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Santa Anita Stable Notes: Donworth Could be Pacesetter, Baffert’s Cupid Scratched from San Felipe

Santa Anita Stable Notes: Donworth Could be Pacesetter, Baffert’s Cupid Scratched from San Felipe

On paper, there appears to be no clear cut pacesetter in Saturday’s $1 million Santa Anita Handicap presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino.

But Doug O’Neill says if the lead is there for the taking, Donworth and his jockey, Mario Gutierrez, will be glad to accommodate his rivals.

“The great thing with him breaking from the three hole is at a mile and a quarter you’ve got plenty of run to the first turn,” O’Neill said of owner Paul and Zillah Reddam’s recent acquisition, who was third, beaten only a half-length, in the Feb. 6 San Antonio Stakes, Donworth’s first race in more than seven months.

“Hopefully he breaks well. Mario will put him in a good spot. If he’s the only one who wants the lead, so be it. Another horse would have to go out of his established running style to challenge us on the lead, the way it looks on paper.”

Richard Baltas, meanwhile, doesn’t expect Imperative to be too far back.

““We think we got an OK draw (eight) and we’ve got a whole quarter mile to get to the first turn, so it’s plenty of time to find a spot and sit off the pace,” the trainer said. “Santiago (Gonzalez) is just going to have to make the right decisions on when to move.

“The horse is doing great. Obviously, I hope the pace isn’t too slow.”

The field for the Santa Anita Handicap, the 10th of 11 races: Point Piper, Drayden Van Dyke, 12-1; Melatonin, Joe Talamo, 20-1; Donworth, Mario Gutierrez, 3-1; General a Rod, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; Effinex, Mike Smith, 2-1; Cyrus Alexander, Martin Garcia, 20-1; Hard Aces, Abel Lezcano, 12-1; Imperative, Santiago Gonzalez, 3-1; and Class Leader, Kent Desormeaux, 30-1.

Fans at Santa Anita tomorrow will receive a free Santa Anita Fleece

Blanket presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino with paid admission while supplies last.

First post time Saturday is 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.

With ample speed in Saturday’s Grade II, $400,000 San Felipe Stakes for the West Coast’s leading Triple Crown candidates, it might seem foolhardy to make firm pre-race strategy commitments on the 1 1/16-mile race, a major steppingstone to the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 9.

That was the mindset Friday of Cliff Sise Jr., trainer of promising Danzing Candy, winner of his last two starts virtually wire-to-wire by a combined margin of nine lengths under Mike Smith, who retains the mount in the San Felipe.

“I’ve looked at the race on paper,” Sise said, “but when the gates open, it will be Mike’s decision.”

Unless Cupid was trained by Barry Fitzgerald, Mickey Rooney or the Marx Brothers, or others who have made whimsical racing films that have little to do with reality, he won’t be running in the San Felipe, which is precisely the case.

The $900,000 gray son of Tapit trained by Bob Baffert was scratched after working six furlongs Friday in a bullet 1:11.60 under Mike Smith.

Baffert said Cupid’s next race would be “somewhere out of town.”

The San Felipe: Uncle Lino, Fernando Perez, 8-1; Danzing Candy, Mike Smith, 7-2; Mor Spirit, Gary Stevens, 2-1; I Will Score, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Smokey Image, Victor Espinoza, 7-2; and Exaggerator, Kent Desormeaux, 5-2.

Bolo’s neck victory in the Arcadia Stakes on Feb. 13 could be a precursor of bigger and better things, says Mike Smith, who rides the four-year-old Temple City colt in Saturday’s Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf.

The Grade II Arcadia was Bolo’s first race in seven months.

“He went really well,” Smith said of Bolo’s three furlong blowout Tuesday in 36.40. “He’s happy and galloped out real good. He’s a nice horse.

“I don’t think you’ve seen the best of him yet. He’s had his ups and downs but if how he ran first back this year is an indication of how he’s improved, that was about as good as it gets.”

De Treville makes his U.S. debut in the Kilroe. The four-year-old English-bred colt has not raced since last Aug. 4, but has been training forwardly for John Shirreffs.

“He has very nice European form,” Shirreffs said. “It looks like he wants to be close, from what his form shows overseas.”

The Kilroe: Om, Gary Stevens, 3-1; What a View, Kent Desormeaux, 8-1; Bal a Bali, Flavien Prat, 7-2; Bolo, Mike Smith, 2-1; Kenjisstorm, Edwin Maldonado, 50-1; Midnight Storm, Victor Espinoza, 3-1; and De Treville, Tyler Baze, 8-1.

Trainer Phil D’Amato had been considering either the Kilroe Mile on turf or the San Carlos on dirt for Coastline before deciding on the Grade II sprint at seven furlongs for the gray son of 2004 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Speightstown.

Seven of Coastline’s 19 career races have been on grass, including a victory last out in the Clockers’ Corner at about 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside course on Jan. 24.

“We know he likes the hill, but when we claimed him, he won on the dirt that day pretty impressively at Keeneland,” D’Amato said of a victory in a $62,000 claiming race Coastline won in the mud last Oct. 3.

“The sprint division isn’t the strongest here, so we’re taking a shot on the dirt and seeing if he likes it. If he doesn’t, we can always run him back in the San Simeon three weeks later (a Grade III race at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf April 2).”

The San Carlos: Calculator, Flavien Prat, 5-2; Coastline, Tyler Baze, 12-1; Wild Dude, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; San Onofre, Edwin Maldonado, 6-1; Cautious Giant, Santiago Gonzalez, 10-1; Mystery Train, Joe Talamo, 20-1; Outside Nashville, Martin Garcia, 20-1; and Kobe’s Back, Gary Stevens, 2-1.

Neil Drysdale entered four horses in Sunday’s Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes at a mile and a half on turf, two of them females: Energia Fribby and Gaga A.

“There is nowhere else to run them,” the Hall of Fame trainer answered when asked why he has four of the 12 horses entered in a race he has won six times. “What am I going to do? I’ve got to run the horses.

“We’ve run against males before.”

And he’s won the San Luis Rey before, in 2014 with Fire With Fire (he also saddled runner-up Lucayan); Bourbon Bay (2012 and 2010); Fourty Niners Son (2007); Single Empire (1999); and Prized (1990).

The lineup: Southern Freedom, Martin Garcia, 12-1; Quick Casablanca, Tyler Baze, 6-1; Power Foot, Gary Stevens, 8-1; Going Somewhere, Mike Smith, 5-1; Life’s Journey, Jose Verenzuela, 50-1; Energia Fribby, Drayden Van Dyke, 15-1; Havanna Belle, Brice Blanc, 6-1; Highball, Flavien Prat, 12-1; Generosidade, Tiago Pereira, 30-1; Gaga A, Mario Gutierrez, 4-1; Big John B, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1; and Patentar, Alonso Quinonez, 20-1.

You can’t keep a good man down. So goes the adage and it more than applies to trainer Barry Abrams, who has battled the effects of cancer with quiet resolve and steely tenacity for more than 10 years now.

Abrams, who has limited use of his esophagus due to radiation therapy, underwent an out-patient procedure yesterday morning at Arcadia Methodist Hospital and returned home early last evening.

“Everything went good,” said Abrams by telephone this morning. “They had to do a procedure on my prostate and there’s no cancer. I should be okay to come back to the track in a couple days, but I’ve got a little fever and I don’t want to risk getting an infection with rain coming. I’ll stay here and keep dry and hopefully I’ll be feeling strong enough in a couple days.”

Best known for claiming perennial California leading sire Unusual Heat for an $80,000 tag on June 10, 1996, Abrams has won three races from 27 starts at the current Winter Meet.

Born in Minsk, Russia, Abrams turned 62 on March 4.

FINISH LINES: Three-time champion Beholder worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Friday in 49.20. “She couldn’t look better,” trainer Richard Mandella said of the daughter of Henny Hughes who is about to embark on her campaign as a six-year-old. “Everything’s just perfect.” . . . San Gabriel and San Marcos winner Flamboyant worked six furlongs for Paddy Gallagher in 1:14.20 under Brice Blanc, who rides the French-bred gelding in the $6 million Dubai Turf on March 26. Blanc departs for the Middle East on March 23 . . . Santa Maria winner Tara’s Tango went six furlongs for Jerry Hollendorfer in 1:11.80 with Martin Garcia aboard . . . Trainer Simon Callaghan said Kentucky Derby runner-up Firing Line “is just about ready to start galloping” after being on the shelf since last year’s Preakness Stakes . . . The main track closed for training at 9 a.m. due to impending rain, but not before 243 workouts were recorded after 201 were on the tab Thursday . . . Apprentice Brayan Pena has been suspended three days (March 17, 18 and 19) for an infraction aboard One Bye Two in Thursday’s eighth race . . .Illuminant, impressive allowance winner of yesterday’s seventh race, is headed back to graded stakes competition, according to her trainer, Michael McCarthy . . . The Medication and Track Safety Committee will conduct a public meeting March 16 in Santa Anita’s Baldwin Terrace Room at 10 a.m. The agenda and package of materials, which are for discussion only, focus on horse welfare and expanded out-of-competition testing, including a ban on anabolic steroids. The horse welfare items would mandate the transfer of records pertaining to joint injections for claimed horses, require trainers to maintain records of veterinary treatments, and insure that all treatments are justified by a medical condition and based on advice from a veterinarian . . . Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday. Set your clocks ahead one hour Saturday night.

Source: Santa Anita Park

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