• NO DISTRACTING BEJARANO IN PURSUIT OF SANTA MONICA WIN
• TRAINER HOPES HE MAKES ‘A-STUTE’ MOVE IN SANTA YSABEL
• CHOKECHERYMARY SEEKS REPEAT VALENTINE DANCER VICTORY
• HECTOR HAS CONTENDER IN THE PALMA HIS HANDS
• HOME JOURNEY TRIES TO REBOUND IN CAL BREEDERS’ STAKES
• THIRTYFIRSTSTREET SHOULD FAVOR TURF IN CRYSTAL WATER

STEADY DISTRACTING RETURNS TO SPRINT IN SANTA MONICA

Distracting shortens from a mile and a sixteenth to seven furlongs in
Saturday’s Grade II Santa Monica Stakes, one of six added money events to be decided at Santa Anita Park on Sunshine Millions Day.

Leading rider Rafael Bejarano is confident the 4-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor trained by Bob Baffert can successfully make the transition. He should know. He’s ridden the chestnut filly in each of her four starts, winning the first two and finishing second the last two, including the Paseana Handicap on Jan. 13.

“She’s got speed but she can relax,” Bejarano said. “We’ll see what Bob wants me to do and go from there. If we get a good trip we should be OK.”

Distracting has been favored in all but her first race, but that honor is likely to fall to Teddy’s Promise in the Santa Monica. The easy winner of the Kalookan Queen is the 5-2 choice on Jon White’s morning line, with Distracting listed at 4-1.

The field for the Santa Monica, race eight of 10: Journaliste, Garrett Gomez, 12-1; Distracting, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; Sugarinthemorning, Martin Garcia, 4-1; Teddy’s Promise, Victor Espinoza, 5-2; Belle of the Hall, Corey Nakatani, 4-1; Kindle, Edwin Maldonado, 3-1; and Pink Lollipops, Joe Talamo, 8-1.

Byrama and Rumor were scratched. “She just doesn’t seem to be herself,” trainer Richard Mandella said of Rumor. “I’m going to pass and look at something else.”

On Sunshine Millions Day, fans at Santa Anita receive free a Sunshine Millions Beach Hat with paid admission while supplies last. Also, there will be a KROQ concert in the infield, live music between races, microbrew beers, premium food trucks and family fun activities.

FIRST POST TIME SATURDAY IS 12 NOON.



ESCAPE ACT GOES FROM TURF TO DIRT IN SANTA YSABEL

Escape Act had been on or close to the lead in her first three career starts, breaking her maiden in front-running fashion at six furlongs on Betfair Hollywood Park’s turf course Dec. 15.

Last out, when she finished fourth in the grassy Blue Norther at Santa Anita on New Year’s Day, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Medaglia d’Oro rallied from ninth to be beaten only a neck at odds of 15-1. The change in running style surprised her trainer.

“I thought she’d be on the lead that day,” said Gary Stute, who has her entered in Saturday’s Grade III Santa Ysabel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.
“She stumbled at the start of the Blue Norther and I gave her no chance after that, but she came flying. I thought she ran a winning race.”

Escape Act, a bay filly owned by Bo Hirsch, son of the late Oak Tree President Clement Hirsch, is going from turf to dirt, but Stute is not unduly concerned.

“We’ll find out,” he said. “I’m hoping Escape Act can transfer her form over to the dirt.”

The field for the Santa Ysabel, which goes as the fourth race: Escape Act, Martin Garcia, 3-1; Fiftyshadesofhay, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; Scarlet Strike, Joe Talamo, 8-5; Switch to the Lead, Julien Leparoux, 8-1; and Heir Kitty, Garrett Gomez, 7-5.

Branding was scratched.



CHOKECHERYMARY SET TO DEFEND VALENTINE DANCER TITLE

Chokecherymary likely will try to defend her title in Saturday’s $100,000 Valentine Dancer Stakes for older California-bred fillies and mares at one mile on turf, weather or not.

“I think she got enough out of her race the other day that she’s set up well,” trainer Gary Mandella said of the 5-year-old Capsized mare, who finished an eventful fifth in a 6 ½ furlong race that was moved from grass to dirt on Dec. 30. Chokecherymary finished fifth, but broke out and was steadied.

