Friday, October 09, 2009



It’s been almost a year since Calvin Borel rode at Santa Anita. The 42-year-old jockey last visited the track on Oct. 25, 2008, when he guided Delightful Kiss to a fourth-place finish behind Muhannak in the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon.

In the interim, Borel has become a sensation, thanks to history-making victories on the 3-year-old super filly, Rachel Alexandra, in the Preakness Stakes, the Haskell Invitational Handicap, and the Woodward Stakes. She defeated males in each of those Grade I stakes, and, for good measure, older males in the Woodward.

Borel brings his Cajun charm to Santa Anita Saturday, when he reunites with Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird in the Goodwood Stakes against a field of notables with designs on the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 7.

Borel will be in town for little more than a cup of coffee, plus the less than two minutes it takes to negotiate the mile and an eighth of the Goodwood.

“Calvin will get there the day of the Goodwood,” said his agent of 19 years, Jerry Hissam. “He rides Keeneland today, then flies out Friday morning to California, and then goes right back on the redeye Saturday night to ride the next day at Keeneland.”

Aside from Mine That Bird, Borel is named on only one other horse on Oak Tree’s 10-race card Saturday, Brady Blue Eyes, a 2-year-old Sky Mesa maiden, for trainer Mark Glatt in the final race.

Borel ranks among the nation’s leaders in purse earnings this year with some $8 million, a good chunk of that coming from his win on Mine That Bird at 50-1 in the $2 million Kentucky Derby.

If Borel and Mine That Bird go on to win the Classic, it would produce more than a bountiful payday for the jockey: Nov. 7 is Borel’s birthday.

The field for the 28th Goodwood, one of four graded stakes Saturday, three of them Grade I’s: Chocolate Candy, Victor Espinoza, 121; Tiago, Mike Smith, 124; Richard’s Kid, Alex Solis, 124; Colonel John, Garrett Gomez, 124; Tres Borrachos, Joe Talamo, 124; Monzante, Joel Rosario, 124; Parading, Rafael Bejarano, 124; Gitano Hernando, Kieren Fallon, 121; Informed, Michael Baze, 124; and Mine That Bird, Calvin Borel, 121.


Calvin Borel earned the nickname “Bo-rail” for his ground-saving rides, such as the one he performed with Mine That Bid in winning the Kentucky Derby. Borel may have his work cut out for him in Saturday’s Goodwood Stakes, since Mine That Bird drew the outside post position in a field of 10 in the nine-furlong race.

But trainer Chip Woolley is inclined to let the chips—no pun intended—fall where they may.

“It won’t really make much difference,” Woolley said. “The horse is going to run the same race . . . we’ll see what happens. All he can do is ease over and save ground. This horse has to run his race, so it really doesn’t make any difference what anybody else does. He’s got to run his race, and I think everybody saw in the Derby what his best race is, so that’s what he’s got to do.”


The first 20,000 paid admissions at Santa Anita on Saturday will be given free the all-new Breeders’ Cup Challenge stadium blanket. It features Thoroughbred stars Zenyatta, Well Armed, Wait a While and Hyperbaric, all of which won Breeders’ Cup challenge races at Oak Tree last year. First post time is 12:30 p.m. Gates open at 10:30 a.m.


Life Is Sweet won three straight graded stakes races in the first three months this year at Santa Anita. The 4-year-old filly, a stablemate of Zenyatta trained by John Shirreffs, then ran second, third and fourth in her next three starts at Hollywood Park and Del Mar.

Regular rider Garrett Gomez hopes the bay daughter of Storm Cat owned by Martin and Pam Wygod can return to top form in Saturday’s Grade I $300,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes.

“If she runs the way she was running before we left here, I think we’ll give Zenyatta more of a run for her money,” Gomez said. “Life Is Sweet is talented, but she’s got to move up from what she’s been doing.” Life Is Sweet has run in the same race with Zenyatta twice, finishing second in the May 23 Milady Handicap and fourth in the Aug. 9 Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar.

Unbeaten Zenyatta went through her final preparation for the Lady’s Secret at her Hollywood Park headquarters Thursday and will gallop tomorrow before shipping to Santa Anita for the race, according to Shirreffs.

The field for the Lady’s Secret at 1 1/16 miles: Cocoa Beach, Richard Migliore; Sweet and Flawless, Joel Rosario; Made for Magic, Omar Berrio; Life Is Sweet, Garrett Gomez; Zenyatta, Mike Smith; Lethal Heat, Alex Solis; Briecat, Martin Garcia; and Anabaa’s Creation, Rafael Bejarano. Each carries 123 except the 3-year-old Sweet and Flawless, who totes 120.


Visit has had some success on the West Coast, running second in the Gamely Stakes at Hollywood Park in May and third in the Santa Ana Handicap in March, but she still has yet to win in the United States.

