Fresh and fit at the age of 46, Martin Pedroza is looking forward to Saturday’s Grade I Santa Anita Oaks after a recent trip to his native Panama to visit his mother,
Pedroza rides Willa B Awesome for trainer Walther Solis in the 1 1/16-mile race that offers a $300,000 purse. Pedroza has ridden the California-bred daughter of Awesome Gambler in her last six races, winning the Grade III Santa Ysabel Stakes at 1 1/16 miles in an 11-1 upset on Jan. 28.
“I worked her and she worked really well,” Pedroza said. “Actually it was probably the best work she’s had since I’ve been working her.”
With favored Eden’s Moon and second choice Reneesgotzip committed front-runners, Pedroza feels he’s in an enviable position with Willa B Awesome, despite her gate-to-wire Santa Ysabel win.
“She doesn’t have to be on the lead. If they go, I can be right behind them,” Pedroza said.
Meanwhile, Pedroza is feeling chipper after his trip to Panama.
“I feel relaxed and fresh and I needed that,” he said. “I usually don’t take any time off and I don’t want to take it, but sometimes you have to.” His recent vacation was prompted by a seven-day riding suspension.
The field for the Oaks: Eden’s Moon, Martin Garcia, 3-5; Reneesgotzip, Garrett Gomez, 6-5; Willa B Awesome, Martin Pedroza, 8-1; Bella’s Fantasy, Mike Smith, 15-1; and Conjure the Spirit, Joel Rosario, 15-1.
NINE TACKLE CREATIVE CAUSE IN SANTA ANITA DERBY, THREE FROM BAFFERT BARN
Jim Barnes, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, said Thursday morning that three horses from their stable of bluebloods are ticketed for the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles on April 7, but Bodemeister, runner-up to Creative Cause in the San Felipe Stakes, would pass the race in favor of the $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 14.
The three Baffert runners are Blueskiesnrainbows, Liaison and Paynter.
In other Santa Anita Derby news:
Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner I’ll Have Another is scheduled to work three-quarters at Hollywood Park Friday “and probably gallop out a mile,” according to Dennis O’Neill, brother of Doug O’Neill, who trains the Flower Alley colt for owner J. Paul Reddam. “After that, he’ll gallop right into the race,” Dennis said.
At Hollywood Park Thursday, Baby Blake worked six furlongs for trainer Mike Pender in 1:16.80, while Longview Drive went seven furlongs in 1:27.20 for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
At Hollywood on Wednesday, Santa Anita Derby favorite Creative Cause worked six furlongs in 1:12.80 for trainer Mike Harrington, Liaison worked six furlongs in 1:11.20 and Paynter went the same distance in a bullet 1:11 for Baffert.
At Santa Anita Wednesday, promising maiden Brother Francis worked five furlongs in 59 flat for Jim Cassidy.
Probable for the Santa Anita Derby: Brother Francis, Garrett Gomez; Blueskiesnrainbows; Baby Blake; Creative Cause, Joel Rosario; Liaison, Rafael Bejarano; Midnight Transfer, Mike Smith; I’ll Have Another, Mario Gutierrez; Longview Drive; Paynter; and Senor Rain.
Also on Santa Anita Derby Day, there will be a $750,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4, and next Saturday, March 31, Santa Anita Oaks Day, there will be a $500,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4 presented by DRF TicketMaker.
YBARRA SEES ‘ROSY’ FUTURE FOR BAFFERT WHEN HE RETURNS
Rosie Ybarra led well-wishers from Santa Anita’s backstretch community by offering Bob Baffert a speedy and full recovery from a heart attack the Hall of Fame trainer suffered early Monday in Dubai, where he was preparing Game On Dude and The Factor for races on Saturday.
“I almost fainted when I heard the news,” said Ybarra, who for 20 years has been the most prominent host at Clockers’ Corner where breakfast is served each racing day as horses train with the majestic San Gabriel Mountains as a backdrop.
“I was in Las Vegas when I heard, but I couldn’t enjoy myself,” Rosie continued. “I almost dropped dead right there. I told Julio Canani to email Bob to tell him how much I missed him, because I couldn’t bring myself to talk to him myself.
“I’m a big crybaby and he would have been miserable if he heard from me in person. It’s been a horrible experience for me. Bob’s a good husband, a good father and a good friend. When he comes back, I’m going to make sure he eats healthy.”
Meanwhile, Baffert aide Jim Barnes said he spoke with his boss and that he sounded good. “I don’t know where he was,” Barnes said, “but he wasn’t in the hospital.”
ANOTHER OF SANTA ANITA’S POPULAR ‘FREE FRIDAYS’ TOMORROW
Santa Anita offers another of its popular “Free Fridays” tomorrow. All on-track attendees will receive free General Admission. Hot dogs, sodas and beers will be available at $2 each.
“With the Santa Anita Derby coming up on April 7, we think this is a great way for us to try and reach out to a large number of new and casual fans and get the Derby on their radar,” said Thoroughbred owner Mark Verge on behalf of the Stronach Group.
“There’s no question ‘Free Fridays’ drives on-track attendance and helps set the table each weekend. We want people to know we’re going to be more competitive than ever and that we’re going to do everything we can to make their trip to Santa Anita an unforgettable experience—every time they come.”
