Camelia Rose looked like a winner in deep stretch in the Grade II Santa Ana Stakes on March 25, but Vamo a Galupiar rallied five-wide to win by a half-length on a turf course listed as “good.”
“The ground was very soft that day and she’s definitely a better filly on faster ground,” said Simon Callaghan, who trains the 4-year-old French-bred filly for owner J. Paul Reddam. “We were only beaten a length and three-quarters and I think the ground makes a big difference with her.”
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.
CALIFORNIA FLAG MAKES 2012 DEBUT IN SATURDAY’S SAN SIMEON
California Flag’s reputation precedes him, or so it would seem based on weights for Saturday’s Grade III San Simeon Handicap for older horses at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf. The winner of the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint carries 121 pounds against seven rivals, including likely pacesetter Ain’t No Other.
The San Simeon marks California Flag’s first start since last Nov. 11, when he was 12th of 14 in a troubled trip in the BC Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs.
“Every high weight that was right behind me went in the San Simeon,” trainer Brian Koriner pointed out. “Nobody sat out. They’re all there. I didn’t beat Ain’t No Other all that much last time and I’ve got to give him five pounds. That’s a lot of weight, this early in the year.”
The field for the San Simeon: Supreme Summit, David Flores, 9-2; Gallant Son, Leslie Mawing, 12-1; Victory Peter, 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.
FORMER STEEPLECHASE HORSE BONFIRE KNIGHT TRIES MARATHON IN SAN JUAN
Northern California-based Steve Miyadi has only had Bonfire Knight for three races, but he’s sure of one thing: “He can run all day and half the night,” the trainer said from Santa Anita’s Clockers’ Corner area on Thursday morning.
That should serve him well in the Grade II, $150,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap, Santa Anita’s traditional closing-day feature on Sunday run at about 1 ¾ miles on turf.
The San Juan marks the first stakes start in the U.S. for Bonfire Knight, an English-bred son of Red Ransom who was trained by Peter Miller before Miyadi took over.
Among Bonfire Knight’s 26 career races are two steeplechase events at more than two miles over hurdles in 2010 in which he carried 152 pounds each time.
SANTA ANITA DERBY WINNER I’LL HAVE ANOTHER WORKS FOR KENTUCKY DERBY
Santa Anita Derby winner I’ll Have Another worked six furlongs on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track Thursday morning in 1:13.60, breezing, as the son of Flower Alley draws closer to the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5.
“He worked alone and went great,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “He got stronger as he went. He’s spot on now. He’ll have one more work at Hollywood on the 27th, then leave for Kentucky on the 28th.”
Asked his impression of Bodemeister’s 9 ½-length victory in the Arkansas Derby last Saturday, O’Neill said, “If he runs a repeat of that race, we’re all in trouble,” adding, “but that’s why they run these races.”
In other news on the Derby trail:
Santa Anita Derby pacesetter and third-place finisher at 42-1 Blueskiesnrainbows worked four furlongs in company at Santa Anita Thursday in 47.40. Stablemate Sir Allison was clocked in 47.80. “He’s (Blueskiesnrainbows) nominated for a turf race at Churchill Downs,” Baffert said, alluding to the Grade II, $200,000 American Turf for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on grass on May 4.
Baffert said that Bodemeister and Secret Circle already were in the Blue Grass State, but Liaison had yet to ship. The CashCall Futurity winner worked six furlongs Wednesday on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track in 1:13 with blinkers off.
Baffert added that Arkansas Derby runner-up Secret Circle was at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington for a checkup. “He came out of that race a little crabby,” the Hall of Fame trainer said.
FINAL ‘FREE FRIDAY’ THIS MEET AT SANTA ANITA TOMORROW
Santa Anita offers its final “Free Friday” of the meet tomorrow. General Admission will be free to all Santa Anita attendees, with hot dogs, sodas and beers on sale at $2 each.
This is the fifth in a series of ‘Free Fridays’ this meet that was resurrected by Santa Anita CEO Mark Verge with the intent to give fans a break at concession stands and attempt to boost attendance at The Great Race Place.
‘PARTY IN THE PADDOCK’ FOR FANS AT SANTA ANITA ON CLOSING DAY
Santa Anita offers 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.”
Santa Anita’s 72-day winter/spring meet will finish on a high note, as the prestigious San Juan Capistrano Handicap, for older horses at about 1 ¾ miles on turf, will be carded as the ninth of 10 races on the day.
The San Juan Capistrano, which starts at the top of Santa Anita’s one-of-a-kind hillside turf course and requires runners to pass under the finish line twice, has provided many great racing moments over the years, headed by George Royal’s nose victory in 1966.
In what has often been called the most thrilling moment in Santa Anita’s first 50 years, legendary Hall of Fame jockey John Longden engaged future Hall of Famer Bobby Ussery in a furious stretch battle that resulted in George Royal prevailing by the slimmest of margins over Ussery and his mount, Plaque.
It was the final race in Longden’s storied career and it provided “The Pumper” with his 6,032nd career victory, which at the time was more than any other jockey in history.
On Sunday, there will be a $400,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4.
For more information on closing day, visit http://www.santaanita.com or call (626) 574-7223.
‘LUCKY BENITO’S TAQUERIA’ OFFERS TACOS AND MORE CLOSING WEEKEND
Those attending the races Saturday and Sunday will be treated to tasty treats 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 to see a lot of people coming to the paddock for tacos and a beer.”
FAN APPRECIATION DAY SATURDAY; JOCKEY AUTOGRAPH SESSION SUNDAY
This Saturday 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.