Well Armed is scheduled to make his first start since a disappointing ninth as the 6-5 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile last Oct. 25 when the 6-year-old gelding runs in next Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap for older horses at 1 1/16 miles.
“The rest helped him and he’s been working super,” trainer Eoin Harty said of the bay son of Tiznow owned by WinStar Farm. “It was pretty bad,” Harty continued, referring to the Dirt Mile “trouble line” in Daily Racing Form’s past performances that reads, “steadied turn.”
Well Armed, second by a length to Zappa in last year’s San Pasqual, has a 6-3-1 record from 20 starts, with earnings of $1,530,803.
Probable for the 72nd San Pasqual: Magnum, Martin Pedroza; Mostacolli Mort, Garrett Gomez; Past the Point, Rafael Bejarano; Racketeer, no rider; Well Armed, Gryder; and possibly Ferneley, no rider. Magnum worked six furlongs for Darrell Vienna on Pro-Ride Saturday in 1:13.80.
FIRST OF ‘FREE FRIDAYS’ A BIG HIT, DRAWS 9,269 FANS ON TRACK
A festive holiday crowd of 9,269 produced the biggest non-opening day Friday crowd in over seven years at Santa Anita yesterday. On Dec. 28, 2001, 11,046 turned out to take advantage of a direct mail pass promotion and a Pick Six carryover.
Yesterday’s crowd was enticed by the first day of a new season-long promotion called Free Fridays, along with Dollar Days and a free box seat while supplies last. General admission was free and hot dogs, beer, soft drinks and popcorn were $1 each. An added enticement was a Pick Six carryover of $143,011.
“This is a very good time to offer value in the marketplace,” said Allen Gutterman, Santa Anita’s vice president of marketing. “You can have an absolutely great time at the track without spending much money. Ron Charles (track president) wanted to offer a free admission day to our fans and Fridays made a lot of sense.
“Then we moved our monthly Dollar Days promotion into a regular weekly Friday rotation to add extra value to the day. On Fridays, too, box seats are more available than on weekends and we wanted to offer fans who don’t normally sit in boxes that experience.”
JOEL ROSARIO HAS BIG DREAMS FOR 2009
New agent, New Year, Joel Rosario just keeps rolling along. The native of the Dominican Republic, who turns 24 on Jan. 14, has been among the top riders at every recent Southern California meet since joining the circuit and currently ranks fourth in the Santa Anita standings.
Last year, in his first full season in Southern California, Rosario finished fourth in the Santa Anita standings with 49 wins, second at Hollywood Park’s spring/summer session with 45, second at Del Mar with 36, and third at Oak Tree with 17.
“I’m working hard and I feel very comfortable in any kind of race and on any kind of surface.” said Rosario, who is back with former agent Vic Stauffer after parting company with Vince DeGregory in late November.
“I’m riding for everybody, but that’s how it is when you win a lot of races,” Rosario continued. “Everybody wants you, but it’s good to ride for the top trainers like John Sadler, Doug O’Neill and Bobby Frankel, too.
“I’m versatile. Whatever the horse wants to do, I have the style to do it, whether I’m on a speed horse or one that comes from behind. This (Pro-Ride) surface is good. It’s playing fair and that’s good for all horses.” Asked what his goals are for the New Year, Rosario said winning the Kentucky Derby is first on his list. “That would be great,” he said.
SOUTHERN CAL SOPHS PROMINENT ON HRTV WHITE'S DERBY TOP 10
Southern California-based horses are strongly represented on the initial 2009 Kentucky Derby Top 10 list compiled by HRTV’s Jon White.
Three of the 10--Pioneerof the Nile, I Want Revenge and Chocolate Candy--competed in the Grade I CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 20.
“I know lots of people have stated that they were not impressed with what they saw in the CashCall Futurity,” White said. “But I’m taking the opposite view. I think the first three finishers have a tremendous upside based on their breeding and running style.”
