Sunday, January 22, 2017







Victor Espinoza, who journeyed worldwide aboard California Chrome on a path to gold

and glory that has reaped $14,084,600, could ride the great California-bred in his final race next Saturday in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park–or not.

Espinoza has ridden California Chrome in his last 20 starts–14 of them victories–and is scheduled to be astride for the last time in the Pegasus, after which the immensely popular six-year-old chestnut son of Lucky Pulpit is to be retired at stud on Jan. 29, standing for a $40,000 fee at Taylor Made Farm’s 1,000-acre spread in Nicholasville, Kentucky.

But in an interview with Espinoza this morning and in a press release quoting Frank Taylor, vice president of boarding operations at Taylor Made, the door was left open.

“It’s been a great ride,” said Espinoza Saturday morning at Clockers’ Corner,

surrounded by the verdant scenery burgeoning in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, an ever-refreshing landscape.

“It was just an amazing time and I wish I could find another one like California Chrome. It seems impossible, but you never know. I’m getting ready for the Pegasus but I really don’t know if that’s going to be his last race or he’ll run again.

“I think it all depends on how he runs Saturday. So far, the plan is for this to be his last race, but if he runs a big race, they might change their minds, because he’s doing so good.”

California Chrome worked five furlongs at Gulfstream Saturday morning in 58.81 under Dihigi Gladney, with fractional times of 23.66 and 35.12, with a six furlong gallop out of 1:12.41.

Taylor noted in a release that “discussions recently took place about not retiring California Chrome after the Pegasus, and instead pointing him to the Dubai World Cup (March 25), a race he won in 2016 after finishing second in it the year before.

“I thought maybe two or three weeks ago there was a chance, but we polled everybody and there were a few people who didn’t want to run. We’re in the position where we have all these mares booked to him and we bought a lot of mares to breed to him; it was kind of hard to turn back. I was really campaigning to do that.

“The reason I want to run him is because he’s sound or better today than when we started in January. He’s just getting better and better. With the Pegasus World Cup and the Dubai World Cup ($10 million) there is so much money. If he were to (win) and do good (this year), he could make $15 million.

“He made $8 million (in 2016). He’s just getting bigger and stronger. He’s just amazing. He’s the closest thing I’ve seen to a machine in a horse.”

Espinoza didn’t have to have his arm twisted to concur.

“He’s better than before, so I don’t really know exactly if this will be his last race,” Victor said. “If it is, it will bring a lot of memories, not just for me and my career, but for the Art Sherman team and all of Chrome’s fans.

“California Chrome has just been an awesome ride for everyone.”


Ruben Fuentes, a seven-pound apprentice rider from New Mexico, won his first race at Santa Anita Friday when he piloted I’ll Wrap It Up to a 4 ¼-length victory for trainer Steve Miyadi in the fourth race for $10,000 claimers at seven furlongs.

“We’ve had five mounts and in our last four, ran fourth, third, second and first in a row,”

said his agent, Mike Ciani, who also represents Gary Stevens. “He’s a great kid and he really has some talent. His dad (Miguel) is one of the best riders in Mexico City. Ruben’s brother is a rider, his four uncles are riders. It sounds like the line from ‘My Cousin Vinny,’–‘My Dad’s a mechanic, my uncles are mechanics . . .'”

Friday’s victory was the 18th in four months for the18-year-old Ruben, a native of New Mexico who “speaks perfect English and tacks 110 pounds. He has his ‘bug’ until late November. Gary and (his brother) Scott are pretty much the ones who brought him here.

“The guys in the (jockeys’) room have been great with him, (Rafael) Bejarano and of course Gary. (Martin) Pedroza came up to him and said he liked what he saw.”


Looking fresh and fit as he recuperates from surgery last Dec. 21 for replacement of his left hip, Gary Stevens was on hand at Clockers’ Corner Saturday morning, counting down the time until he can resume his Hall of Fame career.

“I’m doing well,” Stevens said. “I’m rehabbing every day, back on my Equicizer which I’ve been riding for about 10 days now. I see the doctor in two weeks and hopefully I can start getting on horses in 3 ½ more weeks.

“I’ll play it by ear from there.”

