Brother Keith, winner of his only start, steps into graded company next Saturday in the $100,000 San Rafael Stakes at one mile, an important prep for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 4.
“You gotta try him someplace,” Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel said. When it was suggested he might go through his conditions, rather than face the likes of Lane’s End Futurity winner Square Eddie, Frankel countered: “Maybe the races won’t go. I got to get him started.”
MANDELLA HOPES BOOTED KICKS FORWARD IN SAN FERNANDO STAKES
Booted, a $425,000 son of A.P. Indy, is scheduled to make his stakes debut in next Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Fernando Stakes for 4-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.
Booted, owned by Public Storage magnate B. Wayne Hughes, has won his last two starts after experiencing minor injuries following a sharp second in his debut at 4 ½ furlongs at Hollywood Park last May 20.
“I was thinking of waiting until the Strub (Stakes on Feb. 7), but he’s really blooming and doing well right now,” Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella said. “I think it might be best to go right back.”
Booted won an allowance race on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride at 1 1/16 miles on New Year’s Day by 2 ½ lengths, following his maiden victory by a neck at six furlongs Dec. 14 at Hollywood. In his second start, on July 4 of last year, he was fifth in the Grade III Hollywood Juvenile Championship after prompting the pace. He didn’t start again until Feb. 16, 2008, at Santa Anita, fading to fourth after setting the pace.
“Booted trained well as an early 2-year-old,” Mandella continued. “He ran a helluva race first out (beaten only a head). He chipped a knee in the Hollywood Juvenile and cracked a splint bone in the race at Santa Anita. I didn’t want to run him on the grass (when he broke his maiden), but I was facing a week of rain, so I went ahead and did it, and he won. Then he ran even better when I ran him long on the dirt (Pro-Ride synthetic). I’ve always thought he was a good horse. We’ll find out.”
Booted worked six furlongs Saturday on Pro-Ride in 1:14.
Probable for the 57th San Fernando: Booted, Victor Espinoza; Dakota Phone, Garrett Gomez; El Gato Malo, Corey Nakatani; Madeo, Mike Smith; Muny, David Flores; Nownownow, Joe Talamo; Screen to Screen, no rider; Tres Borrachos, Tyler Baze; and Wishful Tomcat, Michael Baze.
Muny worked six furlongs Sunday under Flores in 1:11.80 for trainer Mike Puype. Trainer Kathy Walsh said she was “looking at” the San Fernando for nominee Georgie Boy, but wasn’t “sure yet.”
GINGER POP, BACK IN FORM, SET FOR NEXT SUNDAY’S EL ENCINO
Ginger Pop outran her odds when she finished second behind champion Indian Blessing in the Grade I La Brea Stakes at seven furlongs on Dec. 27, but she didn’t surprise Dan Hendricks.
The Kentucky-bred daughter of El Prado had been absent for four months, since she was 10th and last in the Grade I Del Mar Oaks at 1 1/8 miles on turf last Aug. 16.
“She bruised a heel real bad in the Del Mar Oaks,” the trainer said. “It took us six weeks before we could train her again. Once she started training, she was better than ever.”
Hendricks expects her form to hold in next Sunday’s Grade II El Encino Stakes for 4-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles, second leg of the La Canada series. “The time off gave her a little time to mature and catch up to herself,” he said. “Her works (for the La Brea) were outstanding, but when what I considered the perfect allowance race on grass didn’t come up in the first (condition) book, we talked it over and nominated for the La Brea.
“Even though it came up really tough, we figured we could find out if she likes the main track as much as she likes the turf course, and she really did.”
One of Ginger Pop’s two victories came at a mile and a sixteenth, so Hendricks is not concerned about the stretch out from seven furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. “I can’t foresee distance being a problem,” he said. “She can be on the pace or just off the pace. She actually broke with the field in the La Brea, and if he (Jose Valdivia Jr.) had let her run at all, she’d have been right on the lead with him. But she’s so kind, I think you can put her anywhere in a race and she’d win.”
Ginger Pop, owned by Pvla Nygaard of Del Mar, who races as Thor-Bred Stable, is scheduled to work five furlongs on Pro-Ride Monday.
SHOWVIVOR RETURNS NEXT SATURDAY, JAN. 17
Santa Anita’s popular on-line handicapping contest “ShowVivor,” will once again be available for fans to play beginning Saturday, Jan. 17. The contest will feature $5,000 in prize money, with $3,000 going to the top finisher. Prizes will also be awarded to the first runner up ($1,500) and the second runner up ($500).
Participation is free and contestants will be required to select one horse per day to finish first, second or third in a race of the player’s choice. If a selection finishes lower than third, that player is eliminated. All selections must be registered on-line no later than 10 minutes before first post time at Santa Anita.
