12/20/2010 6:55PM

Never too early to take a flyer at 150-1


Assignment-free on the first day back from vacation, I was only trying to get my feet wet Monday morning at Santa Anita. It was not difficult considering the California rainstorm that just won’t quit.

But the next Southern California edition of Daily Racing Form is not until Dec. 26 and some stuff just can’t wait. Stuff like this…

# Clubhouse Ride was not on the short list of 2011 Santa Anita Derby prospects before the Hollywood Futurity Dec. 18, but he certainly was after the race. Bumped and checked into the first turn, keen and hard-held, shuffled back, and dead last with five-sixteenths to go, he rallied to finish third.

Trainer Craig Lewis has a good one. So do Kentucky Derby futures bettors who took a piece of Clubhouse Ride at 150-1. Tentative plans call for two starts this winter at Santa Anita before the Run for the Roses. With already $190,000 in graded earnings, Lewis and Clubhouse Ride have room to wiggle.

# Rafael Bejarano rode Malibu Pier to three wins from four starts, including a highly rated allowance Nov. 21 at Hollywood Park. But when graded stakes winner Always a Princess, previously ridden by Martin Garcia, came open for the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes on Dec. 26, Bejarano jumped over. No matter for Malibu Pier, whose replacement rider is Garrett Gomez.

# Joel Rosario could have ridden Sidney’s Candy or Sebastian Flyte in the Grade 2 Sir Beaufort Stakes on Dec. 26. No one will second-guess the decision to ride Sidney’s Candy in the mile turf race. No matter for Sebastian Flyte, whose replacement is Julien Leparoux. Leparoux also rides Noble’s Promise on Dec. 26 in the Grade 1 Malibu.

# Temple City could have been a good one. How good? No one will know. A late-developing 5-year-old by Dynaformer, Temple City was retired after missing by a head Nov. 13 in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup. Trainer Carla Gaines hopes he stamps his offspring. “He was beautiful, with almost perfect conformation.”

# Breeders’ Cup Turf runner-up Champ Pegasus is on target for the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes on Jan. 14, and later this winter could face a worthy shipper in the winter turf series. Steve Asmussen-trained Grade 2 winner Expansion, third in two Grade 1 races last summer in New York, has arrived in California and is aiming for the Grade 2 San Gabriel on Dec. 27.

# Speaking of Asmussen, he and assistant Scott Blasi have 30 horses stabled at Santa Anita. Most are 2-year-olds turning 3, including Grade 3 winner Astrology and runaway maiden winner Tapizar. The Asmussen string also includes unraced Albergatti, an Unbridled’s Song colt out of 5-for-7 stakes winner My Miss Storm Cat, and Wilburn, a Bernardini colt who is a half-brother to Grade 2 winner Beethoven.

# Santa Anita track president George Haines was asked Monday about the welcome return to a traditional dirt surface for the upcoming winter meet. Haines’s comment: “It’s like going back to Classic Coke.”