Garrett Gomez has ridden more than 18,000 races in a career dating more than 20 years, but he had to think twice when asked if he had ever ridden horses in three straight stakes races on the same day at the same race track that he had never ridden before.
That could happen Saturday at Santa Anita. The 37-year-old jockey, in line for his second straight Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding rider, is scheduled to ride Evita Argentina for John Sadler in the Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes for 3-year-old fillies; Brother Keith for Bobby Frankel in the Grade III San Rafael Stakes for 3-year-olds; and Dakota Phone for Jerry Hollendorfer in the Grade II San Fernando Stakes for 4-year-olds.
“As many places as I’ve been, I might have (had that occur before),” Gomez said. “I can’t really say for sure, but it’s very unusual. I don’t know any of the horses, but riding for those three trainers, those are my guys, so that gives me confidence.”
Evita Argentina, a daughter of Candy Ride, won the restricted Moccasin Stakes under Tyler Baze last out at Hollywood Park on Nov. 16; Brother Keith was ridden by Robby Albarado in his only start, a maiden victory at Churchill Downs last Nov. 8; and Dakota Phone closed well to finish fourth under Jose Valdivia Jr. in the Grade III Sir Beaufort Handicap at Santa Anita on Dec. 26.
Gomez, the nation’s leader in purse earnings the last three years, hopes to get the New Year off to a good start Saturday in quest of money title No. 4, familiarity or not.
The field for the Santa Ynez, for 3-year-old fillies, which goes as race No. 6 on the nine-race program: Candilejas, Martin Garcia; Nan, Corey Nakatani; Pinkarella, Joel Rosario; Spanish Ice, David Flores; Empressive Lady, Michael Baze; Turtle Creek Babe, Victor Espinoza; Deeveetee, Patrick Husbands; Evita Argentina, Gomez; Alpha Kitten, Tyler Baze; and Real Fancy Runner, Joe Talamo.
Each filly carries 114 pounds, except Deeveetee, who gets 116, and Evita Argentina, the high weight at 123.
The field for the 29th San Rafael, which goes as race No. 7: The Pamplemousse, Alex Solis, 116; Fiddlers Afleet, Michael Baze, 116; Brother Keith, Garrett Gomez, 116; Ryehill Dreamer, Mike Smith, 119; Papa Clem, Tyler Baze, 116; Square Eddie, Rafael Bejarano, 122; Charlie’s Moment, Joel Rosario, 116; and Feisty Suances, David Flores, 116.
Trainer Gary Stute said Papa Clem would be scratched from the San Rafael and point to the Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 7. “It will give him a little more time,” Stute said of the son of Smart Strike, who came on again in a one-mile race to break his maiden at Santa Anita on Dec. 29.
The field for the 57th San Fernando, which is the eighth race: Muny, David Flores, 120; Wishful Tomcat, Joel Rosario, 118; Cherokee Artist, Jose Valdivia Jr., 118; Blue Exit, Jesus Rios, 116; Booted, Victor Espinoza, 116; Nownownow, Joe Talamo, 116; Madeo, Mike Smith, 120; El Gato Malo, Corey Nakatani, 122; Silver Sword, Michael Baze, 116; Slew’s Tiznow, Rafael Bejarano, 118; Tres Borrachos, Tyler Baze, 120; and Dakota Phone, Garrett Gomez, 118.
AGE NO DETERRENT TO DURABLE ICY ATLANTIC IN SUNSHINE MILLIONS TURF
Fans might do well to see Icy Atlantic when he runs in the Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita on Jan. 24. His like might not pass their way again.
Icy Atlantic is an exception in racing today: a full horse at the advanced age of eight that is not only still racing, but successfully competing in graded stakes competition. Winner of the Grade II Arcadia Handicap at Santa Anita in 2007, Icy Atlantic is scheduled to make the 46th start of his improbable career in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf for older horses at 1 1/8 miles.
The brainchild of Frank Stronach, founder and chairman of Magna Entertainment Corp., owner of Santa Anita, the Sunshine Millions, pitting California-breds against Florida-breds will be run for the seventh time this year.
Remarkably, Icy Atlantic will be running in the Sunshine Millions Turf for the fifth time. He was fifth in 2005; third in 2006; second in 2007; and sixth last year. Icy Atlantic, owned by James Scatuorchio of Rumson, N.J., hard by Monmouth Park, Icy Atlantic has eights wins, 11 seconds and three thirds.