FINISH LINES: There was one winning Single Ticket Pick Six Jackpot ducat Friday at Santa Anita, worth a whopping $272,515 . . . There were 78 recorded workouts Saturday on Santa Anita’s dirt training track, 14 of them horses trained by Doug O’Neill, 12 by Phil D’Amato and 10 by Keith Desormeaux . . . Kent Desormeaux and Mario Gutierrez are at Golden Gate Fields today where they ride Vending Machine and So Conflated, respectively, in the $100,000 California Derby. Desormeaux, a superior mudder, won two races on Santa Anita’s wet/fast track Friday giving him 10 for the meet, good for third in the standings behind Tyler Baze (16) and Flavien Prat (15) . . . The California Horse Racing Board will conduct its regular monthly meeting 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, at Santa Anita. An audio-only webcast of the meeting can be heard through a link on the CHRB website (webcast).The Medication, Safety and Welfare Committee will meet 11 a.m. Wednesday at the same location. The public is encouraged to attend these meetings. The Board agenda and supporting package of materials are available on the CHRB website, as are those for the Medication Committee (agenda and package).

(Current Through Friday, Jan. 20)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Tyler Baze 74 16 10 7 22% 45% $542,602
Flavien Prat 66 15 7 11 23% 50% $863,983
Kent Desormeaux 47 10 6 6 21% 47% $679,723
Rafael Bejarano 51 7 7 9 14% 45% $478,513
Norberto Arroyo, Jr. 47 7 3 2 15% 26% $323,685
Stewart Elliott 48 6 6 7 13% 40% $223,255
Martin Pedroza 39 6 6 4 15% 41% $211,115
Mike Smith 19 5 1 4 26% 53% $485,940
Drayden Van Dyke 46 4 8 2 9% 30% $278,085
Luis Contreras 39 4 6 10 10% 51% $226,514
Mario Gutierrez 33 4 6 4 12% 42% $242,566
Victor Espinoza 23 4 5 5 17% 61% $256,770
Joseph Talamo 43 4 4 9 9% 40% $157,300
Brice Blanc 16 4 3 1 25% 50% $157,870
Corey Nakatani 23 4 2 1 17% 30% $210,169
Trainer Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Jerry Hollendorfer 43 8 7 8 19% 53% $677,364
Peter Miller 27 7 6 4 26% 63% $345,205
Richard Baltas 43 6 8 5 14% 44% $369,358
Doug O’Neill 53 6 7 9 11% 42% $324,548
William Spawr 11 6 0 2 55% 73% $169,341
John Sadler 18 5 4 5 28% 78% $254,234
Bob Baffert 24 5 3 4 21% 50% $396,821
J. Keith Desormeaux 16 5 2 4 31% 69% $335,075
Philip D’Amato 20 4 4 4 20% 60% $377,190
Peter Eurton 19 4 3 0 21% 37% $158,895
Gary Sherlock 16 4 2 1 25% 44% $92,200




MIKE SMITH, FINEST CITY, WINNER: “Breaking from the one hole in this slop, you gotta get outta there. She’s never had this kinda dirt in her face and I certainly didn’t want her to get any today. My only concern with being away as long as she has (Nov. 5) is that we’d probably have to use her from the rail, but I saw she’s been working really well. I knew she’s handled the grass and she’s got a real athletic way of going, so I thought she could probably handle this surface today. Ian’s done a great job getting her ready.”


IAN KRULJAC, FINEST CITY, WINNER: “Absolutely (it was good to get this one under her belt). “We’ll enjoy this and see what she wants to do in a couple of weeks. No (we won’t keep her sprinting). There aren’t that many sprints for her here in California.

“This could be a once-in-a-lifetime day (should Finest City be named Eclipse Award female sprint champion of 2016 tonight at Gulfstream Park). “It’s awesome to share it with my father (trainer Eric, who is in Florida for the ceremony). Hopefully we’ll get that award today.

“We’re just keeping her fresh. We’re not really laying her off at all. That’s the way she runs the best. The inside (post) was a big obstacle today and Mike (Smith) just took it to ’em. She’s got stamina; she’s got everything you’d ever want in the breeding of a race horse.

