Santa Anita Stable Notes Thursday, February 16, 2023
STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN
THURSDAY, FEB. 16, 2023
• BAFFERT’S DEFUNDED, HOPPER TARGET G1 SANTA ANITA BIG'CAP • HALL OF FAMER GARY STEVENS IN TOWN FOR CHARITY HOOPS GAME • SANTA ANITA WILL HONOR LATE JOCKEY AVERY WHISMAN • NEW STATE-OF-THE-ART VIDEO BOARDS COMING TO SANTA ANITA • SPECIAL PRESIDENT’S DAY CARD SCHEDULED FOR MONDAY
BAFFERT’S DEFUNDED, HOPPER TARGET G1 SANTA ANITA BIG'CAP
Trainer Bob Baffert plans to run the pair of Defunded and Hopper in the Grade I, $500,000 Santa Anita Handicap going 1 ¼ miles on March 4.
Defunded most recently was second in the Grade I Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28 while Hopper is exiting a second in the Grade II San Pasqual on the same day at Santa Anita.
Defunded’s only previous try at 10 furlongs was a second-place finish in the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup here last spring. In the Pegasus World Cup, the 5-year-old Dialed In gelding attended the pace throughout before being overtaken in mid-stretch by Art Collector, who would prevail by 4 ½ lengths.
“He showed up,” Baffert said Thursday. “It was a tough ship. It’s really hard to get there now…it took them like 20 hours. But he ran well. Top of the stretch it looked like we were in good shape but he just got beat.”
Defunded has a record of 5-4-1 in 14 starts and has banked $1,168,600 for owners Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman.
Hopper’s effort in the 1 1/8 miles San Pasqual came following a 7 ½ month layoff. Off since winning the Grade III Affirmed on June 11, Hopper led throughout until being rundown late by Newgrange to lose by a length. Newgrange is also ticketed to the Big ‘Cap, according to trainer Phil D’Amato.
Baffert is expecting to see an improved Hopper in the Big ‘Cap.
“(The San Pasqual) was his first out and I threw him at a mile and an eighth. Newgrange ran a big race,” Baffert said. “I think with that race under his belly it really tightened him up. It should be a good spot for him.”
A 4-year-old colt by Declaration of War, Hopper is owned by Lanni Bloodstock, Madaket Stables and SF Racing. He broke his maiden in his second start here last May prior to the Affirmed.
HALL OF FAMER GARY STEVENS IN TOWN FOR CHARITY HOOPS GAME
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens was at Clocker’s Corner ahead of Thursday’s 53rd annual Charity Basketball Game featuring Santa Anita jockeys versus Holy Angels Middle School. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at LaSalle High School in Pasadena.
Prior to game time, Stevens will be on hand to sign posters and other memorabilia along with fellow Hall of Famers Laffit Pincay Jr., Kent Desormeaux, Victor Espinoza, Mike Smith and John Velazquez. The autograph session starts at 6:30 p.m. Proceeds from the event are used to support Holy Angels Athletics and the Permanently Disabled Jockey’s Fund.
Stevens flew in from Hot Springs, Ark. on Wednesday for the game, which was canceled the past two years due to COVID.
“It was important for me to be here,” Stevens said. “I’ve been involved with the jockeys and Holy Angels games since 1985. All this time has gone by and now my daughter is actually in the eighth grade at Holy Angels and will graduate to LaSalle next year. To be here to help sign autographs and other things raises a lot of money for the school and helps the jockeys.”
Stevens added he was a regular player in the basketball game when still an active jockey.
“I wasn’t a great shooter, but I could handle the ball and was pretty quick,” he noted.
Prior to his retirement from the saddle in 2018, Stevens won 5,187 races including three Kentucky Derby’s, three Preakness Stakes, three Belmont Stakes and 11 Breeders’ Cup races.
Admission to the game is $5 and tickets can be purchased at the door.
SANTA ANITA WILL HONOR LATE JOCKEY AVERY WHISMAN ON SATURDAY
Santa Anita and 13 other tracks from around the country on Saturday will honor the late jockey Avery Whisman with a moment of silence. Santa Anita’s sister track Laurel Park, where Whistman primarily rode, will also hold a race named in his honor.
Whisman died suddenly on Jan. 11 at the age of 23 following what was described as a prolonged struggle with the physical and mental demands placed on jockeys. Saturday’s ceremony is designed to help shed light on mental health awareness and the challenges jockeys face. Jockeys at all participating tracks will also wear black armbands in tribute to Whisman.
“We are so very proud of our son and all he accomplished in his short life,” Whisman’s parents, Lyman and Salli, said in a statement. “In the future, we hope to raise awareness and empower dialogue within the racing industry around gaps in needed health and mental health support for its jockey athletes.”
SANTA ANITA ADDING UPGRADED VIDEO BOARDS TO PADDOCK AREA
Two new state-of-the-art video display boards will be added to the Santa Anita paddock area prior to hosting the 40th Breeders’ Cup World Championships this fall. The boards, which measure 9’ high by 16’ wide, will enhance the on-track experience by bringing a brighter and sharper image to the historic Walking Ring and Paddock Gardens
Built by Daktronics, one of the world’s leaders in LED video displays, the boards were purchased by Santa Anita earlier this year. They support 1080p video and have a finer 6mm pixel pitch as compared to the current video boards, which were installed in 2012. Both boards are scheduled to arrive this summer.
COAST-TO-COAST PICK 5 RETURNS SATURDAY
The $1 Coast-to-Coast Pick 5 featuring races from Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park returns Saturday. The sequence begins at 1:29 PT with the third race from Santa Anita, a maiden special weight for California-breds going 6 ½ furlongs on turf. The wager also includes the fourth and fifth races from Santa Anita and races 10 and 11 from Gulfstream Park. The 11th race from Gulfstream is the $150,000 Royal Delta Stakes for older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on dirt.
The Coast-To-Coast Pick 5 features a player-friendly 15 percent takeout rate. Last Sunday’s wager returned $3,524.60 for 53 winning tickets.
Finish Lines: Santa Anita will offer a special President’s Day card on Monday featuring $1 beer and sodas and $2 hot dogs for on-track patrons…Santa Anita will conduct live racing on Friday, Feb. 24, which was originally scheduled to be a dark day. First post time will be at 12:30 p.m. The card has been added as a makeup for weather-related cancellations earlier in the Classic Meet… Every Friday during the Classic Meet on-track patrons will receive free admission, free parking and drink specials that include $3 beers and $5 margaritas…The Corgi Winter Nationals, which were postponed last month due to rain, will be held at Santa Anita on Sunday. Entering Friday’s card, favorites had won at a 28.80 percent clip at the Classic Meet.