Add a late bonus to the myriad of festivities that will unfold at Santa Anita this weekend:
Miller Time. Olympic and World Champion gold medalist skier Bode Miller will be on hand Saturday to watch his horse Carving run in the inaugural FrontRunner Stakes, a Grade I, $250,000 “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.
“This is Miller’s first horse,” said Baffert, whose 7-year-old son, Bode, is named for the 34-year-old, a native of New Hampshire who is considered the most successful American alpine ski racer of all time and one of the greatest World Cup racers of all time with 33 victories. Miller turns 35 on Oct. 12.
“I would always see Bode at the (Kentucky) Derby and he would hang out with us at Del Mar,” Baffert said in explaining how they joined forces to get the colt. “The day after the Preakness I was checking out horses at a sale for my other clients and I think he got the bug.
“He said, ‘I might be interested in something in the 50, 60 (thousand dollar) range.’ So we looked but we really couldn’t find anything at that price. But I gave him a video, a DVD, of the two-day sale and then he kept texting me, ‘This one looks good, that one looks good,’ so I kept looking, and I liked the way this horse breezed and I liked the way he moved.
“He worked OK and I told him ‘I think he might be OK for us. If he doesn’t work out, we can always run him for a high (claiming) tag at Del Mar.’ So I had (bloodstock agent) Donnato Lanni check the horse out and send me a picture, and he looked great in the picture. So we bought him for $55,000.
“He’s not a big horse, and when we got him at Del Mar, Bode said, ‘Boy, he’s not very big,’ and I said, ‘Well what do you expect for $55,000?’ Carving looks a lot like his sire (Any Given Saturday). After I worked him, I decided to run him for 80 claiming. He broke in a little bit, then he came on and he won (by 1 ¾ lengths at 5-1), and Bode goes, ‘I thought you said he couldn’t run.’
“The horse shows more in the afternoon than he does in the morning. Bode lives on a boat in San Diego but he will be here Saturday. He’s all excited, although I told him it’s not this easy and he’s going to be stepping it up (in the FrontRunner).”
The field for the FrontRunner: Carving, Martin Garcia; Gabriel Charles, Joe Talamo; Dirty Swagg, David Flores; The Whole Deal, Edwin Maldonado; Dry Summer, Rosie Napravnik; Imperative, Aaron Gryder; Know More, Garrett Gomez; Capo Bastone, Victor Espinoza; Den’s Legacy, Alonso Quinonez; Power Broker, Rafael Bejarano; and Wild Student, Iggy Puglisi.
McANALLY SENDS OUT ARGENTINE SUGGESTIVE BOY IN AWESOME AGAIN
Ron McAnally and South American imports are synonymous with success. The 80-year-old Hall of Fame trainer hopes that trend continues Saturday when he sends out Argentine-bred Suggestive Boy for owner Jose Cerillo of Mexico who races as Pozo de Luna, Inc., in the inaugural Awesome Again Stakes, formerly run as the Goodwood Stakes.
The Awesome Again, one of five Grade I “Win and You’re In’ races at Santa Anita Saturday, will mark the first race on conventional dirt for Suggestive Boy, a 4-year-old colt who was sired by the Storm Cat stallion Easing Along.
“We’re going to give it a try,” McAnally said. “If he runs well, then we can come back in the Breeders’ Cup (at Santa Anita on Nov. 2 and 3). If he doesn’t run well, then we’ll switch to the grass.”
Suggestive Boy was fifth after attending the pace in the Pacific Classic on Polytrack last month. He was second in the Grade I Shoemaker Mile on turf in his U.S. debut on June 30, and then won the restricted Wickerr Stakes at one mile on turf July 25.
“That sire (Easing Along) is supposed to be pretty good,” McAnally said, “and they’re sending me some more, so hopefully Suggestive Boy runs good.”
The field for the Awesome Again, race 10 of 11: Game On Dude, Rafael Bejarano; Winning Machine, Javier Matias; Nonios, Martin Pedroza; Groovin’ Solo, David Flores; Suggestive Boy, Joe Talamo; Empire Way, Brice Blanc; Richard’s Kid, Garrett Gomez; Balladry, Victor Espinoza; and Rail Trip, Jose Valdivia Jr.
SHARP AMAZOMBIE WORKS SATURDAY FOR SA SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIP OCT. 6
Amazombie is the antithesis of a typical sprinter. He’s not speed crazy. But the champion sprinter of 2011 can turn on the after-burners if need be.
So says his jockey, Hall of Famer Mike Smith, who is looking forward to reuniting with the California-bred son of Northern Afleet in the inaugural Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 6.
“He’s always been a really good gate horse,” Smith said. “As far as a horse breaking quick or not, it’s never a plan to break slow. You might want to ease him back after you break, but horses pretty much break how they break. He just happened to break extremely fast (in the Potrero Grande Stakes last April) and the two outside horses started to out-quick him and I was able to ease back, tap on the brakes and get to the outside pretty quick, so it worked out in that situation.”
Since the Potrero Grande, Amazombie was second in Grade II Churchill Downs Stakes behind Shackleford and won the Grade I Bing Crosby at Del Mar on July 29.
“The horse is doing well. He looks great,” Smith continued. “I was at the barn the other morning and you can’t look any better than he does.”
“He breaks well from the gate,” confirmed trainer Bill Spawr, who owns Amazombie with Tom Sanford. “He’s fast out of there. Mike has to take him back. He’s really quick out of there. In fact, the first jump, he’s always in front. He’s very good right now.”
Spawr plans to give the 6-year-old bay gelding his final major work Saturday at six furlongs.
FINISH LINES: After Santa Anita oddsmaker Jon White posted his morning line for Friday’s Eddie D Stakes, Santa Anita Publicity Director Mike Willman jokingly told him, “That’s great, now how about a complete order of finish,” to which White rejoined, “It might be easier to hit the lottery—it’s that tough of a race.” Comma to the Top is a tepid 7-2 favorite in a field of 13 . . . Agent Craig O’Bryan, who represents jockey David Flores, has also taken the book of Kentucky Derby and Preakness-winning rider Mario Gutierrez . . . Matt Garcia hopes to hit the ground running when he begins riding at Santa Anita this meet. The 42-year-old San Jose native, who tacks 110 pounds, won 14 races at the recent Ferndale meet . . . Former trainer Jude Feld and Mike Penna, president of Horse Racing Radio Network, were visitors to Clockers’ Corner Wednesday morning. Starting today, the Eclipse Award-winning broadcast organization based in Lexington, KY will host their extensive menu of live shows from Santa Anita. HRRNLive! can be heard nationwide, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons on XM channel 209 and on SiriusXM Internet/Smartphone channel 961. A complete HRRNLive! schedule and further information is available at http://www.hrrnlive.com. . . . Agent Alex Crowley has spent 50 of his 62 years on the race track. “I started when I was seven years old,” said Crowley, who has two riders as Santa Anita’s meet starts, seven-pound apprentice Juan Sanchez and Jorge Carreno, who tied for fourth at the recent Fairplex meet with 13 wins. Crowley said Carreno will move his tack to Turf Paradise after riding at Santa Anita on opening weekend.