On a picturesque Southern California Wednesday morning replete with blue skies, sunshine and balmy temperatures, The Pamplemousse and Pioneerof the Nile were installed close first and second choices for Saturday’s Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, a race that has all the earmarks of a heavyweight championship match.

The Pamplemousse was made the 9-5 favorite by oddsmaker Jeff Tufts, who listed Pioneerof the Nile at 2-1 in a field of 10 sophomores that hope to use the West Coast’s marquee race for 3-year-olds as a steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby on May 2.

The field for the 72nd Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles on Pro-Ride, scheduled as the sixth race with a 2:45 p.m. post time: Chocolate Candy, Joel Rosario, 6-1; Z Day, Aaron Gryder, 15-1; Unbridled Roman, Tyler Baze, 30-1; Pioneerof the Nile, Garrett Gomez, 2-1; Mr. Hot Stuff, Corey Nakatani, 8-1; Feisty Suances, Victor Espinoza, 15-1; Take the Points, Christopher DeCarlo, 10-1; Cape Truth, Michael Baze, 30-1; Gallant Son, Rafael Bejarano, 15-1; and The Pamplemousse, Alex Solis, 9-5.

NBC will televise the race from 2 to 3 p.m.

The Pamplemousse, Pioneerof the Nile and third choice Chocolate Candy each had their final blowouts Tuesday on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride. The Pamplemousse went three furlongs under regular rider Solis in :34.80; Pioneerof the Nile went four furlongs under former jockey Joey Steiner in :47.60; and Chocolate Candy went four furlongs under Joel Rosario in :48.60.

“The work was really good,” said Solis, who also is up again this year for election to racing’s Hall of Fame. “He was nice and relaxed.”

Asked if there was undue pressure riding the favorite, the veteran of more than 25 years in the saddle was comfortable with his position. “I’ve handled pressure all these years, so if I don’t know how to deal with it, I’ll never learn,” he said. “That’s the best part of it, actually, having the pressure of riding the favorite. I’d rather be on a 6-5 than 65-1.”

Julio Canani, trainer of The Pamplemousse, endured the good-natured slings and arrows tossed at the post position draw breakfast at Clockers’ Corner. “It feels good to do something I do every day,” said Canani, typically antsy before the large April Fool’s Day crowd. “If I run a $10,000 claimer or a Breeders’ Cup horse, I get nervous.” Asked about drawing the No. 10 post position, Canani said: “I won two Breeders’ Cup races from No. 12, so it doesn’t mean anything.”

Bob Baffert said his charge, Pioneerof the Nile, “is coming up to a big race. We’ve already punched our ticket to the big dance (Kentucky Derby, referring to graded earnings), so we’re comfortable with that. This is not a two-horse race. Chocolate Candy is a good horse, and so is Mr. Hot Stuff. We’re taking this very seriously.”

Added Gomez, who rides Pioneerof the Nile: “He’s very versatile . . . If you watch his races, he’s come from all over the place (to win), and that’s one of his assets.”

In other Santa Anita Derby news:

Dan Ward, assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer, said Chocolate Candy was coming into the race “perfect. It will be ideal to have some pace to run at.”

Feisty Suances, 15-1 on the morning line, worked four furlongs under Victor Espinoza on Santa Anita’s training track Wednesday in :48.40 for Darrell Vienna. “He worked really well,” the trainer said.

Mike McCarthy, assistant to Todd Pletcher, said Take the Points was “not definite to run. We’ll take a look at the race over the next few days. Our first alternative, should we scratch, would be the Blue Grass Stakes (April 11 at Keeneland).”

First post time for the 11-race program Saturday is 12 noon. Gates open at 10 a.m. Saturday’s local weather forecast calls for sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s.


In deference to its annual Santa Anita Derby 5K Walk and Run, Santa Anita Park and the city of Arcadia have announced that Baldwin Ave., from the 210 Freeway to Huntington Drive, will be closed to vehicular traffic from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. this Saturday.

Accordingly, Santa Anita’s Gate Eight, which adjoins the Westfield Shopping Mall on Baldwin Ave., will also be closed to vehicles during the same time period.

Those wishing to visit Santa Anita’s popular Clockers’ Corner venue at the top of the stretch will be able to enter on Santa Anita’s east end, through parking lot Gate Five. Gate Five will be open for easy access to Clockers’ Corner beginning at 5 a.m. and will remain open throughout the day.

Gate Five is located on the east end of the racetrack, at the confluence of Colorado Place and Huntington Drive.

For additional information on the Santa Anita Derby and on the Santa Anita Derby 5K Walk and Run, fans are encouraged to visit, or call (626) 574-7223.