White’s Derby Top 10: (1) Pioneerof the Nile, (2) Old Fashioned, (3) I Want Revenge, (4) Chocolate Candy, (5) Stardom Bound, (6) Indygo Mountain, (7) Square Eddie, (8) Well Positioned, (9) Hello Broadway, (10) Haynesfield.
Pioneerof the Nile, currently stabled at Bob Baffert’s Santa Anita barn, is the first Ahmed Zayat homebred to race. The Empire Maker colt registered his first stakes victory in the CashCall Futurity.
“Pioneerof the Nile was born the day before Barbaro won the 2006 Kentucky Derby,” White noted. “As a May foal, I think Pioneerof the Nile was something of an overachiever as a 2-year-old. I think there is a good chance we have not seen anywhere close to his best yet. And all of his races so far have been on the turf or a synthetic track. What if it turns out that he’s even better on the dirt? To me, this is Baffert’s best chance to win the Kentucky Derby since he won it with War Emblem (in 2002).”
I Want Revenge, trained by Jeff Mullins, finished second in the CashCall Futurity. He lost by only a nose. Chocolate Candy, conditioned by Jerry Hollendorfer, rallied to end up third.
“I Want Revenge is really improving,” White observes. “He almost won the CashCall Futurity despite not having the best of trips. And I liked the way Chocolate Candy was coming on late.”
White has undefeated Remsen Stakes winner Old Fashioned at No. 2. At No. 5 is the sensational filly Stardom Bound, winner of three Grade I races in 2008--the Del Mar Debutante, Oak Leaf Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies for owner Charles Cono and trainer Christopher Paasch. After the Breeders’ Cup, IEAH Stables purchased Stardom Bound for $5.7 million at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November mixed sale.
Stardom Bound worked four furlongs in :47 1/5 at Santa Anita last Sunday.
Absent from White’s list are a pair of 2-year-old stars, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Midshipman and Hopeful Stakes and Champagne Stakes winner Vineyard Haven.
“They’re both very talented, but I decided to refrain from including them on my list since they both have been sent to Dubai,” White explained.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Square Eddie, No. 7 on White’s list, is scheduled to make his 2009 debut in the Grade III San Rafael Stakes at one mile on Jan. 17. The Smart Strike colt, winner of the Grade I Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, worked six furlongs in 1:12 2/5 at Hollywood Park last Monday. He galloped out seven furlongs in 1:25 4/5, according to trainer Doug O’Neill.
FINISH LINES: Tyler Baze resumes riding next Wednesday after suffering three cracked ribs and a hairline fracture of his right shoulder in a one-horse spill at Hollywood Park last Dec. 5. “He rides Jan. 7, my birthday,” said his agent, Ron Ebanks. “He was supposed to start back Jan. 1, but he was still a little sore in the shoulder and we wanted to be safe rather than push it.” Baze is named on Its in God’s Hands for trainer Peter Miller in the seventh race . . . Julio Canani reports Forestry maiden Lady Lumberjack “working super” for next Sunday’s Grade III Santa Ysabel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles. Rafael Bejarano rides . . . Indyanne continues to progress from a career-ending injury to her hind leg suffered in the La Brea Stakes on Dec. 27. The daughter of Indian Charlie remained in Barn 69 at Santa Anita as of Friday after fracturing a sesamoid in her left front leg in the stretch run of the La Brea. “She’s doing as well as can be expected at this point,” said trainer Greg Gilchrist. “She’s not in a lot of pain, but these things take five to six weeks before you know where you’re at with them, and we’re probably not going to be sure until then.” . . . A coterie of former female exercise riders were on hand at Clockers’ Corner Saturday to celebrate the 50th birthday of Lisa Massett-Mayer, a former member of “Charlie’s Angels,” who worked for the legendary Charlie Whittingham. Among the ladies present were Lisa Copland, Rhonda Dompierre, Darcanne Nixon, Donna Cunningham, Karen Suarez, Colleen McLaughlin, Gina Ayala and Mickey Hall. McLaughlin worked for D. Wayne Lukas for 14 years. Suarez now operates a racing colors business called “Fast Colors.” Among some of the great Thoroughbreds they were aboard include