10/09/2012 4:36PM

Santa Anita notes: Strong Wind going long in Cal Cup Juvenile

Benoit & Associates
Strong Wind will make his next start Saturday in the California Cup Juvenile.

In the six weeks since he finished third in the I’m Smokin Stakes at Del Mar on Labor Day, Strong Wind is a changed colt.

“He’s grown six to eight inches,” trainer Steve Knapp said. “His body has spread out.”

The new, longer Strong Wind makes his first start around two turns in Saturday’s $250,000 California Cup Juvenile over 1 1/16 miles. Strong Wind won the Graduation Stakes over 5 1/2 furlongs at Del Mar on Aug. 1 and was third in the six-furlong I’m Smokin Stakes.

Knapp was frustrated at the I’m Smokin result after jockey Kevin Krigger dropped his whip in the final furlong.

“He was going to run second, and he might have won,” Knapp said.

Joe Talamo will ride Strong Wind in the Cal Cup Juvenile and has worked the colt in recent weeks at Santa Anita. The workouts have been designed to have Strong Wind prepared for longer races.

“We’ve started him five lengths behind another horse, and he’s waited for Joe to ask him what to do,” Knapp said.

Last year, the Cal Cup Juvenile was worth $100,000. The purse has been boosted through the Golden State Series, which offers enhanced purses for California-breds of all ages, particularly 2- and 3-year-olds.

As a result, Knapp and owners Bill Tomasic and Gino Roncelli have focused on statebred races for Strong Wind this fall. After the Cal Cup Juvenile, there are two more lucrative stakes on the Golden State Series schedule before the end of the year – the $200,000 King Glorious Stakes over seven furlongs at Betfair Hollywood Park on Dec. 16 and the $300,000 California Breeders’ Champion Stakes over a mile at Santa Anita in the final week of December.

For Saturday, Strong Wind’s main rival will be Monument, who was second in the C.B. Afflerbaugh Stakes at Fairplex Park on Sept. 12, and The Humancomplaint, who was second in the I’m Smokin Stakes.

The Cal Cup Juvenile is one of five stakes for statebreds on Saturday’s program. The Cal Cup Juvenile Fillies also is worth $250,000. The other races are the $175,000 Classic over 1 1/16 miles, $125,000 Distaff on the hillside turf course, and the $100,000 Sprint over six furlongs.

Hofmans wins 1,000th race

Trainer David Hofmans, who has won such races as the 1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic and 1997 Belmont Stakes, won the 1,000th race of his career Monday.

The Hofmans-trained Sultry Season won a maiden claimer over 5 1/2 furlongs in the day’s final race.

Hofmans, 69, began training in 1974. He has won five million-dollar races in his career, most recently with Desert Code in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita.

Track giving away $50 gas cards

Santa Anita is giving away 10 $50 gas cards each racing day, beginning Thursday, the track announced.

The promotion is funded through Westside Rentals, the housing location firm owned by Santa Anita chief executive Mark Verge. The promotion is open to members of the track’s Thoroughbreds program, a frequent customer plan.

Customers who are part of the Thoroughbreds program can become eligible for the giveaway by having their identification cards scanned at entrance gates. The 10 winners will be announced after the fifth race each day. The promotion continues through the end of the autumn meeting on Nov. 4.

Gas prices have risen 50 cents a gallon in California in the last week because of refinery and distribution problems. At many stations, prices for the least-expensive unleaded are approximately $4.75.