Saturday’s Damascus Stakes carries a relatively small purse of $100,000, considering it has attracted two Grade I stakes winners and three horses that were ticketed for the Triple Crown this year before they were sidelined with injuries.
They are Gayego, winner of the Grade II Arkansas Derby before getting a break after finishing 11th of 12 by 26 lengths in the May 17 Preakness Stakes; Georgie Boy, winner of the Grade I Del Mar Futurity, but out of action with back issues since winning the Grade II San Felipe Stakes on March 15; and Into Mischief, winner of the Grade I CashCall Futurity as a 2-year-old last Dec. 22. The son of Harlan’s Holiday has been sidelined with foot problems since finishing second to Georgie Boy in the San Vicente.
“Mr. Hughes’ plan is to go to stud with him next year, so this race, and maybe the Malibu (Stakes on opening day at Santa Anita, Dec. 26) would be on his schedule before he goes to stud, unless Mr. Hughes changes his mind. But right now, I believe the intention is to go to stud at Mr. Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm.”
Victor Espinoza, who has ridden Into Mischief in each of the colt’s four starts, is eager to get back on board.
“I haven’t worked the horse; I just ride him,” the 36-year-old rider said. “I’m very excited about him coming back. He’s been working well, and I believe he’ll run as good as he did before. I thought he was my Kentucky Derby winner, but things didn’t work out.”
The field for the seven-furlong Damascus: Dancing in Silks, Joel Rosario, 120; Hatta Fort, Julien Leparoux, 123; D. Double You, Rene Douglas, 116; Gayego, Mike Smith, 123; Blue Chagall, Brice Blanc, 118; Into Mischief, Espinoza, 118; Victor’s Cry, John Velazquez, 116; No Advantage, Rafael Bejarano, 116; Young Joe, Joe Talamo, 118; Signature Move, Michael Baze, 118; Kool Comic, Robby Albarado, 123; Georgie Boy, Garrett Gomez, 123; Leonides, Richard Migliore, 123; and Master Daniel, Frankie Dettori, 116.
Mandella also has entered Dixie Chatter in the Grade II $150,000 Oak Tree Derby on Saturday. The son of Dixie Union owned by Herman Sarkowsky has been out of action since July 16, when he won a division of the Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar.
“He had a few issues, he got a little sick,” Mandella said. “I was going to run him in the Del Mar Derby or the Pennsylvania Derby, but he got a little temperature so we had to back off.”
The field for the Oak Tree Derby: Dixie Chatter, Richard Migliore, 118; Muny, David Flores, 118; Tres Borrachos, Tyler Baze, 122; Gallon, Russell Baze, 120; Moral Compass, Eibar Coa, 122; Madeo, Mike Smith, 122; Trevor’s Clever, Joe Talamo, 118; Deal Making, Ramon Dominguez, 118; Woodland Flood, Victor Espinoza, 118; Nownownow, Julien Leparoux, 118; Blue Exit, Rafael Bejarano, 118; Rumba Along, Chantal Sutherland, 118; Ghetto, Kent Desormeaux, 118; and Pearl Fisher, Jose Valdivia Jr., 118.
‘AMERICA’S FRIEND,’ HORSE AND TRAINER, READY FOR LAS PALMAS
Barry Abrams is among Southern California’s most popular trainers, so when it came to naming a filly by Unusual Heat, his primary owner, Madeline Auerbach, didn’t have to think twice. She named her America’s Friend.
“Madeline named her after me,” said Abrams, who owns a share of the filly along with Auerbach, Vincenzo Loverso, Peter Joe and Hal Wilson. “She always said Barry is America’s friend. She said, ‘Everybody in America knows him.’ I told her that I’m the world’s friend, but she said America’s friend was better.”
America’s Friend, equine version, is “training great” as she prepares for Friday’s 39th running of the Grade II Las Palmas Handicap for fillies and mares at one mile on turf. America’s Friend will be ridden by Chantal Sutherland, who was aboard the chestnut in her maiden victory last February at one mile on turf at Santa Anita.
“All she needs is the right kind of trip,” Abrams said of America’s Friend. “In the Cal Cup (Distaff Handicap at about 6 1/2 furlongs on the downhill turf course Oct. 5) she was too far back at the start. She had to make up a lot of ground and still ran well down the hill. The mile’s a different distance for her. She just needs a better trip.”
The Abrams-Sutherland team is no stranger to Southern California racegoers. The duo caught their attention at Santa Anita last year with several longshot victories.
“She really likes this horse,” Abrams said of the 32-year-old native of Winnipeg, Ontario, who has ridden America’s Friend three times in the past, with a second and a third in addition to the victory. “Alex Solis has been riding the filly, but he’s got another commitment in the Las Palmas, so we’re going to go for it.”
