Rail Trip may go in San Carlos Handicap

The unbeaten 4-year-old gelding Rail Trip, mentioned by trainer Ron Ellis as a possibility for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 7, could race next Saturday in Santa Anita’s $150,000 Grade II San Carlos Handicap at seven furlongs.

Ellis is not sure he wants to subject Rail Trip, who has won his three career starts by a combined 12 1/2 lengths, to tough, seasoned handicap horses in his stakes debut. He’d be going against some top-notch sprinters in the San Carlos, most notably the ultra-impressive Georgie Boy, but it doesn’t figure to be nearly the daunting task as the Big ‘Cap.

Ellis says Rail Trip’s connections have the gelding nominated to just about every big stake he’s eligible to race in, so they can pick and choose their spots. No word yet on whether they were serious about the Dubai World Cup or the Godolphin Mile on March 28. We’ll probably know more about that after next weekend if he runs in the San Carlos.

Meanwhile, Georgie Boy appears to be hitting full stride after a third-place finish in the opening-day Malibu Stakes and a win in the Sunshine Millions Sprint on Jan. 24. If he stays healthy, he’ll be a major player in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint if trainer Kathy Walsh elects to keep him running one turn.

Another talented filly in the neighborhood

It’s good to be John Shirreffs these days. Not only does the veteran trainer have the unbeaten Zenyatta in his barn, but he also has the ultra-talented Life Is Sweet, who unleashed a spectacular rally in the final eighth of a mile Sunday to win the La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita.

Last in the field of nine 4-year-old fillies early, Life Is Sweet had to contend with turtle-like fractions of :24.76, :50.03 and 1:14.29 and still got up to win the $200,000 race over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface. Life Is Sweet completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.70.

It was the type of victory that Zenyatta has made famous. No matter how quick or slow the pace, Zenyatta is a closing machine in the stretch, the same way Life Is Sweet ran Sunday under jockey Garrett Gomez.

Gomez told HRTV after the race that he was a bit concerned down the backside, but once he hit the stretch and got the daughter of Storm Cat to the outside, he was confident. Then, at the eighth pole, he said she seemed to level off before finding another gear and getting the job done.

With distaffers like Zenyatta, Cocoa Belle, Ventura and Life Is Sweet around this year, not to mention the brilliant 3-year-old filly Stardom Bound, we might be referring to 2009 as the Year of the Ladies by Breeders’ Cup time in November. .

Santa Anita Racing — 2/15/2009

After trying to climb back to even, we’ve hit another bump in the road. No more exactas until our bankroll climbs upward, and we’re going to include a few more low-odds horses but only if they are extra solid plays. My best bet today is Delahoosee in the second race. I like him a lot.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15
1st — $20 to win on Continental Dancer at 20-1 or higher
2nd — $60 to win on Delahoosee at 2-1 or higher
4th — $20 to win on Falstaff Lane at 20-1 or higher
5th — $20 to win on Jet Set Lass at 20-1 or higher
6th — $20 to win on Lullabytime at 5-1 or higher

SATURDAY — Minus $110
OVERALL — Minus $1,180
BANKROLL (started with $2,000) — $820

Santa Anita Racing — 2/14/2009

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14
1st — $10 partial daily double wheel — Prince Novetti, Benezit and Only Be Cause to Delaware Doe ($30)
2nd — $20 to win on Delaware Doe at 5-1 or higher
3rd — $20 to win on Beckett at 5-1 or higher
4th — $10 partial daily double wheel — Medzendeekron to Wiggle and a Wink and Black Magic Mama ($20)
10th — $20 to win on Whizer and Warren’s Cat Time at 20-1 or higher

FRIDAY — Minus $40
OVERALL — Minus $1,070
BANKROLL (started with $2,000) — $930

Good luck today!!

Santa Anita Racing — 2/13/2009

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13
4th — $20 to win on Red Hot Flame and Brave Sun at 20-1 or higher
5th — $20 to win on Sand Bridled at 20-1 or higher
6th — $20 to win on Wild and Ready at 20-1 or higher
7th — $20 to win on Welken at 20-1 or higher

THURSDAY — Minus $90
OVERALL — Minus $1,030
BANKROLL (started with $2,000) — $970

Good luck today!!

Big two-day pick six carryover at Santa Anita

Here’s the press release distributed by the track:

TWO-DAY PICK SIX CARRYOVER OF $353,752 INTO FRIDAY

SANTA ANITA POOL COULD EXCEED $2 MILLION

ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 12, 2009)–For the second consecutive day, no one selected six winners in Santa Anita’s Pick Six, resulting in a two-day carryover of $353,752 into Friday. This marks the 16th Pick Six carryover through 36 days of racing and it’s expected the total Pick Six pool on Friday could exceed $2 million.

Thursday’s Pick Six got off to a rocky start in race three as the 1-2 favorite, Solo Piano, finished second to 11-1 shot Unusual Strike, who was handled by Gerry Olguin. The 4-year-old California-bred daughter of Unusual Heat paid $25.40 to win. Owned by Johnson, Nakkashian, Roberts and partners, she’s trained by Barry Abrams.

Saugatuck River prevailed in a stretch-long duel with runner-up Snooty Gal to take race four under Iggy Puglisi. Conditioned by David Hofmans, Saugatuck River survived a steward’s inquiry into the stretch run and paid $19.80 to win. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Cat Thief is owned by Betz and Needham.

