With two California-bred horses winning top honors against international competition at last Monday’s Eclipse Awards ceremony, Thoroughbreds from the Golden State proved they take a back seat to no one.
Joel Rosario hopes that successful trend continues on a lesser plateau Sunday when he rides unbeaten California-bred filly Tiz Flirtatious against open company in the Grade II La Caňada Stakes for 4-year-old fillies at a mile and a sixteenth.
“She looks like she can go longer,” said Rosario, once again engaged in a pitched battle with arch-rival Rafael Bejarano for Santa Anita top riding honors. “We’ll find out on Sunday.
“She’s a good-looking filly and she keeps improving. She’s three for three and done nothing wrong, showing she can come from well off the pace sprinting. The horse is doing really good and we’re hoping she keeps winning, no matter the distance or the competition.”
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.
SENSATIONAL STAR, GRADE II SAN CARLOS OPTIONS FOR CHAMP AMAZOMBIE
With rain causing Santa Anita’s main track to be sealed Friday night, Breeders’ Cup and Eclipse Award Sprint champion Amazombie was scratched around 7:30 this morning from today’s Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes and now could make his 2012 debut in one of two upcoming races.
“The Sensational Star and the San Carlos are our two options,” said Darryl Rader, assistant to trainer Bill Spawr.
The $100,000 Sensational Star Stakes for California-breds is scheduled to be run at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf next Saturday. Should Spawr opt for the Sensational Star, he will in all likelihood meet recent Grade III, Daytona Stakes winner Caracortado.
The Grade II, $200,000 San Carlos Stakes will be run on the main track at seven furlongs on Feb. 25.
Amazombie, a 6-year-old California-bred gelding by Northern Afleet, was second by a half-length as the 13-10 favorite in last year’s Sensational Star. He has raced on turf 12 times, winning four, with three seconds and two thirds.
WELL-TRAVELED BELVOIR MAKES HIMSELF AT HOME AT SANTA ANITA
Vann Belvoir has unobtrusively made his presence felt since moving his operation to Southern California recently. The 38-year-old former jockey had stops in the Bay Area, the Northwest, and points East before his relocation.
“I’m from Washington but we had horses at Golden Gate before we came to Southern California,” said Belvoir, who had four wins from 10 starters through 17 racing days, including favored Skinny Genes in Friday’s sixth race.
“We had some horses running at Canterbury, Emerald, Remington and in the summer kept a little barn at Golden Gate, but Seattle was my main base. >From there, we went to Del Mar for the first time and we did well.
“This is my first time at Santa Anita’s winter meet and we’re here for good now. We have 25 head, some new clients and money to claim with, so it’s fun. Maybe some of the babies will show some quality, but right now it’s high claimers. Hopefully one day we’ll be able to get some better horses.”
A native of Seattle, Belvoir rode in the Bay Area “but was fighting my weight so I quit in 1996 and started training.” He was leading trainer his first meet, the winter session at Emerald. “Since then I’ve trained at Phoenix, Texas, Kentucky, kind of everywhere,” Belvoir said, “but it doesn’t get any nicer than here at Santa Anita.”
FINISH LINES: Eswan Flores triggered a $58,316 Pick 6 carryover into Saturday with longshot victories in Friday’s late double. The 18-year-old rider, who is represented by agent Joe Griffin, won the seventh race for trainer Reina Gonzalez by 3 ½ lengths, going wire to wire at a $47 win payoff, then came back in the eighth and final race to guide Skip Tony to a neck victory for trainer David Hofmans at a $78 return. The Eswan double paid $738. Flores needs eight more victories to reach 40 in his career, after which his apprentice weight allowance will drop from seven pounds to five . . .A celebration of life will be held this Tuesday at 1 p.m. for legendary horseplayer “Lucky Buck” Tracy, who died of cancer a week ago at age 75. The son of a trainer, Tracy was a lifelong friend of Bruce Headley and would have fit nicely in any Damon Runyon casting scenario. His life will be celebrated at the First Cabin in Arcadia, located at 46 E. Huntington Drive . . . Agent Tony Matos reports Garrett Gomez recuperating well at his Duarte home from surgery on his left heel Jan. 12 following a mishap going to the track for the Daytona Stakes on Jan. 8. “He’s doing well,” said Matos, who added Gomez is scheduled to be re-examined by his doctor on Tuesday . . . With 8-5 shot Tio Vic finishing fourth of five in yesterday’s first race, 29 players were eliminated in ShowVivor, leaving 47 alive going into Saturday’s races . . . Steve Andersen of Daily Racing Form and Santa Anita morning line oddsmaker Jon White will be Jack Disney’s guests on Sunday’s Fans’ Forum, 11:15 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens.