It takes more than skill and luck to be a top jockey. It helps if you do your homework and study the Three R’s, in this case, readin’, ridin’ and research, which have helped Rafael Bejarano attain world-class status.

The 29-year-old Peruvian who rode Caracortado to a gotta-see-it-to-believe-it victory in the Grade III Daytona Stakes on Jan. 8, had hoped to duplicate that feat in Saturday’s $100,000 Sensational Star Stakes for California-breds at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf--unfortunately Caracortado was scratched early Friday afternoon due to a minor foot problem.

Take it from trainer Mike Machowsky, Bejarano, now in his fifth year as a regular on the Southern California circuit and a perennial leader, is no one-hit wonder.

“Going to the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs last November I was on the same flight as him,” Machowsky said. “We were on the red-eye and he was sitting there with his mom and I asked him how many races he was riding in the Breeders’ Cup.

“He told me eight, and he asked me if I wanted to see the past performances. He pulled them out and I was amazed. He had each of them in a spiral notebook with notes written next to each horse.

“I said to myself, ‘What a student.’ Here it was Monday night on the red-eye before the Breeders’ Cup and here was a guy who had all the PP’s and his notes printed out and he was studying the races.

“That’s something you’d expect to see from (Super Bowl quarterbacks) Tom Brady and Eli Manning. I was impressed. That’s why when Bejarano rode Caracortado in the Daytona, I told him nothing (before the race). I figured he knows what’s going on and knows each horse he’s running against.”

Reminded that Caracortado was some 13 lengths behind at the three-eighths pole in the Daytona and seemingly hopelessly out of contention, Machowsky was asked if at that moment he might have had second thoughts about not giving Bejarano pre-race instructions.

“Maybe I should have said something,” Machowsky said, smiling. “But seriously, Caracortado is one of those horses that does his own thing.

“He doesn’t want to be sent. He wants to be into the race but he’s got so much talent you can do a lot of different things.”

The Sensational Star is one of five stakes on a 10-race program that includes the Grade I Santa Monica Stakes for older fillies and mares at seven furlongs. The $300,000 guaranteed Santa Monica is the ninth race on a festive Sunshine Millions Day card.

The field for the Sensational Star: Ain’t No Other, Martin Garcia, 6-1; Tamarack Smarty, David Flores, 20-1; Compari, Mike Smith, 5-2; Caracortado, Rafael Bejarano, scratched; My Summer Slew, Alonso Quinonez, 20-1; and Red Defense, Joel Rosario, 8-1.

Luckarack and Mega Heat were scratched.


Santa Anita Park and Gulfstream Park will celebrate the HBO series LUCK with a special Pick Six wager on Sunshine Millions Day tomorrow. The one dollar minimum wager will have a guaranteed pool of $250,000 and will feature three races from Santa Anita and three from Gulfstream Park. HBO’s LUCK, the highly anticipated racetrack-themed series based at Santa Anita and starring Dustin Hoffman will premier the following night, Sunday, Jan. 29.

First post time on Sunshine Millions Day is 12 noon. The LUCK Pick Six will begin at approximately 1:10 p.m. with Gulfstream’s eighth race. It will conclude with Santa Anita’s sixth race, which will be run at approximately 2:37 p.m. All six races will be stakes races.

In addition to a one dollar minimum wager, the LUCK Pick Six will also offer a mandatory payout, with no carryover provision. In the event of a Santa Anita Pick Six carryover Friday, all Pick Six monies would be carried over to Sunday.

The LUCK Pick Six will be televised on HRTV and at

In addition to exciting horse racing and an attractive wagering menu on Sunshine Millions Day, Santa Anita will offer its popular California Food Truck Festival, featuring 50 of California’s Finest Food Trucks highlighted by the Grilled Cheese Truck, the Lobsta Truck, the Ragin Cajun and the White Rabbit.

The California Craft Beer Festival also will be presented, plus the Grand Opening of the LUCK Lounge, a venue named for the HBO series.

There will be a LUCK Pick 6, a Bounceback to Strub Day, a Ms. Sunshine Millions Contest, an appearance by Ms. California, and 12,000 beach chairs given away free to all THOROUGHBREDS members in attendance at Santa Anita with paid admission, while supplies last. Megan Nicole will open ceremonies by singing the National Anthem and there will be performances in the infield by Shiny Toy Guns, DJ Set Feat, Jeremy Dawson and Carah Faye.


HRTV's weekly "The Edge" handicapping show offers a special edition tonight at 5 p.m., featuring an in-depth analysis of Saturday's $250,000 guaranteed "LUCK" Pick Six pari-mutuel wager.

