Bourbon Bay closed from fifth in a field of five to win the Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes by a thrust of his head on March 25 under Joel Rosario, who was riding the multiple graded stakes winner for the first time.
Even though it looked like a line drive in the box score, to use a time-worn baseball adage, Neil Drysdale’s immediate post-race wonderment centered on why Rosario had the gelding so far back in the mile and a half San Luis Rey. The Hall of Fame trainer hopes for fewer coronary palpitations from Rosario’s tactics on Sunday, when Bourbon Bay tries for his second win in Santa Anita’s traditional closing-day feature, the Grade II, $150,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap at about 1 ¾ miles on turf.
“I had never ridden Bourbon Bay before,” said Rosario, who has clinched his second straight Santa Anita riding title. “He’s a good horse. In the San Luis Rey, he made a good run turning for home, but I never thought I was going to get there.
“But he’s a classy horse and I think he’s going to run big again on Sunday. I hope there’s more speed in this race than there was in the San Luis Rey. That would help me a little more. I think we’re the horse to beat in the race.”
The 27-year-old native of the Dominican Republic couldn’t be happier with his career to date. He is the regular rider of Creative Cause, a leading contender for the May 5 Kentucky Derby and has made an impact nationally under the guidance of agent Ron Ebanks.
“I’m grateful about how things are going,” Rosario said. “I appreciate the support I’m getting from owners and trainers and the confidence they have in me. I’m going to keep working hard.”
Added Ebanks: “Our numbers this meet have been amazing, especially having that big a lead (85-67 over runner-up Rafael Bejarano going into Friday’s races. Last year, Rosario won the title with 89 wins to Bejarano’s 81). We never concentrate on it; we don’t worry about it; we just do our business and it just happens.
“I never set out to try to be leading rider. I don’t work that way at all. I don’t ride horses I don’t think I should ride. We’ve been very fortunate that things have come together so well. Bejarano’s been out of town a bunch, too, but we’ve had a very impressive meet.
“Our numbers are about the same as last meet. We actually have to have a big closing weekend to finish up as well as we did last meet. But I’m very satisfied, mainly that Joel is healthy.”
The field for the San Juan, race nine of 10: Dhaamer, Rafael Bejarano, 9-5; Bourbon Bay, Joel Rosario, 6-5; Hog’s Hollow, David Flores, 8-1; Eagle Poise, Alex Solis, 4-1; Bonfire Knight, Joe Talamo, 20-1; and Harrods Creek, Mike Smith, 4-1.
‘GOOD’ NOT GOOD FOR BAUBLE QUEEN; ‘FIRM’ SHOULD BE BETTER
A mini-monsoon that erupted on March 25 in advance of the Santa Ana Stakes likely had an effect on Bauble Queen’s disappointing performance in the mile and an eighth race that was run on a “good” turf course.
Firmer footing in Saturday’s Grade II Santa Barbara Handicap at 1 ¼ miles on turf should provide a means for improvement. So says Joe Talamo, who was aboard when Bauble Queen finished an even ninth in a field of 10 in the Santa Ana and who retains the mount on Saturday.
“The turf was really soft after an absolute downpour,” Talamo recounted. “She just didn’t handle it. But she should be tough tomorrow. I think the mile and a quarter will suit her well.” Added trainer Eric Kruljac: “My filly was totally confused before the race, with that downpour hitting her in the face.”
Prior to the Santa Ana, Bauble Queen won the Grade II Robert J. Frankel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Santa Anita’s firm turf course. The consistent daughter of Arch has a 3-2-2 record from nine starts for the Class Racing Stable of Joe Masino of Escondido.
The field for the Santa Barbara, the ninth of 10 races: Hard Seven, Edwin Maldonado, 8-1; Cambina, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1; Glowing Spirit, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; Capital Plan, Brice Blanc, 5-1; Vamo a Galupiar, Mike Smith, 5-2; Bauble Queen, Joe Talamo, 9-2; and Camelia Rose, Joel Rosario, 2-1.
MIYADI SAYS SAN SIMEON STRATEGY IS UP TO MIKE SMITH
On paper, Ain’t No Other appears to be one of the speed horses in Saturday’s Grade III San Simeon Handicap, along with California Flag and Compari, but trainer Steve Miyadi plans to keep pre-race instructions to Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith to a minimum.
Smith, who registered career win No. 5,000 on April 7 at Santa Anita aboard California-bred champion sprinter Amazombie, will ride Ain’t No Other for the first time in the race at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf.
“You think a guy like that’s going to listen to a guy like me?” Miyadi said in a self-deprecating response, then adding on a more serious note, “He drew the outside, so I guess he should have some options, but I don’t think we’re as quick as California Flag.”
Ain’t No Other, a California-bred son of Old Topper, drew post position No. 8 in a field of eight. The gelding owned by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds was second by a half-length at 12-1 to favored Mr Gruff in the Joe Hernandez Handicap last out on March 4 at Santa Anita, where Bay Area-based Miyadi has been holding fort the last two days.
The field for the San Simeon: Supreme Summit, David Flores, 9-2; Gallant Son, Leslie Mawing, 12-1; Victory Pete, Chantal Sutherland, 8-1; Sayif, Jose Valdivia Jr., 20-1; Compari, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1; California Flag, Joe Talamo, 7-2; Irish Art, Joel Rosario. 5-2; and Ain’t No Other, Mike Smith, 4-1.
TOP CROP OF 3-YEAR-OLDS THIS YEAR, PRIVATE CLOCKER YOUNG SAYS
Three-year-olds en route to the Kentucky Derby on May 5 appear to be the deepest in quality in recent years. So thinks private clocker Gary Young, now that the major Derby preps are over.