America’s Friend has a 4-5-6 record from 26 starts, with earnings of $266,148.
The field for the Las Palmas, which goes as race No. 8 on a 10-race program: Black Mamba, Garrett Gomez, 120; Lightmyfirebaby, Victor Espinoza, 115; Zardana, Aaron Gryder, 115; Trick’s Pic, Joel Rosario, 115; Lemon Chiffon, David Flores, 114; Valbenny, Alex Solis, 117; Kris’ Sis, Michael Baze, 115; Passified, Mike Smith, 116; Moujane, Jose Valdivia Jr., 115; Bahama Mama, Kent Desormeaux, 116; Roshani, John Velazquez, 118; Rosinka, Jeremy Rose, 118; Gotta Have Her, Tyler Baze, 115; and America’s Friend, Sutherland, 114.
GENERAL, CLUB HOUSE ADMISSIONS AVAILABLE FOR BREEDERS’ CUP
Admission to Santa Anita on Friday and Saturday, Breeders’ Cup days, will be available at the entrance gates. General admission is $20 per day and provides access to the Grandstand main floor, trackside apron, Paddock Gardens and Infield. Club House admission is $50 per day and gives access to the Club House main floor and the general admission areas.
A limited number of reserved seats are available. Seats in sections L-V of the Grandstand are $200 and $400 each for the two days. Club House apron reserved seats are $500 for two days.
First race post time Friday is 11:05 a.m. Parking lots open at 7:30 a.m. and admission gates at 8 a.m. First race post time Saturday is 10:10 a.m. Parking lots open at 6:30 a.m. and admission gates at 7 a.m.
Overflow parking will be available on Saturday at the Los Angeles County Arboretum, across Baldwin Avenue just north of Santa Anita, and the Arcadia County Park east of Santa Anita at Huntington Drive and Santa Anita Avenue.
Free shuttle buses will run from the Metro Gold Line’s Sierra Madre Villa station in east Pasadena on Friday starting at 8 a.m. and on Saturday at 7:30 a.m., leaving from berth #4. Shuttles returning from Santa Anita to the Gold Line station begin both days at 1:30 p.m.
Complete train and bus service schedules to and near Santa Anita are on the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) website, http://www.metro.net.
WAGERS ON 2008 BREEDERS’ CUP DAYS
Friday, Oct. 24
All 10 races will offer Win, Place, Show, Exacta, Trifecta, and Superfecta.
Races 1 through 8 offer Pick 3.
Races 1 through 9 offer Daily Double.
Races 5 and 7 offer Pick 4.
Race 7 offers Super High 5.
The Pick Six is on races 3 through 8.
Saturday, Oct. 25
All 11 races will offer Win, Place, Show, Exacta, Trifecta and Superfecta.
Races 1 through 9 offer Pick 3.
Races 1 through 10 offer Daily Double.
Races 2, 6 and 8 offer Pick 4.
Race 9 offers Super High 5.
The Pick Six is on races 4 through 9. There is a mandatory Pick Six payout.
FINISH LINES: This Sunday, closing day, is Fan Appreciation Day at Oak Tree. All fans will receive a gift coupon redeemable for a variety of items, including backpacks, picnic jugs, long sleeve T-shirts and polo shirts, one per person while supplies last. First post time Sunday is 12:30 p.m. Gates open at 10:30 a.m. . . . Friday’s local Weather.com forecast calls for sunny skies with temperatures from 57 to 89 degrees, while Saturday’s is sunny, from 57 to 87 . . . Ron McAnally said long-time client Arnold Zetcher has removed his horses from the Hall of Fame trainer’s barn and placed them with Bob Baffert . . . HRTV and TVG will both carry the undercard races from Oak Tree Friday and Saturday, marking the first Oak Tree races HRTV has carried live this meet. Friday and Saturday’s simulcast TV signal will be produced by the Breeders’ Cup. It will not be Oak Tree’s regular simulcast . . . With five racing days remaining, Rafael Bejarano had a 24-21 lead over Garrett Gomez in the race for Oak Tree riding honors, while John Sadler led runners-up Mike Mitchell and Doug O’Neill, 11-10, in the trainers’ race . . . Author Bill Finley will sign copies of his book, “Betting Synthetic Surfaces,” at Santa Anita tomorrow. He will be at the Club House Breeders’ Cup Super Store near the paddock from 12:30 to 2 p.m. and 4 to 5 p.m. . . . Syndicated handicappers Jerry Antonucci and Bob Ike will be Jack Disney’s guests at Sunday’s Fans’ Forum, 11:15 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens.