SONGBIRD IN ‘BRILLIANT’ DRILL; COULD GO IN SANTA YSABEL
Champion filly Songbird could make her next start in the Grade III Santa Ysabel Stakes for three-year-old fillies at a mile and a sixteenth on March 5.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer did not rule out the $100,000 race after the undefeated Eclipse Award winner as best in her division as a two-year-old last year worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Sunday in 1:00.80 under regular rider Mike Smith.
Asked if the brilliant daughter of Medaglia d’Oro might run in the Santa Ysabel before the Grade I, $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks on April 9, Hollendorfer left the door open, saying, “I haven’t made my mind up,” but either way, he was delighted with the work.
“A minute and four-fifths and just as easy as you please,” he said.
Smith summed up the work in one word: “Brilliant.”
Songbird made her three-year-old debut in the Grade II Las Virgenes Stakes at one mile on Feb. 6, winning off “by a pole” as the saying goes, the actual margin being 6 ½ lengths.
UNBEATEN SMOKEY IMAGE WORKS FOR SAN FELIPE
Undefeated Smokey Image worked five furlongs in company Sunday morning in 1:00.40 under Victor Espinoza for his first foray in a graded race, the Grade II, $400,000 San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on March 12.
Smokey Image, a California-bred son of 2004 Santa Anita Handicap winner Southern Image, worked with Excessive Kid, who was clocked in 1:01 flat.
“I just worked him in company to give him a little target,” trainer Carla Gaines said of Smokey Image, winner of all six of his starts, including an 8 ½-length romp in the California Cup Derby on Jan. 30.
“He did it pretty easily,” Gaines said of the workout.
ZENYATTA’S SON SHOWS PROMISE IN FIRST RACE
Although not victorious, Ziconic had an encouraging debut, closing like his mother Zenyatta from 15 lengths last at the half-mile marker to finish third, beaten less than two lengths, in Saturday’s third race, a seven furlong test for allowance maidens.
Conditioned by John Shirreffs, who also trained 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta for Jerry and Ann Moss, the chestnut colt sired by Bernardini broke a bit slowly from his No. 5 post position in a field of seven three-year-olds and finished well after going wide into the stretch under Gary Stevens.
“We knew he was going to break slow and it took him a little while to get wound up,” Stevens said. “I was at the three-eighths pole and was so far back I said, ‘Buddy, your momma could win from here, do it!’ I told John that I never got to ride the big mare Zenyatta but I know what she felt like now.
“They’re going to have a lot of fun with Ziconic. The best part is that he enjoys his job, he loved what he was doing, especially that last eighth of a mile.”
J.R. PEGRAM HAS MALDONADO, LOPEZ ON A ROLL
Don’t look now, but combined, under the aegis of agent J.R. Pegram, Edwin Maldonado and David Lopez have won more races at Santa Anita this meet than individual leader Rafael Bejarano (33) or runner-up Santiago Gonzalez (31).
Through 34 racing days, Maldonado had 21 wins, while apprentice Lopez, who has missed the last six days due to soreness suffered in a riding mishap on Feb. 12, was stalled at 20, for a total of 41 between them.
Hard work is paying off.
“They’re good workers and they do everything that’s asked of them,” Pegram said. “We’re getting a little bit of business with everybody. That’s the key. They’re not doing it for just one person, they’re doing it for everybody.
“It makes a big difference when every trainer out there is willing to use your jocks. It makes it easier. They’re both well liked so we’re just kind of going with it.
“I’ve been an agent since 1992. Everything’s going good. I can’t complain.”
Added Maldonado, who rode maiden winner Bistraya to a ninth-place finish after prompting the early pace for trainer Ricky Agarie in Saturday’s Risen Star Stakes:
“I’m very happy. J.R. is a good guy and he knows what he’s doing. We started 2016 on the right foot. I had two wins for Phil D’Amato last Saturday, I’m still riding for Jeff Bonde, and Doug O’Neill has put me on a few. It all helps.”
FINISH LINES: In his first work since winning the Grade II San Marcos Stakes on Feb. 6, Flamboyant went four furlongs Sunday on Santa Anita’s fast main track in 49.60 under regular rider Brice Blanc for trainer Paddy Gallagher . . . Multiple graded stakes winner Wild Dude worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 for Jerry Hollendorfer, who said the come-from-behind specialist is a candidate for the San Carlos Stakes at seven furlongs on March 12 . . . Probable for next Saturday’s $100,000 Sensational Star Stakes at about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf in the Golden State Series: Alert Bay, Martin Garcia; Aotearoa, Drayden Van Dyke; Boozer, Gary Stevens; Forest Chatter, Mike Smith; McHeat, Fernando Perez; Pay the Fine, Mario Gutierrez; Richard’s Boy, Flavien Prat; and Solid Wager, Victor Espinoza. McHeat worked four furlongs on the main track Sunday in 50.20 for Barry Abrams . . . Committed stretch runner Big John B worked five furlongs in 1:02.80 for leading trainer Phil D’Amato, who has three races under consideration: the Santa Anita Handicap, the San Luis Rey, and the Tokyo City Cup. D’Amato also worked Midnight Storm five furlongs on the dirt training track in 1:01.60 for the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf March 12.