Pasar Silbano will race beyond seven furlongs for the first time when she goes in the Grade II Providencia Stakes at one mile on turf next Saturday.

The Irish-bred daughter of the Danzig stallion Elnadim is coming off a one and three-quarter length victory in the Grade III La Habra Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf on Feb. 1. Prior to that, she was seventh in the restricted Moccasin Stakes on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track last Nov. 16.

“A mile is the furthest she’s ever run, but I think she’ll relax,” said Jim Cassidy, who trains Pasar Silbano for Three Chimneys Racing, LLC. “I didn’t have her for her first race in the U.S. I got her after the Moccasin. She’s a nice filly, and the only horse I’ve got for Three Chimneys.”

Mike Smith rode Pasar Silbano in her two U.S. starts, but rides Stardom Bound in the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland next Saturday, so Joel Rosario has the mount.

The field for the 29th Providencia, for 3-year-old fillies: African Skies, Corey Nakatani; Acting Lady, Victor Espinoza; Air Fair, Alex Solis; Will O Way, Michael Baze; Pasar Silbano, Joel Rosario; Pride Dancer, Garrett Gomez; Mrs Kipling, David Flores; Fastongrass, Brice Blanc; Oui Say Oui, Alonso Quinonez; Burg Berg, Tyler Baze; and Rosy Mantle, Rafael Bejarano.

Pasar Silbano worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s firm turf course Sunday in a bullet 1:00.40.


Long-time California based trainer Richard Matlow succumbed to the effects of Amytrophic Lateral Schlerosis (ALS) late Monday at his home in Monrovia at the age of 66. Best known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, after the Hall of Fame New York Yankee slugger who contracted the disease and retired as a result of it in 1939, ALS is a neurodegenerative disease which attacks the body’s central nervous system.

Matlow, who was diagnosed with ALS in February of 2008, and who announced his retirement because of the disease on Jan. 29, sent out his final starter on that same day at Santa Anita.

A native of Los Angeles, Matlow was born on May 28, 1942, and was a licensed trainer in California since 1968, dealing mostly with lower-level allowance horses and claiming stock. Greatly respected for his honesty and horsemanship, Matlow was regarded as an outstanding trainer who operated very successfully in a low-key manner.

His lone graded stakes win came just this past Nov. 23, when Jack o’ Lantern took the Grade III Hollywood Preview Stakes under Isaias Enriquez, returning $41.80 to win.

“He’s a great trainer, a great friend and a very, very nice person,” said Enriquez on Jan. 30. “We’ve been together for the last four years. He let me ride everything. We had good times together.”

Fellow trainer Gary Lewis knew Matlow for 30 years. “He was a top trainer who always took his time with his horses,” said Lewis. “Any time they had a little problem, he’d send them out to the ranch for as long as they needed. He was a real horseman and he always gave his horses a chance to develop.

“It’s really amazing he lasted as long as he did with his disease. It was misdiagnosed a couple of times and he really suffered. In 30 years, I never heard him complain or knock anyone. He was just a first class guy,” he added.

“We were friends for over 40 years, and I was with him Sunday night, but it’s still kind of shocking,” said fellow trainer Art Sherman.

“God taking him was a blessing,” said agent Bob Meldahl, who has been in the business for 32 years and who booked Enriquez on many of Matlow’s horses. “Richard was suffering. One thing Isaias was happy about was winning the Hollywood Prevue for Richard with Jack o’ Lantern. It was the first graded stakes Matlow ever won, and he had been in the business a long time. He was a very good trainer, and a fine man.”

Matlow is survived by his son, Andrew, 25, his mother, Florence Farell (cq), brother, Stephen, sister, Candace Farrell and his former wife, Patricia. At Matlow’s request, there will be no funeral services.

FINISH LINES: Spenditallbaby was euthanized Monday after a courageous battle trying to survive from career-ending sesamoid injuries suffered after the Sunshine Millions Distaff on Jan. 24. “She made it for two and a half months, but she had some complications,” trainer Barry Abrams said Wednesday. “The bone couldn’t support the screws anymore . . . It was just a matter of days before she would be in a lot of pain, so it was the best thing to do. We had no alternative.” Spenditallbaby, a 5-year-old daughter of Unusual Heat, won five races and $469,173 from 32 starts . . . Jon Lindo, Thoroughbred owner and co-host of Thoroughbred Los Angeles on radio station 830AM Saturdays, will be Jerry Antonucci’s guest at Saturday’s Today’s Racing Digest seminar, 10:30 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Two participants remained alive in Santa Anita’s popular on line handicapping contest, ShowVivor II, going into Wednesday’s races. On Sunday, each selected favored Ale’s Pride, who won the sixth race.