Saturday, January 21, 2017



Friday, January 20, 2017


Idle since winning the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 5, trainer Ian Kruljac’s Finest City heads a field of five older fillies and mares in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Santa Monica Stakes at seven furlongs.

Kaleem Shah’s speedy two-time graded stakes winning Fantastic Style will make her first start for Doug O’Neill as she tries to bounce back off a disappointing odds-on performance here on Dec. 30.

Trainer Peter Miller’s streaking Bad Ju Ju, who was claimed four starts back for $40,000 on Oct. 8, rallied from off the pace to take the 6 ½ furlong Kalookan Queen Stakes here on a wet fast main track Dec. 30 and seeks her fourth win in a row in the Santa Monica.


An impressive three quarter length winner of the seven furlong Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint when ridden for the first time by Mike Smith, the 5-year-old Pennsylvania-bred mare was a troubled second in last year’s Santa Monica and kept top company throughout the remainder of 2016, posting an 8-2-2-2 mark on the year that included a third place finish to multiple Eclipse Champion Beholder in the Grade I Vanity Mile here on June 4. Owned by Seltzer Thoroughbreds, Finest City, who pressed the early pace in her Breeders’ Cup win, has trained in very impressive fashion here for her return, posting three bullet works dating back to Oct. 27, including a five furlong move of 59.20 on Dec. 21–best of 48 drills at the distance that morning. With an overall mark of 14-4-4-2, she has earnings of $925,594.


A two-time graded stakes winning sprinter, she disappointed at odds of 1-2 when beaten 12 lengths on a wet fast track in the 6 ½ furlong Kalookan Queen Stakes on Dec. 30. After pressing the pace through the first half mile in 21.40 and 44 flat, she tired badly to run fifth in a field of eight. Owned by Kaleem Shah, this 5-year-old mare by Harlan’s Holiday, originally trained by Bob Baffert, will make her first start for Doug O’Neill on Saturday and will be ridden back by Rafael Bejarano. A minor stakes winner here at three going seven furlongs, Fantastic Style can once again be counted on to show plenty of early foot. With an overall record of 10-5-2-2, she has earnings of $383,608.


 With heavy rain in the local forecast Thursday and Friday, this 5-year-old California-bred mare by Desert Code would appear well positioned on several fronts as Saturday’s main track could well listed as an “off” surface. Owned by Rockingham Ranch, she is undefeated in her three starts for her new connections and will be ridden for the fourth consecutive time by Norberto Arroyo, Jr. While class looms a question as the Santa Monica marks her first graded stakes assignment, Miller has her on a roll and she has recency in her corner. Five for 11 last year, she is 17-7-1-4 overall with earnings of $305,731.


1  Finest City–Mike Smith–124

2  Bad Ju Ju–Norberto Arroyo, Jr.–120

3  Fager’s Gal–Flavien Prat–120

4 Fantastic Style–Rafael Bejarano–122

5 Sheer Pleasure–Martin Garcia–120

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Edwin Maldonado is back.

The 34-year-old Ohio native won his first race Sunday since recovering from painful injuries suffered more than four months ago in a morning accident at Del Mar Sept. 4.

Maldonado piloted first-time starter Pomp and Party to a 3 ½-length victory in Sunday’s second race for owner/breeder H & E Ranch Inc. and trainer Phil D’Amato.

A three-year-old chestnut filly sired in Arizona by the Pulpit stallion Parading, Pomp and Party paid $3.40 as the no-secret favorite.

Maldonado suffered six broken ribs and a collapsed lung in the mishap, but said he was “like a little kid” as he neared his return.

“That was the ice-breaker,” said his agent, Joe Griffin, who has represented Maldonado in the past. “Edwin was tickled to death to win. The horse had been working well and he liked him, so things are looking good.”

Added D’Amato: “When he’s on his game, Edwin is as good as any rider out here. He’s come back, he looks focused, he always looks good on horses, they run for him, and hopefully we’ll put him on some more winners.”


A restrained fifth three furlongs from home, English-bred Prize Exhibit was called upon a furlong out and she responded with a rousing 1 ¼ length victory under Mike Smith in Monday’s Grade III, $100,000 Megahertz Stakes.  Contested over Santa Anita’s turf course which was listed as “good,” Prize Exhibit got a flat mile in 1:35.56.

