Juan Hernandez looks to continue stakes success in the GIII Astra

January 21, 2022

Juan Hernandez Named Jockey Of The Week

Two weekend stakes victories at Santa Anita earned Juan Hernandez national honors as Jockey of the Week.

The award is voted on by a panel of racing experts for riders who are members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 1,050 active, retired and permanently disabled jockeys in the United States.

Last Saturday, Hernandez rode Brickyard Ride for trainer Craig Lewis in the Don Valpredo California Cup Sprint, one of five Cal-bred stakes on Cal Cup Day. Hernandez put Brickyard Ride’s speed to good use from post position three, led virtually wire-to-wire and drew away in upper stretch for an impressive 1 3/4-length win in 1:09.54 for six furlongs.

Monday’s holiday card featured the Grade III Astra Stakes with Hernandez riding odds-on favorite Neige Blanche for trainer Leonard Powell. Neige Blanche was bottled up on the rail with her four rivals in front of her, but when a seam opened, Hernandez called on the French-bred mare and she overtook Disappearing Act to win the one and one-half mile test in 2:32.27 as the 3-10 favorite. 

Weekly statistics for Hernandez were 17-5-2-3 and total purse earnings of $338,560. Represented by agent Craig O’Bryan, Hernandez ranks third in Santa Anita’s standings with 13 wins and just over $1 million in purse earnings.

$3 MILLION PEGASUS TOPS HUGE BICOASTAL DAY SATURDAY, JAN. 29

With the Grade I, $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational leading the way, fans will be treated to a huge day of bicoastal racing at both Gulfstream Park in South Florida and here at Santa Anita on Saturday, Jan. 29, as a total of 10 graded stakes will be offered between the two venues with first live race post time for a nine-race program at Santa Anita set for 12:30 p.m.

Santa Anita will offer fans and horsemen three graded stakes, with the Grade II, $200,000 San Vicente getting top billing.  A longtime prep for the Santa Anita and Kentucky Derbies, the San Vicente, for three-year-olds at seven furlongs, has attracted 15 nominations, with a trio of Bob Baffert trainees, Doppelganger, McLaren Vale and Messier all possible. 

An iconic sprint stakes dating back to 1951, the Grade III, $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes, for older horses at six furlongs, closed Thursday with nine nominations, with Baffert’s comebacking Cezanne, Mark Glatt’s Grade I stakes winning Collusion Illusion, Vladimir Cerin’s Arham and Peter Eurton’s Dark Vadar all prominent. 

The Grade III, $100,000 Megahertz Stakes, for older fillies and mares at one mile on turf, will complete Santa Anita’s trifecta of graded offerings on Jan. 29 and has 21 nominees, with Tim Yakteen’s defending champ Mucho Unusual and Simon Callaghan’s multiple graded stakes winning Madone listed as probable. 

Along with the Grade I, $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational, for older horses at a mile and one eighth, Gulfstream will also play host to the Grade I, $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational, for older horses at a mile and one eighth.

Five additional Gulfstream stakes will be offered:  The Grade III, $500,000 Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf, for older distaffers at a mile and one sixteenth; the Grade II, $200,000 Inside Information, for older fillies and mares at seven furlongs; the Grade III, $200,000 William L. McKnight, for older horses at a mile and one half on turf; the Grade III, $150,000 La Prevoyante, for older fillies and mares at a mile and one half of turf, and the Grade III, $150,000 Fred W. Hooper, for older horses at one mile.

Entries will be taken for Santa Anita’s races on Saturday, Jan. 29 this coming Wednesday, Jan. 26.  Entries for Pegasus World Cup Invitational Day at Gulfstream will be taken at Gulfstream this Tuesday, Jan. 25.

For additional information on Pegasus World Cup Day at Santa Anita, including the California Wine Festival at Santa Anita, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.

 Mike Willman

ANDERSON PROVIDES ECLIPSE INSIGHT ON BOTH ROSARIO AND KNICKS GO

Bet on this: there are at least two sure things when the 2021 Eclipse Award winners are announced at the 51st annual dinner Feb. 10 at Santa Anita: Joel Rosario will be named top jockey and Knicks Go will be named Horse of the Year.

Take it from Ron Anderson, agent for Rosario, the regular rider of Knicks Go, who is set to make his 2022 debut in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park a week from tomorrow on Jan. 29.

“I don’t know how they could deny Joel,” said Anderson, who has been his agent since 2012 and who also represents Hall of Fame veteran John Velazquez. “Joel led the country in graded stakes wins and purse earnings, and he would have broken the records if he hadn’t missed time due to injuries, but he had an outstanding year and it’s justified that he wins.”

Rosario was aboard Knicks Go in his last four races, winning wire-to-wire as is his wont, including the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar last Nov. 6.

“He was riding at Keeneland last Fall,” Anderson recalled, explaining how Joel got the mount, “and Brad (trainer Brad Cox) needed a rider for Knicks Go in an allowance race. Joel rode him and the horse ran freaky.

“It just so happened the Breeders’ Cup was at Keeneland in 2020 and we rode him back and won the (Dirt) Mile. There’s no big story to it. I just was riding at Keeneland on the right day, and ended up on Knicks Go who’s an awfully unique horse.

“You can’t run with him, or you’re going to come out feet first, and if you let him go, he’s probably one of the very, very best horses around the turns that I’ve ever seen.

“He seems to run around the turn as fast as he does around the straight. He would have been a crazy bull ring horse back in the day when we had bull rings. When he gets to the three-eighths pole he just takes off, and he runs the turns so well that many can’t catch him. If they try and catch up, they spend their energy trying to get within range and then he just takes off again.

“From 1984 to 2021, I’ve won 38 Breeders’ Cup races as an agent, my point being I’ve been around a lot of really good horses, a lot of good three-year-olds and won 15 Triple Crown races but Knicks Go is maybe as unique horse as I’ve ever seen.

“He’s going to make the lead, so it will be interesting to see what happens (against Life Is Good in the Pegasus), because basically it’s going to be a match race.”

In his most recent race, likely Pegasus starter Life Is Good won the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile wire-to-wire by 5 ¾ lengths on Nov. 6.

“There will be others in the race but it comes down to Life Is Good and Knicks Go,” Anderson said. “Good luck to Life Is Good, but he’s not going to be in front of my horse; there’s just no way.

“He’s not only fast, but more important, he’s quick on his feet. It doesn’t take him but three or four strides to be gone. When they leave the gate, he’s going to be in front, and they’re going to have to try and get him at some point.

“It’s happened far more than once. He leaves there in front, he’s a length or two further in front at the first turn, then it seems they try and catch up going into the turn, and just about that time he takes off again.

“He’s a very unique animal and he’s been very good to us.”

FINISH LINES

Veteran jockey agent Vince DeGregory is now representing apprentice Tanner Fincher and veteran jockey Chris Emigh will now be repped by George Bradvica. 

Simulcast host Tom Quigley will have Santa Anita VIP host Jeff Chapman as his guest handicapper on Saturday, 11:20 a.m. in the East Paddock Gardens.

Apprentice jockey Diego Herrera will be a featured guest on Dave Johnson and Bill Finley’s Down the Stretch radio show Saturday, which airs Saturday’s at 9 a.m. PT on Sirius XM Satellite Radio There were 120 recorded workouts this morning, 23 on the training track…Fans are reminded that all of Santa Anita’s races continue to be offered free of charge via live streaming at santaanita.com

Santa Anita Stable Notes (edited)

Photo : Benoit Photo

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