Santa Anita Stable Notes Saturday, April 8, 2023
STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN
SATURDAY, APRIL 8, 2023
- TOP JOCKEY HERNANDEZ CLOSES IN ON ANOTHER RIDING TITLE - GEAUX ROCKET RIDE SCRATCHED FROM GI SANTA ANITA DERBY - GI SANTA ANITA DERBY BROADCAST LIVE ON NBC - MANDATORY RAINBOW 6 PAYOUT THIS SATURDAY - COAST-TO-COAST PICK 5 RETURNS SUNDAY - LEADING OWNER, TRAINER & JOCK TO BE FETED SUNDAY
TOP JOCKEY HERNANDEZ CLOSES IN ON ANOTHER SANTA ANITA RIDING TITLE
Juan Hernandez scored a natural hat trick Saturday at Santa Anita when winning the second, third and fourth races to extend what is unsurmountable lead in the Classic Meet jockey’s standings.
Entering Saturday’s GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby card, Hernandez had racked up 59 wins through 41 racing days since opening day on Dec. 26. That is more than double the total of his next closest pursuer, Flavien Prat, who had 27 wins entering Saturday.
Hernandez, who has won at a robust 25 percent clip at the stand, also leads all Santa Anita jockeys in purse earnings ($4,399,758) and stakes wins (12). The Classic Meet ends Sunday with a 12-race card.
“This means a lot,” Hernandez said Saturday after riding favorite Doris Mae ($3.60) to a popular win in the fourth race for trainer Carla Gaines. “It’s been my dream since I was a kid to ride with the best riders at the best tracks in the world.”
Hernandez’s other wins Saturday came aboard longshot Clooney ($29.60) in the second for trainer John Sadler and with Stressed ($4.80) in the third for trainer Peter Eurton.
Hernandez, 31-year-old native of Veracruz, Mexico, began riding full-time on the Southern California circuit in 2020. At last year’s Santa Anita Winter-Spring Meet, he earned his first riding title at The Great Race Place when he outpaced Prat, the runner-up.
Hernandez acknowledged this meet has surpassed expectations. With multiple Hall of Famers in the Santa Anita jockey’s room this winter and spring, not to mention international superstar Frankie Dettori, he was not sure what to expect.
“This year the colony of jockeys was really good,” Hernandez said. “Before the meet started I was so excited to get to ride with these guys. To be honest, I wasn’t thinking I would do as good as I have. I thought I could do it but knew it would be tough.”
Hernandez noted a big part of his success has stemmed from the work of veteran agent Craig O’Bryan. Over the decades, O’Bryan has represented such legendary jockeys as Eddie Delahoussaye and Corey Nakatani, among others.
“I just want to say thank you to everybody, including my agent Craig O’Bryan. We make a really good team,” Hernandez said. “He’s a nice guy, everybody likes him. He’s picking the right horses all the time. He knows his job and that helps a lot.”
Hernandez said his personal highlight at the Classic Meet came on opening day when he won both the Grade I La Brea with Fun to Dream for Bob Baffert and the Grade I American Oaks with Rhea Moon for Phil D’Amato. He was also second that day in the GI Malibu with Forbidden Kingdom for trainer Richard Mandella. But he added what made the day even more memorable was that he had family visiting from Mexico.
“I always like to win when my family has a chance to be here,” Hernandez said. “That makes it really special.”
Hernandez is scheduled to ride in 10 of the 12 races Saturday. He has eight more mounts set for Sunday, which is closing day of the Classic Meet.
GEAUX ROCKET RIDE SCRATCHED FROM GI SANTA ANITA DERBY
Geaux Rocket Ride was scratched from the GI Runhappy Santa Anita Saturday morning after spiking a fever. He was the 3-1 co-second choice on the morning line.
Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella said Geaux Rocket Ride was diagnosed with a temperature of 103.2 degrees Fahrenheit at about 9 a.m. According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners, an adult horse at rest should have a body temperature of between 99 to 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything above that range could indicate an active infection.
Owned by Pin Oak Stud, Geaux Rocket Ride was set to make his third start in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby. The colt by Candy Ride was a smashing 5 ¾-length winner here in his debut going six furlongs on Jan. 29. He was then sent straight to the GII San Felipe at 1 1/16 miles on March 4 where he was a good second behind Practical Move, who is the morning-line favorite for the Santa Anita Derby.
Mandella, 72, has saddled 2,257 winners in his career but has never won a Santa Anita Derby. He was inducted in the Racing Hall of Fame in 2001.
With the scratch of Geaux Rocket Ride, the morning line for the Santa Anita Derby has been revised. Post time is scheduled for 2:43. The field in post position order: I Don’t Get It, Mario Gutierrez (15-1); Dazzlemesilver, Kent Desormeaux, (30-1); One in Vermillion, Hector Berrios (30-1); Practical Move, Ramon Vazquez (6-5); National Treasure, John Velazquez (5-2); Skinner, Victor Espinoza, (3-1); Mandarin Hero, Kazushi Kimura (6-1); Low Expectations, Umberto Rispoli (20-1).
GI SANTA ANITA DERBY WILL BE BROADCAST LIVE ON NBC
For fans unable to make it out to Santa Anita Saturday, NBC Sports will provide live coverage of the race on NBC and its streaming platform, Peacock. The broadcast starts at 1 p.m. Pacific.
In addition to the Santa Anita Derby, the broadcast will also include the GI Blue Grass from Keeneland. Both are key preps for the Kentucky Derby on May 6 at Churchill Downs.
Ahmed Fareed will host NBC’s coverage alongside analyst Randy Moss, Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey and “insights analyst” Steve Kornacki. Reporters Britney Eurton and Kenny Rice will also be on-site at Santa Anita and Keeneland, respectively.
MANDATORY RAINBOW 6 PAYOUT ON SATURDAY
There is a mandatory payout in Saturday’s 20-cent Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot at Santa Anita. With a $391,546.64 carryover entering Saturday, a total pool in excess of $3 million is likely on Runhappy Santa Anita Derby Day.
Saturday’s Rainbow 6 starts with the seventh race, the Echo Eddie Stakes, at approximately 3:20 p.m. PT. After early scratches, the sequence averages 9.1 starters per race.
First post for Saturday’s 12-race card is at 12 noon.
COAST-TO-COAST PICK 5 WITH PLAYER-FRIENDLY TAKEOUT RETURNS SUNDAY
The $1 Coast-to-Coast Pick 5 featuring a player-friendly 15 percent takeout returns Sunday with races from Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park. The sequence kicks off at approximately 1 p.m. PT with the third race from Santa Anita, a starter allowance for turf sprinters.
Also in the sequence, which concludes at 3 p.m., are the eighth and ninth races from Gulfstream Park and the fifth and seventh races from Santa Anita. Average field size is 7.4 starters per race before scratches.
Last Sunday’s Coast-to-Coast Pick 5 returned $1,804.00 to 79 winning tickets.
FINISH LINES: With two days left in the Classic Meet, Phil D’Amato leads the trainer’s standing with 31 wins, five more than runner-up Bob Baffert (26)...In the owner’s standings, Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal lead the way with 12 wins entering Saturday…On closing day Sunday, the meet’s leading jockey, trainer and owner will all be honored with a ceremony in the Runhappy Winner’s Circle…Following the Classic Meet, racing will resume at Santa Anita with the Hollywood Meet beginning on April 21…On Sunday, the Santa Anita Infield will play host the largest Easter Egg hunt in the San Gabriel Valley as part of the holiday celebration.