STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN, SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21ST, 2009

EXPENSIVE CLAIM BALFOUR PARK EYES NEXT SATURDAY’S SHAM STAKES

Balfour Park, claimed for the rarified price of $100,000 last out by trainer Craig Lewis, likely will make his next start in the Grade III Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles next Saturday.

“More than likely (he’ll run),” Lewis said. Balfour Park, a Kentucky-bred son of the Seeking the Gold sire Mutakddim, has raced only three times, breaking his maiden in the $100,000 race at one mile on Jan. 28.

“He’s a lightly raced 3-year-old and it looked like a reasonable shot, so we just did it,” Lewis said in explaining the claim for owners William Moore, Joe Valenti and Murray Seidner, who races as Six S Racing Stable. “The colt’s been training very well. I’m still looking for a rider.”

Lewis hopes Balfour Park follows in the footsteps of Larry the Legend, a rags-to-riches colt who went on to win the 1995 Santa Anita Derby. “If I had Larry the Legend running in the Sham, that might be fun,” Lewis said.

Probable for the ninth running of the $200,000 Sham: Balfour Park, no rider; Mark S the Cooler, Corey Nakatani; Ventana, Jesus Rios; The Pamplemousse, Alex Solis; Mr. Hot Stuff, no rider; and possibly Take the Points.

RAIL TRIP TO BE NOMINATED TO BIG ’CAP, BUT NO DECISION ON RUNNING

Ron Ellis said undefeated and untested Rail Trip came out of his front-running victory Friday “really, really good,” and will nominate the undefeated gelding to the March 7 Santa Anita Handicap, but would not make a decision on running until early next week.

“We’re just out of sync with the stakes schedule at Santa Anita by about a week or two weeks,” the trainer said Friday after Rail Trip’s fourth straight facile victory. “If the Big ’Cap gave us another week—and enabled us to come back in three weeks—I’d have no trouble with that. We missed the Strub (Stakes on Feb. 7) by a week or 10 days. It’s just one of those things.”

Big ’Cap candidates Nownownow and Magnum both worked Saturday, the former going five furlongs on Pro-Ride for Patrick Biancone in 1:00.60, and Magnum working six furlongs for Darrell Vienna on the training track in 1:12.60.

Nominations for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap at 1 ¼ miles close at midnight tonight.

HOLY ANGELS-SANTA ANITA RIDERS PLAY FOR CHARITY NEXT THURSDAY

The 42nd annual Holy Angels-Santa Anita Jockeys charity basketball game will be played next Thursday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m., at La Salle High School in Pasadena. Proceeds will benefit the Holy Angels athletic department. Legendary Hall of Fame jockeys Eddie Delahoussaye and Laffit Pincay Jr. will serve as honorary captains, and will be available to sign autographs from 6 to 7 p.m. in the La Salle High gymnasium.

La Salle High School is located at the southwest corner of Michillinda Ave. and Sierra Madre Blvd. in Pasadena, approximately four miles from Santa Anita. Admission is $5.

DUNKIRK’S WIDE TRIP SIMILAR TO 2007 SANTA ANITA PERFORMANCE

When Dunkirk won a tough allowance race Thursday at Gulfstream Park, it reminded HRTV and Santa Anita simulcast network commentator Jon White of a victory at Santa Anita in 2007.

“I immediately thought of Rags to Riches when she won the Las Virgenes Stakes,” White said. “Rags to Riches was an expensive Keeneland yearling ($1.9 million). So was Dunkirk ($3.7 million). Rags to Riches won the Las Virgenes off a maiden victory. Dunkirk won Thursday off a maiden victory.

Rags to Riches raced for the partnership of Michael Tabor and Derek Smith. Dunkirk races for Michael Tabor, Derek Smith and Mrs. John Magnier. Todd Pletcher trained Rags to Riches. Pletcher trains Dunkirk. Garrett Gomez rode Rags to Riches in the Las Virgenes. Gomez also rode Dunkirk Thursday.

“And then there is the similarity in how extremely wide Rags to Riches raced in the Las Virgenes and how extremely wide Dunkirk raced Thursday. Rags to Riches, of course, went on to become the first filly to win the Belmont Stakes since Tanya in 1905. Dunkirk is so talented that the sky is the limit, though I can’t help having my doubts that he has the proper foundation to win the Kentucky Derby.

“I know that many people think so many so-called Kentucky Derby rules have been broken in recent years that none of the rules matter anymore. But Dunkirk did not race as a 2-year-old, and the only horse to ever win the Kentucky Derby without having run as a 2-year-old was Apollo way back in 1882. Remember, not even Curlin, as talented as he was, could win the Kentucky Derby with zero starts as a 2-year-old. Dunkirk’s lack of experience as a 2-year-old is the only reason I don’t have him ranked higher at this point on my Kentucky Derby list.”

Here is White’s latest Kentucky Derby Top 10 list: (1) Pioneerof the Nile, (2) Old Fashioned, (3) Stardom Bound, (4) Friesan Fire, (5) Patena, (6) Capt. Candyman Can, (7) Papa Clem, (8) I Want Revenge, (9) Dunkirk, (10) Chocolate Candy.

FINISH LINES: Robert B. Lewis Stakes runner-up Papa Clem worked seven furlongs on Pro-Ride Saturday in a bullet 1:26.80 for the March 14 Louisiana Derby. “It was just nice and easy,” trainer Gary Stute said . . .Two-time Eclipse Award winner Indian Blessing worked five furlongs for the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai on March 28 in a bullet :59.20. “She just cruised around there,” trainer Bob Baffert said . . . There were 176 recorded works on Pro-Ride Saturday morning, and the identical number on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track . . . Bobby Frankel said Brother Keith could start in next Sunday’s Grade III Baldwin Stakes for 3-year-olds at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf. Trainer Alexis Barba plans to run Beauteous Maximus in the Baldwin. Alex Solis rides . . . David Flores and Martin Garcia ride at Turf Paradise today. Flores rides Miss Bodine in the $50,000 Arizona Oaks and Mayor Marv in the $100,000 Turf Paradise Derby, both for Baffert, while Garcia pilots a pair for Vladimir Cerin, Pauper’s Prize in the Derby and Vikkilee in the Oaks . . . There are two players alive in ShowVivor entering Saturday’s races . . . HRTV’s Kurt Hoover and syndicated handicapper Terry Turrell will be Jack Disney’s guests at Sunday’s Fans’ Forum, 11:15 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens.

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