Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Stable Notes, Monday, October 12th, 2009


Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird will remain at Santa Anita and point to the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Oak Tree on Nov. 7, trainer Chip Woolley said Monday morning.

“We were disappointed with his race in the Goodwood Stakes (sixth, beaten about four lengths), but now that I’ve had a chance to sleep on it and talk things over with the owners, we’re going to the Breeders’ Cup Classic,” Woolley said.

Calvin Borel, who rode Mine That Bird to his Derby triumph, and was reunited with the gelding for the Goodwood, has the mount in the Classic, in which Woolley expects more favorable conditions for the 3-year-old son of Birdstone.

“You can’t get that far out of it when the pace is that slow,” he said. “My horse closed, and he ran pretty fast when you go back and analyze the race. My horse finished up the last five-eighths in :58, but what are you gonna do? The other ones aren’t slowing down, when they go a :48.54 half. I’ll bet you there’s not a Grade I in the country run that slow for the first half mile all year--not on a fast race track.”

Mine That Bird jogged one mile Monday and will have “at least two, maybe three” breezes before the $5 million Classic at 1 1/4 miles, Woolley said. “The horse is real happy today. He wants to play a little.”

Meanwhile, Woolley will take a little personal play time himself tonight. He plans to park in front of a TV to watch his favorite NFL team, the Miami Dolphins, host the New York Jets on Monday Night Football.

Woolley indicated he’d stick with The Fish and take the 2 1/2 points.


Barry Abrams plans an unprecedented first when the Oak Tree Racing Association hosts the 26th Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita on Nov. 6 and 7.

The 55-year-old trainer, noted for successfully running his horses at uncommonly close intervals, intends to start Lethal Heat in the $2 million Ladies’ Classic at 1 1/8 miles on Pro-Ride Friday, Nov. 6, and, if all goes well, run her again in the $1 million Turf Sprint at about 6 1/2 furlongs against males on Saturday, Nov. 7.

“I’m going to run Lethal Heat in the Ladies’ Classic on Friday and down the hill on Saturday,” said Abrams, apparently not expecting Zenyatta to defend her crown in the Ladies’ Classic. “They do it in other countries. Lethal Heat ran twice last week and finished second both times, once against males in the California Cup Classic, and then against Zenyatta, and she’s a great horse.

Lethal Heat, a 4-year-old California-bred daughter of Unusual Heat, finished second to the undefeated champion mare Zenyatta at equal weights in the Grade I Lady’s Secret Stakes on Saturday. Overall, Lethal Heat has a 6-2-5 record from 16 career starts, with earnings of $655,988 for owners Barry Abrams, Madeline Auerbach or Ron McCauley.

“She’s unbeatable,” Abrams said of Zenyatta. “My horse got in a little trouble in the Lady’s Secret and still finished 1 1/4 lengths behind the champion. She got blocked in a very important part of the race and had nowhere to go. She was climbing over horses. If she’d have gotten through, she would have been closer, but I don’t know if she’d have beaten Zenyatta.”


Norfolk Stakes winner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile favorite Lookin at Lucky got his name through a casual conversation among his connections.

“We were at my much-older brother Bill’s 60th birthday party,” related 56-year-old Bob Baffert, who trains the 2-year-old Smart Strike colt. “Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, they own the horse with Mike Pegram. We’re in their wine cellar with Mike. Karl had had a few toddies, and he’s telling Mike, ‘I know you’ve been really lucky and successful in the horse business. That’s why I like you as my partner, but I want to tell you something: You’re lookin’ at lucky.”

“And Mike says, ‘You know what, Karl? You just named a horse.’ That’s how he got his name.”

FINISH LINES: Crown of Thorns, a game second to 6-5 favorite Gayego in the “Win and You’re In” Ancient Title Stakes Saturday, is a candidate for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Oak Tree on Nov. 7. “That would be the most likely spot,” Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella said. “The Sprint is a possibility, but more likely, I’m thinking the Mile.” . . . Rags to riches Lava Man continued on the comeback trail Sunday, working four furlongs on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track in :48.80 for Doug O’Neill.

“He was breezing, and galloped out in a minute and change,” said Doug’s brother and associate, Dennis, Monday morning. “He couldn’t be doing any better. He came out of it really good. He’s very sound, his feet are doing great and his ankles are tight and sound, so it’s kind of scary. He’s like a little 2-year-old now.“ As for Square Eddie, sixth in the Ancient Title, Dennis said, “he needed the race, and it’s definitely something to build on. We’ll see where we’re at and go from there.” . . . Probable for Saturday’s Grade III $100,000 Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap for fillies and mares at about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf: Flashover, no rider, 115; Gotta Have Her, Tyler Baze, 122; Pasar Silbano, David Flores, 112; defending champion Queen Ofthe Catsle, Mike Smith, 120; Royal Taat, Joel Rosario, 117; and Tuscan Evening, Victor Espinoza, 121. Queen Ofthe Catsle worked four furlongs on Pro-Ride Monday in :48.20 for Howard Zucker . . . Bob Baffert, Oak Tree’s leading trainer through 10 days of the 31-day meet with nine wins from 30 starts, credits it in large part to “conditions.” . . . Production assistants Rochanda Carroll and Alex Houck are the newest members of HRTV. They were selected from 650 who submitted resumes. Carroll worked at Fox 11 News, while Houck is a recent Broadcast Journalism graduate from USC, having served several internships at the network level, including at CNN and NBC. HRTV is looking forward to Karen Johnson joining the team soon as editorial producer. She has over 20 years of experience in the racing industry and is the daughter of Hall of Fame trainer P. G. Johnson, who bred and trained the family-owned 2002 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Volponi. Karen is also author of “The Training Game,” which was published earlier this year by Daily Racing Form Press . . . In conjunction with Javier Gonzalez and the Backside Recreation Center staff, Oak Tree is formulating a clothes drive to benefit backside workers and their families. Slightly used jackets, sweatshirts, jeans, shoes, socks, blankets, towels and sundry items for men, women and children are welcome and will be distributed free of charge to the members of the stable community and their families. Barrels for drop offs are available at Santa Anita’s Association Gate, the Paddock Bridge and the Executive Tunnel outside of Operations Department. All clothes will be distributed to backside workers on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. . . . There were 424 contestants alive through Saturday in Oak Tree’s popular online handicapping contest, ShowVivor.

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