The 30-minute show, featuring Kurt Hoover and Daily Racing Form's Brad Free, will present in-depth handicapping insights on each race heading into the one-time live wager, which is a precursor to the Sunday premiere of the HBO show, "LUCK."

"LUCK" takes a provocative look at the world of horse racing--the owners, gamblers, jockeys and diverse gaming industry players. The cast stars Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Farina, John Ortiz, Richard Kind, Ian Hart, Kevin Dunn, Ritchie Coster, Jason Gedrick, Jill Hennessy, Tom Payne, Kerry Condon, HRTV's Gary Stevens and Nick Nolte. The pilot is directed by acclaimed Michael Mann and written by David Milch.

Additionally, HBO has also instituted a national contest via its "LUCK" Facebook page at, which will give participants the chance to win a top prize of $50,000. Participants are asked to select one horse in each of the six races, with that person receiving “points” if their horse finishes first, second or third, based upon actual on-track payouts. The player with the most “points” wins. Runner-up prizes include tickets to the 2012 Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita.


Team McAnally hopes Sugarinthemorning’s first race in two months will benefit her against La Brea conqueror Teddy’s Promise in Saturday’s Grade I Santa Monica Stakes for fillies and mares, 4 and up, at seven furlongs.

“I thought she ran pretty well last time,” said Dan Landers, an assistant with Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally since 1995. “She does well with time between her races and we’re hoping she moves forward off of that race. It was the first time she’d ever run on this (dirt) track, really.”

A 4-year-old daughter of Candy Ride, Sugarinthemorning has a 5-2-1 record from 12 starts with earnings of $310,334.

The Santa Monica field: Bella Diamante, David Flores, 30-1; Big Tiz, Corey Nakatani, 9-2; Teddy’s Promise, Victor Espinoza, 8-5; Home Sweet Aspen, Joel Rosario, 6-1; She’s Cheeky, Joe Talamo, 20-1; Rumor, Mike Smith, 9-5; and Sugarinthemorning, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1.


Eden’s Moon tackles graded company for the first time when she runs in Saturday’s Grade III Santa Ysabel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles. Bob Baffert says she’ll fancy the distance following her 11 ½-length romp in a one-mile maiden win on Jan. 8.

“Her maiden win was pretty impressive, and she’s trained forwardly since,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “The Santa Ysabel is a pretty tough race. I think the best fillies in California are all in there.”

Eden’s Moon, a bay daughter of Malibu Moon owned by Kaleem Shah, was second in her debut to Reeneesgotzip, who went on to win the Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes by nearly eight lengths.

“I didn’t think she could lose first out,” said Baffert, who saw Eden’s Moon go off at 2-5 against Reneesgotzip at Hollywood Park on Dec. 18, only to finish second. “But my filly likes going long.”

The field for the Santa Ysabel: Eden’s Moon, Martin Garcia, 8-5; Batalha, Chantal Sutherland, 8-1; Willa B Awesome, Martin Pedroza, 8-1; Lady of Shamrock, Mike Smith, 9-2; Killer Graces, Joe Talamo, 7-2; and Charm the Maker, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1. Coup de Coeur was scratched.


Steve Specht can probably drive from North to South on the 5 Freeway in his sleep, he’s made the trip so many times. He added a few hundred more miles when he hauled Antares World from his Golden Gate headquarters to Santa Anita for Saturday’s $100,000 Valentine Dancer Stakes, a one mile turf event for California-bred fillies and mares, ages four and up.

“She runs hard all the time,” said the 62-year-old Specht of the 5-year-old Decarchy mare owned and bred by Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams of Boise, Idaho. “Her one poor race was in the Cal Cup (ninth of 11 last Oct. 29), but after that she ran a big race at Golden Gate (winning the Pacific Heights).

“It kind of looked like she was going to fall out of it about the eighth pole, but she came back on and won going away. The race on Saturday is a little short for her. She’s better at a mile and a sixteenth or over. A mile and an eighth is about perfect for her.

“She’s got that cruising speed where she keeps chuggin’ along at the same lick. We plan to race through this year and beyond. She’s sound. I gave her some time off (from May 14 until Oct.29 last year) because I made so many trips with her back and forth the year before.”

The field for the Valentine Dancer, race six of 10: Secret Cove, Joel Rosario, 15-1; Warren’s Got Game, Christian Santiago Reyes, 20-1; Antares World, Martin Garcia, 9-2; La Sombre, Alonso Quinonez, 4-1; Chokecherymary, Corey Nakatani, 10-1; California Nectar, Hector Berrios, 10-1; Halo Dolly, Joe Talamo, 3-1; and Bench Glory, Brice Blanc, 20-1.

Cayanna and Unzip Me were scratched.


