Sway Away has raced at distances from five furlongs to a mile and 3/16ths and at six different tracks in a seven-race career.
The 4-year-old son of 2005 Preakness winner Afleet Alex broke his maiden in a five-furlong dash at Pleasanton in his debut, on June 27, 2010, and finished 12th of 14 during a troubled trip in last year’s 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes.
Unraced since winning an allowance test at seven furlongs at Hollywood Park last June, Jeff Bonde feels the bay colt will be operating under favorable conditions when he runs in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Carlos Stakes at seven furlongs.
“He’s doing good,” the trainer said. “He was a typical young horse; you try to find out where you fit, and this is where we think we fit. He’s an off-the-pace sprinter.”
Bonde was not consumed with strategy, leaving that up to jockey Rafael Bejarano and Sway Away.
“He makes his own race,” Bonde said.
Sway Away blew out three furlongs Tuesday in 38.40, breezing, on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track.
The San Carlos marks the 2012 debut of Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Amazombie. The 6-year-old California-bred gelding was scheduled to start in the Jan. 21 Palos Verdes Stakes, but was scratched due to an off track.
The field for the San Carlos, race seven of nine: Canonize, Victor Espinoza, 12-1; Amazombie, Mike Smith, 8-5; The Factor, Martin Garcia, 7-5; Mensa Heat, Joe Talamo, 6-1; Rothko, Joel Rosario, 4-1; and Sway Away, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1.
Amazombie and The Factor share highweight of 123 pounds each. The others carry 118.
In other San Carlos news:
Having second thoughts about facing The Factor, the lone speed in the race on paper and unbeaten in three races at the seven-furlong distance of the San Carlos, trainer Ted H. West said Mensa Heat could scratch and point to the $70,000 Joe Hernandez Handicap for 4-year-olds and up at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf on March 4.
Mr Gruff, who finished in a dead-heat with Regally Ready for third after an exacting speed duel in the Daytona Stakes on Jan. 8, also is a candidate for the Hernandez, trainer Ron Ellis said.
Rothko, second to The Factor in the Malibu despite traffic problems at the three-eighths marker, must make up the 3 ½ lengths he was beaten in that Grade I race at seven furlongs on Dec. 26.
“We need a clean run,” said trainer Steve Asmussen’s assistant, Scott Blasi. “I don’t know if we can beat him (The Factor). I just hope we get a clean run. When the running started last time, we got stood on our heads, so we’ll see what happens.”
Amazombie galloped a mile Friday morning.
SADLER SEES IMPROVEMENT FOR GLADDING; SETSUKO WORKS FOR BIG ’CAP
Gladding beat one horse in last year’s Santa Anita Handicap. John Sadler is optimistic that the gelded son of 2002 Belmont Stakes winner Sarava will show marked improvement when Santa Anita’s marquee race presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino is contested on March 3.
Gladding was in tight early in last year’s running, then weakened to finish 13 ¼ lengths behind victorious Game On Dude, who is expected to return to defend his title this year for Bob Baffert.
“That’s not his style,” Sadler said of Gladding’s performance last year. “This year we’re going to be up close. We’re going to be running next to Game On Dude. Gladding is capable of a good race. He’s got some good Rag (Ragozin) numbers, he’s got some races that will make him highly competitive.”
The Florida-bred owned by long-time Sadler clients Susan and Lee Searing of Rancho Cucamonga, who race as C R K Stable, missed winning the Grade III Texas Mile at Lone Star Park last April 23 in his first race after the 2011 Big ‘Cap. After an absence of more than six months, Gladding finished fourth in the Grade III Ack Ack Handicap on a muddy track at Churchill Downs last Nov. 11.
“He didn’t really love the Churchill strip,” Sadler said. “There was a little rain right before the Breeders’ Cup (races), so we’re looking forward to the Big ‘Cap.”
In five starts for Sadler, Gladding has two wins, including the Grade II San Antonio Stakes last year. Overall, Gladding has a 3-3-1 record from 13 starts, with earnings of $205,200.
Probable for the Big ’Cap: Boxeur des Rues, Mario Gutierrez; Game On Dude, Chantal Sutherland; Gladding, Joel Rosario; Fiddlers Afleet, no rider; Holladay Road, no rider; Ron the Greek, Jose Lezcano; Setsuko, Victor Espinoza; Twice the Appeal, Christian Santiago Reyes; Uh Oh Bango, Mike Smith; and Ultimate Eagle, Martin Pedroza.
Setsuko, second by a nose at 25-1 to Game On Dude in last year’s Big ‘Cap, worked seven furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Friday in 1:23.80. “He went fabulous,” said Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, who is seeking his fourth Santa Anita Handicap victory. “He galloped out a mile in (one) 38. He couldn’t look much better.”
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said by phone Friday morning he would peruse the weights after they come out Saturday before making a decision on whether to run Hawthorne Gold Cup winner Redding Colliery.
Crystal Water winner Holladay Road worked six furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Friday in a bullet 1:11.80 for Julio Canani. It was the fastest of 22 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 1:14.28, while on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track, Fiddlers Afleet worked five furlongs in 1:01 for trainer Peter Eurton.