Owned by Steve and Sue Woskow of Simi Valley, Chokecherymary was off 10 months after capturing the Valentine Dancer on Jan. 28, 2012, winning a nine-furlong allowance race on turf by a nose on March 1 before running fifth three weeks ago.

“When she won the allowance race here last year it had rained a bit that day and the ground was a little soft,” Mandella recalled.

“I won’t worry too much if it’s soft grass on Saturday. I don’t know what I would do if it’s taken off the turf. I’d have to give it some thought.”

The field for the Valentine Dancer, which goes as race five: Toomanytomatoes, Kevin Krigger, 30-1; Best Present Ever, Martin Pedroza, 5-1; Tiz Flirtatious, Rafael Bejarano,
4-5; Chokecherymary, Julien Leparoux, 8-1; Secret Cove, Garrett Gomez, 12-1; Miss Becca, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1; Halo Dolly, Joe Talamo, 5-2; and Dancingtothestars, Mario Gutierrez, 12-1.


FIGHTING HUSSAR TO RUN RAIN OR SHINE IN RICH CAL-BRED STAKE

Hector Palma has more than a trainer’s interest in Saturday’s $300,000 California Breeders Champion Stakes at one mile on the main track. The veteran horseman also owns 75 percent of Fighting Hussar, who missed by a half length at 11-1 of overtaking 60-1 winner Weewinnin in the King Glorious Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park on Dec. 16.

“He’s going to run,” Palma said Friday morning, dismissing conditions caused by rain the last two days that created wet/fast conditions on the main track for today’s races. “What happens, happens.”

A gray son of Rockport Harbor, Fighting Hussar has never been worse than fourth in six outings, but this will be his first race beyond seven furlongs, the distance of the King Glorious, in which Fighting Hussar rallied four wide.

“He was wide,” Palma affirmed, “but the other horse (Weewinnin) was wide, too, and he beat me fair and square, no excuses. Tomorrow we’ll see if he goes a mile or I go a mile.”

The field for the California Breeders Champion Stakes: Omega Star, Julien Leparoux, 5-2; Alydidit, Orlando Mojica, 30-1; Major Truth, Alonso Quinonez, 20-1; O Wild West Wind, Edwin Maldonado, 30-1; Lovmeister, Martin Pedroza, 15-1; Fighting Hussar, Rafael Bejarano, 5-1 China Prince, Joe Talamo, 10-1; Monument, Juan Hernandez, 7-2; Tiz a Minister, Garrett Gomez, 8-1; Surfcup, Martin Garcia, 8-1; and Weewinnin, Jose Valdivia Jr., 7-2.


HOME JOURNEY SWINGS FOR THE FENCES IN CAL-BRED FILLIES STAKE

Home Journey won her first two starts sprinting in handy fashion, but called it a race after leading for a half-mile in the seven-furlong Soviet Problem at Betfair Hollywood Park on Dec. 9, beaten 28 ½ lengths as the 7-10 favorite.

Mike Puype was as perplexed as the bettors who backed her, but he’s entered the daughter of Good Journey in Saturday’s $300,000 California Breeders’ Champion Stakes for
3-year-old Cal-bred fillies at one mile on the main track.

“No, I couldn’t find any,” the trainer said when asked if she had any issues in the Soviet Problem. “We’ll see if she can bounce back and run a mile. It’s an unproven distance for her.
“She’s very fast. Usually, they don’t make great milers, but it’s too much money not to swing the bat and see what we’ve got.”

The field for the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes, fillies division: Marks Mine, Abel Cedillo, 12-1; Akiss Forarose, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1; Awe Golly Molly, Juan Hernandez, 20-1; Home Journey, Aaron Gryder, 4-1; Jade With Envy, Julien Leparoux,
12-1; Unusual Way, Rafael Bejarano, 7-2; Tilde, Gary Stevens, 6-1; Doinghardtimeagain, Joe Talamo, 3-1; Qiaona, Garrett Gomez, 12-1; Good Party, Eswan Flores, 8-1; and Cloudy Moon, Orlando Mojica, 8-1.


FIRM GOING WOULD HELP THIRTYFIRSTSTREET IN CRYSTAL WATER

Thirtyfirststreet seeks his first win for trainer Peter Eurton when the 5-year-old Good Journey horse runs in Saturday’s $100,000 Crystal Water Stakes for older horses scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Trained by Doug O’Neill in his first 18 races, Thirtyfirststreet is zero for five for Eurton.

