Like some of the others in the race, Utopian will be making his first start at the rarely-run
distance in the U.S. of a mile and a half in Sunday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Luis Rey Stakes.
“He was second going a mile and a quarter in the San Marcos,” said Moss, whose glossy Thoroughbred resume is highlighted by ownership of the legendary mare Zenyatta, who on March 8 gave birth to her first foal, a colt by Bernardini.
“In addition, he’s a beautiful-looking horse,” Moss said. “We’re hoping for big things from him.”
Trained by John Shirreffs, Utopian will be seeking his first stakes win. In nine starts, he has two wins and two seconds, with earnings of $114,180. “He does look like Rock Hard Ten,” Moss said. “He’s stamped pretty good, I think.
“He seems to get better with every run. It’s nice to have a horse that can go a mile and a half. It doesn’t seem like it should be any trouble for him. I just hope he has a nice trip and brings it home.”
At Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky, meanwhile, both mother and baby are in good health . “They seem to be doing very well,” Moss said. “Everybody’s happy.” It was announced yesterday that Zenyatta will be sent to Gainesway Farm to be bred to top stallion Tapit.
The field for the San Luis Rey: Hog’s Hollow, Garrett Gomez, 8-1; Utopian, Mike Smith, 2-1; Porfido, Corey Nakatani, 6-1; Highway Bandit, Joe Talamo, 10-1; Bourbon Bay, Joel Rosario, 9-5; and Slim Shadey, David Flores, 2-1.
MIDNIGHT TRANSFER WORKS FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY, CHAMP ACCLAMATION DRILLS
Santa Anita Derby candidate Midnight Transfer worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Saturday in 59.80. The San Pedro Stakes winner is preparing for the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles on April 7.
“He worked very well,” said Carla Gaines, who trains the Kentucky-bred son of Hard Spun for principal client Warren Williamson.
Meanwhile, California-bred Acclamation, Eclipse Award winner as 2011’s Outstanding Older Male, had his first workout Saturday since suffering a bruise to his right foot following his fifth straight stakes victory, in the Grade II Clement L. Hirsch at Santa Anita last Oct. 2. On Santa Anita’s work tab, Acclamation was clocked in 53.60 for four furlongs over a firm turf course, although trainer Don Warren gave him a time of 1:07 for five furlongs.
“It was a little on the slow side,” said Warren, who supervised the drill as part owner and breeder Bud Johnston looked on. “But I told him (rider Fernando Valenzuela) if he had to err, error on the slow side. It was a little slow, but it went well.”
Acclamation had won five straight graded stakes, three of them Grade I’s, before he was sidelined following the Hirsch. With a 9-2-6 record from 28 starts, the bay has earned $1,628,048. Warren’s long-range plans call for the 6-year-old Unusual Heat horse to compete in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita on Nov. 2 and 3.
FORMER WOOLF WINNERS ON HAND SUNDAY AS DOMINGUEZ RECEIVES 2012 AWARD
Two-time Eclipse Award winning jockey Ramon Dominguez, selected as the 63rd winner of the prestigious Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, will accept the award in a ceremony after the fifth race at Santa Anita on Sunday.
Dominguez will be joined in the winner’s circle by several past winners of the prestigious award voted on annually by jockeys nationwide. Among past winners who have committed to being here Sunday are: Ray York (1955), Alex Maese (1966), Donald Pierce (1967), Laffit Pincay Jr. (1970), Frank Olivares (1977), Eddie Delahoussaye (1981), Patrick Valenzuela (1982), Mike Smith (2000) and Garrett Gomez (2011).
The Woolf Award honors riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing. Dominguez, a 35-year-old native of Venezuela, outpolled fellow finalists Corey Lanerie, Martin Pedroza, DeShawn Parker and Scott Stevens to win one of racing’s most coveted awards.
America’s leading jockey by number of wins in 2001 and 2003, Dominguez won back-to-back Eclipse Awards as North America’s champion jockey in 2010 and 2011. In addition, Dominguez won the Isaac Murphy Award in 2004 for having the highest win percentage among American-based riders.
Dominguez has two Breeders’ Cup wins, the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Turf with Better Talk Now and the 2011 Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile this past November at Churchill Downs with Hansen.
Born Nov. 24, 1976 in Caracas, Venezuela, Dominguez began riding at Hialeah Park in Florida in 1996. He has become a dominant force in New York, with 13 NYRA riding titles since 2007-08.
The Woolf Award was created to honor and memorialize legendary jockey George “The Iceman” Woolf, who was regarded as one of the greatest big money-riders of his era and who died following a spill on Santa Anita’s Club House turn on Jan. 3, 1946. The Woolf trophy is a replica of the full-size statue of the late jockey which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area.
Dominguez resides in New York with his wife Sharon and son Alexander.
SADLER ‘LOOKING AT EVERYTHING’ FOR SMASHING MAIDEN WINNER HOLY CANDY
John Sadler was as impressed as every other observer with Holy Candy’s 3 ½-length victory as the 1-2 favorite in Friday’s fourth race.
But the trainer had all options open, including the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 7, Saturday morning and was non-committal when asked about what might be next.
