12/20/2010 12:14AM

Garcia unlikely to ride opening day


Jockey Martin Garcia, who has not ridden since November 7 because of visa problems, remains in Mexico and is unlikely to return to California from his native Mexico in time for opening day on Dec. 26 at Santa Anita.

As of Sunday, it was unclear how long Garcia would be away from California.

“We have no idea,” according to his agent, Jim Pegram. “I’m just waiting for him to get back here.”

Regarding a return for Dec. 26, Pegram was highly skeptical. “It’s going to have to happen in the next couple of days,” he said. “Right now, it doesn’t appear so.”

Garcia, 26, had a career-best year in 2010 despite his recent absence. His mounts have earned $10,151,584, an improvement over his previous best season of $6.07 million in 2006.

Garcia was closely allied with Baffert throughout the year, riding Lookin At Lucky to wins in the Preakness Stakes (Garcia’s first classic win), Grade 1 Haskell Invitational, and Grade 2 Indiana Derby.

* The board of stewards for the upcoming Santa Anita meeting will be the same crew that officiated on the Southern California circuit throughout 2010 – Scott Chaney, Kim Sawyer, and Tom Ward.

Luis Jauregui will serve as the safety steward, keeping a presence on the backstretch during the mornings and serving as an alternate when one of the other stewards is absent.

*Trainer Eric Kruljac has been fined $500 after La Nez tested in excess of the permitted level of the analgesic phenylbutazone following a victory in the $100,000 California Cup Distaff at Hollywood Park on Oct. 30.

The ruling does not affect the order of finish or require a purse redistribution.