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No San Felipe for Point of Impact
ARCADIA, Calif. - For trainer Bob Baffert, three is not a crowd. Four maybe, but not three.
After watching his 3-year-olds Bob and John, Point Determined, Point of Impact, and Sky Diving work on Wednesday morning at Santa Anita, Baffert decided that three of those colts, but not all four, would run on Saturday in the Grade 2, $250,000 San Felipe Stakes.
Point of Impact, with only three starts the least experienced of the four, is the odd colt out. He, like Point Determined, is owned by Beverly Lewis and the estate of Bob Lewis.
"They already have one in there," Baffert said. "He's such a big son of a gun. I might go out of town with him."
Baffert has a strong hand in the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe, which was expected to have a field of eight when entries were taken Thursday morning. Bob and John has won his last two starts, including the Sham Stakes, and is the probable favorite. Point Determined has won twice in four starts, including an allowance race at Golden Gate last month. Sky Diving was second in the Turf Paradise Derby in his last start.
Baffert did juggle riders. He said Garrett Gomez would ride Point Determined, not David Flores as originally planned. Flores instead will ride Sky Diving.
Bob and John was the first horse to work following the 9 a.m. renovation break. With his regular rider, Victor Espinoza, on board, Bob and John effortlessly polished off a half-mile in 48.60 seconds.
Sky Diving, working in company, drilled a half-mile in 47.40 seconds. Earlier in the morning, Gomez was aboard Point Determined when he worked a half-mile in 47.80 seconds.
The massive Point of Impact, a spitting image of his sire, Point Given, worked five furlongs in 1:00.60.
"If I don't do something like that," Baffert said after working several other horses in his barn, "I don't feel like I'm training."
Another San Felipe contender, New Joysey Jeff, worked a half-mile in 49.80 seconds for trainer Mark Glatt.
Others expected for the San Felipe are Racketeer, Refinery, and Simon Pure.
Oft-injured Steiner retires
Joe Steiner, the personable jockey who has been hampered by injuries in recent years, told the Santa Anita publicity department he was retiring. Steiner, 41, has not ridden since being injured in an accident last April at Santa Anita.
"I had a herniated disc and bone spurs in my left shoulder area, and I needed a plate and six screws before it was fused together," Steiner said. "Doctors advised me to retire. If I was 20, I wouldn't care what the doctors said. But I'm 41, so I'm not going to leave in a wheelchair."
Steiner won 967 races, and his mounts earned $15,232,139. He rode for much of his career in Washington state, where he was born. He was the top apprentice rider in Southern California in the early 1980's, when he teamed with his mentor, Johnny Longden, who had turned to training after retiring from riding. The best horse Longden and Steiner worked with was Kangroo Court.
Wait worth it for Gunslick, Van Berg
It took until March of his 6-year-old year to finally make it to the races, but Gunslick made up for lost time by winning his debut at that advanced age last weekend. And he did it stylishly, rallying boldly after a slow start to win by 4 1/2 lengths in sharp time against maiden claimers. He paid $37.40.
"I just gave him plenty of time to develop," his trainer, Jack Van Berg, deadpanned. Van Berg bought Gunslick, a son of Wild Rush, as a 2-year-old in training for $27,000.
"After I bought him, he bowed a tendon," Van Berg said. "I brought him back a couple of times, because he had so much talent, but I couldn't get him back. I was going to keep him as a saddle horse."
Van Berg said he gave it one last go-around after Dr. Herb Warren performed a tendon-splitting procedure on Gunslick's left front leg. This time, Gunslick made it to the races.
"He had so much talent," Van Berg said. "Other than the tendon, he hasn't had a pimple on him. He's such a nice horse, so smart. We gelded him when he was 2. He was an ornery little devil. Not mean, just full of himself."
Argentina set for U.S. debut
Argentina, one of the top fillies in France last year, is entered to make her United States debut in Friday's first race, a second-level allowance at 1 1/4 miles on turf. Argentina, 4, was second in a pair of Group 1 races last year, including the French Oaks against the highly regarded Divine Proportions.
Argentina is now trained by Bobby Frankel, who also entered Grand Opening in the first race. Both are owned by Daniel Wildenstein, so it is possible one could scratch.
* Aragorn, who was second in the Kilroe Mile earlier this month, looked sensational breezing a half-mile in 48.60 seconds on the Santa Anita turf course on Wednesday morning for trainer Neil Drysdale. He said Aragorn would likely make his next start in the Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland on April 14.
* McCann's Mojave, trained by Paddy Gallagher, worked five furlongs on turf in 1:01.40 in preparation for the $100,000 Crystal Water Handicap on Sunday.
* Star Parade, who was scratched from the Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap on Saturday because of an off track, worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 on Santa Anita's training track for trainer Darrell Vienna. Star Parade is expected to make her next start in the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 8.
* Another mare who was scratched from the Santa Margarita, and who also could turn up next in the Apple Blossom, is Hollywood Story, who worked five furlongs in 1:00 at Hollywood Park for trainer John Shirreffs.
* Flores has been suspended for five days, beginning next Wednesday, for crossing over and causing interference shortly after the start of Sunday's fifth race. His mount, Budget Surplus, finished third but was disqualified and placed last.
* Trainer Craig Lewis has been fined $2,000 as the result of two of his horses testing positive for the anti-inflammatory ibuprofen in races at last fall's Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita.
* Going into Wednesday's card, Espinoza was just three victories away from 2,000 for his career.