Updated on 04/19/2012 3:42PM

Santa Anita: Espinoza gets back to racing


ARCADIA, Calif. – Jockey Victor Espinoza returns to riding for the first time since March 23 with three mounts on Saturday’s 10-race program at Santa Anita.

Espinoza suffered a hairline fracture to a bone in his left hand when he was involved in a one-horse spill on the turf course. He had a cast placed on the arm in late March and received doctor’s clearance on Wednesday afternoon to resume riding.

“It’s back to normal,” he said on Wednesday. “It was a tough thing, but it is my hand. You need to have that strength.

“That was the wrong time to have it happen.”

Despite his recent absence, Espinoza, 39, has 27 wins at the meeting, and is seventh in the jockey’s standings at the winter-spring meeting.

Espinoza’s mounts on Saturday include Glowing Spirit in the $150,000 Santa Barbara Handicap for fillies and mares on turf.

Mott and Smith back together

The last time that trainer Bill Mott had a starter in California, Ron the Greek won the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 3.

The last time that Mott teamed with jockey Mike Smith, they won the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs last fall with Drosselmeyer.

Mott is back in California, and reunited with Smith for the first time since the Breeders’ Cup, with Harrods Creek in Sunday’s $150,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap.

Run over about 1 3/4 miles on turf, the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano is an ideal fit for Harrods Creek, a 5-year-old by Langfhur. Harrods Creek will be seeking his first stakes win, but is proven over the distance, having lost by a head to Eagle Poise in the Valedictory Stakes over 1

3/4 miles on a Polytrack synthetic surface at Woodbine last December.

Eagle Poise is part of the San Juan Capistrano field, which is led by Bourbon Bay, who won the race in 2010.

Mott said that Harrods Creek deserves a chance, even though he was last of four in the Grade 2 Pan American Stakes over 1 1/2 miles on turf at Gulfstream Park on March 24.

“It’s a long way to come to be an also-ran,” Mott said.

As for the recent loss, Harrods Creek was too eager, Mott said. “He pulled too hard and it didn’t help,” he said.

Owned by doctors David Richardson and Hiram Polk, Harrods Creek has won 3 of 17 starts and $177,616. The horse is likely to have the lead in the San Juan Capistrano, which Mott said could make him dangerous.

“He seems to be quite a galloper,” he said. “If he can find the right pace, he seems to keep going.”