SANTA ANITA CREATES NEW LOGO FOR 75TH SANTA ANITA HANDICAP
In honor of the 75th running of the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap, Santa Anita Park has unveiled a dazzling new logo for its signature race for older horses to be run Saturday, March 3.
“This is a truly historic occasion and we felt the Big ’Cap deserved an artistic upgrade,” said Santa Anita Vice President of Sales and Marketing Chris Quinn. “Thanks to Candace Chew and Victor Sandoval in our Graphics Department, this logo fits the bill. It captures the essence of the power, depth and rich history of the Big ’Cap, while it embraces Santa Anita’s picturesque art deco design.”
The logo features the silhouette of a jockey and horse’s head set before a three-dimensional spread of golden pillars which are emblematic of Santa Anita’s historic grandstand.
First run in 1935, the Santa Anita Handicap, contested at the North American classic distance of a mile and a quarter, is America’s longest continually run $100,000 stakes race and is thus known as “The Granddaddy of Them All.”
The inaugural running, contested at the depth of the Great Depression, was won by Azucar who was ridden by the legendary George Woolf.
The Big ’Cap has been won by some of the greatest horses in the history of the sport, including: Seabiscuit and Red Pollard (1940), Noor and Johnny Longden (1950), Round Table and Bill Shoemaker (1958), Hill Rise and Donald Pierce (1965), Lucky Debonair and Shoemaker, (1966), Cougar II and Laffit Pincay, Jr. (1973), Royal Glint and Jorge Tejeira (1976), Vigors and Darrel McHargue (1978), Affirmed and Pincay (1979), Spectacular Bid and Shoemaker (1980), John Henry, Pincay and Shoemaker (1981 & ’82), Alysheba and Chris McCarron (1988), Best Pal and Kent Desormeaux (1992), and Tiznow & McCarron (2001).
In addition to John Henry, other two-time winners of the Big ’Cap are Milwaukee Brew (2002 and ’02) and Lava Man (2006 and ’07).
Shoemaker won the race a record 11 times and legendary Hall of Fame trainer Charlie Whittingham won the Big ’Cap a record eight times.
In one of the most controversial finishes in Big ’Cap history, Game On Dude won last year’s renewal, enabling jockey Chantal Sutherland to become the first-ever female jockey to win. It also provided Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert with his third Big ’Cap triumph.
BIG ’CAP DRAW BREAKFAST SET FOR THIS WEDNESDAY, FEB. 29
The 75th running of the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap will take place on Saturday March 3, and the Big ’Cap Draw Breakfast will be held by invitation only, beginning at 9:30 a.m. next Wednesday, Feb. 29, in the track’s posh FrontRunner Restaurant.
It is expected that the Bob Baffert-conditioned Game on Dude, who is owned in part by Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride Stable, will a attempt to join John Henry (1981-’82), Milwaukee Brew (2002-’03), and Lava Man (2006-’07), as the fourth two-time winner. Game on Dude will again be ridden by Chantal Sutherland.
Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella has committed Setsuko to another Big ’Cap engagement and he’ll once again be ridden by Victor Espinoza. Setsuko was second beaten a nose by Game on Dude in last year’s edition and in Mandella’s opinion could have been declared the winner following a lengthy stewards' inquiry.
Also on Big ‘Cap Day, Santa Anita offers a $500,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4 presented by DRF TicketMaker, and in honor of the marquee race, fans at Santa Anita will be given free Big ’Cap hats with paid admission while supplies last.
In addition, there will be another popular Food Truck Festival in the infield. First post time March 3 is 12 noon. Gates open at 10 a.m.
THE USUAL Q.T. LIKELY TO FACE MR. COMMONS IN KILROE MILE MARCH 3
Two-time Grade I stakes winner The Usual Q.T. is scheduled to work five furlongs on Santa Anita’s turf course Saturday and if all goes well, the 6-year-old California-bred son of Unusual Heat will run in the Grade I, $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf on March 3.
“Mr. Commons is the horse to beat, of course,” said trainer Jim Cassidy, referring to streaking stakes winner Mr. Commons, who captured the Sir Beaufort and the Arcadia, each a Grade II race, in his last two starts.
“But on our best day, we can do it.”
The Usual Q.T. is winless in eight starts since taking the Grade I Eddie Read at Del Mar in July of 2010, but has never failed to earn a check in those eight races, finishing fifth as 5-2 favorite in the Pacific Classic on Polytrack and second twice and third five times after that. The bay gelding has earned $1,531,240.
Probable for the Kilroe: Compari, Rafael Bejarano; Jeranimo, Garrett Gomez; Make Music for Me, no rider; Massone, no rider; Mr. Commons, Mike Smith; The Usual Q.T., Victor Espinoza; and Willyconker, Joel Rosario.
John Sadler said Pathfork and Pressday would work this weekend, after which the trainer would decide on their Kilroe status.
SANTA ANITA JOCKEYS WIN CHARITY GAME; GOOD TIME HAD BY ALL
Led by high scorers Christian Santiago Reyes (12 points) and Corey Nakatani (10), Santa Anita’s jockeys defeated Holy Angels School, 39-34, in their 45th annual charity basketball game last night before a packed house at LaSalle High School in Pasadena.