Henry Moreno is hoping for better luck Saturday when he saddles Spud Spivens for the $100,000 Crystal Water Stakes for older horses at 1 1/16 miles. The 4-year-old Tizbud gelding was five wide finishing fifth in the Grade II San Fernando Stakes on Jan. 14, and had to swing wide in the stretch before that while finishing third in the On Trust Handicap at Hollywood Park Dec. 18.

“He’s training good,” said the 83-year-old trainer, who saddled his first winner in 1950. “He had a lot of problems the last two times out. This is the best horse I’ve had in quite a while, and if everything goes right, he should be right there.”

Spud Spivens was fifth in the Grade II Swaps Stakes last July and third in the Grade II Affirmed Handicap a month earlier. Overall, he has a 3-2-3 record from 18 starts, with earnings of $174,734.

In other Crystal Water news:

Julio Canani, still recovering from jet lag after a trip to his native Peru where he was honored last weekend, says Holladay Road is coming into the race well in pursuit of his first stakes win.

“The horse is doing great,” Canani said. “He’s very versatile, but it helps if he has a good pace to run at.” Canani enjoyed some unexpected memorabilia during his trip. “While I was there, someone came up and showed me a picture of myself at the race track there that was taken 55 years ago,” Canani said.

Victor Espinoza is looking forward to reuniting with Legal Separation in the Valentine Dancer.

“He likes this track,” Espinoza said of the son of Jackpot trained by Ed Moger Jr. for long-time clients Curt and Lila Lanning. “His worst races were at Del Mar. Some horses like that track, but he doesn’t like it at all.

“He was off for a while before the On Trust and he should benefit from his last start. I think he’ll run better this time.” Spud Spivens blew out three furlongs Friday in 36.40.

The field for the Crystal Water: Legal Separation, Espinoza, 6-1; Bluegrass Reward, Joe Talamo, 9-2; Spud Spivens, Mike Smith, 9-2; Thirtyfirststreet, Joel Rosario, 2-1; Holladay Road, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; and Macho Dorado, Corey Nakatani, 9-2.

FINISH LINES: Santa Anita Handicap winner Game on Dude worked six furlongs in company with Tweebster Friday morning on Santa Anita’s fast main track in a bullet 1:11 under Martin Garcia. “Great” is how the drill was termed by Bob Baffert, who is preparing the Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up for the Grade II San Antonio Stakes on Feb. 5. Private clocker Toby Turrell had the Big ‘Cap winner out seven eighths in 1:22.00. Tweebster was clocked in 1:12.20 . . . Multiple stakes winner The Usual Q.T., possible for the Arcadia Stakes on Feb. 4, went five furlongs in 1:00.80 for trainer Jim Cassidy . . . Agent Tony Matos reports Garrett Gomez doing well as he recovers from surgery on his left heel following a mishap prior to the Daytona Stakes on Jan. 8. “He’s going through rehab and we expect him to be back by late February or sooner,” Matos said . . . Eclipse Award sprint champion Amazombie is scheduled to work a half-mile or five furlongs Sunday as he prepares for his 2012 debut, hopefully in the Grade II San Carlos Stakes on Feb. 25. “He’s doing extremely well,” said trainer Bill Spawr, who scratched the California-bred son of Northern Afleet from the Palos Verdes Stakes due to an off track. “He’s like a money ball player. When the money’s down, they always show up.” . . . Trainer Mike Puype said Santa Anita Oaks winner Turbulent Descent is doing well during her period of R&R and could return to the races at the upcoming Hollywood Park meet in late April. “She’ll be back at the barn before April,” Puype said. “We’re just going to give her 60 days.” . . . Tapizar, impressive wire-to-wire winner of the San Fernando Stakes, remains on course for the Grade II Strub Stakes Feb. 4, says Scott Blasi, assistant to Steve Asmussen . . . Frenchman Freddy Lenclud (len-CLOOD) is making his Santa Anita debut this meet but the 24-year-old rider is no stranger to major venues. “I’ve been riding in the United States for 2 ½ years, in Kentucky and New York, and rode for Christophe Clement, Graham Motion and Carl Nafzger,” said Lenclud, who had two thirds from two mounts through Thursday. His agent is Derek Lawson . . . There were 21 players alive in ShowVivor entering Friday’s races . . . Congratulations to trainer David Hofmans, who celebrated his 69th birthday today by saddling favored One Fast Frog to win the first race . . . Janet Armstrong is making the most of limited opportunities. With only 11 horses in training for private client Sydney Belzberg’s Budget Stable, she has four wins from just nine starts through the first 20 days this meet. “I’m spotting them in the right spots and having good luck,” Armstrong said.