El Camino Real Derby winner Chocolate Candy was scheduled to arrive at Santa Anita this afternoon from the Bay Area to begin final preparations for the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 4.

Expected to be the third choice behind Pioneerof the Nile and The Pamplemousse, Chocolate Candy has not raced since winning the Grade III El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 14. The Santa Anita Derby would be his first race in more than six weeks.

Jerry Hollendorfer, one of only four trainers in history to achieve more than 5,000 career victories, said the relatively light schedule for the son of Candy Ride is by design.
“You have to be concerned about everything, but I didn’t want to dance every dance with this horse,” Hollendorfer said. “He should run very well fresh. We’re not going to worry about it. He’ll have one breeze here, and then a blowout.”

Chocolate Candy, owned by the Sid and Jenny Craig Trust and bred by the late Sid Craig and his wife, Jenny, has had eight races, winning four, including a one-mile maiden race at Oak Tree last Oct. 4 under Joel Rosario, who has the mount in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby.

Hollendorfer’s focus, understandably, is solely on Chocolate Candy and not marquee horses Pioneerof the Nile and The Pamplemousse.

“I don’t care which horses get the publicity,” Hollendorfer said.
In other Santa Anita Derby news:

Feisty Suances, second by a length and quarter at 11-1 to Pioneerof the Nile in the San Felipe Stakes last Saturday, will run in the Santa Anita Derby, said the colt’s owner, Jed Cohen, who races as Red Baron’s Barn, LLC. Cohen, who heads an investment advisory business based in the Los Angeles area, is in his 61st year in horse racing, more than 30 with trainer Darrell Vienna.

Feisty Suances is from the first crop of the promising sire, 11-year-old Suances, who stands for $2,500 at Cohen’s Rancho Temescal in Lake Piru, California, near Valencia.

Pioneerof the Nile galloped on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride Saturday. Trainer Bob Baffert said all was in order for the son of Empire Maker.

The Pamplemousse is scheduled to work six furlongs Wednesday for trainer Julio Canani.

Santa Anita Park will host its second annual “Santa Anita Uncorked” wine event on Sunday, March 29. The event, which includes wine tasting, cuisine sampling and an art show, will be held in Santa Anita’s beautiful Paddock Gardens area, adjacent to the Seabiscuit walking ring.

Fans 21 and over are encouraged to spend a day at Santa Anita tasting fine wines, sampling cuisine from popular area restaurants, and perusing a colorful Paddock Art Exhibit while experiencing an exciting day at the races.

“Santa Anita Uncorked” will again be sponsored by the Wine of the Month Club, based in nearby Monrovia.

Headlining an impressive list of visiting wineries is the label “Jinetes” (which translates to “rider” in Spanish). Jinetes was a popular first-ever release last year which was produced by a Mendicino, California, based vineyard.

Jinetes is owned by top jockeys Mike Smith and Alex Solis, along with Thoroughbred owner Tom Lenner. Categorized as a Syrah, Jinetes will be personally presented by the two jockeys--mounts permitting--and be available along with other brands for tasting in the Paddock Gardens area.
Jinetes will also be available by the bottle and glass in Santa Anita’s FrontRunner Restaurant.

“I’ve been collecting wine for 21 years,” said Solis, a winner of more than 4,600 races, who is once again a finalist for Thoroughbred racing’s Hall of Fame. “My number one passion is racing and wine is my number two passion.”

Smith, a winner of 14 Breeders’ Cup races in an illustrious career that included Hall of Fame induction in 2003, said, “We’re very excited about this wine. If you appreciate and enjoy wine, it’s pretty incredible to have your own. We’re very proud of it and I think a lot of people are going to be surprised by just how good it is.”

Cuisine will be provided by local upscale restaurants, including Matt Denny’s, Nikki C’s, and Langham Hotels.

The “Uncorked” art exhibit will feature artist Erica Nordean and others.

“Santa Anita Uncorked” packages will include: parking, clubhouse admission, including a grandstand seat, racing program, wine tasting, cuisine sampling, art exhibit and a souvenir wine glass.