The parade of upsets continued in race five, as General Consensus, with Alex Solis up, paid $16.00 to win. Trained by Paddy Gallagher, the 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Giant’s Causeway is owned by Edmond A. and Sharon Hudon.

Race six went to Hammurabi with Joel Rosario aboard. Conditioned by Jack Carava and owned by La Canada Stables, the 3-year-old Florida-bred gelding by Horse Chestnut returned $9.40 to win.

Thursday’s seventh event went to Maui Mark under Victor Espinoza. Trained by Howard Zucker, the 4-year-old California-bred gelding by Unusual Heat paid $12.40 to win. He is owned in-part by JoAnne Buss, wife of Lakers owner Jerry Buss, along with Cantor, Finn and partners.

The eighth and final went to No Cream or Sugar, providing trainer Jack Carava and the La Canada Stables with their second win of the day. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Exploit paid $8.60 to win.

Santa Anita will offer an eight-race program Friday, with first post time at 1 p.m.

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Santa Anita Racing — 2/12/2009

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 12
2nd — $20 to win on Bert’s Law at 20-1 or higher; $5 exacta box coupling Bert’s Law and Bad Big Al
4th — $20 to win on Lola Rastaquaire at 20-1 or higher; $5 exacta box coupling Lola Rastaquaire and Stylin Deputy and Lola Rastaquaire and Silent Western
6th — $40 to win on Swingin Jim at 7-2 or higher

WEDNESDAY — Minus $90
OVERALL — Minus $940
BANKROLL (started with $2,000) — $1,060

Good luck today!!

Stardom Bound headed to Santa Anita Oaks?

Bobby Frankel told the Daily Racing Form on Wednesday that the talented 3-year-old filly Stardom Bound, who won her fourth consecutive Grade I event last Saturday with a victory in the $300,000 Las Virgenes, will be pointed toward the Santa Anita Oaks on March 7 and not the Santa Anita Derby a month later against the boys if he has any say.

It appears calmer heads may have prevailed after Frankel told the Form that it makes more sense to run in the Oaks. Of course, if Stardom Bound blows away the opposition in the Oaks, she could always come back and run in the Santa Anita Derby on April 4.

“I’m leaning to the Santa Anita Oaks,” Frankel said. “It’s hard to give up a Grade 1 when you’re going to be 3-to-5. Rick [Dutrow] and I talked about it, and he agrees.”

Frankel is training Stardom Bound while the filly is stabled in California. Dutrow will take over the duties when she runs back east.

Immediately after the Las Virgenes, majority owner Michael Iavarone told reporters Stardom Bound would likely run in the Santa Anita Derby and then possibly the Kentucky Derby on May 3 if she ran well. He said he would leave the utimate decision to Frankel, and if that’s true, it appears the Hall of Fame trainer has steered the talented filly in a different direction — a direction better suited for Stardom Bound, who has shown nothing yet to warrant a step up in class against the boys. But Iavarone and his partners will make the final decision where the filly will run next.

If Stardom Bound turns it on in the next couple months, the Kentucky Derby can always be an option. I mean, Winning Colors was not considered a Kentucky Derby possibility at this time in 1988 after she’d lost to Goodbye Halo in the Las Virgenes. But a nice victory in the Santa Anita Oaks and a romp in the Santa Anita Derby convinced trainer D. Wayne Lukas to go for it. It turned out to be the right decision, much like the choice to race Stardom Bound in the Santa Anita Oaks.

There is one Frankel distaffer who is going to definitely challenge the males, however. Frankel also told the Form that Ventura, Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint winner last October at Santa Anita who won the Santa Monica Handicap in her 2009 debut on Jan. 31, will challenge the boys in the $300,000 Grade I Kilroe Mile on March 7 at Santa Anita — one of three Grade I races that day, including the $1 million Big ‘Cap.

Santa Anita Racing — 2/11/09

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 11
1st — $20 to win on Terina at 20-1 or higher; $5 exacta boxes coupling Terina with Snow On Christmas, Terina with Chicks Rule and Terina with Sam’s Queen
3rd — $20 to win on Polish Quest at 5-1 or higher
6th — $20 to win on Village Lady at 5-1 or higher

SUNDAY — Minus $100
OVERALL — Minus $850
BANKROLL (started with $2,000) — $1,150

Good luck today!!

Quite a logjam at top of jockeys’ standings

Not since the 1991-92 Santa Anita meet, when Alex Solis (100 wins), Eddie Delahoussaye (98) and Kent Desormeaux (97) finished 1-2-3 in the rider standings and were separated by only three wins, has there been a more intense three-way battle for the jockey title.

Heading into Wednesday’s action, the 35th day of the 84-day meet, two-time Eclipse Award-winning Garrett Gomez was atop the standings with 39 victories, one win ahead of both defending champion Rafael Bejarano and Joel Rosario.

Heading into 2008, we all knew how good Gomez and Bejarano were, but Rosario was an unknown who has performed way ahead of expectations. The 21-year-old native of the Dominican Republic has made his mark on the Southland colony and now needs to only win some big stakes in other parts of the country to become known nationally. The kid can ride.

Who do you like? If you had a Grade I stakes winner and needed to win one big race, who would you put on the horse? One of the top three, or maybe someone else?