“If the course stays firm or the track is fast, I think he might like that,” Eurton said. “He tends to love turf now. He loves firm going that he can skip across. He didn’t like the track in New Mexico (Zia Park) at all, (fading to eighth in a nine-furlong stake there on the main track in his last start, on Dec. 2).

“Then he got sick, so that could have had a lot to do with it. He’s not a horse with a great turn of foot. He’s kind of a grinder. He keeps coming. His race two races back, he gave up a lot of ground from the three-eighths pole to the eighth pole, then was beaten a length for the whole thing against some nice horses.”

The field for the Crystal Water: Jules Journey, David Flores, 8-1; Swift Eagle, Garrett Gomez, 8-1; Big Bane Theory, Julien Leparoux, 5-2; Huntsville, Juan Hernandez, 12-1; Circle the Moon, Alonso Quinonez, 5-1; John Scott, Martin Garcia, 2-1; Stoney Fleece, Joe Talamo, 6-1; and Thirtyfirststreet, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1.


FINISH LINES: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up He’s Had Enough and Pennsylvania Derby winner Handsome Mike worked six furlongs in company on Santa Anita’s wet/fast main track Friday at 12:30 p.m., a half-hour before the first race. He’s Had Enough, pointing to the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 2, was ridden by Mario Gutierrez, while Handsome Mike, bound for the Grade II Strub Stakes the same day, had Tyler Baze aboard. The gray He’s Had Enough raced outside of Handsome Mike throughout, finishing about a neck in front at the finish in 1:11 flat. Fractional times were 23.59, 46.69 and 58.33. “Mario will ride both horses in their (upcoming) races,” trainer Doug O’Neill said . . . Santa Anita’s Director of Community Services & Special Projects Pete Siberell reminds that the backside community clothes drive ends Sunday. Donations of slightly used jackets, shirts, sweatshirts, jeans, boots, socks, blankets, towels and sundry items for men, women and children can be placed in “Drop-Off Point” containers at the Paddock Bridge and the A Gate, or call Javier Gonzalez at 626 353-5766 to arrange for a pick up. All items will be distributed free to members of the stable community and their families at the Oak Tree Recreation facility on Sunday . . . With the majority picking winning favorite Lady Katfish to finish at least third in Thursday’s fifth race, 34 players remained alive in ShowVivor entering Friday’s card . . . Turf sprint specialist Lakerville, whose long-range goal is the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita in early November, is due back at Barry Abrams’ barn next week after a three-month respite. “Hopefully, he’ll stay on a good program and win the Breeders’ Cup in 2013,” said the trainer, a major fan of the once-mighty Los Angeles Lakers, for whom Lakerville is named. Asked what he would do if he were calling shots for the aging NBA team, Abrams said, “Well, I’d root for Lakerville instead of the Lakers.”

Santa Anita Statistics

(Current Through Thursday, Jan. 24)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Rafael Bejarano 95 20 20 5 21% $1,156,300
Joe Talamo 106 16 15 20 15% $797,632
Edwin Maldonado 111 15 10 14 14% $628,490
Garrett Gomez 63 14 14 5 22% $924,690
Tyler Baze 106 13 12 12 12% $532,954
Martin Garcia 81 12 9 8 15% $636,498
Victor Espinoza 39 10 4 7 26% $357,210
Julien Leparoux 67 8 9 6 12% $502,894
Martin Pedroza 56 7 5 8 13% $340,320
Kevin Krigger 35 7 4 2 20% $191,750

Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
John Sadler 59 11 10 9 19% $579,720
Doug O'Neill 67 9 12 5 13% $595,858
Jerry Hollendorfer 41 9 10 6 22% $555,528
Bob Baffert 64 8 9 5 13% $810,610
Peter Miller 29 6 7 2 21% $334,050
John Shirreffs 18 6 2 2 33% $272,730
Mike Puype 32 5 2 3 16% $240,500
Mark Glatt 19 5 2 1 26% $104,610
William Spawr 12 4 4 2 33% $101,628
Richard Mandella 16 4 3 2 25% $343,520