Zambezi Sun, a highly regarded Group 1 winner in Europe who had been scheduled to make his United States debut in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on Pro-Ride on March 7, instead has been entered in Sunday’s San Luis Obispo Handicap scheduled for 1 ½ miles on turf by Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, who still plans to run the English-bred horse in the Big ’Cap.

“I might have missed a little training, so this way it will be like a workout for him,” Frankel said of the English-bred son of the Danehill stallion Dansili. Asked if Zambezi Sun would still be a candidate for the Big ’Cap, Frankel said, “Of course. It shouldn’t take too much out of him, on the grass.”

Frankel also entered Champs Elysees, as scheduled, in the Grade II San Luis Obispo.

Zambezi Sun has not raced since last Oct. 5, when he was 15th of 16 in the prestigious Prix de’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp, beaten 27 lengths by the great filly, Zarkava, Europe’s 2008 Horse of the Year. Zambezi Sun won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris under 127 pounds on July 14, 2007. He has had two bullet works on Pro-Ride this month in preparation for his debut.

Champs Elysees, seventh by six lengths under Garrett Gomez in the San Antonio Handicap on Feb. 8, was third in the 2008 Santa Anita Handicap.

The field for the 53rd San Luis Obispo: Champs Elysees, no rider; Church Service, Rafael Bejarano; Spring House, Alex Solis; Artiste Royal, David Flores; Bonjour, Joe Talamo; Kris Silver, Tyler Baze; Zambezi Sun, Garrett Gomez; Medici Code, Joel Rosario; Obrigado, Martin Garcia; Marsh Side, Victor Espinoza; On Fire, Brice Blanc; and Attempted Humor, Mike Smith. Lightning Hit, Chantal Sutherland, and Mr. Universo, Michael Baze, are on the also-eligible list.


Halo Najib is scheduled to race at seven furlongs for only the second time in a 14-race career when he runs in Saturday’s Grade II San Carlos Handicap.

Mike Mitchell thinks the Florida-bred son of Halo’s Image is well-suited to the distance, despite the fact that 10 of his previous 13 races were at one mile or longer.

“He ran almost exclusively in route races last year, but probably seven-eighths is going to be his perfect distance,” said Mitchell, who has trained the 4-year-old colt owned by Ahmed Zayat for some three months. “There are some good horses to run at in the San Carlos,” Mitchell was quick to caution.

Halo Najib was a creditable third in his first start for Mitchell, Jan. 25, in the Grade II Palos Verdes Handicap at six furlongs. “We had been talking about it, and decided to try him short,” said Mitchell, who has about 15 horses for Zayat. “The Palos Verdes was a real good race.”

Halo Najib has a 2-2-2 record from 13 starts, with earnings of $315,993.

The field for the 71st San Carlos, which goes as race No. 4 on a 10-race card: Star Nicholas, Michael Baze, 114; Halo Najib, Rafael Bejarano, 114; Yankee Bravo, Alex Solis, 116; Past the Point, Joel Rosario, 115; Georgie Boy, Garrett Gomez, 120; and Mutadda, Joe Talamo, 115.


Beyond Friday’s allowance race at 1 1/16 miles, plans were up in the air Thursday morning for the undefeated Rail Trip, facile winner of his first three starts, who was nominated to Saturday’s seven-furlong San Carlos Handicap and who has been mentioned as a candidate for the 1 ¼-mile Santa Anita Handicap on March 7.

“I don’t have a plan,” trainer Ron Ellis said Thursday. “I haven’t talked to the Siegels (owners Mace and Samantha) about it. I didn’t anticipate this race (Friday) being in the (condition) book. I didn’t ask for it; it came up, and it seemed like the thing to do (enter), so I haven’t talked to them past this race. I’ll probably meet with them Monday or Tuesday and see what they’re thinking and what they want to do.”

Friday’s race against four rivals comes up just 21 days after Rail Trip won his first start going two turns on Jan. 30. Ellis is on record as saying the 4-year-old Jump Start gelding is short on experience against more seasoned Big ’Cap contenders.

