Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird took the final major step towards his West Coast debut as a 3-year-old Tuesday with a sparkling five-furlong workout on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride main track in 1:00.20 under jockey Joe Talamo. Mine That Bird heads a standout field of 10 in Saturday’s Grade I $350,000 Goodwood Stakes at 1 1/8 miles, a “Win and You’re In” event that gives the victor a berth in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at 1 1/4 miles on Nov. 7.
Bennie “Chip” Woolley Jr. couldn’t have been more pleased with the drill, the second over the track since the gelded son of Birdstone arrived at Santa Anita Sept. 25. “We really got it today,” the 45-year-old trainer said after watching the bay glide over the track on a pristine Southern California morning replete with blue skies and sunshine. “It looked like he knocked off that last eighth of a mile in 11 and change. He’s looking pretty sharp.
“He handled the track well and he was getting over it good. The way he worked today, I’m actually happier now, with the way he worked last week. It looks like it set him up real good for this work and hopefully, the race on Saturday. The track was a little tighter today and now he’s had a little time to adjust to it. A good horse shouldn’t have to take his track with him,” Woolley added.
“He seems to be really on his game. I know 10 weeks (since he last ran, in the West Virginia Derby, Aug. 1) is a little too long between races, but overall, he’s doing super. A mile and one eighth is a little short for him too. We’d rather have a mile and a quarter, but I think he’ll show up Saturday.”
Mine That Bird walked as planned on Wednesday and will gallop his customary two miles into the race Thursday and Friday, Woolley said. “Hopefully, he stays good, but right now he sure looks sharp. I’m real happy with the work.”
Woolley also is happy that Mine That Bird has adapted well to Santa Anita, where he resides at Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella’s Barn 4.
“He’s settled in here as well as anywhere else,” Woolley said. “He’s coming into the race in good shape, so you couldn’t ask for much more.”
Added Talamo: “It felt like a great work. Just like last time, he settled so nice. He’s got that big long stride, and the last eighth I kind of asked him to quicken a little bit. He was right on target.”
The field for the 28th Goodwood, one of four graded stakes Saturday, three of them Grade I’s: Chocolate Candy, Victor Espinoza, 121; Tiago, Mike Smith, 124; Richard’s Kid, Alex Solis, 124; Colonel John, Garrett Gomez, 124; Tres Borrachos, Joe Talamo, 124; Monzante, Joel Rosario, 124; Parading, Rafael Bejarano, 124; Gitano Hernando, Kieren Fallon, 121; Informed, Michael Baze, 124; and Mine That Bird, Calvin Borel, 121.
In other Goodwood news:
Pacific Classic winner Richard’s Kid worked four furlongs on Pro-Ride Tuesday under Joey Steiner in a bullet :46.80 for Bob Baffert, who named Alex Solis to ride the son of Lemon Drop Kid.
Santa Anita Derby runner-up Chocolate Candy also worked Monday, going four furlongs on Pro-Ride in :47.80. “He went a quarter in 24 and 4/5 and galloped out great,” said Dan Ward, assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
Tres Borrachos worked five furlongs with Talamo aboard Monday on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track in a minute flat for trainer Beau Greeley.
The Goodwood goes as race No. 7 on a 10-race program.
Saturday’s local weather forecast calls for clear skies and a high of 81 degrees.
First post time is 12:30 p.m.
RETURNING MIGLIORE TACKLES CHAMP ZENYATTA IN LADY’S SECRET
Richard Migliore faces one of the most daunting challenges of his long and productive career on Saturday when he attempts to hand undefeated female champion Zenyatta her first defeat.
The 45-year-old rider, winner of Santa Anita’s George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award last year, rides Cocoa Beach in the Grade I $300,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes, a race Zenyatta won last year en route to capturing the Ladies’ Classic and ultimately an Eclipse Award.
Cocoa Beach, a 5-year-old Chilean-bred mare owned by Godolphin Racing and trained by Saeed bin Suroor, finished second to Zenyatta in the Ladies’ Classic, beaten 1 1/2 lengths under Ramon Dominguez, who has ridden the daughter of Doneraile Court in each of her seven U.S. starts.
“Obviously, Zenyatta’s a champion,” said the gregarious Migliore, who arrived from the East Coast late Tuesday night to ride the remainder of the Oak Tree meet. “I have nothing but the utmost respect for her. My mare’s training well and I hope she gives us a good run.”
The field for the 17th Lady’s Secret at 1 1/16 miles: Cocoa Beach, Migliore; Sweet and Flawless, Joel Rosario; Made for Magic, Omar Berrio; Life Is Sweet, Garrett Gomez; Zenyatta, Mike Smith; Lethal Heat, Alex Solis; Briecat, Martin Garcia; and Anabaa’s Creation, Rafael Bejarano. Each carries 123 except the 3-year-old Sweet and Flawless, who totes 120.
Migliore will ride Supreme Summit for trainer Doug O’Neill in Sunday’s Grade I $300,000 Ancient Title Stakes at six furlongs. Both the Lady’s Secret and the Ancient Title are “Win and You’re In” events, providing the winner with automatic entry into their respective Breeders’ Cup races on Nov. 6 and 7.
“I won the Withers (on Mr. Fantasy) when Supreme Summit ran in that race,” Migliore recalled. Supreme Summit stumbled at the break and drifted badly, finishing nearly 35 lengths behind in the Grade III race at Aqueduct on April 25.
“But he was rank that day going a mile,” Migliore continued. “Obviously, the distance of the Ancient Title is going to suit him a lot better, and his last race (second at Del Mar) was real good, so we’ve got our fingers crossed.”
Probable for the 25th Ancient Title: Crown of Thorns, Victor Espinoza; Delta Storm, Joel Rosario; Gayego, Garrett Gomez; Riley Tucker, no rider; Square Eddie, Rafael Bejarano; and Supreme Summit, Migliore.
BEN CECIL’S ROSA GRACE ADDS INTRIGUE TO YELLOW RIBBON STAKES
Rosa Grace may not be the most feared competitor in Saturday’s Grade I $300,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes, but she’s surrounded by ample intrigue. The 4-year-old English-bred filly, previously trained by Christophe Clement, joined trainer Ben Cecil’s stable in August and thus is relatively unknown in these parts.
“She was on the East Coast, kind of running into softer turf,” Cecil explained. “They suspected she wanted it as firm as possible, and that’s the reason she came out here.”
In her first race stateside, Rosa Grace ran third to Black Mamba and Lemon Chiffon at Del Mar on Aug. 28.
“I was very happy with her first run at Del Mar, and I think she’s improved a bit since then,” Cecil said. “But this is another step up, so we’ll have to see.”
Cecil was pleased with Rosa Grace’s last work, though he knows she’ll face stiff competition Saturday.
“She’s doing great,” he said. “She looks as good as she’s looked since we’ve had her . . . but she’ll need to be running against these kinds of fillies.”
The field for the 33rd Yellow Ribbon at 1 1/4 miles on turf: Magical Fantasy, Alex Solis; Lemonette, Rafael Bejarano; Lemon Chiffon, Kieren Fallon; Black Mamba, Mike Smith; Rosa Grace, Joel Rosario; Charming Legacy, Joe Talamo; Visit, Garrett Gomez; and Internallyflawless, Victor Espinoza. Each carries 123 pounds except the 3-year-old Internallyflawless, who carries 120.
MANDELLA PONDERS OAK TREE MILE, HIRSCH FOR TIMES GONE BY
As of Wednesday morning, Richard Mandella was undecided on whether Times Gone By would run in Saturday’s Grade II $150,000 Oak Tree Mile on turf or Sunday’s Grade I $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship at 1 1/4 miles. The Mile is a “Win and You’re In” race giving the winner automatic access to the Breeders’ Cup.
“I’m going to enter him in both races and kind of size up the fields,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “He’ll go in one of them.”
Whatever Mandella’s decision, it will be a major step up for Times Gone By, a Giant’s Causeway colt owned by Spendthrift Farm. The 4-year-old chestnut would be making his first stakes start after gaining two wins and two seconds against lesser company.
“He makes me think that he’s a very good horse, and we’re going to have to test the water to find out,” Mandella said.
The field for the 24th Oak Tree Mile: Times Gone By, Victor Espinoza, 119; Skyrush, Martin Pedroza, 119; Polonious, Aaron Gryder, 119; Global Hunter, Corey Nakatani, 123; Victor’s Cry, Brice Blanc, 119; Blue Chagall, Rafael Bejarano, 119; Monterey Jazz, Mike Smith, 123; Allicansayis Wow, Kieren Fallon, 119; Cowboy Cal, Garrett Gomez, 123; and Whatsthescript, Joel Rosario, 119.
Probable for the 41st Hirsch: Artiste Royal, Joe Talamo; Presious Passion, Elvis Trujillo; Rendezvous, Rafael Bejarano; Sir Dave, Joel Rosario; Spring House, Alex Solis; and Times Gone By, Espinoza.
EQUINE ARTIST FRED STONE TO SIGN ZENYATTA PRINTS SATURDAY
By popular demand, renowned equine artist Fred Stone returns to Santa Anita Saturday to sign his latest print, Zenyatta, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens across from Champions! Gift Shop.
The special price of $25 will be offered, a discount of 50 percent. Purchasers can add a print of super filly Rachel Alexandra with the Zenyatta print for a total of $40 (regularly $75).
OAK TREE’S ‘FREE FRIDAYS’ CONTINUE WITH 2 P.M. POST
Oak Tree’s second “Free Friday” is this Friday.
With the exception of the first day of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Friday, Nov. 6, each Friday throughout the meet will have a special first post time of 2 p.m. All fans attending will receive free General Admission.
In addition, fans will be offered free box seats, while supplies last, along with $1 beers, sodas, hot dogs, popcorn and coffee.
FINISH LINES: Joel Rosario took off his scheduled seven mounts Wednesday. “He’s a bit under the weather but expects to ride tomorrow,” agent Vic Stauffer said . . . The Breeders’ Cup announced today it will host the “Tweeters’ Cup” at Oak Tree on Nov. 6. While other sports have utilized Twitter, the “Tweeters’ Cup” will mark the first time a Tweet-Up will be held onsite during a championship event. Lalawag.com, an online magazine that covers the tech culture, events and gossip news in Los Angeles, will serve as a media partner for the Tweet-Up . . . Urban Sea, dam of Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Sea the Stars, ran once at Santa Anita. She finished last of nine runners in the 1992 Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Oak Tree. The favorite, Flawlessly, also was beaten . . . There were 1,583 contestant alive entering Wednesday’s races in Oak Tree’s popular online handicapping contest, ShowVivor . . . Former trainer and current racing manager for Southern Equine Racing Nick Hines will be Jerry Antonucci’s guest at Saturday’s Today’s Racing Digest seminar, 11 a.m. in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Syndicated handicapper Terry Turrell and Toby Turrell of Winners Card will be host Jack Disney’s guests at Sunday’s Fans’ Forum, 11:15 a.m. in the East Paddock Gardens . . . There will be special holiday racing on Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 12. First post time is 12:30 p.m.