While the focus is on Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Amazombie and his scheduled 2012 debut in Saturday’s Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes, others in the field of eight going six furlongs for a guaranteed purse of $150,000 are on the back burner, relatively speaking.
Two such steeds are Euroears and M One Rifle, like Amazombie each a Grade I winner. Euroears, who will be retired after the Palos Verdes to stand at stud in Oklahoma, won the Grade I Bing Crosby at Del Mar last July, while M One Rifle captured the Grade I Malibu Stakes in 2009.
“I think he’s got a good post,” Baffert said of Euroears, a millionaire with 10 wins from 22 starts. “It just takes him a couple jumps to get going.
“He’s been wiped out in a couple races so we’ll see what happens. He likes this track but there’s a lot of speed in the race, a ton of speed, but he’s pretty speedy himself. It’s a big plus being on the outside as opposed to leaving from the rail.”
In 17 career starts, M One Rifle has competed in stakes races 13 times, winning three. The son of One Man Army finished third in the Grade III Vernon O. Underwood at Hollywood Park last out on Nov. 26, but has two bullet works on his tab since that race.
M One Rifle drew the rail and the weather forecast calls for a 70 percent chance of rain on Saturday, but neither caused Bruce Headley to lose any sleep, even though M One Rifle has never raced on an off track.
“Runners can run on anything,” the trainer said. “We’re all set to go. We’ve been pointing to the Palos Verdes since the date for the race was announced.”
The field for the Palos Verdes: M One Rifle, Joe Talamo, 6-1; Amazombie, Mike Smith, 9-5; Galientos, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Mensa Heat, Rafael Bejarano, 7-2; Frumious, Antonio Castanon, 8-1; Canonize, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; Courtside, Joel Rosario, 9-2; and Euroears, Martin Garcia, 4-1.
With rain forecast for Saturday and Bill Spawr on record as saying he won’t run Amazombie on a sealed race track, the trainer has nominated the 2011 Eclipse Award champion sprinter to the $100,000 Sensational Star Stakes for California-breds at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf on Jan. 28.
Amazombie was second by a half-length as the 13-10 favorite in last year’s Sensational Star, and has four wins, three seconds and two thirds in 12 career turf starts, including one on Santa Anita’s unique downhill course at the Sensational Star distance.
“Amazombie is ready to run and I want to run,” Spawr said Friday morning, “but it depends on the weather and track conditions.”
QUINONEZ LOVES THE WAY HIS FILLY RUNS FOR LA CAŇADA
Love Theway Youare, a Kentucky-bred filly by Arch owned and trained by Myung Kwon Cho, seeks her first stakes win in Sunday’s Grade II La Caňada Stakes for 4-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.
Though winless in stakes competition thus far, it’s not for lack of trying. The dark bay or brown miss has run in six straight stakes since breaking her maiden, five of them graded events, two of those Grade I’s.
“The distance should be all right for her,” said jockey Alonso Quinonez, who has ridden Love Theway Youare seven times, including her maiden win at Santa Anita at 1 1/16 miles last April 1.
“She only has one way to run, and that’s to come from behind once she gets into a rhythm,” said the 28-year-old native of Sinaloa, Mexico, who is represented by agent Vince DeGregory. “She’s a big filly and she likes to make one move. You have to keep pedaling on her, so for her, I think the more distance, the better. Her best races are from way off the pace.”
The field for the La Caňada: May Day Rose, Martin Garcia, 4-1; Love Theway Youare, Alonso Quinonez, 20-1; Big Tiz, Corey Nakatani, 4-1; Great Hot, Chantal Sutherland, 3-1; Miss Radiance, David Flores, 12-1; Include Me Out, Joe Talamo, 8-1; Capital Plan, Rafael Bejarano,
7-2; and Tiz Flirtatious, Joel Rosario, 7-2.
CARACORTADO POINTS TO NEXT SATURDAY’S SENSATIONAL STAR STAKES
Caracortado, whose spectacular last-to-first victory in the Daytona Stakes on Jan. 8 fooled even the omniscient eyes of Trevor Denman, will return to the same venue a week from Saturday when he runs in the Sensational Star Stakes.
For his part, the legendary Denman makes no apologies for his real-time Daytona assessment of Caracortado’s chances. “To me, it was a once in a lifetime kind of performance,” said Denman. “I have never seen a horse do what Caracortado did. He was dead in the water at the three sixteenths pole. He wasn’t going anywhere. You can look back at horses like Silky Sullivan, but in his case, you could see he was gathering himself, that he was going to make a run. In this case, Caracortado was doing nothing. It was truly amazing.”
Like the Daytona, the $100,000 Sensational Star is scheduled to be run at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf.
“It’s for Cal-breds, the horse is doing well, it’s down the hill and it gives me six weeks to the Kilroe,” Machowsky said Friday morning in explaining his decision to run in the Sensational Star rather than the Grade II Arcadia Stakes at one mile on turf on Feb. 4.
The Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile, also on turf, will be run on March 3, the day of the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap and the Grade I, $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
PICK 6 BETTORS WERE HUNGRY FOR CARRYOVER ACTION AFTER LAYOFF
With a modest crowd of 3,033 on track and a total gate of 8,122, punters were extremely generous in their Pick 6 participation at Santa Anita Thursday, pouring $602,075 into an existing carryover of $109,401 from last Sunday, boosting the total pool to $709,401.
“Whenever there are three days off between racing, people find fresh money, whether they beg, borrow or steal, they come with it after there’s been a little bit of a layoff,” explained syndicated handicapper Bob Ike. With only one double-digit win payoff (Elana Mar at $17.20 in the fifth race, third leg of the Pick 6), there were 74 winning Pick 6 tickets, each worth $5,799.60.
FINISH LINES: Santa Anita Handicap winner Game on Dude, prepping for the Grade II San Antonio Stakes on Feb. 5, worked six furlongs in company Friday in 1:11.80 under Martin Garcia. Stablemate Gator Warrior was clocked in 1:12.80. “I got him in 10 and four,” Bob Baffert said of the Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up. Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty, absent since finishing unplaced in the BC Ladies’ Classic last Nov. 4, worked four furlongs in 48 seconds for Baffert with owner John Fort of Camden, S.C., who races as Peachtree Stable, on hand. Fort’s Take No Prisoners, 7-2 on the morning line, runs in today’s eighth race. Santa Anita Derby winner Midnight Interlude also breezed for Baffert, going three furlongs in 37.80 . . . Sharp Cat winner Charm the Maker worked seven furlongs in 1:26.20 under Rafael Bejarano. Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally is pointing the daughter of Empire Maker to the Grade III Santa Ysabel Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 28 . . . At Hollywood Park Friday, Norfolk Stakes winner Creative Cause, ticketed for the San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs on Feb. 19, worked six furlongs on Cushion Track in 1:14 for Mike Harrington, while Sir Beaufort winner and Arcadia Stakes candidate Mr. Commons went the same distance in a bullet 1:12.40 for John Shirreffs. Also, San Diego Handicap winner Tres Borrachos went four furlongs for Marty Jones in 48 seconds flat, while multiple stakes-winning turf marathoner Bourbon Bay went six furlongs in 1:14 for Neil Drysdale . . . With 42 players backing Ultimate Decision, 11 ¼-length winner of Thursday’s fourth race as the 1-2 favorite, there were 89 contestants alive in Santa Anita’s on line handicapping contest, ShowVivor, going into Friday’s races.