03/21/2011 12:24PM

Santa Anita: Opportunity knocks for jockeys who stay home during Dubai World Cup week

Barbara D. Livingston
Joe Talamo has six mounts on Wednesday's card at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. – This could be a big week for jockey Joe Talamo, or Alonso Quinonez, Patrick Valenzuela, David Flores, or Martin Pedroza among several riders in Southern California.

With leading jockey Joel Rosario, and top 10 jockeys Rafael Bejarano, Victor Espinoza, and Mike Smith spending the week in the Middle East for Saturday’s rich races in Dubai, there is likely to be added opportunities for the jockeys who stay home.

The absence of four riders in the top 10 comes at a time when the racing week has been expanded to include Wednesdays, beginning this week through the end of the meeting on April 17.

Wednesday’s eight-race program features 64 entrants, although two of the horses are on the also-eligible list. Quinonez, Talamo, and Valenzuela have six mounts each, Flores has five rides, and Pedroza has four.

They are expected to be the busiest jockeys from Wednesday through Saturday. The four traveling riders are expected to return from Dubai in time for Sunday’s program. When they do return, the first two in the standings will be the same. Through Sunday, Rosario led all riders with 77 wins, four more than Bejarano.

Talamo and Valenzuela are tied for third with 41 wins. Talamo is reluctant to predict how much success he will have, but knows a big week is possible.

"You always hope so,” Talamo said. “It’s a matter of which horses you get on and whether they are live or not.”

Already, he says, he is happy with the results of the first three months of the meeting. “It’s the best meeting I’ve had,” he said.

Valenzuela is optimistic about the days ahead. “I’ve had some good weeks through the meeting,” he said.

Maiden winner earns 114 Beyer

Maclean’s Music, who won a maiden race in his debut on Saturday with astonishing ease, could make one more start before the end of the meeting.

Trained by Steve Asmussen for breeder Jess Jackson, Maclean’s Music ran six furlongs in 1:07.44, drawing off through the stretch to win by 7 1/4 lengths under jockey Mike Smith. He earned a 114 Beyer Speed Figure, the fastest for a debut race since the figures were first published in 1991.

Scott Blasi, Asmussen’s assistant in California, said no plans have been finalized for Maclean’s Music, a son of Distorted Humor.

“He came out of the race in good shape,” Blasi said. “Maybe, he can have one more race.”

Seeking better traction on turf

Turning Top, who slipped on the turn of Saturday’s Grade 2 Santa Ana Stakes but recovered to run second to Malibu Pier, emerged from the incident without injury, trainer Simon Callaghan said on Sunday.

Turning Top slipped nearing the quarter pole and missed winning by a length.

“It’s a testament to her that she was coming on after the bad slip,” Callaghan said. “It could have been a lot worse.”

Turning Top was one of two horses who slipped on the turn of the Santa Ana. Eclair de Lune, who eventually finished fifth, lost her footing on the turn.

The incidents will lead to maintenance on the turf course designed to ensure better footing, according to director of racing Mike Harlow.

“We’ll make some adjustments on the turf course,” Harlow said. “We’ll aerate it which will soften up the base a little more. We’ll do it before we run again.”

Callaghan, for one, called for the course to be inspected. “I’m not a track expert, but with the number of incidents there have been it needs addressing,” Callaghan said.

There was no turf racing on Sunday because of rain. There are two turf races scheduled for Wednesday, although there is a possibility they could be moved to the main track, depending on rainfall early in the week. Harlow said the track would be aerated before turf racing resumes.

Saturday, the turf rails were set 15 feet away from the inside of the course. Harlow said during the final weeks of the meeting horses will race on the inside portion of the course more frequently.

Malibu Pier, who won her first stakes in the Santa Ana, and Turning Top are likely to return in the $150,000 Santa Barbara Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf on April 16.

“She gets the mile and a quarter,” Callaghan said of Turning Top.

Malibu Pier has never run that far, but trainer Carla Gaines said the Santa Barbara will be strongly considered.