first_img$150,000 EVENING JEWEL ATTRACTS NINE ON SATURDAY HONOR A.P. SEEKS REVENGE ON AUTHENTIC IN SA DERBYFollowing an encouraging second in the San Felipe Stakes by Honor A.P. on March 7 behind undefeated Authentic, all systems were at the ready for a rematch in the Santa Anita Derby on April 4.But when the Wuhan virus unmasked itself, it was back to square one for the son of Honor Code trained by John Shirreffs.The West Coast’s major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby had been scheduled for April 4 but is now set for June 6, when six additional stakes will be featured. The Run for the Roses had its traditional running date of the first Saturday in May scrubbed too and moved to Sept. 5.“We’re back to where we were before the San Felipe,” Shirreffs said, alluding to the five-month gap since Honor A.P.’s prior race, a maiden allowance test at a mile last Oct. 13, which he won on the lead by 5 ¼ lengths under Mike Smith. The Hall of Famer has been aboard Honor A.P. in each of his three races and will be on again in the Santa Anita Derby.“He looks really good and he’s been training very well,” said Shirreffs, who has the ridgling owned by C R K Stables scheduled to have his seventh recorded breeze tomorrow (May 14) since the San Felipe, which was decided at a mile and one sixteenth.With a more favorable pace scenario in the Santa Anita Derby, Shirreffs hopes for a better outcome against the speedy Authentic, one of three spectacular undefeated sophomores trained by Bob Baffert, the others being Arkansas Derby divisional winners Charlatan and Nadal. The three rank fourth, third and first, respectively, in the current National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) poll.“Authentic went to the lead (in the San Felipe) and dictated the pace pretty much all the way,” Shirreffs recalled, adding, “Since we weren’t racing here, I kind of backed off Honor A.P. a bit and didn’t work him too hard, but right now he’s training strong and I think he’s going to come into the Santa Anita Derby really well.”SATURDAY’S $150,000 EVENING JEWEL COMES UP TOUGHA solid group of 10 sophomore fillies, headed by Ben and Sally Warren’s classy homebred Warren’s Showtime, will go six furlongs in Saturday’s $150,000 Evening Jewel Stakes for eligible California-bred or sired runners.Sponsored by the CTBA, the Evening Jewel is part of the lucrative Golden State Series.A daughter of red hot sire Clubhouse Ride, out of the Grade I winning Affirmative mare Warren’s Veneda, Warren’s Showtime, who is trained by Craig Lewis, is a three-time stakes winner at one mile on turf, most recently taking the China Doll Stakes here on March 7.“It’s not my preference, but she’s been cooped-up so long and she’s just got to run,” said Lewis.  “She’s much better going two turns on grass, but that said, good horses do good things.”Been Studying Her, a KMN Racing homebred filly by Fast Anna, has been idle since well beaten as the 3-1 favorite by Warren’s Showtime in the one mile turf Cal Cup Oaks here Jan. 18 and will hope to rebound for trainer Art Sherman.A winner of two consecutive allowance sprints at Golden Gate Fields on March 5 & 27, Bulletproof One appears to be the speed of the field and will be seeking her sixth win (two of them in stakes) from 11 starts.  Owned by Gary and Cecil Barber, Eclipse Thoroughbreds, Wachtel Stable and partners, she’s trained by Peter Miller.GLATT SENDS TALENTED FILLY AGAINST BOYS IN ECHO EDDIEBorrowing a page from the D. Wayne Lukas trainer’s playbook, Mark Glatt will take on the boys with his talented filly Big Sweep in Saturday’s $150,000 Echo Eddie Stakes at six furlongs.Sponsored by the CTBA, the Echo Eddie is for Golden State Series eligible California-bred or sired three-year olds and has attracted a field of nine.“We nominated to both races (including the Evening Jewel) and to be honest, we looked at the noms for both of them and we just thought that maybe our best chance this time is against the boys,” said Glatt.  “She’s obviously very talented and hopefully, we chose the right option.”Breaking from the rail in her debut going six furlongs here March 14, Big Sweep blasted off and enjoyed a 4 ½ length advantage turning for home en route to a 2 ¼ length win as the even money favorite.Owned by Red Baron’s Barn, LLC and Rancho Temescal, Big Sweep earned an Echo Eddie best last out Beyer Speed figure of 83 and will retain the services of Flavien Prat on Saturday.  By Mr. Big our of the City Zip mare Misszippityslewda, Big Sweep sold for $40,000 at the Barretts Fall Yearling Sale in October, 2018.The Craig Lewis-trained Club Aspen, a one mile stakes winner versus Cal Breds three starts back, rates a big chance as he bids for his third win from 10 overall starts.  Owned by Larry Lewis, the 3-year-old gelding by Clubhouse Ride fetched $55,000 at the Fasig Tipton Santa Anita 2-year-olds in training sale last summer.ESPINOZA WORKING HARD FOR SANTA ANITA RETURNIt takes more than a global pandemic to keep Victor Espinoza from winning races, which he’s been doing since 1993, back when people mentioned “Corona,” they were talking about a Mexican beer.More than a quarter century later, the affable native of Mexico is still winning, and he doesn’t need to ride eight a day to keep fit.Scoring off a layoff is old hat for Espinoza, who celebrates his 48th birthday in 10 days, on May 23. When he piloted two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome to victory in the 2016 Dubai World Cup, saddle slipping all the way, it was Victor’s only mount that day.And less than a month ago, on April 18, in a masterful display of horsemanship, he guided Ce Ce to a dramatic head victory over Ollie’s Candy in the talent-laden Grade I Apple Blossom Stakes at Oaklawn Park. It was his first and only mount in nearly a month, since he rode four races at Santa Anita March 22, winning the second on Tiz Wonderfully.Espinoza will be back in the saddle Friday when Santa Anita resumes fans-free live racing for the first time since March 22. He is named to ride four horses on the nine-race card that drew a hefty 97 entrees and has a 12:30 p.m. first post time.