American Act is stepping up from a maiden win to a Grade II stakes race Sunday when the son of Quiet American runs in the Grade II San Vicente Stakes against 3-5 morning line favorite Creative Cause and four other 3-year-olds with Triple Crown aspirations.
Trainer Jack Carava feels the bay gelding deserves the chance.
“This is obviously a lot deeper water than he’s come out of, but the horses behind him when he broke his maiden were all pretty nice horses.”
That would include Bodemeister, smashing winner by more than nine lengths in his next start on Feb. 11.
“The San Vicente is a short field and we’ve got a good draw, so we’re hoping for the best,” Carava added. “We haven’t had that many 3-year-olds of American Act’s caliber in the past. We’ve bought mainly older horses and never focused on the young horses in the past.
“This year we bought a couple yearlings and he’s one of them. When you buy yearlings, you hope for the best.”
The field for the San Vicente, race seven of nine: Let’s Get Crackin, Victor Espinoza, 6-1; Creative Cause, Joel Rosario, 3-5; Drill, Martin Garcia, 9-2; Smoking G, Corey Nakatani, 8-1; American Act, Martin Pedroza, 4-1; and Captain Obvious, Mario Gutierrez, 12-1.
BAFFERT ‘SERIOUSLY LOOKING AT’ SAN CARLOS FOR THE FACTOR
Bob Baffert said Friday morning he is “seriously looking at” running The Factor in the $200,000 San Carlos Stakes a week from Saturday, Feb. 25. If so, the speedy winner of the Grade I Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26 could face Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Amazombie in the Grade II race at seven furlongs, which will mark the long-overdue 2012 debut of the California-bred Amazombie.
The Factor has been working up a storm on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track. In his most recent drill, he went seven furlongs Wednesday in a bullet 1.26.20. San Carlos nominee Sway Away also worked six furlongs at Hollywood Monday, going six furlongs in 1:26.40 for Jeff Bonde.
Amazombie, meanwhile, worked six furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Friday under the cover of darkness as is his wont in 1:12.60 with jockey Alex Bisono up.
“He galloped out in 1:25 and three (fifths) and pulled up a mile in 1:39,” trainer Bill Spawr said.
“When he got back here (pointing to the gap at the clocker’s stand), he wasn’t even blowing. He’s amazing.”
Added Bisono: “He felt strong. He works better every time.”
Baffert said he also was considering the Tom Fool at Aqueduct on March 3 for The Factor. It’s a Grade III race at six furlongs with a purse of $200,000.
San Carlos nominee Mensa Heat is scheduled to work six furlongs Sunday under Joe Talamo for the race, trainer Ted H. West said.
AVILA’S GREAT HOT SET FOR SATURDAY’S GRADE II SANTA MARIA
Save for a troubled trip in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint last Nov. 4, Great Hot has never failed to earn a check in nine U.S. starts.
The Brazilian-bred filly by 2002 Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Orientate hopes to enhance that mark in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.
“It looks like two or three horses in there have speed,” trainer A.C. Avila said, “but my filly is versatile. If there’s no speed, she can go; if there’s speed, she can sit. I think she’s going to be in the second or third flight.
“There was a bit of water underneath the surface in her last two races, the La Brea and the La Caňada. Hopefully, for Monday, the track will be well dried out. She has four straight bullet works, but that’s not uncommon for her. She always works well.”
Chantal Sutherland, who has ridden Great Hot in her last eight starts, winning the Grade II Raven Run on Keeneland’s Polytrack last Oct. 22, is back aboard for the Santa Maria.
“She gets along with the filly well,” Avila said.
The field for the Santa Maria, the eighth of 10 races: Spirit Seeker, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Ellafitz, Martin Garcia, 8-5; Miss Mittagong, Mario Gutierrez, 6-1; Love Theway Youare, Alonso Quinonez, 15-1; Kayce Ace, Joe Talamo, 8-1; Great Hot, Chantal Sutherland, 3-1; and Vision in Gold, Joel Rosario, 5-2.
GAME ON DUDE, SETSUKO WORK FOR SANTA ANITA HANDICAP
Santa Anita Handicap winner and Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Game On Dude worked five furlongs in company with Prayer for Relief in 59.60 on Santa Anita’s main track Friday morning. Prayer for Relief was clocked in 1:00.20.
Bob Baffert was still considering a repeat appearance in the Grade I, $750,000 Big ‘Cap on March 3 or the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 31 for Game On Dude, who was ridden by jockey Martin Garcia as regular rider Chantal Sutherland looked on with interest from the steps above the grandstand apron.
“Really nice, beautiful,” Baffert said after the drill. “It was a perfect work.”
Meanwhile, Setsuko, second by a nose at 25-1 to Game On Dude in last year’s Big ‘Cap, worked six furlongs for Richard Mandella in 1:12. “He worked great,” said Mandella, a three-time Big ‘Cap winner. “He couldn’t be better up to this point.”
FIRM TURF COURSE, SHORTER DISTANCE SHOULD AID CECIL MARE IN BUENA VISTA
Strawberrydaiquiri makes her first start in four months when she runs in Monday’s Grade II, $150,000 Buena Vista Stakes for older fillies and mares at one mile on turf. Ben Cecil expects a solid effort.
“She’s been working well and that yielding course probably didn’t suit her,” the trainer said, explaining the 6-year-old gray mare’s 10th-place finish in the Grade I E.P. Taylor at 1 ¼ miles at Woodbine last Oct. 16. “I think she’ll be better at a mile to a mile and an eighth.
“She might need this race a little bit, but she has been training pretty well.” In 16 starts, the English-bred mare has a 6-2-1 record with earnings of $430,676 for owner Fawzi Nass. Strawberrydaiquiri worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Thursday in 49.40.