Santa Anita launched ShowVivor in January of 2007. “The response to this promotion has far exceeded our expectations,” said Santa Anita Vice President of Marketing Allen Gutterman. “ShowVivor has proven itself to be a great way for our fans from all over the country to stay in touch with our racing product here at Santa Anita, and we believe it’s going to continue to grow in popularity at this meet.”
Fans are encouraged to register for ShowVivor as soon as possible at http://www.santaanita.com. First post time on Jan. 17 is 12:30 p.m. In order to participate, players must be registered by 12:15 p.m. on Jan. 17. Santa Anita’s 84-day meeting will run through April 19. Regular first post time on weekends and holidays will be 12:30 p.m. Regular first post time on weekdays is 1 p.m.
‘FIRST SATURDAY IN MAY,’ AIRED ON HRTV, WINS ECLIPSE AWARD
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers Association have announced that the Hennegan Brothers documentary, "The First Saturday in May," which chronicled the stories of six horses and their connections on the journey to the 2006 Kentucky Derby, has won the 2008 Media Eclipse Award in the National Television Feature programming category. The 90-minute program aired on HRTV Oct. 28, 2008.
This is the second Eclipse Award for HRTV, which won the 2006 National Television Media Eclipse Award for the Pony Highway Production of "On the Muscle; Portrait of a Thoroughbred Racing Stable."
John and Brad Hennegan of Huntington, N.Y., traveled more than 150,000 miles during a 16-month period as they documented horses preparing for the 2006 Kentucky Derby. The documentary offered a first-hand look at those who dedicate their lives to horse racing and chase the dream of winning the world's most famous horse race. Among the trainers who told their stories were Bob Holthus (trainer of Lawyer Ron), Frank Amonte (Achilles of Troy), Dan Hendricks (Brother Derek), Kiaran McLaughlin (Jazil), Dale Romans (Sharp Humor) and Michael Matz (Barbaro). The documentary also included previously unseen footage of Derby winner Barbaro.
"We are humbled and honored to win an Eclipse Award and want to thank the entire racetrack community for championing our film from the beginning," said Brad Hennegan. "We would especially like to thank Churchill Downs, The Jockey Club, the NTRA and HRTV for their incredible understanding and support throughout this process."
"'The First Saturday in May' is emblematic of the high standard of programming which HRTV strives to bring to our viewers," said Amy Zimmerman, executive producer of HRTV. "We were proud to debut their documentary on television and congratulate John and Brad on their extraordinary achievement."
Released theatrically in more than 25 U.S. markets in April 2008, a portion of proceeds from "The First Saturday in May" were donated to the Grayson Jockey Club Research Foundation.
FINISH LINES: CashCall Futurity winner Pioneerof the Nile worked five furlongs in company on Pro-Ride Sunday under Joe Steiner in a bullet :57.60 for his 3-year-old debut in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 7. Stablemate Riley Tudor was clocked in the same time. “I got him in :58 and change,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “He’s doing well.” Added private clocker Toby Turrell: “To say Pioneerof the Nile is stepping forward would be an understatement. The work was incredible. Steiner never moved on him.” . . . Gary Stute’s highly regarded 3-year-old Papa Clem worked six furlongs this morning in 1:12.40 under Tyler Baze . . . Top Canadian-based jockey Patrick Husbands plans to ride throughout the Santa Anita meet. The Barbados native said he has won more than 600 races for trainer Mark Casse, who has some 30 head here for the marquee meet that ends April 19. “It wasn’t planned that way,” said Husbands, who has been riding for 20 years, 14 of them in Canada. “I went to New Orleans for two days, rode one race, won, and jumped on a plane with Mark and came straight here,” Husbands said . . . Ferneley, second in the San Gabriel Handicap on Dec. 19, will come back in next Monday’s Grade II San Marcos Stakes. “He’s a pretty tough little horse,” trainer Ben Cecil said of the 5-year-old Irish-bred bay. “I think a three-week interval is better for him.” Probable for the 57th San Marcos, for older horses at 1 ¼ miles on turf: Artiste Royal, Garrett Gomez; Ferneley, Victor Espinoza; Midships, Rafael Bejarano; and Obrigado, Joel Rosario. Artiste Royal (1:29.80) and Obrigado (1:32.60) worked seven furlongs on Santa Anita’s turf Sunday for Neil Drysdale . . . There were 197 recorded works on Pro-Ride Sunday, and 32 on turf . . . Probable for next Saturday’s Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes at seven furlongs for 3-year-old fillies: Alpha Kitten, Gomez; Candilejas, Martin Garcia; Evita Argentina, Tyler Baze; Nan, Corey Nakatani; Pinkarella, Rosario; and Turtle Creek Babe, Espinoza . . . Agent Ron Anderson reports Gomez will be in Florida Jan. 24 to ride defending champion Go Between for Bill Mott in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park.