai World Cup. “Everywhere I go, there hasn’t been a person who hasn’t stopped me to offer congratulations,” the popular 38-year-old jockey said Friday morning at Clockers’ Corner. “That makes it fun. I haven’t thought much about the earnings (he leads the nation in purse earnings with more than $4.3 million). I haven’t received the money yet, but I’m just happy that we won a race that the eyes of the world were on. It’s amazing. I get messages from Japan and Hong Kong, France and throughout Europe. That’s what makes it fun. It’s a race that everybody watches, and you represent America when you go over there. It’s fun to come back and see how many people are happy for me.” . . . Mel Stute was as surprised as the next guy to see Kitty in the Bag go off as the 6-5 favorite in Wednesday’s first race at two furlongs for 2-year-olds. The first-time starter by Wildcat Heir drew off to win by 3 ¼ lengths. “She worked real good for me, but I couldn’t figure her being favored, after I looked at the (Daily Racing) Form, and not one guy even picked her third,” the 81-year-old trainer said . . . Garrett Gomez will throw out the first pitch at tonight’s Brewers-Dodgers pre-season game at Dodger Stadium. Game time is 7 p.m. . . . David Flores and Isaias Enriquez are scheduled to participate in Santa Anita’s 5K Walk and Run on Saturday . . . Undefeated Ladies’ Classic champion Zenyatta worked five furlongs on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track Friday in :59.80 for John Shirreffs . . . Legendary jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. will autograph his biography, “Laffit: Anatomy of a Winner,” Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 noon across from Champions! Gift Shop in the East Paddock Garden area. The book, authored by Madelyn Cain, sells for $28 . . . HRTV will add the Grand National Steeplechase race from Aintree Racecourse in England to its busy racing schedule Saturday. Post time for England's most historic race is 8:15 a.m. The network's daily "RaceDay America" will begin at 8 a.m. to accommodate the special broadcast. HRTV will present live coverage both days of Keeneland's 2-year-old in training sale, beginning this Monday at 4 p.m. The two-day sale continues on Tuesday, also at 4 p.m., with a total of 216 Hips slated to go through the sales ring before conclusion. Last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown is a graduate of this sale
. . . Two players remained alive in Santa Anita’s on line handicapping contest, ShowVivor II, going into Friday’s races. On Thursday, each selected Street Car in the second race. The 1-2 favorite won by four lengths.