• SLIM SHADEY TESTS MILE AND A HALF IN GRADE II SAN LUIS REY
• BLANC BACK ABOARD BENCH GLORY IN SUNDAY’S IRISH O’BRIEN
• TALAMO IN PURSUIT OF DERBY DREAM AFTER ILL-FATED BID IN 2009
Call it karma, kinship or camaraderie, but Rosie Napravnik fits Joyful Victory. Not that the mare needs any help. She acclimates anywhere, having run at nine different race tracks in a 16-race career, including Santa Anita, where she is back as the 9-5 morning line favorite in Saturday’s Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles.
On board the comely gray daughter of Tapit will be the 25-year-old Napravnik, the nation’s leading jockey in wins this year with 75. In her only ride to date astride Joyful Victory at Santa Anita, Napravnik was second in the Zenyatta Stakes last Sept. 29.
“She does very well traveling,” trainer Larry Jones said of Joyful Victory, who raced last in Texas where she won the Houston Ladies Classic on Jan. 26. Other stops have included Delaware Park, Belmont, Churchill Downs, Oaklawn Park, Saratoga, Fair Grounds and Ellis Park, in addition to the aforementioned Santa Anita.
“For a filly, she does about as well as can be shipping so much,” Jones continued. “Colts, a lot of time, they just don’t care. They eat well and all. But this filly does well. She tries to make it to where I don’t have a lot to worry about.
“Rosie was in New York when we were racing at Churchill, and we’ve been trying to get Rosie to stay on her. When we were at Churchill, Robbie (Albarado) did ride her because he was based there and Rosie was in New York.
“But hopefully, Rosie will be able to stick with her for a while now. Maybe it’s a female thing. They get along and I guess Rosie understands that (laughing). This filly ran well as a 3-year-old when Mike Smith rode her, but she just runs better for Rosie.
“The filly has a mind of her own on the track. If she wants to go to the front, she goes to the front. If she wants to stalk, she can stalk. You just have let her do what she wants.”
In other Santa Margarita news:
The addition of blinkers on Snow Fall for the first time should help the Paseana Handicap winner, said Tyler Baze, who rides the 5-year-old War Front mare for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Snow Fall was a non-threatening fourth behind solitary front-runner Great Hot in the Grade II Santa Maria Stakes on Feb. 16.
“I worked Snow Fall once in the blinkers,” said the resurgent Baze, fifth in Santa Anita’s standings with 30 wins through Thursday. “She really picked up her head with the blinkers. I expect to be a lot closer to the pace and a big performance from her. She’s doing great.”
The field for the Santa Margarita: The Only Key, Kevin Krigger, 30-1; Brushed by a Star, Victor Espinoza, 7-2; Joyful Victory, Rosie Napravnik, 9-5; Great Hot, Gary Stevens, 4-1; Snow Fall, Tyler Baze, 7-2; and More Chocolate, Martin Garcia, 5-2.
SAN LUIS REY MARATHON DISTANCE A CHALLENGE FOR SLIM SHADEY
Speed-oriented Slim Shadey tries to win for the first time in four starts at a mile and a half when he runs in Saturday’s Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes. Simon Callaghan likes his chances.
“I’d imagine we’ll be on the front end,” the 30-year-old trainer said. “Bright Thought went to the front (in his last two starts against lesser company) for (trainer Jorge) Gutierrez. But this looks like a good setup for my horse. He’s got a nice post.
“If somebody wants to go really quick, we can rate in behind. He’s training really well coming into the race. A mile and a half is probably not his optimum distance, but he was second in this race last year, so we’re hopeful of a good run.”
The field for the San Luis Rey, race eight of nine: Slim Shadey, Gary Stevens, 3-1; Interaction, Brice Blanc, 5-2; Tiz Gianni, Rosie Napravnik, 20-1; Fire With Fire, Tyler Baze, 15-1; Huntsville, Alonso Quinonez, 15-1; Bright Thought, Victor Espinoza, 9-2; All Squared Away, Edwin Maldonado, 8-1; and Bourbon Bay, David Flores, 9-2.
John Scott was scratched.
