02/16/2013 3:08PM

Santa Anita notes: Gary Stevens teaming up with Called to Serve for Big Cap

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Called to Serve comes into the Santa Anita Handicap off victories in the Broad Brush at Laurel (above) and Discovery at Aqueduct.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens worked Called to Serve at Santa Anita on Saturday morning and will have the mount on the improving 4-year-old in the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 2.

Trained by Nick Canani for Marc Ferrell, Called to Serve worked six furlongs in 1:13.40, a time that equaled the fastest of 13 recorded works at the distance. Canani confirmed that Stevens will ride Called to Serve after the workout.

“What a story that would be if he won the Big Cap,” Canani said.

Stevens, 49, returned to riding on Jan. 6 on a full-time basis after a seven-year retirement. Through Friday, Stevens had won with 4 of 38 mounts at the winter-spring meeting. He swept two turf stakes on the weekend of Feb. 9-10, winning the San Marcos Stakes on Slim Shadey and the Wishing Well Stakes on Purim’s Dancer.

Called to Serve worked alone on Saturday, his first major exercise since being sent to California earlier this month.

“It looked like he was breezing,” Canani said. “The thing to watch is when you go to pull him up, he’ll rebreak. It looks like he wanted to keep going.”

Called to Serve has won 4 of 11 starts and $365,430. He began his career in California with Peter Eurton and was sent to Canani in New York for the second half of 2012. Called to Serve has won his last two starts – the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct in November and the Broad Brush Stakes at Laurel in December.

Called to Serve is part of a Big Cap field led by Game On Dude, who won the San Antonio Stakes on Feb. 3. Other candidates are Clubhouse Ride, Guilt Trip, Handsome Mike, John Scott, Ron the Greek, Sky Kingdom, Stephanoatsee, and Tritap. Ron the Greek won the 2012 Santa Anita Handicap. In his last start he won the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 19.

Charity basketball game

A team of Santa Anita jockeys will switch their riding boots for sneakers on Thursday night for the 46th annual Jockeys vs. Holy Angels School charity basketball game.

The event, held at LaSalle High School in Pasadena, benefits the Holy Angels athletic program, the Permanent Disabled Jockey Fund, and the Eye On Jacob Foundation, which funds research for Usher’s Syndrome, a disease that affects vision, balance, and hearing in children.

Eye On Jacob is named for Jacob Desormeaux, the 14-year-old son of jockey Kent Desormeaux. Jacob Desormeaux was found early in his life with Usher’s Syndrome.

The jockey squad, facing a team of 7th and 8th graders, will include captains David Flores, and Joe Talamo, as well as leading rider Rafael Bejarano and others such as Martin Garcia, Garrett Gomez, Edwin Maldonado, and Corey Nakatani. The jockeys’ team will be coached by television commentator Kurt Hoover.

Tip-off is 7 p.m., and admission is $5.

Hall of Famers Stevens, Eddie Delahoussaye, Laffit Pincay Jr., and Mike Smith will be honorary team captains and provide an autograph session at 6:15 p.m.

◗ Trainer Oscar Garcia has been fined $500 after one of his recent starters tested in excess of the permitted level of the anti-inflammatory flunixin, according to a stewards’ ruling.