Santa Anita Stable Notes Thursday, April 27, 2023
STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN
THURSDAY, APRIL 27, 2023
- • TOP JOCKEY JUAN HERNANDEZ WILL RIDE SKINNER IN KY. DERBY
- • ASCENDING ANCIENT PEACE MAKES STAKES BOW IN GIII PROVIDENCIA
- • DEBUTING CALIFORNIA BAY LOOKS TO CONTINUE FAMILY TRADITION
- • BALNIKHOV, DICEY MO CHARA HEAD NORTH FOR GIII SF MILE
- • MALDONADO MAKES HAY WITH 4-WIN SUNDAY
TOP JOCKEY JUAN HERNANDEZ WILL RIDE SKINNER IN KENTUCKY DERBY Jockey Juan Hernandez will ride Skinner in the 149th Kentucky Derby on May 6 at Churchill Downs, trainer John Shirreffs confirmed Thursday. Skinner will be the first Kentucky Derby mount for Hernandez, who has emerged as Santa Anita’s top jockey since arriving in 2020.
Owned by Lee and Susan Searing’s C R K Stable, Skinner most recently was beaten just a half-length by Practical Move when third in the GI Santa Anita Derby under Hall of Famer Victor Espinoza on April 8. Entering Thursday, the Curlin colt had ranked 21st in the standings for the Kentucky Derby, which is limited to 20 starters. But the situation changed Thursday morning when GIII Sunland Derby winner Wild On Ice suffered a catastrophic injury during a workout at Churchill Downs.
Skinner is scheduled to have his final Kentucky Derby work at Santa Anita on Saturday and ship to Churchill Downs via FedEx the following day.
Espinoza, who turns 51 on May 23, had ridden Skinner in his five most recent starts. While Espinoza is a three-time Kentucky Derby winner, who also swept the Triple Crown in 2015 with American Pharoah, he has largely struggled this year. Entering Friday’s card at Santa Anita, Espinoza has two wins from 35 mounts in 2023.
Hernandez is a 31-year-old native of Veracruz, Mexico. He dominated the recently concluded Classic Meet at Santa Anita when riding 63 winners which was more than double the total of his next closest pursuer (Flavien Prat, 31 wins). Hernandez also led all riders with 13 stakes tallies and his mounts won at a robust 25 percent clip at the Classic meet. Last year, he also won the jockey’s title at the Santa Anita Winter-Spring Meet.
Hernandez is represented by veteran agent Craig O’Bryan, who has had his share of Kentucky Derby success. O’Bryan was the agent for Eddie Delahoussaye when the Hall of Fame jockey won the roses in both 1982 with Gato Del Sol and 1983 with Sunny’s Halo.
“Skinner ran great in the Santa Anita Derby and If you like (winner) Practical Move you have to like this horse as he only got beat a half -length,” O’Bryan said Thursday morning. “I think he has a super chance in the Kentucky Derby. Juan and I are delighted to be riding him. This will be Juan’s first Kentucky Derby and he’s very excited.”
In 2022, Hernandez ranked 9th nationally in earnings with more than $15 million and 11th nationally in wins with 211.
In other Derby-related news, Santa Anita Derby runner-up Mandarin Hero departed Santa Anita for Churchill Downs at about 3:30 a.m. Thursday morning. With the loss of Wild on Ice, the import from Japan now ranks 23rd on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. If Mandarin Hero does not make the Kentucky Derby starting gate, his connections plan for him to run in the Preakness at Pimlico on May 20.
ASCENDING ANCIENT PEACE MAKES STAKES DEBUT IN GIII PROVIDENCIA Fast-rising 3-year-old filly Ancient Peace will make her stakes debut Saturday for trainer John Sadler in the GIII Providencia going 1 1/8-miles on turf.