“This is the first race I can ever remember where I was a little disappointed it didn’t come up a little bit tougher,” Ellis said, ”because I think he needs to get pressed at some time, and actually get in a bit of a battle, so that he’s ready for better horses.”


Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens will announce the winner of the 2009 Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award live on HRTV today at approximately 2:05 p.m. Stevens, now retired, works as a full-time analyst on HRTV and was himself a Woolf winner in 1996.

Jockeys from across North America once again voted in this year’s balloting, choosing from a group of five finalists: Gary Baze, Calvin Borel, Javier Castellano, David Flores and John Velazquez.

The Woolf Award has been presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950 and is regarded as one of the most prestigious honors in all of racing. It honors and recognizes those riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing.

Stevens will announce the Woolf winner following Thursday’s third race, which is scheduled to be run at 2:03 p.m.


The 42nd annual Holy Angels-Santa Anita Jockeys charity basketball game will be played 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. FINISH LINES: Tomorrow is ‘Free Friday.’ General admission is free, and hot dogs, soda, beer and popcorn are $1 each . . . Two-time Grade I winner Country Star, scratched from last Saturday’s Grade I Santa Maria Handicap after a starting gate mishap, has been retired. “She’s fine, but that’s what they wanted,” said trainer Bobby Frankel, speaking of Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley Stud, which acquired the daughter of Empire Maker late in 2008 from her breeder, Robert and Janice McNair, who race as Stonerside Stable. Country Star won the Grade I Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland and the Grade I Hollywood Starlet for Stonerside. In 2007, she finished second in the Eclipse Award voting to champion Indian Blessing as outstanding juvenile filly . . . Bob Baffert said Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner and leading Triple Crown contender Pioneerof the Nile is scheduled to work “Saturday or Sunday” for the Grade II San Felipe Stakes on March 14 . . . A link on trumpets a Q&A session with jockey Chantal Sutherland about the 12-episode series, “Jockeys,” which airs Friday nights on Animal Planet. The show follows seven riders: Sutherland, her boy friend, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith; Joe Talamo, Jon Court, Aaron Gryder, Alex Solis and Kayla Stra . . . Seven published works have been named semifinalists for the 2008 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, presented by Lexington’s Castleton Lyons Farms and Thoroughbred Times. Newly renamed for the late founder of Castleton Lyons who created the prize in 2006 to reward literary excellence, the award is presented annually for the best book published about an aspect of the Thoroughbred industry. The winning author receives a $10,000 prize and a trophy made of custom-designed Irish crystal. The winner will be announced during an invitation-only reception on April 5 at Castleton Lyons in Lexington. The Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award semifinalists are: Beyond the Track: Retraining the Thoroughbred from Racehorse to Riding Horse, Author: Anna Morgan Ford, with Amber Heintzberger, Publisher: Trafalgar Square; The History and Art of 25 Travers, Author: Vic Zast, featuring the art and posters of Greg Montgomery, Publisher: North Country Books Inc.; The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby: The Story of Jimmy Winkfield, Author: Crystal Hubbard, Illustrator: Robert McGuire, Publisher: Lee & Low Books Inc.; My Guy Barbaro, Author: Edgar Prado, with John Eisenberg, Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; Silks, Authors: Dick Francis and Felix Francis, Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons; Twoey & the Goat, Author: Robbie Timmons, Publisher: Mitten Press; and The Untold Story of Joe Hernandez: The Voice of Santa Anita, Author: Rudolph Valier Alvarado, Publisher: Caballo Press of Ann Arbor. The seven semifinalists were chosen from 14 books published during 2008 and submitted to Thoroughbred Times for consideration. They come from around the country, from small and large publishing firms, from famed and unknown authors; and represent a wide variety of genres, including fiction, memoir, biography, art, children’s books, and young-adult literature . . . Friday marks the halfway point in Santa Anita’s 84-day winter/spring meet that concludes on April 19. Garrett Gomez leads the jockey standings with 47 victories, while Doug O’Neill tops the trainers with 18 . . .Trainer Bob Hess Jr. will be Jerry Antonucci’s guest at the Today’s Racing Digest seminar, Saturday, 11 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens.