(Accelerate after winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
From the Santa Anita Media Team:
ACCELERATE BEATS EXPECTED RAIN, BREEZES IN 1:27.20
Horse of the Year finalist Accelerate had his penultimate workout at Santa Anita Friday morning for the $9 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26, going seven furlongs under a blue/gray sky in a bullet 1:27.20 with assistant trainer Juan Leyva astride.
“I got him in 1:27 and (galloping) out a mile in (one) 40 and four-fifths, so it was a good long-distance work,” said John Sadler, who trains the five-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky for principal clients Kosta and Peter Hronis.
“On this track, it’s not super-fast. He’ll come back next week with more of a blowout type work, like five-eighths or something like that. But I’m glad we got this one in today because of the weather. It’s going to rain tomorrow and we’ve got a lot of rain next week.”
Accelerate is scheduled to ship a week from Monday, Jan. 21, to Florida, for North America’s richest race, to be run at 1 1/8 miles. “He’ll school in the gate here this week and school in the gate at Gulfstream,” Sadler said.
Asked his thoughts on Horse of the Year, even though votes already have been submitted, with the announcement due Jan. 24, Sadler said, “Whatever happened (with the votes) has already happened, but I’m not worried about it, because Bob (Baffert, trainer of Triple Crown king and Horse of the Year finalist Justify) told me we finished second.”
ESPINOZA SEEKS THIRD OPINION BEFORE HE’S BACK IN THE SADDLE
Victor Espinoza’s next workout on a Thoroughbred is on hold pending further medical evaluation, his agent, Brian Beach, said Friday morning at Santa Anita.
The 46-year-old Hall of Fame jockey and Triple Crown winner worked his first horse last Saturday after an absence of more than five months recovering from serious injuries in a training mishap at Del Mar last July.
“He’s gotten drastically different opinions from two different doctors,” Beach said, “so rather than choosing the one we want, we’ll seek another opinion and hopefully get that done this week and go from there.
“But for right now, he won’t work any horses tomorrow, which could be a moot point since the weather might not allow works anyway if it rains tonight. We’re in a bit of holding pattern, but there was no race or horse we had been targeting.
“There was a disagreement among doctors as to whether he could ride in races or just exercise horses, two different interpretations of a scan that was taken. You can’t ignore the opinion you don’t want to believe and go with the opinion you want to believe.
“You’ve got to do the right thing and get an independent, third evaluation, and go from there, but Victor feels great. He’s back doing more work with his physical therapist at Del Mar and he came out of his breeze last Saturday in good shape.
“He has no pain and he’s fitter than he thought he was, all positive signs.
“We just have to make sure he’s doing the right thing at the right time.”
BALTAS HOPES TO CONTINUE HOT STREAK IN LA CANADA
With 40 head on track and more waiting in the wings, Richard Baltas is off and winning at Santa Anita’s Winter Meet, tied for the training lead with Doug O’Neill through 10 racing days, each at eight victories, although Baltas has started 38 horses, one more than O’Neill.
“We got off to a fast start,” said Baltas, who has Lemoona entered in Saturday’s Grade III La Canada Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles. “But it’s a long year and hopefully we have some nice, younger horses coming along. We have a lot of older grass horses that have come out of the gate running.”
One in that category is San Gabriel Stakes winner Next Shares, who is ticketed for the $7 million Pegasus Turf Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26. “It looks like he’s going to go,” Baltas said.
As for Lemoona, a four-year-old Lemon Drop Kid filly owned by Zayat Stables, LLC, she is seeking her first stakes victory having finished fourth in the Grade I Zenyatta at 26-1 and fifth in the Grade III Torrey Pines in her two previous efforts. Four of her nine career starts have come on turf, however.
“She’s had a couple of good races on dirt,” Baltas said, “and she’s doing well. The race came up a little soft and you can’t make any money sitting in the barn. I love to run and my owners like to run even more.”
The La Canada, race eight of nine with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Exuberance, Geovanni Franco, 8-1; Stradella Road, Rafael Bejarano, 5-1; Lemoona, Flavien Prat, 5-1; True Royalty, Joel Rosario, 3-1; Bernina Star, Kent Desormeaux, 8-1; Escape Clause, Tyler Baze, 5-2; and K P Wildcat, Roimes Chirinos, 4-1.
ONE DOLLAR STRONACH 5 BACK TODAY
With average field size at 10 horses per race, the popular One Dollar Stronach 5, which features an industry low 12 percent takeout, initiates today from Laurel Park as their fifth race, a $5,000 claiming affair for fillies and mares at one mile, set to get underway at 1:35 p.m. PT.
Leg B will shift to Gulfstream Park’s ninth race, as nine older horses will go six furlongs for a $30,000 to $25,000 claiming tag. Assigned post time is 1:41 p.m. PT.
Leg C shifts to Santa Anita’s fourth race, which has 10 going after one scratch in a field of older maiden fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf. Assigned post time is 2 p.m. PT.
Leg D will take players back to Gulfstream’s 10th race, as a field of 12 older maiden special weight fillies and mares go 1 1/16 miles on turf. Assigned post time is 2:12 p.m. PT.
Friday’s Stronach 5 concludes with Leg E, which features the fifth race from Golden Gate Fields, a one mile main track test for older horses in for a $20,000 tag. A field of eight is in prospect, with assigned post time 2:47 p.m. PT.
Players are advised that free Stronach 5 past performances can be downloaded by visiting Xpressbet.com.
FINISH LINES: With rain in the forecast, there were 312 recorded workouts at Santa Anita Friday morning, 67 on the training track. Accelerate conqueror City of Light went five furlongs in 1:00.80 towards the Pegasus World Cup for trainer Michael McCarthy . . . Thanks to two wins Thursday, both back to back for fellow Frenchman Leonard Powell, Flavien Prat opened a 13-9 lead in the jockeys’ race over runner-up Joel Rosario, who did not ride last weekend when sidelined with the flu. “Flavien is now first in the U.S. in earnings this year with $422,899,” pointed out his agent, Derek Lawson. “We know it’s early, but we’re very proud of the fact that we lead the country.” . . . Apprentice Luis Fuentes, who had one win from 18 rides this meet, has moved his tack to Oaklawn Park . . . There is a 20 cent Single Ticket Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot of $662,871 up for grabs today, beginning with race four.