BLANC BACK WITH BENCH GLORY FOR IRISH O’BRIEN ON ST. PAT’S DAY
Brice Blanc has ridden Bench Glory in each of her nine career starts, winning three times, but hopes to capture his first stakes aboard the 6-year-old California-bred mare in Sunday’s $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes for older fillies and mares bred in the Golden State at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf.
“She’s very consistent, always right there,” Blanc said of the chestnut daughter of Benchmark out of the Skywalker mare Image of Glory, owned and bred by John Harris.
“I rode her mom, too,” Blanc recalled. “Carla Gaines trained her. She was a Cal-bred stakes winner. This will be Bench Glory’s first race back off a layoff (since March 30, 2012), but she’s run well down the hill, so I’m optimistic.”
The field for the Irish O’Brien: Secret Cove, Garrett Gomez; Miss Becca, Edwin Maldonado; Dancingtothestars, Mario Gutierrez; Quizzical, Gary Stevens; Ismene, Mike Smith; Bench Glory, Brice Blanc; Curvy Cat, Joe Talamo; and Miss Well Molded, Rafael Bejarano.
TALAMO HOPES FOR BETTER LUCK THIS TIME IN QUEST OF DERBY WIN
It took some time for Joe Talamo to fully absorb the 11th-hour incident that cost him a ride on the favorite in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. Chalk it up to youth, inexperience, naiveté or maturity beyond his years, but the young riding star took it in stride when I Want Revenge was scratched due to injury on the morning of the race.
“Five in the morning I get a text and it said, ‘Sorry,’” recalled Talamo’s agent, Scott McClellan. “I said, ‘Sorry. Sorry what? What does that mean?’ And then five minutes later, Joe called and said, ‘Oh, I got bad news. Our horse had to scratch out of the Derby.’
“I said, ‘Oh my God. I just got a text from (fellow agent) Ron Anderson that said ‘Sorry.’ I didn’t know what it meant.
“Joe was living at a house in Louisville that (part owner) David Lanzman rented there. Joe stayed upstairs in a bedroom and when he was coming downstairs, they told him the news.”
Talamo and McClellan trust there will be no such last-minute disappointing revelations this year, starting Saturday, when Joe rides Triple Crown prospect Treasury Bill in the Grade II Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, a major steppingstone to the Run for the Roses on May 4.
The Derby is relatively old hat for McClellan, an agent for 40 years, who won it with Chris McCarron on Go for Gin in 1994 and Alysheba in 1987. Starting in the late 1990s, McClellan finished second four times in five years, with Cavonnier (McCarron in 1996), Captain Bodgit (Alex Solis in 1997), Victory Gallop (Solis in 1998) and Aptitude (Solis in 2000).
The Derby is not an afterthought for Talamo, however, especially after 2009.
“I learned you’re not in the Derby till the gates open,” said Talamo, who rides San Vicente Stakes runner-up Treasury Bill for trainer Ron Ellis and owners Gary and Mary West in the Rebel.
“I’m definitely excited about Treasury Bill,” Talamo said. “I know Ron was high on him even before he ever ran. But I don’t think he’s peaked yet. If you look at his form, every race he’s getting a little better. He hasn’t run that real big standout race yet but I think he’s going to soon.
“I think he’s sitting on tilt right now. He’s been working unbelievable. His last work he went (four furlongs) in 48 flat. You couldn’t ask him to be doing any better.”
As for the letdown with I Want Revenge, Talamo took the ordeal with the proverbial grain of salt.
“Everything happened so fast that day it was kind of hard for me to grasp it,” he said. “I was so young at the time (19) it didn’t really kick in. In this game, when something like that happens, you have to put it behind you. I still had to ride that day so I couldn’t have it on my mind.
“I was fortunate to get back to the Derby the next year with Sidney’s Candy and it was a thrill just to ride in it.”
O’NEILL TO IMPROVE TRAINING METHOD FOR GOLDENCENTS
Doug O’Neill reports that Sham Stakes winner Goldencents came out of his fourth-place finish in last Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes in good order and it’s on to the April 6 Santa Anita Derby and a rematch with San Felipe runner-up Flashback and new jockey Garrett Gomez.
