Sprint and FM Sprint Wed. Notes

December 10, 2019

Alfredo Velasquez (Private Zone, Sprint) – Good Friends Stable’s Private Zone remained on schedule for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint for trainer Alfredo Velazquez Wednesday morning.

“He galloped about a mile and a half today nice and easy,” Velazquez said. “He feels and looks great. We are ready.”

The Sprint will be his second start for Velazquez, who is based at Parx Racing.

“I got him in Philadelphia. He came in after a long layoff and we ran him in the (Turf Monster Handicap) at Parx,” Velazquez said. “Then they left him with me through the (Vosburgh Invitational). Then, after we won in New York, they were supposed to send him back to Doug O’Neill, but I got a call that there were some problems and the horse was coming back to me. So, I flew out (to California) on Oct. 9 to take care of the horse.

“It’s tough because sometimes you have a horse like this who is really good - and Doug O’Neill had him for a couple years and developed him - but sometimes things happen for a reason,” Velazquez said. “I’m glad to have him. He’s a great horse and a happy horse and so fast.”

Bob Baffert (Indianapolis and Secret Circle, Sprint) – Defending Sprint champion Secret Circle and undefeated (3 for 3) Indianapolis both jogged one mile Wednesday morning. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who had previously expressed displeasure with their inside post position draws -- No. 4 and No. 2 respectively -- didn't need prodding to find something to like about his representatives.

“Secret Circle is tough. He's a battler,” Baffert said. “Indianapolis hasn't experienced dirt in his face, the kick-back, much and I was hoping he'd be more outside. They may be saving ground along the inside, but the kick-back affects them.

“They're going to need things to go right, but they're good horses and they've both got a real good chance.”

Chad Brown (Bakken, Sprint) – Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren’s 4yo colt Bakken jogged Wednesday morning, the day after he shipped from trainer Chad Brown’s barn in New York.

The son of Distorted Humor will be the Warrens’ first Breeders’ Cup starter and second overall since Saint Liam won the 2005 Classic.

Bakken has a 3-1-0 record in five career starts over two years for Brown and has yet to win a Graded stakes. He will be ridden by Gary Stevens, who is returning from a complete knee replacement surgery this summer.

“He has a ton of talent,” Brown said. “We haven’t been able to run the horse as much as we would have liked, but when we have run him he’s been very effective for the most part. It’s one of those things that we’re going to take a shot. Gary is going to get on the horse. There is a lot of speed in the race and it’s going to be a situation where hopefully we’ll be stalking up close in the second flight.

“He drew a good post on the outside and he’s coming off a really strong work at Belmont (4f in 48.12). We’ll have to see. It’s a loaded field, so he’ll have to bring his best-ever.”

David Brown (Wind Fire, Sprint) – see European report

David Jacobson (Salutos Amigos, Sprint) – Trainer David Jacobson received a stern reprimand from his mother following Salutos Amigos’ huge win in the Bold Ruler Handicap on Oct. 25.

“Mike Moreno, who is my 50-50 partner in the horse, and I had been going back and forth, Breeders’ Cup or Bold Ruler, and finally decided we’ll stay on our home field (New York) and run in the Bold Ruler with the thought that if ran really spectacularly we’d come to the Breeders’ Cup.

“But it wasn’t really a serious thought, not until he crossed the finish line. As soon as he did, Mike and I got on our phones and he was calling out here to let them know we were coming and I was making arrangements for the plane,” Jacobson said. “My mom yelled at me for being on the phone in the winner’s circle while on TV and said she raised me better than that.”

But it hardly put a damper on the excitement and now Jacobson, who ran Cease in the 2013 Marathon, is looking forward to his second Breeders’ Cup.

“I just got in Tuesday night, but this morning (Wednesday) he looks great,” he said. “We’ll see how he is on the track and evaluate him over the next few days and then make a decision on Saturday morning whether to run or not,” he said. “From everything I’ve seen so far, we’re running.”

Salutos Amigos would be wheeling back in only a week against the world’s best, but so far he hasn’t shown any signs that the Bold Ruler took too much out of him and the shipping is too much for him.

“He has not missed an oat, which is excellent,” said his trainer, who started his career working for the late Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel at Santa Anita in 1974.

The 4yo gelding was previously trained by Eric Guillot, who runs Moreno in the Classic, for the 13 starts before he was transferred to Jacobson this winter. There are no hard feelings, as evidenced by Guillot’s visit to see his old pupil on Wednesday.

“The problem is that Mike had no patience. David and I have no issues and are on the same team and this horse has always been a good horse,” said Guillot. “But he hasn’t had good feet.”

Jacobson said that treatment has included giving the horse adequate time, lots of ice tubbing, epsom salt soaks and corrective shoeing in addition to a lot of hard work.

“He’s good now and we won’t make any changes with his shoes or anything else,” said Jacobson. “All systems are go, and I think he’s ready, but again, the horse will let me know if he’s right and ready.”

Salutos Amigos jogged on the main track under former Panamanian jockey Max Corrales Wednesday morning.

Gary Mandella (Living The Life, Filly & Mare Sprint) – The 4yo Irish-bred filly, victorious in her only two United States starts since being imported from England, galloped 1 ½ m with exercise rider Alfonso Avalas Wednesday.

Mandella explained that owner Hank Nothhaft of Saratoga, Calif., bought the filly early this year in England and that she made her last two starts at Lingfield in March and April for trainer Phil McEntee after the purchase.