“Victor has a home in Sierra Madre and one in Del Mar,” said his agent during a historic seven-year run, Brian Beach. “He works out locally when he’s at Santa Anita, but since it’s been closed during the pandemic, he’s been working at his Del Mar home where he has a gym set up.“His routine keeps him very fit. He’s very diligent about it and that’s good, because in this current situation, mounts have been few and far between, and I don’t imagine we’ll be riding the card when we resume racing, probably three or four horses a day at the most.”Espinoza has favored working out in the serene setting at Del Mar, “where it is quieter, and there aren’t many people on the streets. I probably run four or five miles and don’t have to worry about bumping into anybody.“I have pretty much all the workout equipment I need at my home. How much time I put in every day depends. I have a training program in place which includes weights and body-building exercises and if I’m feeling good, it could take me an hour; if I’m feeling tired, maybe two hours.”Like most of the hoi polloi, Espinoza has adjusted to the social restrictions set forth during the Wuhan virus.“The whole country is in the same situation, not just here,” he said. “All the changes we make are going to be for the best, because our safety and health are the top priorities. No one knows how long it will continue, so we have to implement all the precautions we can and go from there.”In the past, Espinoza has overcome considerably more than winning a race from right off the bench. He suffered career-threatening vertebra injuries in a training mishap at Del Mar on July 22, 2018, enduring pain, perseverance and puzzlement for seven months before he recovered and resumed riding on Feb. 18, 2019.That was then and this is now and Espinoza continues to soldier on, although his recent mounts can be counted on one hand.“He worked some horses at Santa Anita last weekend, and outside of Ce Ce in the Apple Blossom, that was the first time he left his little cocoon in a while,” Beach said. “He rode just one horse and it worked out well, but he showed winning the World Cup in 2016 he’s got a knack for that.”Beach presently has two stakes mounts pending for Espinoza on Santa Anita’s blockbuster card on June 6, featuring seven lucrative events highlighted by the Grade I, $400,000 Santa Anita Derby. “Right now,” he said, “we have Cistron lined up for John Sadler in the Grade II Triple Bend and Midcourt for John Shirreffs in the Grade I Gold Cup.”If there are more, Espinoza will welcome them. The “R” word is not high on his chore chart even as 48 approaches.His awards and achievements are milestones every rider would envy, foremost among them being the regular rider of California Chrome, gaining Hall of Fame membership in 2017 and sweeping the Triple Crown on American Pharoah in 2015.Maturity and appreciation are complementing partners that come with impervious aging, and Espinoza is cognizant of that.Passion for his vocation remains keen, although today’s “new normal” provided an unanticipated but welcome opportunity to smell the roses.“When I was 21, I was more focused on improving my career,” Espinoza said. “But now I appreciate each victory even more, in addition to all that I’ve accomplished.“You can talk about retirement and make all the plans in the world, but life changes. Every day is different, every race we ride is different.“Honestly, everyone thinks about it, because sooner or later all good things come to an end, no matter who it is.“But for me right now, no. I just go day by day.”FINISH LINES: Hard Not to Love, the one-eyed wonder filly that captured the Grade I La Brea Stakes and the Grade II Santa Monica Stakes both at seven furlongs, is likely to stretch out in the Grade II Santa Maria Stakes at a mile and one-sixteenth on May 31. “We’re still hoping with her pedigree (Hard Spun–Vindication) that she can do two turns,” trainer John Shirreffs said. ‘We want to avoid sprinting as much as possible.” Hard Not to Love was second to Ce Ce in the Grade I Beholder Mile on March 14. Ce Ce, trained to the minute by Michael McCarthy for owner/breeder Bo Hirsch, LLC, would go on to post a mild upset in the Grade I Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park April 18, with another Santa Anita-based runner, the five-year-old John Sadler-trained mare Ollie’s Candy, finishing a game head back in second . . . Steve Knapp, like all trainers looking forward to a return to racing, has three horses entered Friday with five more set for the weekend. Prior to a halt in the action, the 63-year-old native of Los Angeles ranked sixth in Santa Anita’s standings with 11 wins from 55 starters, 20 percent, “not bad for a 22-horse barn, most of it consisting of claimers and a few allowance horses,” he said. “But my owners and I are hoping to add some two-year-olds.”…First post time for Friday, Saturday and Sunday is 12:30 pm. GLATT FILLY TACKLES BOYS IN $150,000 ECHO EDDIE TO THIS VICTOR GOES THE SPOILS AT SANTA ANITA SHIRREFFS READY FOR DERBY WITH HONOR A.P.last_img