“He came out great,” O’Neill said of Goldencents, who weakened late to be beaten 2 ½ lengths in the San Felipe. “He looked fantastic. I’ve got to do a little better job training him. I will, and we’ll be tough in the Santa Anita Derby.”
Tiz a Minister, who rallied from another county under Gomez to finish third by a length in the San Felipe, is being considered for the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes on Keeneland’s Polytrack on April 13.
“He came out of the San Felipe fine, and I haven’t worked him back yet,” trainer Paul Aguirre said of the late-running California-bred son of Ministers Wild Cat. “I don’t have a jockey for him right now if we run in the Santa Anita Derby, but if we go in the Blue Grass, Gomez would be available to ride him back.”
A less-accomplished O’Neill 3-year-old, Mudflats, who worked six furlongs Thursday in a bullet 1:12.80, is ticketed for the Grade III, $800,000 Sunland Park Derby on March 24. “He worked great,” O’Neill said. “We were just looking for a good stretch and a good finish and he did just that, so we’re excited. He came out of it good and he flies out next week to New Mexico with a couple other horses.”
Edwin Maldonado, whose two wins Thursday moved him into second place in Santa Anita’s standings with 40, rides Mudflats in the Sunland Park Derby.
FINISH LINES: Jockey Joy Scott, who suffered a compound fracture to her right femur during a training accident Tuesday at Santa Anita, has surgery on hold until an infection clears up, her son, Jesse Sanchez, told Daily Racing Form. Scott, 53, has been in Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena since Tuesday . . . A new handicapper has been added to the Pros Pick's section of the Santa Anita Website. Bill Caniano is a player and professional handicapper and well-established in the industry. He will be providing a pick a day at http://www.santaanita.com/prospicks . . . What’s in a name? Trainer Mike Curtis saddled the first race exacta finishers on Thursday, $6 winner Adrenaline Shot and 26-1 runner-up Army Commander. It paid $36.80. In the second race, victorious Door’s Open was ridden by Mario Gutierrez, while runner-up Warren’s Tyler S. was trained by Jorge Gutierrez (no relation). The exacta returned $21.30 . . . With 48 players selecting even-money favorite Mia Isabel who finished sixth in yesterday’s third race, 79 remain alive in ShowVivor II entering Friday’s card.
Santa Anita Statistics
(Current through Thursday, March 14)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Rafael Bejarano 242 61 46 22 25% $3,084,082
Edwin Maldonado 264 40 28 38 15% $1,569,464
Garrett Gomez 159 39 25 17 25% $2,298,418
Joe Talamo 269 31 43 46 12% $2,177,005
Tyler Baze 264 30 31 24 11% $1,167,062
Martin Garcia 179 28 25 21 16% $1,465,195
Julien Leparoux 174 25 25 14 14% $1,477,238
Victor Espinoza 110 22 11 16 20% $933,190
Kevin Krigger 109 16 16 10 15% $584,754
Martin Pedroza 124 15 13 19 12% $629,740
Agapito Delgadillo 97 13 12 16 13% $340,865
Mike Smith 71 12 9 13 17% $1,376,016
Gary Stevens 67 10 18 10 15% $847,464
Mario Gutierrez 121 9 16 16 7% $503,228
Orlando Mojica 133 9 10 22 7% $432,458
Aaron Gryder 97 9 9 7 9% $356,938
Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Bob Baffert 130 27 24 12 21% $2,720,500
Jerry Hollendorfer 86 24 19 11 28% $1,455,146
John Sadler 141 22 22 18 16% $1,075,687
Doug O'Neill 173 16 32 21 9% $1,151,032
Peter Miller 74 12 16 10 16% $686,342
Richard Mandella 39 12 9 3 31% $838,712
Mike Mitchell 53 11 8 6 21% $412,264
Mike Puype 75 10 5 12 13% $535,553
Julio Canani 43 10 3 5 23% $336,650
William Spawr 35 9 9 4 26% $226,946
Peter Eurton 43 8 8 5 19% $341,440
Mark Glatt 63 8 7 7 13% $258,870
Jeff Bonde 26 8 4 4 31% $339,540
Ronald Ellis 40 8 3 4 20% $453,710