With longshot Poster Girl and eventual third place finisher Into The Mystic running one-two to the far turn, Smith was on the brakes while in close attendance between horses.

“I was able to get her to relax early and she can be on the rank side,” said Smith, who has ridden the 5-year-old mare in her last two starts.  “Sometimes, going into a race where there’s not much pace, everyone thinks the same thing and it worked out that way today.  We took advantage…I think she can go a mile, a mile and a sixteenth…As long as you get her covered up and keep her turned off.”

Owned by Deron Pearson’s D P Racing, Prize Exhibit was off at 3-1 in a field of seven older fillies and mares and paid $8.80, $4.40 and $3.40.

Winless in 10 starts since taking the Grade II Monrovia Stakes here a year ago, Prize Exhibit now has seven wins from 31 lifetime starts and with the winner’s share of $60,000, she increased her earnings to $637,045.

“We had her in the hill race (Grade III Las Cienegas at 6 ½ furlongs, turf, on Jan. 7) last week, but it came off the grass due to weather,” said Cassidy.  “She’s trained so well into this race…She’s a tough girl.  She can be tricky.  We’ve had to do a lot of different things with her and she’s just been happier lately.  We’ve been working her from the gate and she seems to like that.  She’s somethin’ else.”

Irish-bred Jeremy’s Legacy, who was close-up while lapped on Into The Mystic around the far turn, ran well but couldn’t hold off the winner, finishing second, a head in front of “Into.”  Ridden by Mario Gutierrez, Jeremy’s Legacy was off at 10-1 and paid $9.00 and $4.60.

The second choice in the wagering with Flavien Prat up at 3-1, Irish-bred Into The Mystic paid $3.40 to show.

Fractions on the race were 23.72, 47.93, 1:12.29 and 1:24.02.

Racing resumes on Friday at Santa Anita, with first post time for an eight-race card at 1 p.m

Smarty Jones

Megahertz Stakes (Gr. III)

The Week That Was: 1/17/17

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Monday, January 9, 2017



MIKE SMITH, UNIQUE BELLA, WINNER: “She was a little aggressive in the gate and she was off a tad slow. I probably could have moved her, set her up a bit differently in order for her to break better, but I was scared to do that and make her react and do something I wouldn’t want her to do.

“When I saw everyone else send, I thought it was a good time to take a hold of her and see what happens. It didn’t seem to bother her. When we hit the far turn, it was like she was breathing different air.

“The decisions I make are quick, but you have to make it all seem casual. Otherwise, it gets to be too quick, too fast and you can react too quickly yourself and make matters worse. You have to always be prepared for Plan B and Plan C if need be.

“Now, it’s more reasonable to compare her (to champion, 4-year-old filly Songbird). Again, she’s very, very talented but with room to grow. Hopefully with each step, she’ll get smarter about certain things. I’m just blessed, that’s all I can say.”

FLAVIEN PRAT, FAVORED SHANE’S GIRLFRIEND, THIRD:  “She broke well, we broke on top, but we got pressure right away from the inside and the outside.  I thought we could be second, but we weren’t going to beat the winner today.”


JERRY HOLLENDORFER, UNIQUE BELLA, WINNER: “Well, I’ve always liked her. Today, she showed that she’s brilliant. We thought she’d jump out of there a little better. I thought she would be close to the lead. Mike used his judgement, got behind and then got to the outside so it worked out well and our other filly also got Grade II placed, so we’re very pleased right now.

“We’ll relax a little bit and see where we go next. We purposely waited this long with her and pointed towards this race. I don’t know if we’ve seen all there is to Unique Bella but I’ll ask Mike.”







Gormley was as fresh and bright as the dry, sunny Sunday morning after his exciting

head victory over favored American Anthem in Saturday’s Grade III Sham Stakes, the West’s first graded steppingstone to the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 8.

“He looked really good this morning,” trainer John Shirreffs said of the son of Malibu Moon owned by Jerry and Ann Moss. “I’m extremely proud of the way he ran and battled it out. It was a great duel down the stretch with both horses.

            “Two great jockeys going at it, two promising young horses going at it. That’s what racing is all about.”

