Martin Pedroza teamed with Julio Canani to win the $1-million Santa Anita Handicap with 50-1 outsider Martial Law in 1989, so he has little reservation about the stretch-running Mostacolli Mort being 15-1 on the morning line for tomorrow’s Grade I $500,000 Goodwood Stakes.
“Price doesn’t mean anything in this kind race, or in any kind of race,” Pedroza said. “Once you know the horse can run and the horse is capable, you know you have a chance.”
With a record 561 career victories at Fairplex Park, Pedroza is the undeniable King of Pomona. “I don’t see why my horse can’t win the Goodwood,” said Pedroza, fresh from winning his 10th consecutive riding title and his 11th overall at Fairplex. “He only has one way of going, and, hopefully the way the track is and with his style of running, I think it will suit him very well. The track is playing pretty fair, but in a race like this, I hope the speed comes back to us.”
The Goodwood field: Zappa, Joel Rosario, 6-1; Tres Borrachos, Tyler Baze, 15-1; Informed, Martin Garcia, 30-1; Surf Cat, David Flores, 6-1; Slew’s Tiznow, Alonso Quinonez, 15-1; Albertus Maximus, Garrett Gomez, 6-1; Well Armed, Aaron Gryder, 7-2; Tiago, Mike Smith, 6-1; Spirit One, Ioritz Mendizabal, 8-1; Mostacolli Mort, Martin Pedroza, 15-1; and Mast Track, John Velazquez, 5-1. Each horse is assigned 124 pounds, except 3-year-olds Tres Borrachos and Slew’s Tiznow, who get 121.
The field for the 24th running of the Ancient Title at six furlongs: Street Boss, David Flores, 8-5; Delta Storm, Aaron Gryder, 10-1; Decado, Alex Solis, 30-1; Idiot Proof, Garrett Gomez, 5-2; Sailors Sunset, Martin Pedroza, 15-1; In Summation, Rene Douglas, 3-1; Esperamos, Julio Garcia, 12-1; and Cost of Freedom, Tyler Baze, 10-1. Each horse is assigned 124 pounds.
Oak Tree presents five “Win and You’re In” Grade I races Saturday: the $500,000 Goodwood Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles; the $400,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up, at 11/4 miles on turf; the $250,000 Oak Leaf Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles; the $250,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up, at 1 1/16 miles; and the $250,000 Ancient Title Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs. A sixth Grade I race, the Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship at 1 1/4 miles, also will be decided Saturday.
“Win and You’re In” events provide their winners with a right to start in the corresponding Breeders’ Cup championship races.
Oak Tree will be hosting the Breeders’ Cup for the fourth time and the first time under its two-day format, which features 14 races with total purses of $25.5 million. Oak Tree will also be the first-ever venue to host the Breeders’ Cup in consecutive years. It will present the Championships in 2009 on Nov. 6 and 7.
For the third straight year, ESPN will televise the Breeders’ Cup live.
$1-MILLION GUARANTEED PICK SIX, OAK TREE POLOS AVAILABLE TOMORROW
Oak Tree offers 11 live races Saturday and a $1-million guaranteed pool in the Pick Six. The first 25,000 fans in attendance will receive a freshly designed Oak Tree polo shirt, free with paid admission. First post time is 12:30 p.m.
Despite victories Thursday by a pair of 6-5 favorites and one at 8-5 in Oak Tree’s Pick Six sequence, a two-day carryover of $349,176.07 resulted for today’s program at Santa Anita.
The Pick Six pool could approach $1 million on the third day of the 26-day meet. Two double-digit winners, Feisty Suances at $21.80 in the fifth race and Dr Zaentz at $33.80 in the seventh, generated the track’s second consecutive carryover.
GOMEZ, WITH 2,995 CAREER WINS, IN ‘CONTROL’ FOR HIRSCH
Garrett Gomez could have a special horse in Saturday’s 40th running of the Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship, a Grade I race at 1 ¼ miles offering a $250,000 purse. Based on Out of Control’s recent grass performances, Gomez may be right.
In nine career graded stakes races, the 5-year-old Brazilian import has finished in the money five times and has run second in two of his last three times out – in the Grade I Turf Classic at Churchill Downs in May and the Grade I Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park in June.
“I thought he was a winner in both races,” said the 36-year-old Gomez, who was five shy of 3,000 career wins through Thursday’s races. “Both times, the ground was kind of soft, and when I asked him to kick, he kind of bobbled and lost his momentum. One time he lost by a nose, and at Belmont, he bobbled hard at the sixteenth pole. A little firmer ground will help him, I think.”
Gomez said Out of Control is a tactical horse that can thrive under any race conditions, which gives the rider considerable flexibility.
