• NAKATANI HAS NEW AGENT IN EX-GOMEZ REP TONY MATOS
• AT 3-1, ISMENE IS ‘OUTSIDER’ IN SATURDAY’S CAL DISTAFF
With Horse of the Year Wise Dan’s nine-race winning streak at and end and committed
front-runner Obviously hoping for less up front heat, “suddenly,” as Trevor Denman is wont to say, “the whole picture changes.”
That would be in reference to the Breeders’ Cup Mile, a $2-million grass race at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. Wise Dan was a prohibitive favorite for the Mile before he lost to Silver Max in the Shadwell Mile last Saturday, a race taken from turf and moved to Keeneland’s synthetic Polytrack due to heavy rains. While still favored, his odds are not likely to plummet further.
Obviously, meanwhile, finished fourth as the 1-2 favorite in the City of Hope Mile Stakes also last Saturday, snapping a three-race winning streak.
With Wise Dan and Obviously stubbing their hooves, hope now rises for the opposition in the Mile, one of whose members is Gary Mandella, trainer of a consistent 4-year-old Kentucky-bred named Silentio, who captured the Grade II Sir Beaufort Stakes on a “good” Santa Anita turf course last Dec. 26.
Silentio, a son of Silent Name out of the A.P. Indy mare Listen A.P., has never finished worse than fifth in an abbreviated career of eight starts, the last of which came Aug. 25 when he finished third, beaten less than a length, in the Grade II Del Mar Mile Handicap on turf.
Noted that the Mile still shapes up as a salty race, Mandella allowed as to how it was all subjective.
“Well, it depends on how you look at,” said Gary, son of Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, who made history in 2003 by winning four Breeders’ Cup races at Santa Anita. “With the results of the races last weekend, the Mile is a very wide open race now.
“You have Wise Dan coming in off a loss instead of 10 straight wins. You have Obviously running fourth instead of coming in off of four straight wins, and the best miler in Europe, Moonlight Cloud, is now being considered for a race in Hong Kong instead of the Breeders’ Cup. If the favorites aren’t coming in off their best race, that improves the chances of the other Mile contenders.
“It gives guys like me a little bit of hope that if your horse is doing well at the right time and you get the right trip, you can get lucky. And the Mile is a trip race. There are a number of good horses that should have won that race and didn’t get the right trip.
“Starting 14 horses at that level on a seven-eighths turf course, anything can happen.”
WITH GOMEZ OUT, MATOS REUNITES WITH COREY NAKATANI
The fallout continued Friday morning in the aftermath of Garrett Gomez saying he “didn’t want to ride for a while,” leaving his agent, Tony Matos, without a premier jockey.
Effective today, Matos will be agent for veteran Corey Nakatani, whom he represented as an apprentice when he was Southern California’s leading “bug” rider nearly a quarter century ago. Nakatani, who had been represented by agent Jim Pegram, will be 43 on Oct. 21.
“Surprised” is how Pegram described his primary reaction on hearing the news from Nakatani that he was parting company. “I got a hint of it last night, but not officially until this morning,” said Pegram, who once upon a time also represented Gomez.
Matos, who also represents jockey Alonso Quinonez, currently recovering from injuries in a spill at the recent Fairplex Park meet, said Friday he “hasn’t heard from” Gomez since receiving a text from him on Wednesday.
“He’s going through personal problems,” Matos said Thursday. “He texted me yesterday and said he didn’t want to ride for a while.”
Matos expects Quinonez to resume riding before the meet ends on Nov. 3. “He was out here yesterday,” Matos said. “He’s going to start swimming, he’s going to start therapy and I would say he’ll be back in two weeks.”
ISMENE IS IN ON OUTSIDE FOR SATURDAY’S CAL DISTAFF
Ismene, twice scratched in recent days when drawing inside post positions, drew the outside for Saturday’s $100,000 California Distaff Handicap at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf and is ready to roll.
“We’ll see what happens,” said Bill Spawr, who trains the 4-year-old daughter of Tribal Rule for owner/breeder Stephen Ferraro.
Ismene led into the stretch before finishing second in her lone previous race on Santa Anita’s unique downhill venue, in the Irish O’Brien Stakes last March 17. Two of the California-breds three wins have come in stakes, the Anoakia and the California Breeders’ Championship for fillies.
The field for the California Distaff Handicap: Bella Viaggia, Gary Stevens, 2-1; Dancingtothestars, Mario Gutierrez, 4-1; Mia Lady, Victor Espinoza, 12-1; Qianona, Corey Nakatani, 6-1; Tasty Treat, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; Pahiatua, Joe Talamo, 20-1; and Ismene, Mike Smith, 3-1. Toomanytomatoes was scratched.
DOYLE NEWEST FACE IN SANTA ANITA JOCKEY COLONY
Today’s second race will showcase a new face in the Santa Anita Jockey Colony—English native Sophie Doyle, who has been named to ride 2-year-old maiden Charlie Thomas at a flat mile for trainer Sean McCarthy.
As reported by HRTV’s Zoe Cadman, Doyle, who was England’s champion Female Apprentice Jockey with 88 winners in 2010, has spent the several winters in Southern California since, riding work for trainers Steve Asmussen, Jim Cassidy, Paddy Gallagher and others.
While she rode a couple of races here in 2011, Doyle is now hoping to establish herself on a full-time basis.
Doyle is also the sister of a prominent jockey in England, James Doyle, who was named as “first jockey” to Juddmonte Farms’ Khalid Abdullah this past summer.
Charlie Thomas will try a route of ground in his fourth career start in today’s second and has been installed as the third choice on Jon White’s morning line at 6-1.