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Lobo making the move east
ARCADIA, Calif. - Paulo Lobo, who trained the champion Farda Amiga earlier in this decade, is moving his stable from California to New York later this month, he said this week.
Lobo, 40, said he will move 25 horses from his current base at Hollywood Park to Belmont Park in the last week of April.
"I was thinking about this for a while," he said. "I don't have anything against California. It was a decision for me and my owners. Almost all of my owners would like to do this.
"I've been very lucky here. It's time for a change."
The loss of Lobo's stable is a blow to Southern California racing, which is facing a shortage of race-ready horses. In recent weeks, trainers Mark Casse, Christophe Clement, Graham Motion, and Todd Pletcher removed divisions of their stables from Santa Anita after spending the winter here. In addition, locally based trainers Vladimir Cerin, Bobby Frankel, and Bob Hess Jr. moved part of their stables to other circuits.
Lobo said he will have about four more starters in California before leaving, and that some of his clients have chosen to leave their horses in the state with other trainers.
A native of Brazil, where he trained a successful stable, Lobo came to the United States in 2001. He won the 2002 Kentucky Oaks with Farda Amiga, who was later named the champion 3-year-old filly that season. During that campaign, Farda Amiga won the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga and was second to eventual Horse of the Year Azeri in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Arlington Park.
More recently, Lobo has trained Pico Central, the winner of two Grade 1 sprint stakes in 2004; Molengao, the winner of the 2007 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap; and Gayego, the winner of the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby last year.
Gayego was later sold to race in the Middle East, and was second in the Godolphin Mile in Dubai on March 28 for the Maktoum family's Godolphin Racing.
This year, Lobo's stable has struggled at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting. Through Sunday, he was winless with 23 starters, but did win a maiden race with Smart Tiffany at Golden Gate Fields on April 3.
Among the horses going to New York is the promising Runforthedoe, who was second in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap on April 4.
Frankel out to boost stakes tally
Frankel leads all trainers at the winter-spring meeting with eight stakes wins, and has an excellent chance to add to that list this weekend with a pair of turf marathoners.
Toque de Queda will be making her 2009 debut in Saturday's $200,000 Santa Barbara Handicap for fillies and mares, while Midships starts in Sunday's $200,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap, the closing-day feature.
Toque de Queda ran twice in North America last summer and fall, finishing third in the Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park in August and fifth in the E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine in October. In France, she won allowance races in 2007 and 2008 and placed in two stakes.
"I think she's a special filly, the way she trains," said Frankel's assistant, Humberto Ascanio. "It's fun to see how she trains. She does everything really nicely."
Toque de Queda will face a strong field in the Grade 2 Santa Barbara at 1 1/4 miles on turf, including the first two finishers in 2008 - Foxysox and Black Mamba. Other probable starters are Ainamaa, Bel Air Sizzle, Magical Fantasy, Persian Express, and Step Softly.
Midships is already proven at this meeting, having won the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on turf on March 21. The San Juan Capistrano, at about 1 3/4 miles on turf, will be the longest start of his career.
The field includes defending champion Big Booster as well as Church Service and Spring House.
Witty looking stakes-quality
Witty, a 3-year-old filly trained by Richard Mandella, was already something special before she won her debut on March 4. She is a half-sister to Well Armed, who at the time was a three-time graded stakes winner and a millionaire.
Everything has gone right for those two since. Well Armed won the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 28. Witty won her second start in an allowance race on Sunday.
Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Witty took the lead at the start and pulled away to win by 3 1/4 lengths, finishing six furlongs in 1:08.56. She will make her next start in the $100,000 Railbird Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs at Hollywood Park on May 10, Mandella said.
"That's the next step," Mandella said. "She's shown she's talented."
Witty, by Distorted Humor, is owned by Ramona Bass, Adele Dilschneider, and Claiborne Farms, and was bought for $400,000 as a yearling.
"I thought she ran well the first time," Mandella said. "Of our young horses, she was the smartest of the bunch and showed some ability."
Desert Code in San Simeon
Desert Code, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint last fall, has resumed training after being briefly sidelined by an abscess in a foot, and will be entered for Saturday's $100,000 San Simeon Handicap.
The abscess was detected after Desert Code finished last of seven in the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap at a mile on turf here April 4. Trainer David Hofmans said that Desert Code's participation in the Grade 3 San Simeon is contingent on a turf workout Wednesday.
The San Simeon is run on the hillside turf course. Prussian, the winner of the Grade 3 Summer Stakes at Woodbine in 2007, is an expected starter. He won an optional claimer on the hillside turf course on April 1, his first start since September and first for trainer Mike Mitchell.
Owners to hold clinics Saturday
The Thoroughbred Owners of California will host conformation clinics at Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita on Saturday.
Trainers from both circuits will be on hand to discuss conformation pertaining to soundness and performance.
The Santa Anita seminar will be held at Clockers' Corner. The Golden Gate seminar will be held in the track's owner-trainer lounge. Both seminars begin at 10 a.m.
The event is free, but participants are urged to make a reservation through the TOC office at (800) 994-9909.