The 4-year-old British-bred filly trained by Bobby Frankel takes on a strong field in Saturday’s Grade I $300,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes, and jockey Garrett Gomez is hoping she breaks her U.S. maiden.

“She’s had some nice runs, but she’s going to have to step up,” Gomez said. “She’s got the capability. She was fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. If she runs the way she did when she first arrived, she’ll be really solid. She’s had some nice runs since; it’s just that she hasn’t found the winner’s circle yet.”

The field for the Yellow Ribbon at 1 1/4 miles on turf: Magical Fantasy, Alex Solis; Lemonette, Rafael Bejarano; Lemon Chiffon, Kieren Fallon; Black Mamba, Mike Smith; Rosa Grace, Joel Rosario; Charming Legacy, Joe Talamo; Visit, Garrett Gomez; and Internallyflawless, Victor Espinoza. Each carries 123 pounds except the 3-year-old Internallyflawless, who carries 120.


Bob Baffert is looking for an improved performance from Riley Tucker against a formidable field of West Coast-based horses in Sunday’s Grade I $300,000 Ancient Title Stakes. The dark brown colt has finished in the money three times in seven races since moving to Baffert’s barn, but only one of those has come in his last four starts.

“He ran really well at Belmont,” Baffert said, referring to a second in the Grade II Tom Fool Handicap on July 5. “We brought him here to get away from some of those horses there and see how he fits. He’s training well.”

Riley Tucker won an allowance race at Santa Anita on Feb. 7, and ran once more on the synthetic Pro-Ride surface before shipping east.

“He likes it here,” Baffert said. “I think he likes the surface.”

The field for the Ancient Title: Atta Boy Roy, Ricky Frazier; Nikki’sgoldensteed, Joe Talamo; Delta Storm, Joel Rosario; Red Arrow, Mike Smith; Gayego, Garrett Gomez; Crown of Thorns, Victor Espinoza; Cost of Freedom, Tyler Baze; Riley Tucker, Martin Garcia; Supreme Summit, Richard Migliore; and Square Eddie, Rafael Bejarano.


Global Hunter has a 6-1-3 record in 14 career turf races, and the 6-year-old Argentine-bred horse will be back on his favorite surface for Saturday’s Grade II $150,000 Oak Tree Mile after running three of his last four races on synthetic surfaces.

“He’s better on the turf,” trainer A.C. Avila said. “It’s just different action on synthetic.”

Avila was encouraged by Global Hunter’s fourth-place finish in last September’s Oak Tree Mile, though he feels a break from October to February has benefited the horse who’s due for a solid performance Saturday.

“He ran good last year in the Oak Tree Mile, but I believe he’s a better horse this year,” Avila said. “After the Lure (Oct. 12 at Santa Anita), I gave him four months, and he became a real racing horse.”

The field for the 24th Oak Tree Mile: Times Gone By, Victor Espinoza, 119; Skyrush, Martin Pedroza, 119; Polonious, Aaron Gryder, 119; Global Hunter, Corey Nakatani, 123; Victor’s Cry, Brice Blanc, 119; Blue Chagall, Rafael Bejarano, 119; Monterey Jazz, Mike Smith, 123; Allicansayis Wow, Kieren Fallon, 116; Cowboy Cal, Garrett Gomez, 123; and Whatsthescript, Joel Rosario, 119.


Tomorrow marks the second of Oak Tree’s “Free Fridays.”

With the exception of the first day of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Nov. 6, each Friday throughout the meet will have a special first post time of 2 p.m. All fans attending will receive free General Admission.

In addition, fans will be offered free box seats, while supplies last, along with $1 beers, sodas, hot dogs, popcorn and coffee.

FINISH LINES: Breeders’ Cup Sprint favorite Zensational worked four furlongs on Pro-Ride Thursday in :48.80, breezing. “He went nice and easy, just cruising,” Bob Baffert said. “It was just a maintenance work. We got what we wanted from him. The track’s been good since Sunday on, when some adjustments were made.” Winner of three straight Grade I sprint stakes, Zensational is training up to the $2 million Sprint on Nov. 7. . . Professional skateboarding champion Rob Dyrdek, an avid horse racing enthusiast, was at Oak Tree Wednesday to see the 2-year-old filly Jet Blue Girl win the first race for trainer Peter Eurton. One of the filly’s owners is Joe Ciaglia, who builds skateboard parks. The 35-year-old Dyrdek, a native of Ohio who once rode in a mock Thoroughbred race at Hollywood Park, visited the Oak Tree jockeys’ room, where he enjoyed photo ops with his fellow athletes . . . This Monday, the Oak Tree Racing Association presents Columbus Day Dollar Day. General Admission will be $1, as will programs, hot dogs, soft drinks, beer, popcorn and coffee. First post time is 12:30 p.m. Gates open at 10:30 a.m.

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