Gio Ponti, a leading contender for the $500,000 Hollywood Derby on Nov. 30, worked Friday at Santa Anita for the Grade I test for 3-year-olds at 1 ¼ miles on turf.
“He breezed five eighths in a minute and one fifth, the last quarter in 23 and change,” said a satisfied Nicholas Bachalard, assistant to trainer Christophe Clement, after the drill under exercise rider Paul Turner. “He will school in the paddock at Hollywood Park for the second time tomorrow.”
“This is his second work here since he shipped out Nov. 4,” said Bachalard. “He’s a very consistent horse, and he won the Virginia Derby at a mile and a quarter, so distance should be no problem.”
Garrett Gomez has the call back in a lineup also expected to attract Court Vision (Ramon Dominguez), Cowboy Cal (John Velazquez), Sailor’s Cap (Alan Garcia), Madeo (Mike Smith), Muny (David Flores), Dixie Chatter (Tyler Baze) and Albhari (Julien Leparoux).
The Hollywood Derby is scheduled the same day as the $500,000 Matriarch as co-features of the six-race Turf Festival Nov. 28-30.
MOTION TO RUN ROSINKA IN MATRIARCH, TWO IN CITATION
Trainer H. Graham Motion confirmed from Maryland Friday he planned to enter both Galantas and Rebellion in the $400,000 Citation Handicap Nov. 28 and Rosinka in the $500,000 Matriarch Nov. 30.
Jeremy Rose will ride Rosinka in the Grade I Matriarch for fillies and mares at one mile on turf and Galantas in the Grade I Citation at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Rafael Bejarano has the call on Rebellion.
Rosinka, a 5-year-old Irish-bred mare, has won seven of 17 starts and finished second in her last start in the Las Palmas Handicap, a half-length behind Roshani after leading in the stretch at Santa Anita Oct. 24.
“She was a little unlucky in the Las Palmas,” said Motion, who was happy to have Rose aboard after missing three races on the mare last summer because of a suspension.
“Jeremy has a good rapport with this mare, and she isn’t the easiest to ride, so we got a little untracked when he got suspended,” said Motion. “Her best race was a second last year in the Flower Bowl (at Belmont) behind Lahudood, who came back to win the Breeders’ Cup, and we hope she’s coming back to that kind of form. This will probably be her last start.”
Other probable Matriarch starters are defending champion Precious Kitten (Bejarano), Visit (Garrett Gomez), Cocoa Beach (Ramon Dominguez), Roshani (John Velazquez), Black Mamba (Mike Smith), Magical Fantasy (Alex Solis), Criminologist (Edgar Prado), Passified and I Can See. Vacare tops a list of possibles.
Rosinka and Rebellion, second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, remained at Santa Anita with assistant Alice Clapham but Galantas has trained at Motion’s Fair Hill base.
“Galantas is a talented but fragile horse and we try to place him judiciously,” said Motion of the 5-year-old horse who returned from a year layoff because of a soft-tissue injury in his ankle to finish third in the Carey Memorial Handicap at Hawthorne on Sept. 27. “He will breeze on Tapeta Saturday and ship Tuesday,”
Rebellion, a 5-year-old English-bred horse, has raced in California since capturing the Ack Ack Handicap on Cushion Track here in June. “I always thought he was a better horse on grass,” said Motion.
Other probable Citation starters include Hyperbaric (Tyler Baze), Whatsthescript (Gomez), Becrux (Smith), Formal Decree (Jean-Luc Samyn) and Lord Admiral (Solis). Proudinsky heads a list of possibles.
PERIBAN CONTINUES HOT STREAK
Surging trainer Jorge Periban won two races Thursday with Sidepocket Lou and Perfect Hostess after winning one Wednesday with Joe’sgirlisgolden. A fourth victory was taken away when Stormy Racer was disqualified for interference in the first race Wednesday.
Periban, standing proudly in front of a stable office wall covered with winner’s circle photos in Barn 73 West Friday, said the disqualifications all even out. He pointed to one of the highlights of his career, when he won a record five races at the Hipodromo de Las Americas in Mexico City on April 16, 1995, and said one of the winners came through a DQ that went his way.
“In 1984, when I was training at Laredo in Mexico, I dreamed that I would train in California one day, and now that dream has come true,” said Periban, who has overcome adversity to a build a 39-horse stable from one in 2004.
“In 1998, I was working here as an exercise rider and hurt my back galloping,” said Periban. “I had surgery, and it took me five years to recover. Times were so bad I was picking up discarded tickets to get by.”
Periban bought a horse named La Bella in 2004 and later that year saddled his first California winner, Timeless End, at Los Alamitos. “I started little, and little by little have improved,” said Periban, who won 29 races last year and 34 so far this year. He credited his family — wife Caroline, daughter Carmen and son Jorge Brandon — and trainer Ed Halpern for their support.
“I was born on the racetrack in Mexico City on August 13, 1959,” said Periban, whose father worked in track security. After six years as a jockey in Mexico, Periban outgrew his job at 21 and became an exercise rider in New Mexico.
He began training in Laredo in 1983 and two years later moved to Louisiana, where he galloped horses for Jim Sayler and trained on his own. He moved to Mexico City in 1992 and said he won more than 300 races there before the track closed in 1996.
Periban moved to California in 1997, and the rest is history. With his brother Adrian playing a key role as his assistant, Periban has used a sharp claiming eye for some of his success.
Both winners Thursday were claimed a day apart at Del Mar for $40,000 for owner Pablo Perez.
Periban seeks his first stakes win in California on Thanksgiving Day when he plans to send out Pistol Pete Afleet, claimed for $80,000 for Stephen Campbell, in the $65,000-added War Chant Stakes.
Periban continues to dream big. “My other dream is to be in one Kentucky Derby or one Breeders’ Cup,” said Periban. “I don’t know how long it will take, but I will do my best to get my dream.”
SHIRREFFS INJURED ON TRACK
Trainer John Shirreffs suffered an apparent abdominal injury in a freak accident on the main track Friday.
According to a report from assistant Felipe Rivera, Shirreffs was aboard his pony near the starting gate when another horse spooked the pony, which wheeled sharply.
Shirreffs dismounted in apparent pain and went down. An ambulance transported Shirreffs to Centinela Hospital for further evaluation.
Michelle Jensen, another assistant, said Shirreffs was able to give her training instructions by cell phone from the hospital.
Shirreffs, 63, is best known as the trainer 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo and of Zenyatta, unbeaten winner of the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic this year.
FINISH LINES — Shakis, an 8-year-old horse being pointed for the Citation Handicap on Nov. 28, broke down Friday following a work on Cushion Track and was euthanized. Shakis was shipped here by trainer Kiaran McLaughlin following an 11th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita. The Irish-bred son of Machiavellian won seven of 35 starts and earned $860,532. He won the Grade II Bernard Baruch Handicap the last two summers at Saratoga … Trainer Craig Dollase said Monterey Jazz earned a trip to the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 29 after a six-furlong bullet work in 1:10.80 from the gate Friday under David Flores, who will ride in New York…Habaya, a second Shadwell horse to work Friday, drilled four furlongs in :48.20 under Fragoso for the $100,000-added Miesque Stakes for 2-year-old fillies on Nov. 28...Pico Perdomo, a long-time trainer on the Southern California circuit, made his first appearance in California in a year here Friday after spending the last 12 months in his native Uruguay. Perdomo, who became a bloodstock agent four years ago, said he will be “back for a while” at his home in Mar Vista…Mast Track, winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup, will make his next start in the Japan Cup Dirt.