03/04/2011 3:40PM

San Felipe at Santa Anita to pose class test for Albergatti


ARCADIA, Calif. – Albergatti will make his stakes debut in the $250,000 San Felipe Stakes over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita next Saturday, a key prep to the $1 million Santa Anita Derby next month.

For Albergatti, who is trained by Steve Asmussen for Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stable and Natrona Racing, the Grade 2 San Felipe will be the gray colt’s first start around two turns and first start against winners.

It’s time to test Albergatti, according to jockey Garrett Gomez, who rode Albergatti in his two starts. He is optimistic that the brilliance shown in recent starts will transfer to longer races.

“The main objective is to make sure he can get the two turns,” Gomez said. “He’s got a great mind to him and he’s willing to listen. But you don’t know it until they do it.”

Albergatti was well regarded before his debut. He was second, beaten three-quarters of a length, in a maiden race on Jan. 16 as a 6-5 shot, and rebounded to lead throughout a seven-furlong maiden race on Feb. 12, winning by 1 1/2 lengths as the 1-2 favorite.

“He’s a very talented horse,” Gomez said. “He’s still learning. A lot of times with horses that are so talented, it’s hard to put them under enough pressure because they do it so easy. It’s hard to get them screwed down. After the first race, he learned a little bit.”

The San Felipe will be a strong race. The top candidates include Jaycito, who won the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes at Hollywood Park in October, and Comma to the Top, who won the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park in December but was fourth in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields last month.

Other probable starters are the stakes winners Bench Points, who won two sprint stakes for statebreds at Del Mar last summer, and Premier Pegasus, who won the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue Stakes in November. The stakes-placed runners Awesome Patriot, Jakesam, Riveting Reason, and Surrey Star are expected to be in the field along with the sharp maiden race winner Runflatout.

The race will not include Mr. Commons, the winner of an allowance race on Feb. 26. Trainer John Shirreffs said the allowance race and the San Felipe are too close together and that Mr. Commons will be pointed for the Santa Anita Derby on April 9.

Matto Mondo tries to get going again

Almost 25 months have passed since Matto Mondo won a race, a streak that could end in Sunday’s $75,000 Santana Mile on the main track.

A 7-year-old gelding trained by Richard Mandella, Matto Mondo was injured after a third in the Santa Anita Handicap in 2009, and returned to racing last month, finishing fifth in an allowance race on the hillside turf course. It was the second poor performance on the hillside for Matto Mondo.

“It took me a second time to realize he doesn’t like the hill,” Mandella said.

Since then, Matto Mondo has worked quickly, including five furlongs in 59 seconds on Tuesday. The works have left Mandella optimistic that Matto Mondo can be a factor in the Santana Mile, which also features the comeback from injury of Misremembered, the winner of the 2010 Santa Anita Handicap.

“I think he’ll be up to a good race,” Mandella said. “He’s had really nice works. We’re just hoping to get him back in good shape again.”

Alesia, owner, dies at 67

Frank Alesia, a retired television actor and director who bred and owned a stable of racehorses in Southern California, died of a heart attack on Feb. 27, according to his trainer Peter Eurton.

Alesia, a native of Chicago, was 67. He was living in Carlsbad, Calif., near Del Mar, at the time of his death.

As a racehorse owner, Alesia often raced in partnerships and campaigned such horses as Bran Jammas, the winner of the Solana Beach Handicap at Del Mar last August; She’s Cheeky, who was third in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap in 2009; Masterpiece, who won the 2007 Brubaker Handicap at Del Mar; and Cee Dreams, the winner of the 2001 California Cup Matron.

“He helped California racing so much by pushing me to always get horses,” Eurton said.

As an actor, Alesia appeared in the film “Beach Blanket Bingo,” “Bikini Beach” and “Pajama Party,” and later in television programs such as “Bewitched,” “That Girl,” “Room 222,” “The Odd Couple,” and “Laverne and Shirley”. He was a writer on “Laverne and Shirley” and directed three episodes. He also directed the children’s program “Captain Kangaroo” and was nominated for a daytime Emmy in 1979 for his work on that program.

“He was retired from that life and horses were his passion,” his advisor, Howard Grossman, said on Friday. A celebration of life service will be held this spring, Grossman said.