• DERBY WINNER O’NEILL SAYS BREEDERS’ CUP IS ‘SUPER BOWL’
• HRTV’S MIGLIORE: CHAMPIONSHIPS TO BE WON ON THE TRACK
• AUSSIE LASSIE KAYLA STRA: PROFICIENCY IN THE SADDLE
Martin Pedroza’s Breeders’ Cup mounts have been as scarce as rain in Southern
The 48-year-old jockey has only ridden in the World Championship event five times in its 29-year history. He is still looking for his first win.
In 1986 he was eighth on Silk’s Lady in the Juvenile Fillies; in 1991 he finished 12th aboard Miss Iron Smoke, also in the Juvenile Fillies; in 2008 he was third on Two Step Salsa in the Dirt Mile; in 2012, he ran sixth on Nonios in the Classic and 11th aboard Stormy Lucy in the Filly & Mare Turf.
That void on his resume of more than 3,500 career victories could end next Saturday when Pedroza rides Private Zone in the $1.5 million Xpressbet Breeders’ Cup Sprint at six furlongs.
It couldn’t come at a more appropriate time. Private Zone is managed for the Good Friends Stable by former jockey Rene Douglas. Douglas and Pedroza attended the same riding school in their native Panama and have been close friends since their early teens.
Douglas was paralyzed from the waist down in a riding accident at Arlington Park in 2009. While Pedroza remains in touch with Douglas almost daily, for the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita next Friday and Saturday, they will meet in person for first time since last March, when Private Zone ran in the Golden Shaheen in Dubai.
“I’m very excited to see my best friend,” said Pedroza, who expects Douglas to arrive in California next Wednesday from Florida. “I can’t wait.”
Private Zone had his final major drill for the Sprint Friday morning, going five furlongs with Pedroza up in 1:01.80. “The horse was full of energy,” said trainer Doug O’Neill, who sent several other Breeders’ Cup hopefuls through their final major drills. “The work was nice and easy. He left the track with a lot left in him, so he’s doing great.”
Private Zone gives Pedroza his best chance to register his first Breeders’ Cup victory in a riding career that began in 1982.
“I’ve got a helluva chance to win,” Pedroza said unequivocally. “If I’ve ever had a chance, it’s with this horse. I really do like my chances. The horse is getting better and better. The little time off they gave him after the Dubai race seems like it’s made him a different horse.”
As for the personal drought, Pedroza’s long-time agent Richie Silverstein agrees with his rider that this is the best chance they’ve had to end it.
“Naturally, when the Breeders’ Cup was at Santa Anita or Hollywood, we’ve had better chances for mounts than when it was back East,” Silverstein said. “Sometimes local jockeys pick up horses they’d never have a chance to ride at other tracks.
“But Private Zone has to be by far the best chance Marty’s had, if we get lucky. We have another good one in Blueskiesnrainbows in the ($500,000) Marathon (at 1 3/4 miles) for Jerry Hollendorfer. The horse got beat at Fresno so he’s going to be way overlooked, but this is what the horse wants to do.”
Blueskiesnrainbows was fifth as the 7-10 favorite in the 1 1/8-mile Bull Dog Handicap at Fresno on Oct. 13 with Leslie Mawing up. Prior to that, Pedroza rode the Virginia-bred son of English Channel to a four-length romp in the $100,000 Ralph M. Hinds at Fairplex on Sept. 22.
“We just hope the posts are good for our two horses and the stars line up right,” Silverstein said.
BREEDERS’ CUP GIVES HORSEMEN MORE THAN ONE CHANCE AT VICTORY
It’s every trainer’s dream to win the Kentucky Derby, and Doug O’Neill fulfilled that fantasy when he saddled I’ll Have Another to win the Run for the Roses in 2012. The beat goes on, but with the Breeders’ Cup drawing ever closer at Santa Anita next Friday and Saturday, O’Neill and his team are focused on their candidates for the championship events, which O’Neill equates to professional football’s Super Bowl.
“The Breeders’ Cup is a huge day for all of us in the business,” O’Neill said. “There’s only one Kentucky Derby, but the great thing about the Breeders’ Cup is there are more opportunities. A horse gets only one chance to run in the Derby and only 20 horses a year at most have a chance to get into the starting gate.
“The Breeders’ Cup is much more spread out and your chances are greater to hit one out of the park. It’s the Super Bowl and we’re pumped up with some live chances.”
Among O’Neill’s Breeders’ Cup workers Friday was Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents, who went five furlongs for the Dirt Mile in a bullet 58.40 under Rafael Bejarano.
“Goldencents actually ran into some (unexpected) company,” O’Neill said. “He was trying to go by himself but some company was in front of him and he caught them. He went a little quicker than we wanted, but he did it real easy and he’s spot-on, ready to go.”
FrontRunner winner Bond Holder also worked five furlongs, going in 1:03.80. “He’s a solid horse,” O’Neill said. “The first eighth of a work’s going to make the final time, and they were just cruising early. He finished up good and galloped out strong and he’s ready to go.”