“It’s unusual to have a horse of his age still racing and not at stud, but today’s economic times sort of dictate that,” trainer Todd Pletcher said by phone from Florida Thursday morning. “Most of his races (41) have been on grass, and those type of horses generally do not command as much of a stud fee.”
Any piece of the purse would put Icy Atlantic over the $1 million mark in career earnings, since the Florida-bred son of Stormy Atlantic bred by the late Arthur Appleton already has $990,050 in the bank. “It would be great to have him top the $1 million mark,” Pletcher said.
Pletcher also has entered Florida-breds Leah’s Secret in the $500,000 Distaff at 1 1/16 miles, and Carnack’s Choice in the $300,000 Sprint, both at Santa Anita. Eibar Coa will be in from Gulfstream Park to ride all three, said Pletcher, who added he could be coming to California to see his horses run.
Michael “Whitey” McCarthy, who directs operations for Pletcher in Southern California, has come to know Icy Atlantic through the years. “He’s a very kind animal with no bad habits,” McCarthy said. “He probably deserves to breed to a mare or two.”
In other Sunshine Millions news:
Nicholas Bachalard, assistant to Christophe Clement, said In Summation is scheduled to breeze five furlongs Saturday, after which a decision would be made on whether to run the back-to-back winner of the El Conejo Stakes in the Sunshine Millions Sprint or the Grade II Palos Verdes Handicap the next day.
Agent Ron Anderson said Garrett Gomez would ride at Santa Anita after his mount in the Classic at Gulfstream Park, Go Between, died of an apparent heart attack following a workout Monday. Among the Sunshine Millions mounts Gomez has at Santa Anita is the multiple graded stakes winner Georgie Boy in the $300,000 Sprint. The California-bred Tribal Rule gelding owned and bred by George Schwary and trained by Kathy Walsh won the San Vicente Stakes and the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita as a 3-year-old. Each carries Grade II status.
FREE FRIDAYS, DOLLAR MENU, CONTINUE AT SANTA ANITA TOMORROW
With the first of Santa Anita’s Free Friday promotions a rousing success—9,269 fans attended on track Jan. 9—the third will be offered tomorrow and continue each Friday for the remainder of the meet that ends April 19.
In addition to free general admission, box seating will be available free of charge Fridays on a first-come, first-served basis. Fans also will be offered a $1 menu, which includes beer, soda, hot dogs and popcorn.
SHOWVIVOR RETURNS ON SATURDAY
Santa Anita’s popular on-line handicapping contest “ShowVivor,” will again be available for fans to play beginning this Saturday. 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.
Fans are encouraged to register for ShowVivor as soon as possible at http://www.santaanita.com. First post time Saturday is 12:30 p.m. In order to participate, players must be registered by 12:15 p.m. 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.
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, 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.
FINISH LINES: Agent Richie Silverstein reported Thursday there was “no change” in the condition of Martin Pedroza at Arcadia Methodist Hospital where the 43-year-old jockey remained after he was unseated in the post parade by Humane in Sunday’s ninth race. “He broke his pelvis and he’s in a lot of pain,” Silverstein said. “He’ll be all right, but everything is day to day.” Fellow rider Isaias Enriquez was unable to see Pedroza yesterday, because when he went to the hospital, the “No Visitors” sign was posted on the door to Pedroza’s room. “I could see him through an opening in the door,” Enriquez said, “and he was in a lot of pain.”. . . Bobby Frankel will pass Monday’s San Marcos Stakes with Midships. “He’s not running; his blood’s no good,” the Hall of Fame trainer said of the son of Mizzen Mast, who was third in the Grade I Hollywood Derby in his U.S. debut. “It will probably be three or four more days before he goes to the track. He has no temperature.” . . . Mike Mitchell, who won his fourth straight race Thursday when Legs Eleven won the first race, said he “didn’t know for sure” whether the Sunshine Millions Distaff would be the last race before a trip to the breeding shed for Romance Is Diane. The 5-year-old California-bred daughter of In Excess won the Grade II El Encino Stakes last January, and was second by a head in her most recent race, against males, in the California Cup Classic last Oct. 5 . . . David Hofmans said Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Desert Code is scheduled to work “the next day or two,” after which a decision would be made on whether to run in the Palos Verdes Handicap . . . Lone Star Park track announcer and TV analyst John Lies and HRTV’s Peter Lurie will be Jack Disney’s guests on Sunday’s Fans’ Forum, 11:15 a.m., at the East Paddock Gardens.