04/19/2011 2:17PM

Hollywood Park: Garcia mending, due to ride Thursday

Benoit & Associates
Juniper Pass, with Rafael Bejarano riding, wins the San Juan Capistrano.

Jockey Martin Garcia, who was involved in a one-horse spill in Sunday’s third race at Santa Anita, is expected to ride Thursday’s opening day of the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting, his agent, Jim Pegram, said on Tuesday.

Garcia was aboard Tokubetsu when the 3-year-old broke down while leading a sprint for maidens. Garcia was not hospitalized – he was examined in first aid and cleared – and did not ride the remainder of his mounts on Sunday. The 26-year-old rider took off Monday and Tuesday morning and did not ride workouts, Pegram said.

“He’s just very body-sore,” Pegram said. “He’s home. He’s taking a couple of days off and trying to recuperate.”

Garcia has four mounts on Thursday’s eight-race program, and Pegram said the jockey plans to return that day. Garcia’s mounts include Sinai in the $70,000 Harry Henson Stakes for trainer Bob Baffert.

Garcia is riding the California Gold Rush program for statebreds at Hollywood Park on Saturday, and will not travel to Keeneland, Pegram said. Last weekend, Garcia was expected to ride the Baffert-trained Jaycito in the Lexington Stakes, but Pegram said those plans have changed.

Baffert said on Tuesday that he will “make the call” on Wednesday regarding Jaycito’s participation in the Lexington Stakes. Jaycito missed the Santa Anita Derby on April 9 because of an abscess in a foot.

Baffert on top

Baffert won his first Santa Anita training title in eight years in the winter-spring meeting that ended on Sunday, but admitted that his stable’s results of the meeting were “insane” at times.

Baffert, 58, won a record ninth training title at the winter-spring meeting, surpassing the eight titles that Farrell Jones amassed in the 1960s and 1970s. Baffert finished with 44 wins, eight more than defending champion John Sadler. The meeting was not without its setback, notably the death of the promising Tokubetsu on Sunday.

Baffert has never won a training title at a Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting, but has won two autumn titles at Hollywood – 1999 and 2001. With his stable being divided in coming weeks between Churchill Downs and Santa Anita, Baffert may have trouble maintaining his position at the top of the standings.

“I’ll keep on with horses getting ready to run,” he said on Sunday.

The 44-win total exceeded expectations, helped by numerous maiden-race and allowance-class winners. “I thought we’d do okay, but not like that,” he said. “The first 20 days were insane. We had the horses spotted right.”

From Dec. 26 to Jan. 15, Baffert won with 15 of his first 35 starters of the meeting. He credited assistants Jimmy Barnes (Santa Anita) and Mike Marlow (Hollywood Park) for the success.

For Saturday’s Gold Rush, Baffert’s runners include Queenie Marini in the $125,000 Melair Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over 1 1/16 miles. Queenie Marini is owned by Arnold Zetcher, who owns Midnight Interlude, the winner of the Santa Anita Derby for Baffert and an expected starter in the Kentucky Derby on May 7.

Juniper Pass may try Jim Murray

Juniper Pass, the winner of the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano Handicap over about 1 3/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita on Sunday, could return to racing as soon as the $150,000 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park on May 14, trainer Ray Bell said on Tuesday.

Bell said that an evaluation of Juniper Pass’s enthusiasm in coming weeks would determine whether the 4-year-old would start in the Murray, over 1 1/2 miles on turf, or be rested for a race later at the Hollywood Park meeting.

“We’ll let him tell us when he’s ready,” Bell said. “Sometimes with these horses, they jump out of their hides after a week or 10 days, and you’re kind of compelled to put them back into vigorous training.

“We haven’t had him back to the track. All signs look good for his overall soundness and condition.”

Owned by Robert and Betty Irvin, Juniper Pass won two stakes at the Santa Anita meeting, the first of which was the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Stakes over 1 1/2 miles on a sloppy main track on March 19.

As a result, Bell has the Breeders’ Cup Marathon on the main track at Churchill Downs in November as a long-term goal.

“We have to be realistic about the sort of horses he beat, but he does seem to be improving with every start,” Bell said. “If he’s going to compete in the major races over a distance in the fall, we’ll need to give him a holiday in between. Maybe we can compete in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon this fall. Winning on the slop opened up another door for him.”

◗ Trainer A.C. Avila was fined $500 by Santa Anita stewards earlier this month after Subpoena the Dress, the winner of the first race at Santa Anita on Feb. 13, tested in excess of the permitted level of the analgesic bute.

Subpoena the Dress won a $12,500 claimer on Feb. 13, and was later second in an allowance race on March 17.