Other O’Neill workers included Clenor (Juvenile Fillies Turf), four furlongs on grass in 48.40; Renee’s Titan (Filly & Mare Sprint), five furlongs in 1:00.20; and Concave (Juvenile Fillies), five furlongs on the main track in 59.40.
Defending Turf Sprint winner Mizdirection went five furlongs on turf in 57.80 for Mike Puype, while likely Juvenile contender Diamond Bachelor worked five furlongs on the main track in 1:00.60 for Patrick Biancone.
“We’re very happy with her,” Puype said of Mizdirection, who’s owned in-part by Jim Rome’s Jungle Racing. “She’s ready to go.”
The Breeders’ Cup wagering menu will include $2 win, place, show and daily double betting; $1 exactas and a $1 daily double from the Distaff to the Classic; 50-cent betting on Trifectas, Pick 3s, Pick 4s, Pick 5s and the Super Hi 5; and 10-cent Superfecta wagering.
MIGLIORE BRINGS ENTHUSIASM AND EXPERTISE TO HRTV
Richard Migliore’s the kind of guy who could get excited watching a test pattern. Imagine how he feels about the Breeders’ Cup.
A perennial top rider in New York and a winner of Santa Anita’s George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 2008, “The Mig” now lends his valued and enthusiastic expertise for HRTV, and is on hand at Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
“I’ve been retired for 3 ½ years and been doing HRTV for three,” Migliore said while glad-handing his many friends at Clockers’ Corner Friday morning. “HRTV has given me an incredible opportunity.
“This is what I know about; this is what I love, so it’s easy to talk about it. It also gives me the chance to get out here and see everybody, all the friends I’ve made in the game.
“The Breeders’ Cup is really exciting and that’s what it’s supposed to be, horses getting together and settling it on the race track. I think the Distaff this year, although it’s not going to be a huge field (six were pre-entered), displays that more than any other race.
“You get Princess of Sylmar, Beholder, Royal Delta. They’re going to settle the championship on the race track.”
AUSSIE LASSIE KAYLA STRA: PROFICIENCY IN THE SADDLE
Not that she had to win him over, but Kayla Stra endeared herself even more to trainer Howard Zucker after she won Thursday’s third race for him by a half-length on Bosserette.
Stra, who turns 29 on Dec. 3, came back to win the fourth race by a neck for trainer Derek Meredith aboard Ghost of Harrenhal.
“She becomes part of the team for you,” Zucker said. “She works with you and the horse and gets everybody on the same page. She’s got proficiency in the saddle. She really can do just about anything on any kind of horse.
“I love her riding. I wish she had more chances. She’d be that much more polished. When you give her a chance, she delivers.”
Added her agent, Richie Silverstein: “She’s the face of racing in Australia. That’s what everybody tells me. Evidently, she’s more famous than we knew.”
And getting famouser.
FINISH LINES: With two wins Thursday, Edwin Maldonado tied Rafael Bejarano for Santa Anita’s riding lead at 17 each. Joe Talamo remains a close third with 15 victories . . . Contestants in ShowVivor fell to 19 going into Friday’s races . . . To accommodate all Breeders’ Cup horses stabled at Santa Anita, beginning Saturday they will have access to the main track for their workouts and exercise five minutes before other horses begin their daily regimen . . . Agent Jim Pegram has taken the book of jockey Fernando Perez.
SANTA ANITA STATISTICS
(Current Through Thursday, Oct. 24)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Rafael Bejarano 108 17 25 16 16% $799,534
Edwin Maldonado 100 17 12 9 17% $542,108
Joe Talamo 101 15 11 11 15% $583,934
Mike Smith 28 11 4 2 39% $605,990
Gary Stevens 45 10 6 8 22% $840,404
Corey Nakatani 63 10 5 9 16% $517,180
Irving Orozco 79 8 4 11 10% $278,726
Mario Gutierrez 62 7 9 6 11% $415,560
Agapito Delgadillo 64 7 9 4 11% $236,700
Martin Garcia 66 6 9 12 9% $433,900
Julien Leparoux 52 6 9 5 12% $517,212
Chantal Sutherland Kruse 28 6 3 1 21% $153,204
Victor Espinoza 80 4 13 11 5% $421,966
Martin Pedroza 57 4 3 7 7% $170,224
Fernando Perez 29 4 2 1 14% $86,280
Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Peter Miller 48 11 4 6 23% $356,928
Bob Baffert 45 10 2 8 22% $596,050
Doug O'Neill 79 8 9 5 10% $541,028
John Sadler 62 7 13 11 11% $424,580
Jerry Hollendorfer 31 5 6 4 16% $269,612
William Spawr 15 5 5 0 33% $152,160
Thomas Proctor 27 5 2 2 19% $261,626
Barry Abrams 22 5 2 0 23% $169,734
Mike Puype 38 5 1 7 13% $124,004
Ronald Ellis 14 5 1 0 36% $144,200
Mike Mitchell 27 4 4 2 15% $131,010
Jeff Mullins 21 4 1 1 19% $140,730