03/13/2013 3:06PM

Santa Anita: Hear the Ghost made most of San Felipe trip

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Barbara D. Livingston
Jockey Corey Nakatani said he was pleased with how well Hear the Ghost handled his first two-turn assignment in the San Felipe.

The patient ride Corey Nakatani gave Hear the Ghost in the San Felipe last weekend at Santa Anita reminded everyone yet again that the veteran jockey remains on top of his game. He is off to Oaklawn Park on Saturday for stakes rides in the Azeri and the Rebel, but before that reflected on the San Felipe, in which Hear the Ghost, in contrast to Flashback and Goldencents, relaxed and finished.

“I thought he handled it great,” Nakatani said of Hear the Ghost’s two-turn debut for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. “He was coming out of sprints, but the horse has done everything Jerry has asked him to do.

“It couldn’t have happened any better with those other two horses doing what they were doing. I had a smile on my face from ear to ear. It set up perfect for us. I was ecstatic with the way my horse responded when I asked him. To go from two sprints to winning at a mile and a sixteenth in graded company, that was pretty impressive.”

War Academy tries two turns

In addition to a strong downhill turf sprint for older horses as the featured seventh race, there are two other compelling allowance races on Friday’s card, most notably race  2, in which War Academy, fourth in the San Vicente in only his second start, stretches out around two turns against five other 3-year-olds, including stablemate Manando from Bob Baffert’s barn.

War Academy was a debut winner at Betfair Hollywood Park on Nov.  9, but did not race again until more than three months later, when he was a close fourth in the San Vicente. On Friday, he goes 1 1/16 miles, and should he perform well, a two-turn stakes would be next.

Manando was third in the Sham, which was won by Goldencents, before a poor try last time out in the El Camino Real Derby on Tapeta at Golden Gate.

Kid Dreams defeated maidens going a mile in his second start following a sprint debut behind Flashback, so he appears to have plenty of upside for trainer Neil Drysdale.

In race 5, Coil’s half-sister, What a Spot, tries to remain unbeaten after defeating maidens in her debut on Feb. 3. She won first time out sprinting on dirt, but moves to the downhill turf course for this first-level allowance.

“I thought she ran a nice race. It didn’t take a lot out of her,” said trainer Tom Proctor, who said What a Spot “is not Coil, but she’s a nice filly.”

“Expectations can kill you,” Proctor said. “I’m pretty realistic.”

◗ Gary Stevens has switched jockey agents, with Craig O’Bryan taking over for John Perrotta. O’Bryan had been representing both Tyler Baze and Mario Gutierrez. Since agents on this circuit are limited to two riders. O’Bryan said he would retain Baze and drop Gutierrez, who hired O’Bryan last fall. When Gutierrez won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness last year, he was represented by Ivan Puhich.

◗ The Santa Anita’s jockeys’ room will have some notable absences on Saturday because of stakes races in Arkansas and Florida. Nakatani, Rafael Bejarano, Mike Smith, and Joe Talamo are all at Oaklawn, and Julien Leparoux is at Gulfstream.

◗ Jockey Vinnie Bednar, suspended through Sunday, must sign a testing agreement with the California Horse Racing Board, and has to agree to terms of treatment set forth by the Winner’s Foundation, all ruled by Santa Anita’s stewards in the aftermath of his refusing to submit to a drug test on Jan. 27.

◗ Elb Souders, once the director of Santa Anita’s Turf Club, recently died at his home in Arcadia. He was 94. Services are Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Arcadia.

◗ Charles Gold, a long-time owner on this circuit, died last weekend at the age of 96.

John More than 1 year ago
Ive always considered Cory one of the really outstanding turf riders, but somehow he dropped off everyones radar ! People dont realize, Hear the Ghost is still very green, he didnt switch leads until DEEP stretch in his last 2 races and it was the agressive handling by Cory that got him to punch it in ! If he learns to kick in at the top of the lane, rather than 100 yards from the wire, this might be the West Coasts best Derby prospect !
morton erskine More than 1 year ago
As I have stated before...Nakatani is one of the best riders in America...Wake up California Trainers!!!!