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Blackdoun aims for derby
INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Blackdoun, who finished seventh in the Breeders' Cup Mile after winning three stakes at Del Mar in the summer, is bound for the $500,000 Hollywood Derby on turf on Nov. 28.
Trainer Julio Canani said one concern is the derby distance of 1 1/4 miles, which is a furlong farther than Blackdoun ran in winning the Del Mar Derby on Sept. 6.
"I don't know how far he'll go," Canani said.
In the BC Mile, Blackdoun had trouble on the final turn. He closed from 13th to finish seventh, 4 1/4 lengths behind upset winner Singletary.
The Hollywood Derby candidates include Artie Schiller (who finished 12th as the favorite in the BC Mile), Hamairi, Imperialism, Laura's Lucky Boy, Salford City, and Whilly.
Whilly won his first stakes in Saturday's one-mile Bien Bien. Trained by Doug O'Neill, Whilly was unplaced in the Italian 2000 Guineas and Italian Derby earlier this year.
Hamairi won the Group 3 Concorde Stakes in Ireland last month.
Canani said that Special Ring, who finished 13th in the BC Mile, will start in the $400,000 Citation Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on turf on Nov. 27. The Citation has been promoted to a Grade 1 for the first time this year.
Ailing Stevens will ride sparingly
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens took off his two scheduled mounts at Hollywood Park on Sunday, citing illness, and said he plans to ride only sporadically until Christmas.
Stevens, 41, said he has been fighting the effects of the flu in recent weeks and was "achy all over." He cited an extensive year of travel, including a four-month span of riding in France, as having taken a toll.
"I've been working my tail off and I'm worn down," he said. "I need to get myself better. I'm going to back off a little bit."
Stevens's decision comes at a time when he has struggled for winners. In the first four days of the Hollywood meeting, he was winless with 12 mounts, but had five runner-up finishes.
"The first week has been a catastrophe as far as I'm concerned," he said.
At the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meet, Stevens tied for sixth in the standings with 12 winners, scoring with 18 percent of his mounts.
Stevens said he nearly called in sick on Saturday.
"I felt so horrible that I probably shouldn't have ridden," he said.
"I didn't think it was fair to ride" on Sunday, he said. "I don't feel it would have been fair to the horses I was going to ride. I'm achy all over. If I'm in the room reducing, I won't get over it."
Each year, several top jockeys in Southern California take vacations during the fall meeting at Hollywood. The circuit races year-round, and riders want to be prepared for the start of the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting on Dec. 26.
Stevens said he plans to ride the Autumn Turf Festival on Thanksgiving weekend, mentioning Laura's Lucky Boy in the $500,000 Hollywood Derby as a mount he is eager to ride.
Island Fashion points to Matriarch
Island Fashion, a six-time stakes winner who finished fifth in the Breeders' Cup Distaff on Oct. 30, is being pointed for the $500,000 Matriarch Stakes on Nov. 28.
The Grade 1 Matiarch is run at a mile on turf.
Trainer Marcelo Polanco said Island Fashion has resumed training at Santa Anita and will have a workout this week.
"The only way she wouldn't start is if it rained," he said. "She hates the off track."
A winner of 6 of 16 starts and $1,697,970, Island Fashion was beaten 4 3/4 lengths by Ashado in the Breeders' Cup Distaff after racing wide throughout.
Island Fashion has raced on dirt throughout this year, a season that includes wins in the Santa Monica and Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup handicaps and a second against males in the Samta Anita Handicap.
She was fourth in the 2003 Matriarch Stakes, losing by three-quarters of a length to Heat Haze.
The Matriarch field is expected to include Denebola, the runner-up in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret at seven furlongs in France on Oct. 9, and Musical Chimes, who won the Grade 2 Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile against males last month. Musical Chimes was a troubled sixth in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Lone Star Park.
The field will not include the Japanese 3-year-old filly Dance in the Mood, who finished second in the $750,000 American Oaks here in July. Track officials said she will remain in Japan.
Santiago departs for Puerto Rico
Jockey Javier Santiago has returned to his native Puerto Rico after growing increasingly frustrated at the lack of riding opportunities.
Santiago's final day was Saturday. He said he plans to ride in Puerto Rico beginning Thursday.
"I didn't have a lot of business and I need to make money," he said through an interpreter, fellow jockey G.F. Almeida.
Santiago had 87 wins in California this year. He was seventh in the standings at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting and sixth at Hollywood. His business dipped during Del Mar, where he had only 8 wins in 109 mounts.
Santiago's biggest win came aboard Wimbledon in the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds. He was later fired from that mount by trainer Bob Baffert.
"When I started, I started good, but the business went down fast," Santiago said.
Santiago was involved in the accident at Del Mar on July 23 in which jockey Alex Solis fractured a vertebra. He left for Puerto Rico in early September but returned to California for the Oak Tree meeting.
Santiago had two wins in the first four days of the current Hollywood meeting, including a win on Saturday aboard Finally Blonde ($24.20) in the second race.
Weekend stakes probables
The top races of the coming week are $85,000 races for statebreds at 7 1/2 furlongs on dirt - Saturday's On Trust Handicap and Sunday's Cat's Cradle Handicap for fillies and mares.
Areyoutalkintome, the winner of the California Cup Sprint, is a top contender for the On Trust. Other probable starters include Anziyan Royalty, Excess Summer, Grand Appointment, and Lava Man.
Lava Man and Anziyan Royalty were second and third behind Cozy Guy in the $250,000 California Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Oct. 16.
Cozy Guy is nominated for the On Trust, but is being pointed for the $50,000 Sunday Silence Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Friday. The Sunday Silence is restricted to 3-year-olds that have not won a first-place purse of $45,000 at a mile or longer this year. Cozy Guy is eligible because statebred races are excluded from that clause.
Trainer Dan Hendricks said the distance of the Sunday Silence is the major factor in choosing that race for Cozy Guy.
"I don't want to back him up to one turn," Hendricks said.