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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 25TH, 2009
ZAMBEZI SUN JOINS FULL LINEUP FOR MARCH 7 SANTA ANITA HANDICAP
Zambezi Sun, a disappointing seventh as the 9-10 favorite in his U.S. debut Sunday in the Grade II San Luis Obispo Handicap at 1 ½ miles on turf, will wheel back two weeks later in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 7, Bobby Frankel said Wednesday morning.
“There’s nothing wrong with him,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “He didn’t run hard; he’s OK. I just got him fit enough to run (in the Big ‘Cap).”
Making his first start since the Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in France last Oct. 5, Zambezi Sun was very rank in the San Luis Obispo, stalking in second place into the stretch before he was overtaken. He was beaten only three lengths by victorious Spring House.
Asked right after the race how tough it was to rate Zambezi Sun in the San Luis Obispo, jockey Garrett Gomez was silent, choosing simply to display the palm of his left hand, which had a red line imprinted across it from grasping the rein.
The $1 million Santa Anita Handicap at 1 ¼ miles is shaping up as one of the most competitive in recent years, with six Grade I winners at the ready, as well as Who’s Who of riders.
Probable for the 72nd Big ‘Cap: Blue Exit, Robby Albarado; Champs Elysees, Jose Valdivia Jr.; Colonel John, Garrett Gomez; Court Vision, Ramon Dominguez; Cowboy Cal, John Velazquez; Dansant, no rider; Einstein, Julien Leparoux; Magnum, Joel Rosario; Matto Mondo, Rafael Bejarano; Monba, Edgar Prado; Tiago, Mike Smith; and Zambezi Sun, Victor Espinoza.
Trainer Patrick Biancone still was undecided on the Big ’Cap or the Kilroe Mile for San Fernando Stakes winner Nownownow. Colonel John worked seven furlongs on Pro-Ride Wednesday for Eoin Harty in 1:25.40.
In other Big ’Cap news:
Frankel was still non-committal on Hollywood Gold Cup winner Mast Track.
Rail Trip will pass the race, Ron Ellis confirmed Wednesday morning. “He came out of his last race good, and we have lots of options,” the trainer said of the unbeaten gelding that has yet to try stakes competition in four starts. “There’s the Dubai mile ($1 million Godolphin Mile on March 28), that little race here ($70,000 Santana Mile at Santa Anita on April 4) and the Oaklawn Handicap ($500,000, Grade II, 1 1/8 miles on April 4),” Ellis said.
European invader Dansant, trained by Gerard Butler, was scheduled to fly in to LAX today for the Big ’Cap. A son of the Danehill sire Dansili, Dansant will move to a quarantine barn at Hollywood Park before heading to Santa Anita’s isolation barn.
Dansant is owned by Switzerland resident Barbara Keller, who enjoys racing her horses over ice at St. Moritz at a venue known as “The Ice Meet.”
Butler, an assistant to D. Wayne Lukas in the 1990s, has a penchant for synthetic surfaces, and his horses have campaigned well over them in Europe.
Richard Mandella said Matto Mondo would represent him in the race, with Dixie Chatter, winner the Grade I Norfolk Stakes in 2007, going in the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf the same day.
Newlywed Mike McCarthy, assistant to Todd Pletcher, said Cowboy Cal and Monba are scheduled to work Sunday.
ZENSATIONAL COULD RUN IN SAN FELIPE WITH PIONEEROF THE NILE
Zensational, a smashing maiden winner last Saturday, could join leading Triple Crown contender Pioneerof the Nile in the San Felipe Stakes on March 14, trainer Bob Baffert said Wednesday.
“I’m thinking of running him in the San Felipe with Pioneerof the Nile,” said Baffert, who, along with the late Robert Wheeler, is one of two trainers selected as finalists for election to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame this year.
Zensational, a son of Unbridled’s Song owned by Ahmed Zayat, won the six furlong maiden allowance race by 3 ¾ lengths in a rapid 1:08.64 as the 3-5 favorite. Garrett Gomez, regular rider of Pioneerof the Nile, was up. The San Felipe, a Grade II race at 1 1/16 miles, is the final major local prep prior to the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 4.
JOCKEYS FACE TALL ORDER AGAINST HOLY ANGELS TOMORROW NIGHT
The 42nd annual Holy Angels-Santa Anita Jockeys charity basketball game will be played tomorrow night, 7 p.m., at La Salle High School in Pasadena. Proceeds benefit the Holy Angels athletic department.
HRTV analysts Kurt Hoover, coach of the riders, knows his squad faces a Herculean task. “Our scouting reports say Holy Angels has a real tall team this year,” Hoover said. “That means we’re probably going to have to press, try and run and try and beat them down the court, because our size is very limited. A judicious use of our time outs should be a major factor in our game plan.”
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.
David Flores, who tossed in a three-pointer last year, will serve as player-captain.
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.
STEVENS CHAMPIONS WOOLF AWARD WINNER VELAZQUEZ
John Velazquez is a most deserving winner of the 2009 Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award says Gary Stevens, the Hall of Fame legend who won the honor in 1996.
“I retired four years ago, but even back when I was still riding, John was one of the most respected riders,” said Stevens, now lending his expertise in front of TV cameras for HRTV and NBC.
“I admire him not only for his riding, but because he’s a great family man, and a huge supporter of the Jockeys’ Guild, obviously, with him being president,” Stevens added. “He’s a super guy and the award is well-deserved.”
Velazquez, a native of Puerto Rico and a two-time Eclipse Award winner, was selected by a vote of his peers. He will receive the award at Santa Anita on Sunday, March 8.
Presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950, this year marks the 60th presentation of one of racing’s most prestigious awards. The Woolf Award honors and recognizes those riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing.
FINISH LINES: This Sunday is Snow Day at Santa Anita, featuring 200 tons of snow, winter games, snow slides and an ice skating rink in the track’s infield. Kids of all ages are invited and admission for kids is free all day. Adult admission is $5. Pony rides, face painters, carnival games and inflatable moon bounces will be available. Twenty members of the Ontario (California) Reign, an American Hockey League team and an affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, also will be on hand . . . Haka, second to Stardom Bound in the Las Virgenes stakes on Feb. 7, is scheduled to breeze Saturday for a return engagement with the champion filly in the Santa Oaks the following Saturday, March 7. Unbeaten Beltene, winner of the Sunshine Millions Oaks, is also set for the Santa Anita Oaks. Regular rider Joel Rosario has the mount . . . Trainer David Hofmans said Daytona Handicap winner Desert Code would likely pass the March 7 Kilroe and point to the Arcadia Handicap at one mile on turf on April 4 . . . Probable for the Kilroe: Artiste Royal, Rafael Bejarano; Dixie Chatter, Tyler Baze; Hewitts, Mike Smith; Mr Napper Tandy, Joel Rosario; and Ventura, Garrett Gomez . . . Kelly Leak, impressive allowance race winner on turf Sunday, is a candidate for the Santa Anita Derby on Pro-Ride, trainer Mike Machowsky said . . . Nearly 70,000 calls were received on Santa Anita’s free results line (1-888-338-7223) from just after midnight on Feb. 11, to just prior to midnight on Feb. 18. The actual number listening to Santa Anita’s Chris O’Leary give the results was 69,630, a Southern California record . . . Top handicapper Aaron Hesz will be Jerry Antonucci’s guest Saturday, 11 a.m., at the Today’s Racing Digest seminar in the East Paddock Gardens.