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, the regular rider of 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome and Triple Crown king American Pharoah, Horse of the Year in 2015, Gormley dueled with even-money favorite American Anthem virtually from the start of the one-mile race, prevailing in a stiff drive outside of American Anthem, ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith.

American Anthem was in receipt of five pounds from Gormley, who carried 124.

Shirreffs mentioned the Grade II, $400,000 San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles as a likely spot for Gormley’s next race.

Bob Baffert reported that American Anthem came out of his game effort in good order.

“I was happy with his race,” he said.


            Richard Baltas hopes his skill and luck at the claiming game continues next Saturday when he runs Enduring Erin in the Grade II, $200,000 La Canada Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

The trainer struck gold yesterday when Watch This Cat, claimed for $32,000 last June, roiled to an 8 ½-length victory in the $100,000 Las Cienegas Stakes under Corey Nakatani. It was the third straight win for the five-year-old daughter of Eskendereya.

“We claimed Enduring Erin for $40,000 (last July) and she’s won two out of three since,” Baltas said. “It looks like a small field so we thought we’d give it a try.”

The La Canada would mark the first stakes start for Enduring Erin, who would be making her 33rd career start. Owned in part by Baltas and Paymaster Racing, the seven-year-old mare sired by Kela in Kentucky has seven wins, three seconds and seven thirds, with earnings of $244,433.

Vale Dori looms a prohibitive favorite in the La Canada, having won the Grade II Bayakoa at Del Mar by three lengths on Dec. 3 and an overnight race by 10 ¼ prior to that. Mike Smith rides the five-year-old Argentine-bred mare for Bob Baffert.

Val Dori worked four furlongs on a “good” training track Sunday in 49.80.

Autumn Flower, sixth in the Bayakoa, also is probable for the La Canada, trainer Dan Hendricks said. Drayden Van Dyke rides the daughter of Flower Alley.


Despite rumors to the contrary, Blabimir was not named after sometimes-laconic trainer Vladimir Cerin. However, the three-year-old son of Tapizar was named after a fellow whose first name is Vladimir.

Tom Knust, agent for Mario Gutierrez, the go-to rider for owner Paul Reddam, who has been known to challenge The Jockey Club when submitting names of horses, tells the tale.

“Paul was going to fly with his wife (Zillah) on a surprise birthday trip to San Francisco for dinner,” Knust said, “so he hired a limousine to take them to the airport, and the chauffeur’s name was Vladimir. Paul took him aside and told him, ‘Don’t say ANTHING to my wife about it.

It’s a surprise. Just take us to the airport and I’ll surprise her when we get there.’

“But as soon as they get into the limo, the driver turns around and says, ‘In 20 minutes, we’ll be at the airport!’

“Paul, completely frustrated, blurts out, ‘Blabimir!’

“That’s how the horse got his name.”

FINISH LINES: Congrats to Fredys Saldarriaga of nearby Duarte on winning $1,000 in Santa Anita’s Mystery Mutuel Contest. Saldarriaga has been a patron at Santa Anita since 1984 and loves playing the races. Patrons can join Santa Anita’s THOROUGHBREDS Club for the next Mystery Mutuel Contest. The Main THOROUGHBREDS Center is located on the first floor of the Grandstand . . . With four wins from only nine starters, a 44 percent clip, including Skye Diamonds in Saturday’s eighth race, Bill Spawr is off to a rousing start through the Winter Meet’s first eight days, but the long-time Southern California fixture is taking it in stride. “It goes in streaks,” Spawr said. “It can go the other way, too, but it’s been good so far.” . . . With more rain imminent and the main track closed for training Sunday morning, there were 94 recorded workouts on Santa Anita’s dirt training track, 32 by horses from the Doug O’Neill barn . . . Santa Anita offers holiday racing and Dollar Day on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 16. Beers, sodas and hot dogs will be a buck apiece all day long. The feature race is the Grade III, $100,000 Megahertz Stakes for older fillies and mares at one mile on turf . . . Trainer Steve Knapp reports that 2015 Las Flores Stakes winner Harlington’s Rose recently was sold to WinStar Farm as a broodmare . . . There is a single Pick Six Jackpot ticket carryover of $108,893.75 into Sunday’s races.

Santa Ynez Stakes (Gr. II) - Sunday, January 8, 2017

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