Jose Valdivia Jr. has little concern that Rail Trip goes from inside to outside in Saturday’s Grade I Awesome Again Stakes. The 7-year-old gelding broke from the No. 1 post when finishing fourth in the Pacific Classic, but drew nine of nine in the Awesome Again, one of five Grade I, “Win and You’re In” Challenge Races on Santa Anita’s festive 11-race program tomorrow.
“I would imagine we should be sitting in a good spot,” said Valdivia, who has been reunited with Rail Trip in his last four races, winning the Grade II San Diego Handicap on July 28. “We also drew on the outside in that race and won. He’s very kind to rate, so he should have a nice stalking trip.”
“I don’t think it’s a whole lot of difference,” Valdivia said. “You still have to run around the track. I don’t think it matters that much, but I’m definitely looking forward to the race. He seems like he’s improving every time and his works have been superb, especially on what I thought was a little bit of a slow track at Hollywood (59 3/5 on Sept. 24).”
“He should get a good trip,” said Ron Ellis, who trains Rail Trip for the Jay Em Ess Stable. “Post position doesn’t make that much difference for him. He always rates well and sits in a good spot, so I don’t worry about post position too much. He should be sitting third or fourth.
“He worked awesome the other day (Sept. 24). It was by far his best work since he’s been back. Fifty-nine and three is a pretty darn good work and he did it all on his own, so I’m happy the way he’s coming up to the race.”
The field for the Awesome Again: Game On Dude, Rafael Bejarano, 3-5; Winning Machine, Javier Matias, 20-1; Nonios, Martin Pedroza, 12-1; Groovin’ Solo, David Flores,30-1; Suggestive Boy, Joe Talamo, 5-1; Empire Way, Brice Blanc, 30-1; Richard’s Kid, Garrett Gomez, 9-2; Balladry, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; and Rail Trip, Jose Valdivia Jr., 6-1.
HORSE FOR COURSE SWITCH TACKLES ZENYATTA STAKES FOES
With two wins, a second and two thirds in five starts at Santa Anita, Switch could be considered a horse for course. John Sadler holds that opinion as the daughter of Quiet American awaits the Grade I, “Win and You’re In” Zenyatta Stakes on Saturday.
The 5-year-old mare owned by the C R K Stable of Susan and Lee Searing will be ridden by Garrett Gomez, who won the Grade II A Gleam Handicap on her at Betfair Hollywood Park on July 14.
“She’s a good horse on this track,” the trainer said, “and Gomez won the A Gleam on her last summer, so he knows her.”
Sadler also has Capo Bastone entered in Saturday’s FrontRunner Stakes for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.
“He’s a very nice horse,” Sadler said of the chestnut son Street Boss. “He was an impressive winner first time out, and in the (Grade I Del Mar) Futurity, he just got a tough trip where he couldn’t find the right spot on the track, but he only got beat less than three lengths.
“He really didn’t have that much room to run, so it was a good race for him. He closes well; two turns should be good for him.”
The field for the Zenyatta, formerly the Lady’s Secret, which goes as race eight of 11: Amani, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1; Love Theway Youare, David Flores, 12-1; Switch, Garrett Gomez, 7-2; Joyful Victory, Rosie Napravnik, 12-1; Star Billing, Victor Espinoza, 6-1; Include Me Out, Joe Talamo, 5-2; Love and Pride, Martin Garcia, 4-1; Via Villagio, Martin Pedroza, 20-1; and Miss Mittagong, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1.
JONES, NAPRAVNIK MAKE SANTA ANITA DEBUTS TOMORROW
Top trainer Larry Jones and his go-to rider, Rosie Napravnik, will make their debuts at Santa Anita tomorrow. Jones saddles Joyful Victory and Napravnik rides the 4-year-old Tapit filly in the Grade I Zenyatta Stakes, one of five “Win and You’re In” events on Saturday.
New Jersey native Napravnik will be riding Joyful Victory for the first time, but Jones has every confidence in the 24-year-old rider who was runner-up to Julien Leparoux for an Eclipse Award as Outstanding Apprentice in 2006.
“I think she’s one of the most talented riders—boy, girl or whatever—in the country,” Jones said. “We’re very proud to have her on this filly . . . I put her in some big-name races already and she shows up every time.”