“It was fun; we had a good time,” said jockey Talamo, who thought he tossed in a three-pointer, but was only credited with two. “I thought it was a three-pointer. I closed my eyes and made an ‘Our Father’ and shot. I know I led in one statistic—personal fouls. We had a good turnout.”
Other scorers for the jockeys were Eswan Flores (six points), Omar Figueroa (five), and Talamo, Josh Desormeaux (son of Hall of Fame jockey Kent) and Rafael Bejarano, two each.
Proceeds from the game benefit the Holy Angels athletic program and the Kentucky-based Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). A total of $5,000 was raised in net proceeds, $1,000 more than last year.
The monies were evenly divided between Holy Angels and PDJF.
Hall of Fame riders Eddie Delahoussaye, Laffit Pincay Jr., Gary Stevens and Mike Smith were on hand to autograph photos and other memorabilia. They served as honorary captains as well. David Flores was the jockeys’ game captain.
“Nancy Dollase and David Flores were instrumental in making this year’s game a huge success,” said Director of Publicity Mike Willman. “Nancy and her team at Holy Angels did a great job in promoting the event and David was responsible for the best jockey turnout we’ve ever seen.”
The Eye on Jacob Foundation co-sponsored the event. The Eye on Jacob Foundation is named for the 13-year-old son of Kent Desormeaux, who was diagnosed several years ago with Usher’s Syndrome, a rare disorder that causes loss of hearing, imbalance and eventual loss of sight in approximately 12,000 children in the United States.
HRTV AT GULFSTREAM, FAIR GROUNDS THIS WEEKEND FOR KEY DERBY PREPS
With action heating up on the Triple Crown trail, HRTV will be at Gulfstream Park and the Fair Grounds this weekend for a pair of important Derby preps, as well as other stakes races.
Laffit Pincay, Jeff Siegel, and Caton Bredar will be in South Florida for two days of stakes racing, topped by the Grade II, $400,000 Fountain of Youth for 3-year-olds on Sunday, while Peter Lurie will be at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans reporting on a busy Saturday of action, topped by the Grade II, $300,000 Risen Star for 3-year-olds, which has drawn a field of 11.
The Fountain of Youth annually serves as a major Derby steppingstone, and is expected to feature two prominent Derby hopefuls, Union Rags and Algorithms. A day earlier, the Grade II, $250,000 Davona Dale for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles heads another stellar card which includes two $100,000 events, the Sabin and The Very One.
Pincay, Siegel and Bredar will offer in-depth race analysis, as well as late-breaking news and interviews, from trackside throughout the weekend.
There are three more stakes on the Risen Star undercard, including the $200,000 Rachel Alexandra, the $125,000 Fair Grounds Handicap, and the $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap.
"Fasig-Tipton, Pursuit of the Crown, presented by Twinspires.com" Makes Sunday Debut
Also, beginning Sunday at 5 p.m., HRTV will again introduce a second weekly installment of "Fasig-Tipton Pursuit of the Crown, presented by Twinspires.com" to its programming schedule. The half-hour show, slated for each Sunday, will offer an instant analysis of weekend stakes races with Triple Crown implications.
The show, which also airs every Thursday, made its seasonal debut Feb. 9. HRTV's Scott Hazelton and three-time Derby-winning jockey Gary Stevens co-anchor on Sunday.
PICTURESQUE BOOK ON HILLSIDE COURSE ON SALE MARCH 3
Photographer Katey Barrett will autograph her book, "The Hill," at Champions Gift Shop next Saturday, March 3.
For 40 years, Katey has staked out the hillside turf course, waiting for the opportune moment when horses, colors, light and shadow converge to offer an ideal setting. The coffee table book contains a collection of the most spectacular images from a lifetime of spectacular images, a "must-have" for those who enjoy Santa Anita, especially the hillside turf course.
From great horses, great riders and great images, collectors will want a signed version of this book. The signing will take place from 10:30 a.m. until 11:45 a.m.
FINISH LINES: Corey Nakatani rides 8-1 morning line chance Casual Trick for Nick Zito Sunday in the Grade II, $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes at 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream Park . . . Barry Abrams won his first race of the meet Thursday after 35 straight losses when Lindz Winz led throughout to take the first race under Edwin Maldonado. “I’ve had a lot of seconds and thirds (four and five, respectively), and my horses generally are stretch runners,” the trainer said. Lindz Winz won by nearly four lengths at odds of 5-1 . . . David Bernstein has an unraced 6-year-old maiden mare that might be worth keeping an eye on. “Her name is Sweet Cecilia Moon, who’s been running for owner John Zamora in the wilds of Utah,” the 72-year-old trainer said, adding the reason that it’s taken so long for the California-bred daughter of Olympio to get to the races: “We couldn’t catch her till she was four.”. . . Brad Free of Daily Racing Form and syndicated handicapper Bob Ike will offer their expertise on Sunday’s Fans’ Forum hosted by Jack Disney, 11:15 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens.