CHAMPION NYQUIST WORKS FOR THREE-YEAR-OLD DEBUT
Champion two-year-old male of 2015 Nyquist worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s pristine main track at 10:15 Sunday morning in 59.38, his final major breeze for his three-year-old debut a week from Monday, Feb. 15, in the Grade II San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs.
Working in company on the outside of Bad Read Sanchez, the undefeated son of Uncle Mo trained by Doug O’Neill for Paul and Zillah Reddam had fractional times of 23.65 and 47.16, with a six furlong gallop out clocking of 1:13 flat.
Wearing a red shadow roll and with regular rider Mario Gutierrez in the irons, the bay colt started about three-quarters of a length behind Bad Read Sanchez, passed him on the far turn, and finished four lengths in front at the wire.
Bad Read Sanchez was given a time of 1:00.20 by Santa Anita clocker Dane Nelson.
“That’s exactly what we wanted to see,” O’Neill said. “He’s had a bunch of stamina workouts so we just wanted a sharp drill. He worked unbelievably. Mario was really happy with it, so we’re happy.
“He normally goes by himself. I like letting him put his feet wherever he wants to put them and he’s a horse that will work fine on his own. We put him in company today just to try and put competition back on his mind . . . So far, so good.
“He’ll walk the shed row tomorrow and go back to the track on Tuesday and gallop right into the race. We’ll see how the San Vicente goes and huddle up with the whole crew and figure out what’s in the horse’s best interest. We talked about going to the Florida Derby but we’ll play that by ear.
“He’s got so much class, so much raw ability. It’s hard to believe that he’s any more mature than last year but he’s doing everything right and thriving on training; he’s doing super.”
PRAT GOES FULL THROTTLE ON GAS TOTAL
Gas Total returns to the main track when she runs in Saturday’s Grade II Santa Maria Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, and Richard Mandella expects an improved performance from the seven-year-old Brazilian-bred mare.
“She’s done very well on the dirt,” the Hall of Fame trainer said, alluding to her second in the Grade I Vanity at Santa Anita last May and a victory in the Osunitas at Del Mar last July. “We’re just hoping she runs like she did in the Vanity (when she was beaten a length by My Sweet Addiction).
“She’s getting old and will probably be bred before long, but we’ll give her time to scratch a little more out.” In 30 career starts, Gas Total has a 5-8-1 record with earnings of $242,509.
Gas Total will be ridden by Flavien Prat, a French native whom Mandella has championed since he arrived in the United States three years ago.
“Flavien has a reputation as a grass rider, being from France where they race on turf,” Mandella said. “But he’s more than that, much more. He can win on dirt, too, as he showed yesterday on Hoppertunity (capturing the $500,000 San Antonio Stakes by a nose).”
NO FLAMBOYANT LIFE STYLE FOR BLANC AFTER VICTORY
Brice Blanc was back on the beat as usual Sunday morning, working horses less than 24 hours after piloting Flamboyant to a three-quarter length victory in the Grade II San Marcos Stakes for trainer Paddy Gallagher.
The price was precipitously shorter than when Blanc won the San Gabriel aboard the five-year-old French-bred gelding at 46-1 on Jan. 2. Yesterday, Flamboyant returned $7.60.
“Paddy’s done a great job with him and it’s clicked,” said Blanc, who has four wins this year, all in stakes, two with Flamboyant. “I wasn’t shocked that he won his last race even though he was a big price and it was a very tough field.
“To do what he did, he showed he’s coming back to his old form. He showed some talent when he first arrived in this country but just tailed off for a while. Now, I think he’s back to himself and he proved that again yesterday. He did it pretty easily.”
Blanc’s reputation as stellar turf rider precedes him, although the 43-year-old native of Lyon knows he’s equally as good on other surfaces, given the opportunity.
“It’s like Ron (McAnally ) says, ‘Give me the right horse.” It doesn’t matter if it’s green, blue, yellow; you just have to have the right horse. But for me, it is a lot easier to win races on grass because I get a lot better stock on the grass. I don’t get those kinds of horses on the dirt.”
EXPENSIVE TAPIT MAIDEN WINS AT 13-1 IN DEBUT
Despite costing $600,000 and being sired by top stallion Tapit, Fourth Watch paid $28.40 winning her debut Saturday at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf for Spendthrift Farm LLC and trainer Carla Gaines.
“Her shorter distance breezes on the dirt have really been super, as long as you’re holding her together,” Gaines said. “When she works longer and you ask her to run, she kind of spins her wheels. Her shorter works were much more impressive than her longer.
“We thought we would try the grass hoping she’d be able to get a hold of that better. She’s a half-sister to Geronimo, who was a great turf horse. It just worked, thank goodness.”
WORTHWHILE HOOPS TRADITION CONTINUES THURSDAY
Nancy Dollase has chaired the charity basketball game between Santa Anita’s jockeys and Holy Angels School for nine years, and is delighted to be associated with a worthwhile charity of such long standing.
“It’s nice to see a tradition continue,” said Nancy, wife of trainer Craig Dollase. “At times today people seem to overlook the importance of worthy causes like this, so I’m happy be a part of this all these years.”
The 49th annual Santa Anita Jockeys vs. Holy Angels Elementary School Charity Basketball Game will be played next Thursday, Feb. 11, at La Salle High School in Pasadena, with proceeds to benefit Holy Angels athletic program, the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) and the Eye on Jacob Foundation.
Sponsored by Thoroughbred owner J. Paul Reddam’s CashCall and Santa Anita Park, tip off is scheduled for 7:15 p.m., with admission doors opening at 6:15 p.m.
Hall of Fame jockeys Kent Desormeaux, Laffit Pincay, Jr., Mike Smith, Alex Solis and Gary Stevens will all be available at center court for an autograph session at 6:30 p.m.
With Pincay serving as honorary team captain, a number of active riders are expected to participate, including: Saul Arias, Tyler Baze, Rafael Bejarano, Brice Blanc, Desormeaux, Victor Espinoza, Martin Garcia, Santiago Gonzalez, Mario Gutierrez, Abel Lezcano, Kayla Stra, Chantal Sutherland, David Lopez, Edwin Maldonado, Gonzalo Nicolas, Martin Pedroza, Geena Lattanzio, Fernando Perez, Tiago Pereira, Flavien Prat, Iggy Puglisi, Alonso Quinonez, Joe Talamo, Drayden Van Dyke and perhaps others.
TVG’s Kurt Hoover, who will be reporting live from Santa Anita on Thursday, will coach the jockeys for the 15th consecutive year.
“We’ve got Desormeaux back,” said Hoover. “And as good as Drayden Van Dyke was last year, that’s all we need, believe me.”
The PDJF helps assist permanently disabled jockeys nationwide, while the Eye on Jacob Foundation, named for Jacob Desormeaux, the 17-year-old son of Hall of Fame jockey Kent, benefits those suffering from Usher’s Syndrome. An extremely rare neurological disorder, Usher’s Syndrome causes progressive loss of hearing, imbalance, and eventual loss of sight in approximately 14,000 children in the United States.
Tickets are $5 per person, and for every two tickets purchased, individuals receive one free admission ticket to The Great Race Place.
La Salle High School is located at the southwest corner of Michillinda Ave. and Sierra Madre Blvd. in Pasadena, approximately four miles northwest of Santa Anita. Admission tickets and promotional tee shirts are on sale now at Champions! Gifts and Apparel in Santa Anita’s East Paddock Gardens, or through Holy Angels Elementary School in Arcadia.
FINISH LINES: Champion Songbird came out of her expected victory in Saturday’s Las Virgenes Stakes as good as she went in, and now prepares for the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks on April 9. “I liked the way she went in the gate,” said Jerry Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward. “She was kind and so calm. That’s the big advantage that you have; she’s so smart.” . . . Richard Baltas, whose Imperative lost an excruciating nose decision to Hoppertunity in Saturday’s San Antonio Stakes, “looks awesome this morning” and is being pointed to the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 12, the trainer said . . . There were five horses sired by 26-year-old stallion Unusual Heat entered in today’s first race, although How Unusual did not draw in from the also-eligible list . . . Bob Baffert has two expensive sons of Tapit in today’s third race, Adios Reality ($1.2 million) and Cupid ($900,000) . . . Richard Mandella expects three-time champion Beholder to gallop “at least a couple weeks more before she ever gets a work. She’s bigger and stronger than I’ve ever seen her.” . . . Apprentice jockey David C. Lopez loses his five-pound weight allowance on March 26 and rides as a journeyman on March 27. . . Jockey Fernando Perez has been suspended three days (Feb. 13, 14 and 15) for careless riding resulting in a disqualification of Tough But Nice in Saturday’s first race.
Source: Santa Anita Park