Tickets for admission, parking, program and restricted-area wrist band are available for $60 each, and can be purchased at the Santa Anita ticket office, or by phone at (626) 574-RACE. Tickets can also be purchased on-line at
Proceeds from “Santa Anita Uncorked” will benefit Rotary Club Youth Services and Arcadia High School Athletic Boosters.


It was ‘Free Friday’ again at Santa Anita yesterday, but in the fourth race, it was all Ladies Day. Not only did trainer Jennie Green saddle Lucius Antonius to win the one-mile race on Pro-Ride for her second straight victory, but female riders Kayla Stra and Chantal Sutherland ran one-two. Sutherland was beaten a neck aboard Mort Robbins.

Green also sent out Surprise Minister to win Friday’s third race under Joe Talamo.
It marked the first time in her abbreviated career that Green saddled back-to-back winners. “That’s the first time I’ve ever hit a double like that,” said Green, who has been training on her own for four years.

Green had four runners in her barn prior to Friday, but was down to three after Surprise Minister was claimed for $40,000 by Leonard Powell.


The Breeders’ Cup has announced that the distance of the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon has been lengthened from 1 ½ miles to 1 ¾ miles for this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Nov. 6-7, during the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita.
The Breeders’ Cup Marathon will be the longest major stakes race contested on a main track in the U.S. this year.

The new distance of the Marathon, which had its inaugural running at last year’s Breeders’ Cup over the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita, was proposed by the Breeders’ Cup Racing and Nominations Committee and approved by the Breeders’ Cup Board of Directors.

“In furthering our commitment for a high caliber extended distance race in the World Championships, the Racing and Nominations Committee strongly recommended the lengthening of the Marathon to 14 furlongs to bring the race in line with the category standards of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities,” said Robert T. Manfuso, chairman of the Breeders’ Cup Racing and Nominations Committee.

“The extended distance of the Marathon also allows the race to begin near the six furlong chute at Santa Anita,” said Pamela Blatz-Murff, Breeders’ Cup senior vice president of racing. “This will give the horses a longer run into the first turn.”

The 2008 Marathon at 1 ½ miles was won by Richard Pegum’s 4-year-old Irish-bred gelding Muhannak, who held off the fast-closing Church Service by a neck.

FINISH LINES: Undefeated Rail Trip worked five furlongs on Pro-Ride Saturday in 1:00.40 under regular rider Jose Valdivia Jr. for the $70,000 Santana Mile on April 4. “He just did it the right way,” Valdivia said. “Ron (trainer Ron Ellis) had a horse leading me in front . . . He couldn’t be coming up to the race any better.” . . . Wynning Ride had her first official breeze since finishing second to Laragh in the Grade I Hollywood Starlet last Dec. 13, going three furlongs on Pro-Ride Saturday in 37.80 for Bob Baffert . . . Impressive maiden winner Zensational, a candidate for next Saturday’s $70,000 San Miguel Stakes at six furlongs, also worked for Baffert, zipping five furlongs in a bullet
58.80, fastest of 49 drills at the distance . . . Kelly Leak, prepping for the $800,000 Sunland Derby on March 29, worked seven furlongs for trainer Mike Machowsky on Pro-Ride Saturday in company with the unraced Justinsidethegates. Kelly Leak was clocked in 1:27.20 with Mike Smith aboard. “Mike gave me the thumbs up sign after the work,” Machowsky said . . . Craig Dollase reports his improving filly Nan will again tackle champion Stardom Bound in the Grade I Ashland Stakes at Keeneland on April 4 . . . In a goodwill gesture, several members of the Santa Anita jockey colony will visit the Shriners Hospital for Children in Los Angeles in full riding gear, silks and all, Monday from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. The Shriners Hospital for Children is a one-of-a-kind health care system dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing pediatric specialty care, innovative research and outstanding teaching programs . . . Sunday’s sixth race is the “Rich Marotta/KFI Purse,” named for the Los Angeles-based sportscaster and ardent horse racing fan who will be in Santa Anita’s winner’s circle with family and friends following the race. Marotta will also present the trophy for the featured Santa Ana Handicap. Marotta’s sports updates can be heard on KFI AM 640’s Bill Handel Show Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. . . . There were 10 participants alive in Santa Anita’s popular on line handicapping contest, ShowVivor II, going into Saturday’s races.