Ancient Peace made two starts last year in Southern California while with trainer Graham Motion. In her second outing against maidens on Dec. 30 at Santa Anita, Ancient Peace graduated by a growing 4 ¼-lengths when going a mile on turf. The daughter of War Front was subsequently entered in the 2023 Keeneland January Horses of all Ages sale where she commanded a final bid of $650,000 from Boardshorts Stables, who now campaign the filly.
In her first start for Sadler and her new owner April 8, Ancient Peace ran off and dominated a first-level allowance going a mile in a race that was moved to the main track. She held an 11-length lead at the quarter pole before being geared down to finish an easy six-length winner.
“We liked her going into that race. She had trained really well,” Sadler said Thursday morning. “Obviously you don’t know what’s going to happen when you switch surfaces, but it worked out fine. We’re going back to the grass because she’s already a winner over this turf course and this looks like a good spot for her.”
Top jockey Juan Hernandez will ride Ancient Peace for the first time Saturday.
Among Ancient Peace’s chief rivals in the Providencia is the Irish-bred Paris Secret for trainer Phil D’Amato. After debuting in her native country last October, Paris Secret was sent stateside. She surfaced in the March 18 China Doll going a mile on turf where she was off slow and had traffic trouble before finishing a non-threatening fourth. Kazushi Kimura, who was aboard for the China Doll, returns to Santa Anita from Woodbine to ride Paris Secret.
The Providencia goes as the fourth race on Saturday with an approximate post time of 2 p.m. The field in post position order: Pleasant Wave, Diego Herrera; Miss Lizzy, Antonio Fresu; Broadway Girls, Edwin Maldonado; Ancient Peace, Juan Hernandez; Paris Secret, Kazushi Kimura; Una Palabra, Victor Espinoza.
DEBUTING CALIFORNIA BAY LOOKS TO CARRY ON FAMILY TRADITION FRIDAY Tamarack Bay was a hard-knocking mare in the early 2000s who was Grade III-placed and banked $218,965 for owners-breeders Larry and Marianne Williams.
While that was certainly a productive racing career, what has made Tamarack Bay truly special for the Williamses has been her subsequent work in the breeding shed. From 10 foals to race, Tamarack Bay has produced no fewer than nine winners with four of those being stakes winners.
On Friday, Tamarack Bay’s latest foal bred and campaigned by the Williamses—the 3-year-old gelding California Bay—will debut in a statebred maiden race going six furlongs on turf for trainer Jeff Mullins. By newly minted Hall of Famer California Chrome, California Bay is a 10-1 longshot on Jon White’s morning line.
California Bay has worked seven times since March 3 at Santa Anita for her debut, which includes a half-mile move in 47.60 seconds on Monday. Her half siblings include Tamarando, who won the GI Del Mar Futurity in 2013 and GIII El Camino Real Derby the following year on his way to $722,652 in earnings; Ward ‘n Jerry, a graded stakes winner with $496,985 in earnings; and Luckarack, a multiple stakes winner who made 75 starts from 2010-2018. Luckarack, who won a pair of black-type stakes on the California fair circuit as a 2-year-old in 2010, finished with $634,552 in earnings.
California Bay debuts in Friday’s fifth race. Post time is scheduled for 3 p.m.
FINISH LINES: Saturday’s GIII San Francisco Mile on grass at Golden Gate has attracted a quartet of highly accomplished Santa Anita-based turf runners. Set to compete in a nine-horse field are graded stakes winners Balnikhov, Bob and Jackie and Dicey Mo Chara plus graded-stakes placed Flavius. Post time for the San Francisco Mile is scheduled for 6:15 p.m…Jockey Edwin Maldonado had a monster Sunday when riding four winners at Santa Anita. It was the third time he’s won four races in a day, according to Daily Racing Form… Every Friday on-track fans will receive free admission and parking plus $3 beers and $5 margaritas…There is a Rainbow 6 Jackpot carryover of $138,505.85 entering Friday’s card…Recently minted HOF jockey Corey Nakatani will be honored at Santa Anita with the Corey Nakatani Hall of Fame Purse on Kentucky Oaks Day, Friday, May 5.