REGISTRATION OPEN TO PUBLIC FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY 5K RUN
Registration for Santa Anita’s annual Santa Anita Derby Day 5K Walk and Run on Santa Anita Derby Day, April 7, is open to the public. The Derby Day 5K benefits several charities, including Pasadena-based AbilityFirst, the California Retirement Management Account (CARMA), the Arcadia High School Athletic Boosters Club, the Arcadia Historical Museum and Arcadia Explorer Scouts.
Adults and children are welcome, as there will be divisions for kids up to 12 years of age, an Open Division and a Masters Division for adults 40 and over.
The 5K run begins at 8 a.m. and the 5K walk starts at 8:15 a.m. It is suggested that all participants arrive no later than 7:15 a.m.
Top jockeys Chantal Sutherland and David Flores, avid year-round runners, will again participate in the Derby Day 5K.
“As jockeys, we need to maintain a high level of fitness and we also need to stay light,” said Flores. “I look forward to this event every year. It’s a lot of fun and we raise money for some very good causes. I feel like I’m in great shape and I’m looking forward to competing and doing well.”
The Derby Day 5K provides a varied route for runners and walkers that includes the world-renowned Los Angeles County Arboretum and a glimpse of the Santa Anita stable area. Participants will finish up their final quarter mile on Santa Anita’s training track and depending upon their age and taste, will have access to an expo with booths, a live band, food and a beer garden.
Participants can enter On line at http://www.kinaneevents.com and via walk-up now through April 5 at Walk With Us, 235 S. Lake Ave. in Pasadena.
Pre-registration and Derby Day T-shirts will be available for pick-up April 6, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Westfield Santa Anita Mall.
Race day registration will take place at 6:30 a.m. in Santa Anita’s Southwest Parking Lot, which is accessible by taking Huntington Drive to Holly Ave. and entering at Gate 3, or by taking Baldwin Ave. and entering at Gate 8.
First race post time on Santa Anita Derby Day is 12 noon. For additional racing and event information, visit http://www.santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
SANTA ANITA EASTER EGG HUNT ON APRIL 8
Santa Anita will stage its largest-ever Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday, April 8.
“Our bunnies have been working overtime and we’ll have 7,500 plastic eggs available in the infield,” said Santa Anita Director of Marketing Nate Newby. “We’re looking forward to seeing a lot of kids and their parents and we expect to see a lot of happy faces.”
First post time on Easter Sunday is 12:30 p.m.
FINISH LINES: California-bred Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Amazombie is scheduled to work six furlongs at Santa Anita Friday morning under jockey Alex Bisono. Trainer Bill Spawr hopes to run the 6-year-old gelding in the Grade II, $150,000 Potrero Grande Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs on April 7 . . . Agent Brad Pegram reports that Mike Smith, three shy of 5,000 career wins before Thursday’s races, rides California Cup Juvenile winner Rousing Sermon for Jerry Hollendorfer in Saturday’s Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds . . . J. Paul Reddam’s Handsome Mike, third in the Grade III El Camino Real Derby and fourth in the Vinery Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park last weekend, runs in Saturday’s Arkansas Derby for trainer Doug O’Neill . . . San Vicente Stakes winner Drill, a candidate for the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 14 for Bob Baffert, worked one mile on Santa Anita’s main track Thursday in 1:38, with fractional times of 25 4/5, 50 flat, 1:14 4/5 and 1:26 2/5. Rebel winner Secret Circle, prepping for the Arkansas Derby, also worked at Santa Anita Thursday for Baffert, going five furlongs in a bullet 58.40, fastest of 37 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 1:00.58. Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty went seven furlongs in 1:25.80, also for Baffert . . . Kalookan Queen winner Rumor had her second breeze since bleeding in the Grade I Santa Monica Stakes on Jan. 28, going five furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track in 1:01.20. “She’s coming along well,” said Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, “but I have no race in mind for her right now.” Mandella added that two-time Santa Anita Handicap runner-up Setsuko would not run in the $1 million Charles Town Classic at West Virginia on April 14. “He came out of the Handicap a little too tired,” Mandella said. “Maybe you’ll see him here at the end of the meet, or at Hollywood.” . . . Fans can view and vote on line at http://www.hrtv.com/filmfestival on Santa Anita Film Festival submissions beginning Friday, April 2 . . . Garrett Gomez will donate shares of proceeds from his book, “The Garrett Gomez Story” to the Winners Foundation. The signing will take place Santa Anita Derby Day, Saturday, April 7, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. at Champions Gift Shop. The book was co-authored by Rudolph Alvarado, award-winning author of the book on the on the original Voice of Santa Anita, the late, great Joe Hernandez . . . Patrick Valenzuela, among the former George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award winners at Santa Anita last Sunday to honor 2012 recipient Ramon Dominguez, asked about the rampant rumor he will be making a comeback: “We’ll see what happens.” . . . Agent Ken Goldberg will represent seven-pound apprentice rider Vinnie Bednar when the Hollywood Park meet opens on April 26. The 20-year-old resident of Monrovia who tacks 108 pounds has been riding at Turf Paradise . . . With 46 players eliminated with their selection of 13-10 favorite Salty Sarah who finished fourth in Sunday’s first race, only 43 remained alive in ShowVivor2 entering Thursday’s races.