“I’m looking for a good performance out of him,” said Gomez, who is on his way to his third straight national money title with more than $16.3 million already in the bank this year.
Gomez seems nonchalant about the prospect of his 3,000th victory. “I knew I was coming up on it,” he said. “At the beginning of the year I think was 100 and something away and I kind of forgot about it. But I’m glad to know I’m getting closer. It’s not something you really set out to do. You see guys do it along the way and hope you get the same kind of numbers one day.
“All these big races I’ve won have all added up. How many races I ride a day is all up to him (agent Ron Anderson). I want to stay busy, not overly busy. The first couple days here I think we rode seven and six and we ride 10 tomorrow. Belmont (Stakes) day we rode 11. On the big days we don’t mind riding a bunch. As long as you’re live, it doesn’t matter. I don’t think we set out to ride a lot for sheer numbers. We want to ride good horses and live horses and win races.”
The field for the 40th Hirsch: Ferneley, Victor Espinoza, 8-1; Transduction Gold, Jon Court, 8-1; Bonjour, Martin Garcia, 20-1; You Got Me Rocking, Joel Rosario, 8-1; Out of Control, Garrett Gomez, 2-1; Red Giant, John Velazquez, 3-1; and Spring House, Tyler Baze, 5-2. Each horse is assigned 124 pounds.
MICHAEL BAZE GETS FEEL FOR KINESIOLOGY IN OAK LEAF
Michael Baze isn’t quite sure what to expect from Kinesiology in Saturday’s $250,000 Grade I Oak Leaf Stakes. He’s been on the 2-year-old filly just once--in a workout--so he’s done his homework before her first truly big race.
“I just look at the (Racing) Form and try to get to know as much about the horse as I can,” Baze said of his approach to riding an unfamiliar horse. “I like to see where they want to be in the race, so I can give them every opportunity to win.”
Kinesiology won a maiden special weight race Aug. 20 at Del Mar at one mile. Baze worked her at Santa Anita Sept. 17, going six furlongs in 1:14.3.
“She ran good. She barely won (at Del Mar), but she should improve,” Baze said. “It’s always tough when you’re facing winners after winning a maiden.”
Baze also is named on Santa Teresita in the $250,000 Grade I Lady’s Secret Stakes and on Gula Gold in $400,000 Grade I Yellow Ribbon Stakes on Saturday.
The field for the Oak Leaf: Will O Way, Joel Rosario, 10-1; Stardom Bound, Mike Smith, 5-2; Candilejas, Martin Garcia, 30-1; Palacio de Amor, Victor Espinoza, 5-1; Montana Fields, John Velazquez, 10-1; Magic Roberta, Alex Solis, 20-1; Empressive Lady, Tyler Baze, 7-2; Oro Blanco, Martin Pedroza, 30-1; Toro Bonito, David Flores, 5-1; Black Magic Mama, Garrett Gomez, 12-1; Kinesiology, Michael Baze, 20-1; and Malusita, Brice Blanc, 30-1. Each is assigned 122 pounds.
HOLLENDORFER ON HAND FOR YELLOW RIBBON, LADY’S SECRET
Gula Gold takes a major step up when she runs in Saturday’s Grade I Yellow Ribbon Stakes at 1 1/4 miles on turf, but since the 4-year-old filly is being saddled by one of only four trainers with more than 5,000 career victories, her chances should not be overlooked.
“The owner asked us to try her there, so we’re going to,” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer explained. Gula Gold has a 4-2-4 record from 18 starts, with earnings of $126,598. She has been running in optional claiming races and was ninth in her only stakes race, the restricted Redondo Beach at Hollywood Park on June 7.
Her owner is Steven Gula from Seattle, who is in the jet fuel business, Hollendorfer said.
Hollendorfer was on hand Friday morning to supervise Hystericalady’s final preparation for the Lady’s Secret, a possible steppingstone to the $2-million Ladies Classic on Oct. 24. “She jogged and galloped and stood in the gate and did everything fine,” the trainer said. “She’s schooling in the first race today.”
The field for the Lady’s Secret: Super Freaky, Martin Garcia, 20-1; Wake Up Maggie, Tyler Baze, 8-1; Hystericalady, Garrett Gomez, 6-5; Zenyatta, Mike Smith, 4-5; and Santa Teresita, Michael Baze, 12-1. Each carries 123 pounds.
In other Yellow Ribbon news, trainer Leonard Powell entered French import Live Life in the Yellow Ribbon rather than the Lady’s Secret Stakes on the synthetic surface, for which the 6-year-old mare also had been nominated.
“The distance is perfect for her. She’s a real mile-and-a-quarter filly,” Powell said. “She has won at that distance over that track. The mile has become too short for her. She needs to be close to the front, and she doesn’t have the speed to be close to the front at a mile.”