“I think there are a lot of potentially really good horses,” Young said. “There are probably about 10 horses you could see winning the Derby, and there will be some in the race that don’t belong, just like there is every year. But it looks like a pretty good group of horses.”
Asked for a commitment two weeks out, Young wasn’t ready to write anything in granite.
“I’ve got to see how they train in Kentucky,” he said. “Last year I didn’t know who Animal Kingdom was till he worked, then all of a sudden he was my choice. Right now I’d say Union Rags, Bodemeister and Creative Cause I think are the three. Then you’ve got Todd’s horse that won the Wood (unbeaten Gemologist, trained by Todd Pletcher), too.
“Those would be my top four, but they would probably be everybody’s top four.”
‘PARTY IN THE PADDOCK’ FOR FANS AT SANTA ANITA ON CLOSING DAY
Santa Anita celebrates its first-ever “Party in the Paddock” on closing day this Sunday. Following the day’s final race, the entire paddock will be transformed into a celebratory atmosphere where fans, horsemen and employees can enjoy live music by the classic rock cover band, The Answer.
In addition to live music, fans will be treated to dancing and half-price food and drink specials at Sirona’s well into the evening.
“This is Santa Anita’s way of saying ‘thank you’ to everyone for making the 2012 meeting a season to remember and one that we can all build upon,” said Santa Anita CEO Mark Verge. “We think this is a great opportunity for us to get to know our customers better and to build better relationships with everyone. Our employees have worked extremely hard this meet and we’re grateful to all of them and to our fans and horsemen as well. It should be a lot of fun.”
On Sunday, there will be a $400,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4.
‘LUCKY BENITO’S TAQUERIA’ OFFERS TACOS AND MORE CLOSING WEEKEND
Those attending the races Saturday and Sunday will be treated to tasty morsels from “Lucky Benito’s, Taqueria,” which will offer fans authentic grilled chicken, carne asada soft tacos, nachos, churros, pretzels and a variety of beers.
“Lucky Benito’s” is in the East Paddock Gardens, adjacent to “Champions! Gifts & Apparel.”
“This is a very popular addition to our overall food service approach,” said Santa Anita Director of Hospitality Randy Fowler. “We expect a lot of people coming to the paddock for tacos and a beer.”
FAN APPRECIATION DAY SATURDAY; JOCKEY AUTOGRAPH SESSION SUNDAY
Tomorrow is Fan Appreciation Day at Santa Anita. Fans can enter to win cash prizes in drawings throughout the day and contest entry forms will be handed out at admission gates. Items to be given away include posters of Zenyatta and her new-born foal by Bernardini, and 34-ounce Santa Anita beer mugs, free, while supplies last.
THOROUGHBREDS members can scan their cards at the gate for a chance to win additional prizes. Santa Anita’s jockeys will hold an autograph session on closing day, Sunday, from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in the East Paddock Gardens. Gates open at 10:30 a.m. First post time is 12:30 p.m.
‘WALK TO BEAT CANCER’ AT SANTA ANITA ON CLOSING DAY, SUNDAY
Santa Anita will present a second annual “On Track To Beat Cancer” event on closing day, Sunday.
With statistics showing that one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer this year, the public is encouraged to join jockeys, horsemen and celebrities in a walk down Santa Anita’s historic homestretch to raise money to support City of Hope find cures for women’s cancers.
“This was a very successful fundraiser last year and all facets of the racing industry came together to help fund cures for women’s cancers,” said Santa Anita Vice President of Sales and Marketing Chris Quinn. “We expect to have a couple thousand people participating and we hope when they finish on the track, they’ll join us for some live music and our Party in the Paddock, which should be a lot of fun.”
All participants are encouraged to wear purple. There will be a Flash Mob in evidence on the apron following the sixth race. All participants will be dressed in purple and their mission is to draw attention to the On Track To Beat Cancer Walk following the races.
City of Hope will have its mobile blood donation RV at Santa Anita Sunday, located west of Kingsbury Fountain. Anyone who donates blood will receive a $5 In-N-Out Burger Gift Card.
“We’ll have purple-colored “On Track To Beat Cancer” T shirts available for everyone,” added Quinn. “We’re hoping to create a sea of purple and for those who would like to show their support for City of Hope’s women’s cancer research, treatment and education programs, they’ll get the T shirt, a wrist band and be able to walk down the stretch for just $10 dollars.”
“We’re very excited to once again be partnering with Santa Anita for this year’s ‘On Track To Beat Cancer’ event,” said Steven Martin, Vice President of Marketing at City of Hope. “Last year was such a great success and this year is again a fantastic way to celebrate closing day at Santa Anita while supporting City of Hope’s work to end women’s cancers.”
Anyone making a $10 donation to City of Hope will be eligible to walk on the track. Fans are encouraged to bring signs and banners, create teams, take photos and dedicate their walk to cancer survivors or to the memory of loved ones who have succumbed to or who are battling cancer. City of Hope will bring their mobile blood donation truck for fans who wish to donate blood while at the track.
FINISH LINES: Eclipse Award winner as 2011’s Outstanding Older Male Acclamation worked one mile on Santa Anita’s firm turf course Thursday in 1:38.20 under comebacking Patrick Valenzuela. Trainer Don Warren is preparing the California-bred son of Unusual Heat for the Grade III Inglewood Handicap at Hollywood Park on April 27 . . . Friday on Santa Anita’s main track, 2011 Santa Anita Derby winner Midnight Interlude worked three furlongs in 38 flat for Bob Baffert . . . Agent Tony Matos reports from Kentucky that Hall of Fame nominee Garrett Gomez will ride Rachel Alexandra winner Summer Applause for trainer Bret Calhoun in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks on May 4.