GUILLOT SEEKS GRADE I STATUS WITH OUTSIDER RENEE’S QUEEN
Renee’s Queen posted a 30-1 shocker in winning a grass stakes at Del Mar on Sept. 3. Next up: Saturday’s Grade I “Win and You’re In” Chandelier Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, her first start on conventional dirt.
“She’s doing good,” trainer Eric Guillot said of the chestnut After Market filly owned by GEM Racing Stable. “At this stage of the game with 2-year-olds, you’ve got to take a chance in a Grade I to at least get them placed to have some value.
“Horses that have sprinted may have better numbers, but they haven’t routed yet. My filly has two routes under her belt and that makes a big difference with a 2-year-old at this time of the year.”
USC BAND PERFORMS ‘MY CALIFORNIA’ AT SANTA ANITA SATURDAY
USC’s highly rated football team has the day off Saturday but not its famous Marching Band. It will perform at Santa Anita on Saturday between the seventh and eighth races on the track’s terraced apron, adjacent to the main track.
Among the rousing numbers the band will perform is Santa Anita’s spanking new signature anthem, “My California.”
BREEDERS’ CUP CHALLENGE TICKET OFFER
Visit Santa Anita on one of three Breeders’ Cup Challenge Days (tomorrow, Sunday and next Saturday, Oct. 6) and on-track fans can purchase a grandstand reserved seat on Breeders’ Cup Friday for just $25 (50% off regular price – sections U-V).
Visit the Santa Anita ticket office or Main THOROUGHBREDS Center to take advantage of this promotion.
SANTA ANITA OFFERS FANS HIGH DEFINITION TV AND MORE DURING AUTUMN MEET
Santa Anita Park will provide fans on-track and around the world with a high-definition, digital simulcast television presentation beginning with the opening of the 2012 Autumn Meet today. Pegasus Communications will staff and manage all aspects of Santa Anita’s simulcast signal.
“This is a great development for our fans everywhere,” said Santa Anita President George Haines. “Pegasus Communications is one of the most technologically advanced companies in the racing world and we’re excited to have them involved in all aspects of our satellite presentation.
“Beginning today, the Santa Anita simulcast signal will be produced as a hybrid HD as we transition to full HD before the Breeders’ Cup (Nov. 2 and 3). We feel we have the most beautiful venue in the racing world and this transition to HD will greatly enhance the viewing experience for our fans everywhere.”
Pegasus Communications, led by Jim Porep and Julie Scanlon, will maintain a video production truck on-site and will provide cameras and operators for use in all facets of Santa Anita’s simulcast presentation as well as generating new, state of the art graphics.
“Jim and I are thrilled to be able to partner with Santa Anita at this crucial point in time for our industry,” said Scanlon. “We consider Santa Anita to be the most beautiful track in the country and it is an honor to be able to provide racing fans everywhere with state of the art high definition video and the most technologically advanced simulcast presentation in America.”
“Pegasus has a long and upstanding reputation in the California simulcast industry,” added Haines. “The cameras and equipment we’ve been using are in many cases more than 20 years old. The quality and capability of the equipment they’ll be using represents a substantial upgrade over what we’ve had.
“Pegasus is the current simulcast provider for Golden Gate Fields, Los Alamitos and the California Fairs. They do a great job and we’re looking forward to working with them,” Haines concluded.
RISE AND (SHOE) SHINE AT SANTA ANITA DURING AUTUMN MEET
Beginning tomorrow and continuing every weekend throughout Santa Anita’s 24-day Autumn Meet, Lonnie Keelen will be providing shoe shine service throughout the weekend and on upcoming live racing days.
His stand will be located outside Champions Gift Shop. The price of a shoe shine is $7. Boots are a buck more at $8.
FINISH LINES: In addition to Pat O’Brien winner Capital Account, Bob Baffert plans to run Haskell Invitational winner Coil against champion sprinter Amazombie in next Saturday’s initial running of the Santa Anita Sprint Championship at six furlongs . . . Champ Pegasus, winner of the 2010 Clement Hirsch, worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Friday in 1:00.40 for Richard Mandella . . . Former NBA and ABA great and major horse racing aficionado Dan Issel will be a Santa Anita visitor on Saturday . . . HRTV’s Zoe Cadman hosts Sunday’s HRTV Fans’ Forum in the East Paddock Gardens starting at 12 noon. Her guest will be trainer Mike Machowsky.