Live Life has been in the money just once in the last year and hasn’t won in more than two years, so she is clearly due. Still, she has been in some good races against strong competition, so Powell isn’t ready to give up on her.
“This year, she has had some bad racing luck,” Powell said.
“It’s a very, very tough race. We’ll see, though--we hope to pick up a check.”
Mike McCarthy, assistant to Todd Pletcher, said 7-5 morning line favorite Wait a While has made a smooth transition coming from Churchill Downs to California for the Yellow Ribbon, which she won in 2006.
“There’s a very good chance he’ll be here,” McCarthy said when asked if Pletcher would be on hand Saturday.
The field for the Yellow Ribbon: High Heel Sneakers, Victor Espinoza, 30-1; Vacare, Jose Valdivia Jr., 5-1; I Can See, Joel Rosario, 12-1; Black Mamba, Garrett Gomez, 5-2; Valbenny, Alex Solis, 8-1; Solva, Aaron Gryder, 12-1; Gula Gold, Michael Baze, 30-1; Marzelline, Tyler Baze, 20-1; Live Life, Julien Couton, 30-1; and Wait a While, John Velazquez, 7-5. Each carries 123 pounds.
BEJARANO HOPES TO STAY HOT IN SUNDAY’S OAK TREE MILE, NORFOLK
Rafael Bejarano has won riding titles this year at Santa Anita’s winter/spring meeting, Hollywood Park’s spring/summer meeting and at Del Mar. Off to a fast start with four wins in two days at Oak Tree, he hopes to continue his winning ways and could have ample opportunity Sunday with mounts in the $250,000 Grade I Norfolk Stakes and the $200,000 Grade I Oak Tree Mile. Bejarano rides at Belmont Park on Saturday.
In the Norfolk, he rides trainer Doug O’Neill’s Azul Leon, a 2-year-old that is 3-for-3 in his career. He won the Grade III Hollywood Juvenile Championship by four lengths on July 5 and was victorious through disqualification in the Grade II Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 10. He’ll attempt two turns for the first time Sunday in the 1 1/16-mile Norfolk.
“The distance isn’t going to be too much problem for my horse, because he’s the kind of horse that you can do anything you want with,” Bejarano said. “You can get him to relax, and he loves to come from behind. He’s come from behind the last three times. I think Sunday it might be a little closer, but we’ll be in the race, so it should be good.”
Bejarano rides the Bobby Frankel-trained Tybalt in the Oak Tree Mile. The 4-year-old son of Storm Cat had success in Great Britain before coming to the U.S. earlier this year and hitting the board twice in two starts.
“My horse has run really well the last two times out,” Bejarano said. “He’s going to be ready--he has a good shot.”
The field for the 23rd running of the Oak Tree Mile: Awesome Gem, Tyler Baze; Global Hunter, Jose Valdivia Jr.; Hurry Up Austin, Jon Court; Tybalt, Rafael Bejarano; Dilemma, Alex Solis; Ferneley, Victor Espinoza; Hyperbaric, Garrett Gomez; Tropic Storm, Aaron Gryder; and Golden Balls, David Flores. Tropic Gem was a supplemental nominee at a cost of $4,000. Each horse is assigned 119 pounds, except Ferneley, who gets 123.
The field for the 39th running of the Norfolk: Regal Ransom, Alan Garcia; Azul Leon, Rafael Bejarano; Del Conte, Victor Espinoza; Street Hero, Alex Solis; Liturgical, Aaron Gryder; Midshipman, Tyler Baze; Believe in Hope, Jose Valdivia Jr.; Tiger Blitz, Martin Garcia; Silent Valor, Garrett Gomez; and Brushburn, Joe Talamo. Each gets 122 pounds.
MANDELLA AWAITS BREEDERS’ CUP, BUT NO RECORD THIS YEAR
Richard Mandella, who made racing history at Oak Tree in 2003 when he saddled four Breeders’ Cup winners, will be happy to have one starter when racing’s championship days unfold this year on Oct. 24 and 25 at Oak Tree.
“I can promise I won’t win four Breeders’ Cups this year,” said the Hall of Fame trainer, who turns 58 on Nov. 5. “I can say that with confidence. I might think of running back One Union (third in the Morvich Handicap on opening day) in that race down the hill ($1-million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on Oct. 25). Other than that, we’ve got a few for the Oak Tree Derby and the Damascus Stakes (also Oct. 25), so at least I’ll be there.”
VELAZQUEZ INVADES OAK TREE, CORDERO COMING LATER
Jockey John Velazquez, seventh nationally in purse money earned with more than $10.7 million, has been named on seven horses at Oak Tree tomorrow, four in Grade I stakes, but his agent, retired Hall of Fame rider Angel Cordero, Jr., will be watching his protégé on TV.
