Coach John Shirreffs seeks initially Santa Anita Handicap gain Baffert suspension upheld

Trainer John Shirreffs has attained a lot in additional than four a long time in the business enterprise. He gained the Kentucky Derby in 2005 with 50-1 extended shot Giacomo. He won the Breeders’ Cup Typical with potentially the greatest woman horse of all-time when Zenyatta conquer the boys in 2009. He’s taken the Santa Anita Derby a few occasions.

But, there is a single point the 76-12 months-outdated Vietnam veteran has under no circumstances received — the Santa Anita Handicap. He hopes to improve that Saturday when he can take the 8-5 preferred Convey Coach to write-up in the Quality 1 $650,000 race.

The Santa Anita Handicap, far better know by its nickname the Large ‘Cap, is 1 of 6 graded stakes well worth $2.45 million on just one of Santa Anita’s 3 greatest race days of its six-thirty day period year. Also on the card is the Grade 2 $400,000 San Felipe Stakes for 3-calendar year-olds. It’s basically a acquire-and-you are-in Kentucky Derby prep race for all people except trainer Bob Baffert … for now.

The 6-time Kentucky Derby winner is going through a 90-day suspension by the Kentucky Horse Racing Fee for a positive drug examination on previous year’s now disqualified Derby winner Medina Spirit. On Friday, the racing commission voted to not grant a stay of the suspension pending an appeal. A stay is just about normally granted on appeal earning this a remarkably unusual shift.

Baffert and the racing fee will go to court docket on March 17 prior to a District Court decide to see if a continue to be will be granted. As for the good, Baffert’s attorneys have contended that the guidelines do not include betamethasone, a authorized anti-inflammatory but not on race working day, when administered by ointment rather than injection. Churchill Downs has suspended Baffert from its tracks and barred him from attaining any Kentucky Derby qualifying points. Baffert has filed match in opposition to Churchill Downs.

If Baffert is suspended by Kentucky, it would be honored by California and all other states with racing.

“It’s pointless to discuss about that,” Baffert explained about not currently being in a position to obtain Derby qualifying points on Saturday. “Right now, we’re seeking to see what we have. Are they excellent sufficient? … I don’t like to get ahead of myself, just go week-to-7 days, working day-to-day. Things could change substantially. You just go with the hand you are dealt.”

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The Significant ‘Cap is a 1¼-mile race, where every horse is assigned a various fat to have to try and even out the field. The superior the horse, the additional weight. Convey Practice carries the higher body weight of 124 lbs and it drops down to Soy Tapatio, the longest shot in the 8-horse discipline at 20-1, who carries 116 pounds.

With the advent of off-keep track of betting, particularly on your cellular phone or laptop computer, crowds on race day have been on the decrease. More than 85,000 folks attended the 1985 Huge ‘Cap, but right now a group of additional than 20,000 is regarded as great. A lot more dollars is getting bet now, on the other hand, just not on keep track of.

“I don’t forget when I was performing for [trainer] Gene Cleveland and I went over to the apron around the grandstand for the Big ‘Cap,” Shirreffs said. “I could not see something mainly because there were so many people. I did not know when the horses have been coming into the stretch apart from by the wall of noise which would get nearer and closer. At the Santa Anita Handicap, the environment is electric powered and there is so substantially fantastic tradition behind it. How a lot of moments did it choose Seabiscuit prior to he gained it?”

The response is a few.

Specific Teach, a $500,000 obtain as a yearling, is the favorite by advantage of a convincing acquire in his previous race, the San Pasqual at Santa Anita. On opening working day of this assembly, he gained the San Antonio Stakes, beating group favorite Incredibly hot Rod Charlie. In 16 lifetime races, the 5-calendar year-old has received six, finished second 4 occasions and 3rd three periods.

“Express Prepare is a actually wonderful equine specimen,” Shirreffs claimed. “Obviously, he has a large amount of talent. He’s what you hope for in a race horse. He’s fiery, excitable and can barely incorporate himself, all of the great traits you search for.”

Shirreffs has one particular of the scaled-down stables at Santa Anita and doesn’t start many horses, but feels a particular bond with these he does.

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“The horses have definitely been the thing that have created my vocation so thrilling,” Shirreffs mentioned. “Being included has transformed my attitude in everyday living. There aren’t a ton of people today who get to sit on a single and handle a person.”

Shirreffs, who can frequently be discovered atop a horse main his trainees to the observe, remembers getting all around 12 a long time previous when he initially obtained on a horse.

“His identify was Pedro and as before long as I sat on this horse, I could sense his coronary heart beating. You felt a portion of him.”

Trainer John Shirreffs is congratulated after Zenyatta received the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Basic at Santa Anita Park.

(Mark J. Terrill / Linked Press)

Shirreffs, together with six horses, three other trainers and 1 jockey, is on the nomination record for this year’s racing Corridor of Fame. Winners have to be named on 50% of the ballots from the voting members. Other Southern California human nominees involve coach Doug O’Neill and jockey Corey Nakatani. The effects will be introduced May well 11.

Baffert is already in the Hall of Fame and has two horses entered in the 6-horse San Felipe — Doppelganger (9-5) and Armagnac (5-1), who are the next and third favorites guiding Richard Mandella’s Forbidden Kingdom (8-5).

“Forbidden Kingdom is the speediest and fastest horse in the race,” Baffert said. “He’s incredibly speedy simply because he’s by American Pharoah, which I consider is a fantastic factor. American Pharoah is continue to my most loved horse.”

Baffert educated American Pharoah to the Triple Crown in 2015.

Forbidden Kingdom gained the 7-furlong San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 29. Pinehurst, who just received the Saudi Derby, was next and Doppelganger finished third. The 1 1/16-mile San Felipe will be the farthest these two horses have operate. Armagnac broke his maiden in his very last race at this length.

The other graded stakes on the 11-race card are the Grade 2 San Carlos for older horses heading 7 furlongs, the Grade 2 Buena Vista for older filles and mares likely a mile on the turf, the Grade 1 Beholder Mile for older filles and mares and the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile for older horses functioning on the turf. 1st submit is midday.

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