• POWELL! CAL-BRED SOI PHET BLOSSOMS IN NEW BARN
McCann’s Mojave, who was euthanized due to colic at the age of 13 Friday, was at rest Saturday honored with the distinction of having sired another last-race juvenile winner at Santa Anita while also anchoring a natural four-win day for jockey Corey Nakatani.
The multiple graded stakes winner of more than $1.5 million, owned by Santa Anita Publicity Director Mike Willman, sired Eddie’s Turn, a grey-hued first-time starter that won Saturday’s 10th race by a half-length at a $24.20 payoff. The win marked the second day in a row that McCann’s Mojave sired a 2-year-old maiden winner of the last race and (unbelievably) the second day in a row the winner was owned and bred by Howard and Janet Siegel and trained by Eddie Truman.
The win was the fourth in a row by Nakatani, who won the seventh race—the California Distaff Handicap—aboard Qiaona ($19.60); the eighth on Door’s Open ($12.60); the ninth on Empty Headed ($8); and the 10th and final aboard Eddie’s Turn. Nakatani tied for Santa Anita’s Autumn Meet riding lead with Rafael Bejarano and Mike Smith at nine wins each.
“Corey must have had his confidence rolling by the time he rode my horse,” said a self-effacing Truman, who trains Eddie’s Turn for owners/breeders Howard and Janet Siegel. “They named the horse for me, so that made it even more special.
“It was a tough race (there were 12 runners in the six furlong maiden allowance test for 2-year-olds), but I thought he’d run well, if he wasn’t too green. We had the right rider on, that’s for sure. Corey was riding with confidence after winning three in a row.
“It was nice that Howard and Janet bred the horse to Mike’s stallion,” Truman said. “It was a team effort. The whole backside was involved.”
Nakatani topped yesterday’s four-bagger in 2012 at Belmont Park when he won six consecutive races. Nakatani’s Late Pick 3 payoff yesterday was worth 1,166.50; the late daily double, $185, and the late 50 cent Pick Four $4,104.05. A native of Covina who celebrates his 43rd birthday on Oct. 21, Nakatani single-handedly accounted for today’s Pick six carryover of $91,551.
“I’m glad to be back with Corey,” said agent Tony Matos, who had Nakatani when he was Southern California’s leading apprentice rider some 25 years ago. “Uncle Buck (Nakatani’s former agent, Jim Pegram) did a very good job with him but Corey’s been trying to get back with me for a couple years. I just never had an opening. Corey’s a great rider and we’re glad to be back together.”
FOR TRAINER POWELL, SKY’S THE LIMIT WITH EX-CLAIMER SOI PHET
Soi Phet’s four-race winning streak came to an end two weeks ago, but it was a happy
ending, a remarkable ending, in fact.
The 5-year-old California-bred gelding finished third in the Grade I, $250,000 Awesome
Again Stakes on Sept. 28, 6 ½ lengths behind runaway winner Mucho Macho Man, who stamped himself as one of the favorites for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.
Soi Phet will return to a more realistic spot in his next start, but it’s been a good ride while it lasted, and it may not be over yet.
Trainer Leonard Powell claimed the son of Tizbud for $16,000 on May 23, then ran off a string of four straight daylight victories, each at a considerably higher level than Soi Phet’s claiming price. While he finished a non-threatening third in the Awesome Again, Soi Phet was well in front of stakes winners such as Golden Ticket, Liaison and Jeranimo.
The secret to Powell’s success?
“I claimed him for several reasons,” said Powell, a 37-year-old native of France who has been training on his own for seven years. “He was a good-looking horse; he’s by Tizbud, which is a good stallion, and he had all his conditions, being a Cal-bred . . . he had a huge upside.
“When you claim a horse, you’re looking ahead for a race to run him in next. When I first got him, within two or three days I knew the horse was kind of special. He had a lot of class. I train very differently, and usually horses will take several weeks to get used to it.
“Within a few days, he got into the routine. He’s very smart. He took everything in stride.
“What did we change about him? Nothing drastic. We just put him through our routine, but nothing drastic. We take our time. We spend a lot of time walking and riding.”
Powell, still with a detectable French accent, was raised on a farm in Normandy, deep in France’s horse country. Currently his top runner is Zuma Beach Stakes winner Aotearoa.
“I was always around horses,” Powell said. “I came here as an exercise rider and was assistant to John Shirreffs, Richard Mandella and later Bill Currin, who gave me a couple horses to get me started.”
As for Soi Phet, look for him to face a much less daunting task in his next race.
“We’re going to run him in an overnight stakes,” Powell said.
That would be the Big Bear Stakes for three year olds and up at one mile on Oct. 31 for a purse of $70,000.