Cordero begins a multi-city tour with Hall of Fame jockeys Pat Day and Laffit Pincay, Jr., beginning Oct. 1 in celebration of Breeders’ Cup XXV at Oak Tree next month.
The three riders were first, second and third in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Classic at Hollywood Park in 1984, with Day and Wild Again winning in a tight three-horse photo finish over Pincay’s mount, Gate Dancer, and Cordero on Slew of Gold.
“I’m not a good shipper anymore,” said the 65-year-old Cordero, who will be at Santa Anita Oct. 18 to ride in the Living Legends Race, an unprecedented event with live wagering in which eight retired Hall of Fame jockeys are scheduled to compete at Oak Tree.
“My body doesn’t take shipping too well,” Cordero continued. “I’ll arrive in California on Oct. 16 or 17 and then stay through the Breeders’ Cup.”
WHITE RANKS TOP 10 BREEDERS' CUP PERFORMANCES AT OAK TREE
This year marks the fourth time the Breeders' Cup is being held at Oak Tree. At Oak Tree in 1986, as a chart-caller for Daily Racing Form, Jon White was responsible for the official Breeders' Cup charts. When the Breeders' Cup was held at Oak Tree in 1993 and 2003, he provided television paddock commentary for Oak Tree's races as a simulcast host on HRTV, which he is doing again this year.
White has compiled a list of what he considers to be the 10 best Breeders' Cup performances at Oak Tree:
(1) Manila's win in the 1986 Turf, (2) Hollywood Wildcat's win in the 1993 Distaff, (3) Kotashaan's win in the 1993 Turf, (4) Lure's win in the 1993 Mile, (5) Lady's Secret's win in the 1986 Distaff, (6) Phone Chatter's win in the 1993 Juvenile Fillies, (7) Skywalker's win in the 1986 Classic, (8) Arcangues' win in the 1993 Classic, (9) Pleasantly Perfect's win in the 2003 Classic, and (10) Halfbridled's win in the 2003 Juvenile Fillies.
"There have been so many outstanding Breeders' Cup performances at Oak Tree that it was difficult to whittle it down to 10," White said. "I put Manila's win in the Turf at No. 1 because of the great heart he showed to prevail by a neck as a 3-year-old despite his rider (Jose Santos) dropping his whip about 40 yards from the finish. In that race, he defeated such champions as Theatrical, Estrapade and Dancing Brave. Manila, of course, was a champion himself, earning--and I mean earning--the Eclipse Award as male turf champion of 1986. Just a few weeks ago (on Aug. 4), his excellence was recognized when he was inducted into the national Hall of Fame.
"And how about Richard Mandella? He trained not one, not two, not three, but four of the 10 horses on the list (Kotashaan, Phone Chatter, Pleasantly Perfect and Halfbridled)."
FINISH LINES: Corey Nakatani could miss the rest of the Oak Tree meet with a fractured right clavicle suffered in a spill in the Morvich Handicap on opening day. His mount, Easy on the Eyes, went down after the start of the race on the hillside turf course. “It’s a new injury and a clean break,” said his agent, Ron Ebanks. “Doctors put him in a figure eight to promote healing and they’ll see him in three weeks for further evaluation, but he’s expected to be out from three to five weeks.” On Jan. 20 of this year, Nakatani, a 37-year-old native of Covina, fractured his right clavicle in a training mishap at Hollywood Park . . . Jon Court was scheduled to resume riding today after taking off his mounts Thursday. “A horse stepped on my foot and sprained my (left) ankle,” Court said. “It has good forward motion but just couldn’t handle lateral movement. I worked horses this morning and intend to ride today and see how it holds up.” . . . Santa Anita Derby and Travers winner Colonel John worked five-eighths of a mile Friday at Santa Anita in :59.40 as he prepares for the Breeders’ Cup Classic . . . Trainer Kathy Walsh has ruled out participation in the Breeders’ Cup for multiple graded stakes winner Georgie Boy. “He’s not even eligible for it,” Walsh pointed out. “We can rule that out. It’s too much money to put up. We have no race in mind. We’ll just try to get him fit.” . .. Victor Espinoza has obtained the mount on Super Derby winner My Pal Charlie for trainer Al Stall, Jr., for the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, agent Tony Matos reports . . . Saturday’s average field size for Oak Tree’s 11 races is 10.3, not counting also-eligibles . . . There were 967 survivors in ShowVivor going into Friday’s races, down from yesterday’s 1,186 . . . Veteran rider Agapito Delgadillo has retired. “He’s tired and he’s been wanting to relax and enjoy life a little more,” said his former agent, Rolando Hevia, Jr., who added he is not representing another jockey at present.