“I got her in April,” said Mandella, who readied her for victories in August at Del Mar and the Presque Isle Downs Masters in September.

Kelly Breen (Stonetastic, Filly & Mare Sprint) – Stonetastic, the impressive Prioress winner galloped 1 1/2m Wednesday morning as she heads into Saturday’s race. Trainer Kelly Breen is hoping she can use her speed to pull the upset.

“She’s a fast filly,” said Breen. “I don’t see a lot of speed in the race and I see her setting the pace. I hope she’ll get an easy half. The seven furlongs is to her advantage.”

Linda Rice (Palace, Sprint) – Palace departed Barn 97 and galloped 1½m around the Santa Anita main track around 7 a.m. for trainer Linda Rice and owner Antonino Miuccio. The son of City Zip was accompanied by exercise rider Danny Rojas.

“He’s really in great shape and is training really well,” said Rice.

“He’s just a good minded horse and is doing great,” added assistant trainer Samantha Randazzo. “Things are boring right now and that’s how we like it.”

Michael Chang (Rich Tapestry, Sprint) – It was another “easy” 1 1/2m gallop for Rich Tapestry, under the watchful eye of trainer C.W. Chang, who pays close attention to the 6yo Irish-bred son of Holy Roman Empire beginning with walking the horse during warm-ups.

“I like to be with my horse,” the trainer said. “I can tell when he’s happy and feeling good, and those things make me happy and feel good.”

Chang has trained Rich Tapestry in 23 of his 27 lifetime starts. The horse, previously trained by Dermot Weld, was bought in 2011 after his fourth start by four partners in a Price-Waterhouse accounting firm in Hong Kong and Chang took over.

“This is an easy horse to train,” Chang said. “His temperament is good and he’s smart.” Chang credits Rich Tapestry’s lengthy career that has produced $1.4 million in earnings to that temperament and the fact “he looks after himself.” As for his racing style, Chang said, “He always tries hard.”

Chang will send the horse out Thursday for what he calls a 400-meter breeze “just to open up his breathing.” By doing that as a regular routine also alerts Rich Tapestry that it’s close to time to race once again.

Richard Baltas (Big Macher, Sprint) – Big Macher’s performances at Santa Anita could establish him as the horse for the course in Saturday’s Sprint, what with two wins and two seconds in four starts over the main track.

“He loves this racetrack,” trainer Richard Baltas said of the 4yo gelded son of Beau Genius that he claimed for $20,000 out of his maiden race at Del Mar in 2013. As for the runner’s 12-1 price on the morning line, Baltas said, “I hope they forget about him. I’d have to say he’s a great (betting) value at that price.”

He’ll enter the Sprint after an eight-week layoff – by design, Baltas said, adding, “I wanted a fresh horse for the Breeders’ Cup.” He continued his tune-up Wednesday morning by jogging 7f and galloping 1 1/8m.

Regular rider Tyler Baze retains the call.

Roger Brueggemann (Work All Week, Sprint) – Midwest Thoroughbreds’ Phoenix Stakes winner and Illinois Horse of the Year Work All Week arrived Tuesday evening after a delayed flight from Kentucky and took up residence in Barn 106. Wednesday around 8 a.m. the Roger Brueggemann-trained son of City Zip got his first taste of Santa Anita’s main track with an easy 1½ m gallop.

“He was a little stiff from the trip, but other than that it went great,” Brueggemann said. “Today we just had an exercise rider I borrowed from Tom Amoss. Tomorrow (regular jockey) Florent (Geroux) will be in to gallop him.”

Steve Asmussen (Mico Margarita, Sprint) – After finishing fourth in his first three races of the year at Oaklawn, Mico Margarita has turned the corner with two straight wins and trainer Steve Asmussen is confident in his chances.

“He’s sitting on a huge race,” said Asmussen. “His last two races were the best of his life and he’s doing better than he’s ever done.”

Tom Albertrani (Better Lucky, Filly & Mare Sprint) – Count trainer Tom Albertrani as a card carrying member of the Better Lucky fan club.

“She has been so consistent throughout her entire career. She’s an extremely nice mare,” he said.

In 19 starts, the 5yo daughter of 2004 Classic winner Ghostzapper has finished in the money 15 times and earned more than $1 million for Godolphin Racing. She has a versatile running style and can rate behind the speed or sit off the pace.

“In the Shine Again at Saratoga this summer, she closed from 12 lengths back in a seven furlong race and won. I’m hoping to see another good race from her where she’ll close into what is shaping up to be a strong pace,” her trainer said.

Better Lucky arrived from New York by jet with stablemate and Turf contender Twilight Eclipse on Tuesday evening and was reported to have handled the excursion without turning a hair.

On Wednesday morning she was sent to the track for a jog once around under exercise rider Hector Hernandez.

Wesley Ward (Judy the Beauty, Filly & Mare Sprint) – The Wesley Ward-trained trio of Undrafted, No Nay Never and Judy the Beauty arrived around 11 a.m. Wednesday morning after a delayed flight from Kentucky. No Nay Never and Judy the Beauty are morning-line favorites for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, respectively. All are expected to hit the track Thursday morning, with champion jockey Frankie Dettori astride race mount No Nay Never.

“They’ve all arrived and we’re excited,” Ward said.

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