The field for the Buena Vista: Wild Mia, David Flores; Strawberrydaiquiri, Joel Rosario; Cambina, Mike Smith; Camille C, Kayla Stra; Vamo a Galupiar, Joe Talamo; Sweetly Peppered, Kevin Krigger; Up in Time, Brice Blanc; Andina, Frederic Lenclud; City to City, Corey Nakatani; So Belle, Chantal Sutherland; and Briecat, Victor Espinoza.
Secret Cove is on the also-eligible list.
Santa Anita offers $2 beers, hot dogs and soft drinks on Presidents’ Day, Monday. First post time is 12:30 p.m. Gates open at 10:30 a.m.
OUT OF BOUNDS HAS THREE WORKS TO GO FOR SAN FELIPE
Sham Stakes winner Out of Bounds continues to advance towards the Grade II, $300,000 San Felipe Stakes on March 10, a steppingstone to the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 7.
The son of Discreet Cat trained by Eoin Harty for owner/breeder Darley Stable worked six furlongs Monday on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track in 1:13.40. “Three more works,” Harty said. “He’s right on course.”
Told the San Felipe looks like it’s coming up pretty salty with the likes of Fed Biz, Empire Way, Liaison, Midnight Transfer and Rousing Sermon among the probables, the droll Irishman stood his ground with Out of Bounds. “He’s pretty salty,” Harty said.
“If they can’t compete, they don’t belong.”
FIRST LAW ENFORCEMENT FAMILY FUN DAY SATURDAY AT SANTA ANITA
Santa Anita hosts its first Law Enforcement Family Fun Day Saturday in its spacious infield. Tickets for the fundraiser that benefits the 999 Organization for children are $15 each, but kids 17 and under will be admitted free when accompanied by an adult.
“999 for Kids” is a group of Los Angeles County sheriffs employees who raise funds for severely abused and neglected children.
There will be face painting, a moon bounce and a raffle and door prizes between races. Gates open at 10:30 a.m. Food, beverage and BBQ stands open at 11 a.m. There will a live band and DJ from 12 noon to 4 p.m. For more information, contact Sgt. Kraft at 562-631-4203 or go on line at santaanita.com/calendar_track.
MALDONADO ADDS SIZE FOR SANTA ANITA RIDERS NEXT THURSDAY, FEB. 23
Kurt Hoover has himself a rebounder for the annual charity basketball game next Thursday, Feb. 23, when Santa Anita’s jockeys play Holy Angels School at La Salle High School in Pasadena.
That would be Puerto Rican native Edwin Maldonado, at five feet, six inches, one of the tallest riders on the circuit.
“I used to play in school in Puerto Rico when I was a teenager, just for fun,” said the 29-year-old rider, who had eight wins from 63 rides through 32 days this meet. He is represented by agent Vic Lipton.
“I wanted to play last year, but I missed it,” Maldonado said. “This year, I hope to contribute.”
HRTV analyst Hoover has coached Santa Anita’s jockeys for the better part of 10 years, including last year when they won in overtime, 36-35, on Kerwin John’s game-winning shot from the baseline at the buzzer.
Proceeds from the game benefit the Holy Angels athletic program and the Kentucky-based Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). Game time is 7 p.m.
The Eye on Jacob Foundation will co-sponsor the event which will again enjoy the support of Hall of Fame jockeys Eddie Delahoussaye, Laffit Pincay Jr., Gary Stevens and Mike Smith. All of the legendary jockeys will be available from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and at halftime to autograph photos and other memorabilia. They will all serve as honorary captains as well. David Flores will again be the jockeys’ game captain.
La Salle High School is located at the southwest corner of Michillinda Ave. and Sierra Madre Blvd. in Pasadena, approximately four miles northwest of Santa Anita Park. Admission is $5.
HANDICAPPER FREE HITS SUNDAY PICK SIX BONANZA
Brad Free, columnist and handicapper with Daily Racing Form and racing analyst for HRTV, hit the proverbial jackpot this past Sunday, as he nailed all six winners in the Pick Six, collecting more than $41,418 on a bargain-basement $20 ticket.
In a column in Saturday’s Form, Free details the specifics of his ticket: “(The) ticket was five-deep and two-deep, followed by four singles. Who plays the Pick Six like that? What an idiot . . . ”
Free, who by his own admission, seldom plays the popular wager, justified his $20 investment thusly: “Horseplayers are dreamers. So occasionally we take a stab. Who knows? Maybe today is the lucky day . . . ”
Free obviously chose the right day and the right wager. With a carryover of $135,445 fueling the fire, the total Pick Six Pool on Sunday ended up being a whopping $831,146.
When asked following the races on Sunday if he had any immediate plans for his winnings, Free advised he had just been on the phone with his wife. “Both of our kids are in college. This is going to come in pretty handy.”
By any reckoning, Free’s $20 “stab” turned into a heckuva score—and perhaps a game-changer for his family.
FINISH LINES: The Usual Q.T., a late scratch from the San Marcos Stakes last Saturday due to a quarter crack in his left front leg, is scheduled to work on the turf Saturday, trainer Jim Cassidy said . . . The book-signing by author Elizabeth Letts of her New York Times best seller, “The Eighty Dollar Champion" was a huge success last Saturday. More than 50 books were sold. “One fan bought two books, had them signed and then asked us to take them to the Arcadia Public Library as an anonymous donation,” related Chris Crocker of Champions Gift Shop, where the book was on sale. “He just thought the library should have more horse books.” . . . Jason Levin, host of “Inside Racing” on KTLK-AM, 1150, in Los Angeles at 7 a.m. weekends, and Bob Mieszerski of Today’s Racing Digest, will be Jack Disney’s guests on Sunday’s Fans’ Forum, 11:15 a.m. in the East Paddock Gardens.