Georgie Boy will do something he has never done before when he runs in next Saturday’s $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita. He will be making his first start at six furlongs.
The California-bred gelding trained by Kathy Walsh has had nine lifetime starts: three at 5 ½ furlongs; one at 6 ½ furlongs; four at seven furlongs, and one at 1 1/16 miles. The son of Tribal Rule was on the lead before finishing second in the Grade II Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar as a 2-year-old in August 2007, but his best race came in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity at seven furlongs on Sept. 5, 2007, when he rallied from next to last in a field of 13 to win by a half-length.
“I think he’ll be fine, because I think the pace will be faster than what’s it's been for him,” Gomez said. “This should help get him back on the right track. He’s got tactical speed. His last couple races, he’s been fairly close, closer than we’d really like to be.
“This will be his second race within a short period, which should help a little. I don’t think three-quarters will be a problem for him. But he should appreciate the longer distances as he stretches out.”
Georgie Boy was third in the Grade I Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs on Dec. 26. It was his first start since finishing fourth in the seven-furlong Damascus Stakes last Oct. 25.
Georgie Boy has a 4-2-2 record from nine starts, with earnings of $533,634 for owner/breeder George Schwary.
In other Sunshine Millions news:
Backbackbackgone, winner of four of five career starts including two restricted stakes, leaves Tuesday for the $250,000 Dash at Gulfstream Park. “The horse is training fantastic,” trainer Peter Miller said. “He came out of the last race (a one-length win in the Golden Bear Stakes at Golden Gate on Jan. 1) better than he went in. He’s won on the dirt, he trains on the dirt, so I’m looking forward to a big race.” Robby Albarado has the mount.
Miller is one of many horsemen in strong support of the Sunshine Millions, which has become a staple on the racing calendar in only its seventh year.
“I think it’s a great event,” he said. “I really like it; it’s fun, but I’m playing for the other team.” Backbackbackgone, named for a signature expression used by ESPN’s Chris Berman, is a Florida-bred son of Put It Back, so he will be representing the Sunshine State in its battle against California-breds for honors between Florida-breds and Cal-breds.
Back-to-back El Conejo Handicap winner In Summation worked four furlongs for Christophe Clement in :48.40 for the $300,000 Sprint at Santa Anita, while Kelly Leak (Dash) went five furlongs in 1:00.60 for Mike Machowsky. Medzendeekron ($1 million Classic at Gulfstream) went seven furlongs in 1:24.60 for Barry Abrams.
Agent Craig O’Bryan reports Aaron Gryder rides Wild Promises for Greg Gilchrist in the $500,000 Filly & Mare Turf at Gulfstream.
First post time Sunshine Millions Day is 11:45 a.m. Gates open at 10. All THOROUGHBREDS members in attendance will receive free the official Sunshine Millions AM/FM Beach radio with paid admission while supplies last.
(From Gulfstream Park Notes)
Trainer Greg Gilchrist has had a remarkable record of success shipping stakes runners from his Northern California headquarters to South Florida in recent years, and he will have two top contenders in Sunshine Millions races at Gulfstream Park next Saturday and another at Santa Anita.
“Wild Promises and High Resolve will be on a FedEx cargo flight out of Oakland Tuesday for the races at Gulfstream and Victorina will run in the Distaff at Santa Anita,” said Gilchrist Friday morning from Golden Gate Fields, adding that he will be at Gulfstream that afternoon
“Both of them worked good here (Thursday) morning and are ready to go. Aaron Gryder rides Wild Promises ($500,000 Filly & Mare Turf) and Robby Albarado will be on High Resolve ($300,000 Hill ‘n’ Dale Filly & Mare Sprint).” Wild Promises worked three-quarters in 1:15 3/5 and High Resolve the same distance in 1:13 4/5.
“The only question right now is with Wild Promises,” Gilchrist continued. “She coughed a little the other day, but we’ve gone ahead with her and I think she’ll be all right. We’ll be watching her closely when she gets there to make sure she’s all right after the trip, but if she’s not, she won’t run.”
FREE WALLETS, $1,000 AVAILABLE ON MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY
Santa Anita will offer holiday racing this Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. While supplies last, all THOROUGHBREDS members will receive a free wallet which will include a free general admission pass to Sunshine Millions Day, next Saturday, Jan. 24. Also, 10 lucky patrons will find a $100 bill inside their wallet. First post time Monday is 12:30 p.m. Gates open at 10:30 a.m.
Santa Anita will be dark next Tuesday and Wednesday. Racing resumes on Thursday at 1 p.m.
