Trouble Maker makes her first start for trainer Jay Robbins in Saturday’s Grade III Monrovia Handicap after coming in from Belmont Park where she finished fifth by 1 ½ lengths in the Xtra Heat Handicap at six furlongs on turf Oct. 12.
Robbins hopes the daughter of the quirky Labeeb runs more to her most recent workout than to the preceding one.
Trouble Maker has a 4-5-2 record from 19 starts, with earnings of $209,026 for owners Albert and Randy Cohen of Monrovia, Md., who race as Hickory Plains.
The field for the 42nd running of the Monrovia, for older fillies and mares at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf: Lethal Heat, Alex Solis, 118; Jibboom, Garrett Gomez, 115; La Tee, Joel Rosario, 115; Trouble Maker, Victor Espinoza, 116; Royal Taat, Rafael Bejarano, 114; Porto Marmay, David Flores, 114; Society Hostess, Jose Valdivia Jr., 118; That’s Hot, no rider, 115; Contentious, Brice Blanc, 113; Eletro Nuclear, Martin Garcia, 114; Ransom Captive, Mike Smith, 115; and Christiana’s Heat, Michael Baze, 113.
BELMONT CAT SEEKS U.S. PERFECTION IN SUNDAY’S SAN GORGONIO
Mike Smith liked the response he received from Belmont Cat when he rode the New Zealand-bred mare in her U.S. debut at Hollywood Park Dec. 3. A daughter of the Storm Cat sire, Felix the Cat, Belmont Cat rallied from just off the pace to win the one-mile turf race by a length as the 19-10 favorite, overcoming slow fractions.
Smith expects an even better performance from Belmont Cat Sunday when she runs in the Grade II, $150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap for older fillies and mares scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on turf.
“It was really impressive first time out (in this country),” Smith said. “She just sat down in there and made a big run at the rail. She ran great. There should be more pace on Sunday. Her last race, there wasn’t much pace. They almost went in :25 (:24 4/5 for the first quarter. The final time was 1:36 3/5. The half-mile was :49 2/5, six furlongs in 1:13 3/5).
“She was taking a bit of a pull, but we wanted her to sit behind horses in that race. More pace should help her.”
Belmont Cat, trained by John Sadler for Richard Templer of Chicago who races as Doubledown Stables, has a 3-2-0 record from eight starts, with earnings of $63,526.
The field for the 40th San Gorgonio: Meribel, Joel Rosario, 115; Tizfiz, Agapito Delgadillo, 114; Solar Miss, Garrett Gomez, 113; Marzelline, Victor Espinoza, 115; Green Lyons, Rafael Bejarano, 114; Belmont Cat, Smith, 114; High Heel Sneakers, Joe Talamo, 115; and Valbenny, Alex Solis, 116.
GOMEZ CELEBRATES BIRTHDAY AFTER NEAR-MISS AT RECORD
Garrett Gomez celebrates his 37th birthday today after narrowly missing the single-season money record on the final day of 2008. Gomez needed a victory on Baroness Thatcher in the Kalookan Queen Handicap Wednesday to surpass Jerry Bailey’s record of $23,354,960 set in 2003.
“I knew early on that she wasn’t comfortable,” Gomez said of Baroness Thatcher, who finished third. Gomez won on his first three mounts Wednesday, but earned only $9,072 with his final mount, Baroness Thatcher, leaving him $10,982 short of Bailey’s mark.
“If it (single-season money-won record) was meant to be, it was meant to be. We were never looking at it until the CashCall Futurity (won aboard Pioneerof the Nile on Dec. 22). Next year, hopefully we won’t have to bring it down to the wire. Hopefully, we can do it the right way, but I have no regrets.
“The fall the other day (Saturday) was unfortunate, but that’s part of our world. I look at it this way—it was time to get some new teeth anyway…Every year feels like a blur…All the success I’ve had the last three years, I really haven’t had a chance to reflect back on it much. We just keep going and I’ve got an agent (Ron Anderson) that puts me in these kinds of situations…I want a recount!!”
FRANKEL EYES LAS VIRGENES FOR CHAMPION STARDOM BOUND
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly champion Stardom Bound could make her 3-year-old debut in the Grade I, $300,000 Las Virgenes Stakes at one mile on Feb. 7, instead of the Grade I, $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks at 1 1/16 miles on March 7.
“I might run her back in the Las Virgenes,” trainer Bobby Frankel said Thursday morning. “She’s doing that good.” Stardom Bound, trained by Christopher Paasch when she won the Juvenile Fillies, worked four furlongs on Pro-Ride last Sunday in :47.20.
“She’s a nice filly to train,” Frankel continued. “She does everything right. She’s just a good-feeling filly.”
Frankel said versatile Champs Elysees has the March 7 Santa Anita Handicap as a long-range goal, with the Grade II, $200,000 San Antonio Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 8 as a prep.
FINISH LINES: Vacare, who had been considered for Sunday’s San Gorgonio Handicap, was not entered. The winner of the Grade II Dahlia Handicap at Hollywood Park on Dec. 21, leaves for Kentucky Jan. 7 where she will be in quarantine for 30 days before going to England to be bred to Pivotal, according to Nicholas Bachalard, assistant to trainer Christophe Clement. Vacare won the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Keeneland in 2006. The 6-year-old Lear Fan mare has an 8-2-1 record from 14 starts, with earnings of $1,213,706 . . . Bob Baffert reports champion Indian Blessing is doing well as she awaits the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai on March 28. “She hasn’t been back to the track yet (since winning the Grade I La Brea Stakes on Dec. 27), but there’s no rush,” Baffert said, adding that the daughter of Indian Charlie has been favored in each of her 12 starts . . . John Shirreffs said undefeated Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic champion Zenyatta is due to resume training in another week, but did not reveal a comeback race. “It depends on how quickly she gets ready,” the trainer said, adding that Tiago is “doing very well,” with the Santa Anita Handicap as his major objective . . . Agent Tom Knust has taken the book of jockey Clinton Potts . . . Kathy Walsh said Georgie Boy came back well from his third-place finish in the seven-furlong Malibu Stakes on opening day. “I’m probably going to stretch him out and see if I can’t get him to come from off the pace,” Walsh said. “We’ll work him next week and go from there.” . . . Deeveetee gave Mark Casse his first Santa Anita victory this meet from four starters when the then 2-year-old Doneraille Court filly rallied to win Wednesday’s second race by three-quarters of a length under Joel Rosario. “We’ve got 17 horses here, some at the Fair Grounds and others at the training racing center in Ocala,” said Casse’s assistant, Rick Griffith, a native of Barbados who has been with the Toronto-based trainer about 10 years. “We came to Santa Anita for the weather, purses, and one of our main clients, Eugene Melnyk, who wanted to run here this winter,” added Griffith, who celebrated his 43rd birthday on Tuesday . . . Benezit, a 3-year-old Old Topper colt scheduled to run in today’s fifth race, is named for an encyclopedia for artists, according to Sean McCarthy, who trains the horse for owner Al Pitchko. “Mr. Pitchko is an antique dealer and an art collector who’s in the lumber business in Alberta, Canada,” McCarthy said . . . . Syndicated handicappers Terry and Toby Turrell will be Jack Disney’s guests at Sunday’s Fans’ Forum, 11:15 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens, weather permitting.