“He’s just a young horse with three races (before yesterday’s maiden win) who was very impressive yesterday,” Sadler said. “Nothing is set in stone but we’re looking at everything.”
The gray son of Candy Ride owned by the Craig Stables and Donkey Island Racing, LLC, covered a mile under 121 pounds in 1:35.98 with Joel Rosario up and galloped out impressively. Donkey Racing, LLC is managed by Alex Solis Jr. and its client list includes New Orleans Saints superstar quarterback Drew Brees.
Meanwhile, 2011 Las Virgenes winner Zazu had her first breeze since returning to Sadler’s barn following a respite to recover from shoulder issues. The gray daughter of Tapit went three furlongs in 35.40, breezing.
“It was her first three-eighths work and we’re really excited,” Sadler said. “Hopefully next time you’re writing about her will be before the Breeders’ Cup here in November.”
‘SANTA ANITA UNCORKED’ SET FOR SUNDAY
Santa Anita will present its fifth annual “Santa Anita Uncorked” wine and culinary festival on Sunday. The event will be staged in the track’s paddock gardens area beginning at 12 noon and will feature a wide array of boutique and hand-picked wine selections, cuisine sampling from 14 popular local restaurants, a paddock art show and a full day of exciting Thoroughbred racing.
“This event has grown over the years and all of our participants have told us that Santa Anita is a perfect venue for it,” said Chris Quinn, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Santa Anita. “All of these things, good wine, outstanding food and world-class racing, make for a great mix and what better place to make it all come together than here at Santa Anita?
“Candace Chew, Director of our Graphics Department, has worked very hard to develop this and she’s done a magnificent job.” Santa Anita Uncorked will be sponsored by the Wine of the Month Club based in Monrovia.
“We are so thrilled to participate in ‘Santa Anita Uncorked’ again this year,” said Wine of the Month Club President Paul Kalemkiarian. “Traditionally, going to the racetrack is one of America’s favorite pastimes.”
Packages will include: Parking, Club House admission with a grandstand seat, daily race program, wine tasting, cuisine sampling, art exhibit and a souvenir wine glass.
Tickets for admission, parking, program and restricted area wrist band are available for $60 each and can be purchased at the Santa Anita ticket office or by phone at (626) 574-RACE. Proceeds from “Santa Anita Uncorked” will go to benefit Arcadia High School student programs and the California (Equine) Retirement Management Account (CARMA).
TOC ANNOUNCES BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTION RESULTS
Following an official election and vote tally conducted by TrueBallot for the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) 2012 Board of Directors election, which drew an astounding voter turnout of nearly 30%, TOC announced the following results. Of the 30 candidates, the following 15, including eight of the 10 incumbents, have been elected (listed in order of votes received):
Mike Pegram, Kathy Walsh, John Sadler, Bob Baffert, Ed Moger, Ron McAnally, Madeline Auerbach, Mark Dedomenico, Dennis Cardoza, Pablo Suarez, Mike Harrington, George Todaro, Mike Wellman, George Krikorian, and Jack Owens.
The top five vote getters were elected to serve three-year terms, the second five vote getters two-year terms, and the final five vote getters one-year terms.
“I’m very proud of our TOC members, who really stepped up to the plate and voted in record numbers for this election,” said TOC Chair Mike Pegram. “They have elected an impressive group of individuals to represent them at a very important time.” Pegram was overwhelmingly re-elected with 1,352 votes which was easily the largest winning margin over the next candidate.
“We truly appreciate the participation of all 30 of this year’s candidates,” Pegram added. “And we look forward to working with the newly-elected board members towards a productive 2012 and beyond.”
CHRB Chairman Keith Brackpool said of the election results, “Let me first congratulate the winners and thank them in advance for all of the hard work they are committing themselves to in the months and years ahead. The election reflects the strength and resolve of the racing industry to overcome differences and work together toward the common good. There are critical issues facing horse racing.”
FINISH LINES: Jockey Victor Espinoza escaped serious injury in a seventh-race riding mishap Friday but was body-sore and took off his scheduled mounts today and tomorrow, agent Brad Pegram said . . . Home Sweet Aspen, winner of the Grade I Santa Monica Stakes, worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Saturday in 47.60 for John Sadler . . . On Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track Saturday, Santa Anita Oaks nominees Reneesgotzip and Willa B Awesome worked five furlongs for trainers Peter Miller and Walther Solis, respectively. Santa Ynez winner Reneesgotzip went in a bullet 58.60, fastest of 60 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 1:01.57, while Santa Ysabel winner Willa B Awesome was timed in 59.40. Also at Hollywood, Kilroe Mile runner-up Mr. Commons worked four furlongs in 47.40 for John Shirreffs, while Kilroe winner Willyconker went six furlongs in 1:13 for Doug O’Neill . . . With two wins yesterday, Sadler moved to within seven of leader Bob Baffert at 38-31, while O’Neill was third with 29 wins. With more than $2.3 million in earnings at this meet, Baffert has nearly twice as much as Sadler and O’Neill combined . . . With 17 racing days remaining, 138 players remained alive in ShowVivor2 going into Saturday’s races.