Stable Notes by Ed Golden, Sunday, Feb 8, 2009

Santa Anita Derby awaits Stardom Bound, Pioneerof the Nile-If...

A potential “Dream Match” in the Santa Anita Derby on April 4 between champion filly Stardom Bound and the West Coast’s leading Kentucky Derby contender Pioneerof the Nile was questioned Sunday morning by Bobby Frankel, who saddled Stardom Bound for her fourth straight Grade I victory in Saturday’s Las Virgenes Stakes.

“I don’t know,” Frankel said when asked if the gray daughter of Tapit would make her next start against colts in the Santa Anita Derby, as firmly indicated after the Las Virgenes by Michael Iavarone, president of IEAH Stables, part owner of the filly. “Cooler heads will prevail,” Frankel continued. “I don’t know. It’s their horse.”

Pioneerof the Nile, who unleashed a powerful late surge to win Saturday’s Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes, like Stardom Bound, came out of his race well. Trainer Bob Baffert said the son of 2003 Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker could run before the Santa Anita Derby, possibly in the Grade II, $200,000 San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on March 14.

“We’ll let the horse tell us,” Baffert said. “The San Felipe could be next, but definitely the Santa Anita Derby if all goes well.”

Frankel takes Grade I Option with Country Star

Darley Stable’s Country Star, winner of the Grade I Alcibiades Stakes and the Grade I Hollywood Starlet as a 2-year-old in 2007, will run in Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Santa Maria Handicap at 1 1/16 miles, and not the Grade II, $200,000 La Caòada Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Sunday.

The daughter of Empire Maker was nominated to both races.

Country Star was second as the 6-5 favorite in her 2009 debut, behind Life Is Sweet in the Grade II El Encino Stakes on Jan. 18. It was Country Star’s first race since winning an optional claimer at Saratoga last Aug. 18.

“I would think so,” Frankel answered when asked if he felt Country Star would benefit from her first start in five months. “I thought she was a little close to a quick pace the other day.” Country Star stalked in third place past the half-mile marker in the 1 1/16-mile El Encino, took a short lead into the stretch, but was outfinished by Life Is Sweet through the lane.

Probable for the 67th Santa Maria: Country Star, no rider; Santa Teresita, Joel Rosario; and Visit, Garrett Gomez.

Probable for the 35th La Canada: Life Is Sweet, Garrett Gomez, and Miss Singhsix, Joel Rosario. Miss Singhsix worked six furlongs on Pro-Ride Sunday in 1:14 for Paddy Gallagher.

Despite rain, 216 horses work on Pro-Ride Sunday

Despite more than two inches of rain locally into Sunday morning, there were 216 recorded workouts on Pro-Ride Sunday, including stakes winners Icy Atlantic (four furlongs in :49.40) and Bsharpsonata (five furlongs in 1:02.80) for Todd Pletcher; Foxysox (four furlongs in :49.80) for Carla Gaines; Spring House (five furlongs in :59.20) for Julio Canani; and Hollywood Gold Cup winner Mast Track (six furlongs in a bullet 1:11.60) for Bobby Frankel.

“That’s the reason these (synthetic) tracks are in place in the winter time,” Santa Anita Racing Secretary Rick Hammerle said. “Pro-Ride saved the day yesterday on a big Saturday when big horses came through and ran winning races. It’s great to be able to have over 300 horses work over the track on a rainy weekend.” There were 122 recorded workouts on Saturday.

Santa Anita hosts its first-ever Snow Day next Sunday

Santa Anita becomes a winter wonderland next Sunday, Feb. 15, when it hosts its first-ever Snow Day during live racing. Fun-filled activities for the entire family will be available throughout the Santa Anita infield, including 200 tons of snow, winter games of chance, snow slides, a 50’ x 100’ synthetic ice skating rink, pony rides, face painting and much more.

Admission for children 17 and under is free when accompanied by an adult. First post time is 12:30 p.m. Gates open at 10:30 a.m. For more information, call (626) 574-RACE or visit www.santaanita.com.

Free umbrellas at Santa Anita on Presidents' Day, Feb. 16

Free umbrellas will be given to all THOROUGHBREDS members at Santa Anita with general admission while supplies last next Monday, Feb. 16, Presidents’ Day. Two stakes highlight the racing program, the Grade II San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs, and the Grade II Buena Vista Handicap for older fillies and mares at one mile on turf. First post time is 12:30 p.m.

Finish Lines

I Can See will make her last start in Monday’s Grade II, $150,000 Buena Vista Handicap for older fillies and mares scheduled for one mile on turf. The one-eyed mare will be bred to Exchange Rate at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky., according to trainer Steve Knapp. I Can See was second at 24-1 in the Grade I John C. Mabee Handicap at Del Mar in 2008 and has a 4-10-4 record from 47 starts, with earnings of $413,679 . . .

Probable for the 22nd Buena Vista: I Can See, Aaron Gryder; Modern Look, Garrett Gomez; and Trouble Maker, Victor Espinoza . . . Probable for the Grade II, $150,000 San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs on Presidents’ Day: Cut the Check, Jose Valdivia Jr.; Evita Argentina, Gomez; and Wall Street Wonder, Rosario . . . Malibu Stakes winner Bob Black Jack is expected to be sidelined well into the summer with an unspecified ailment. “He’s going to need six months off,” said trainer Jim Kasparoff of the California-bred son of Stormy Jack, who set a North American record of 1:06.53 for six furlongs in the 2008 Sunshine Millions Dash. “He had some complications with an injury behind we first noticed last month,” Kasparoff continued. “It’s possible he could need surgery, but at this time, I think it’s going to heal OK without it.” . . . Navigator, 6-1 morning line second choice in Saturday’s Las Virgenes Stakes, was scratched due to a “puffy ankle,” trainer Ron Ellis said . . . Two-time Eclipse Award winner Indian Blessing worked four furlongs on Pro-Ride Sunday in 48 seconds, breezing, for the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai on March 28. “It was just a maintenance work,” Bob Baffert said . . . Kayla Stra, one of the featured riders on the Animal Planet series, “Jockeys,” currently airing, was intrigued with the inner workings of television production. “I learned a lot of patience,” said Stra, whose book is handled by agent Mike Ciani. “I had to prepare myself to talk about my day, and things don’t always go the way you want in the races, do they? So you have to sit down and talk about it, when you’d rather forget about it. That was the most frustrating part. But I hope the exposure helps me at Santa Anita.” Stra had one win from 25 mounts through Saturday, but finished second on 24-1 shot Goodlookindude in yesterday’s 10th race . . . Corey Nakatani withdrew his appeal of a suspension issued Jan. 16 for careless riding and will serve three days, Feb. 14-15. Nakatani rides Meritus Miami for trainer O.J. Jauregui in the Grade III El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate next Saturday . . . Spenditallbaby, who suffered two fractured sesamoids early in the Sunshine Millions Distaff on Jan. 24, continues to hold her own following surgery a week ago Friday. “So far, so good,” said trainer Barry Abrams, who has the daughter of Unusual Heat at his Santa Anita barn . . . There were 23 players alive in ShowVivor going into Sunday’s races . . . Funeral services for Santa Anita’s beloved shoe shine man, Eddie Logan, will be this Tuesday, 11 a.m., at Douglass and Zook Mortuary, 600 East Foothill Blvd. in Monrovia. The viewing will be Monday from 5 to 8 p.m. Logan died a week ago Saturday at the age of 98.