TECHNICAL PROBLEM POSTPONES SHOWVIVOR DEBUT UNTIL TOMORROW
The first round of Santa Anita’s online handicapping game, ShowVivor, was postponed from today until Sunday due to a technical problem. Santa Anita’s provider, Select Net, was able to correct the problem by 9:50 a.m. Saturday but it was decided to postpone the event’s 2009 debut to allow fans who prefer or need to make their selection earlier in the morning ample time
Whether fans entered or not after 9:50 a.m., win or lose, everyone is alive going into Sunday. This allows an additional day of registration (by 12:15 p.m. tomorrow) for fans who forgot to register.
SQUARE EDDIE’S CONNECTIONS HOPE HE CAN BUCK DERBY TREND
By capturing the 2007 Kentucky Derby, Street Sense broke the so-called Breeders’ Cup Juvenile jinx. He became the first horse to win the Juvenile to also take the Kentucky Derby.
“But while a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner now has won the Kentucky Derby, no Juvenile runner-up has ever done it,” notes Jon White, a commentator for HRTV and Santa Anita’s simulcast network. “Horses who ran second in the Juvenile are zero for nine in the Kentucky Derby. Only three of them have even hit the board in the Derby—Easy Goer (second in the 1989 Derby), Blumin Affair (third in the 1994 Derby) and Afleet Alex (third in the 2005 Derby).
“So the connections of Square Eddie (owner J. Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill) are hoping he can go where no Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up has ever gone before—into the winner’s circle after the Kentucky Derby.
“Actually, Street Sense is one of just four Kentucky Derby winners to have even started in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The others were Spend a Buck, Alysheba and Sea Hero.”
Square Eddie, winner of the Grade I Lane’s End Futurity at Keeneland and second to Midshipman in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Oak Tree, is the 4-5 morning line favorite in today’s Grade II San Rafael Stakes. The Canadian-bred son of Smart Strike (sire of 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin) is No. 6 on White’s latest Kentucky Derby Top 10 list.
Here is White’s current Top 10 list: (1) Pioneerof the Nile, (2) Old Fashioned, (3) I Want Revenge, (4) Chocolate Candy, (5) Stardom Bound, (6) Square Eddie, (7) Well Positioned, (8) Hello Broadway, (9) Notonthesamepage, (10) Friesan Fire.
Last Sunday, Pioneerof the Nile drilled five furlongs for trainer Bob Baffert in :57 3/5. It was the fastest of 74 works at the distance.
“Pioneerof the Nile’s workout last Sunday is another indication that maybe we haven’t seen anywhere close to his best yet,” White said. “He was a late foal. He was born the day before Barbaro won the 2006 Kentucky Derby. I think Pioneerof the Nile did well to become a Grade I winner at two as a May foal. And we just might see him develop into a special 3-year-old.”
Private clocker Toby Turrell termed Pioneerof the Nile’s work last Sunday “incredible.”
Winner of Hollywood Park’s Grade I CashCall Futurity in his final start of 2008, Pioneerof the Nile is scheduled to make his 2009 debut in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis on Feb. 7. He is a son of 2003 Belmont Stakes winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up Empire Maker.
FINISH LINES: Bob Baffert did not nominate champion Indian Blessing to next Sunday’s Grade II, $150,000 Palos Verdes Handicap as expected and said he likely will train her up to the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai on March 28, with one caveat. “I’m going to wait for Dubai,” Baffert said, “but I’m going to nominate her for the Santa Monica (Handicap on Jan. 31 at seven furlongs) and play it by ear.” . . . Talkin to Mom Roo worked five furlongs for the Palos Verdes Saturday in 1:02.40 for Ted H. West. Trainer Jay Robbins was still contemplating the Palos Verdes or the Sunshine Millions Sprint for Johnny Eves . . . Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner Ventura worked six furlongs under Goncalino Almeida Saturday in 1:14.40 for Bobby Frankel. “Anytime you come off a peak performance like a Breeders’ Cup win, and months later appear ready for another championship performance like Ventura showed in her last two works, that’s special,” said private clocker Toby Turrell. Ventura is preparing for the Santa Monica Handicap . . . Santa Anita Handicap candidate Tiago worked five furlongs at Hollywood Park Saturday in 1:00.80, breezing, for John Shirreffs . . . With three wins Friday, Joel Rosario moved into third behind co-leaders Garrett Gomez and Rafael Bejarano in the Santa Anita jockey standings at 19 victories through 17 days. After winning the first two races on heavy favorites (the daily double paid $7.40), Rosario upset 3-5 favorite Elusive Chief ridden by Bejarano, with a front-running score on 9-2 first-time starter The Bengal Bus, trained by Jack Carava. “The trainer just told me to let him break and see what he could do,” Rosario said of the 5-year-old Ecton Park gelding. “He broke fast, went to the lead, and I let him go.” The Bengal Bus is a full brother to Swaps Stakes winner Tres Borrachos, who runs in today’s Grade II San Fernando Stakes . . . Food for thought: Trainer Mel Stute, 81, who has been known to frequent the betting windows during a career spanning more than half a century, says “When you hear people praying at the race track, you know they really mean it.”