09/28/2011 3:00PM

Santa Anita: Self Preservation sharper for Oak Leaf


ARCADIA, Calif. – The second-place finish by Self Preservation in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante on Sept. 3 has left trainer Ben Cecil expecting a winning performance in Sunday’s $250,000 Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita.

The Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes, run over 1 1/16 miles for 2-year-old fillies, is a vital West Coast prep for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.

Self Preservation made her American debut in the seven-furlong Del Mar Debutante, finishing second as a 24-1 outsider to favored Weemissfrankie, another hopeful for the Oak Leaf Stakes. The second-place finish surprised Cecil, who was not happy with the way Self Preservation trained after arriving from Ireland in early August.

“She didn’t train well down there,” he said.

That has not been the case at Santa Anita in recent weeks, he said.

“She’s a different filly since she got up here,” Cecil said.

Owned by Paul Reddam, Self Preservation is expected to face a solid grou in the Oak Leaf, including the Del Mar maiden race winners Charm the Maker, Egg Drop, and Regal Betty, and the stakes winners Candrea and Killer Graces.

Tyler Baze still awaiting hearing

Jockey Tyler Baze remains suspended indefinitely for avoiding a Breathalyzer test at Del Mar in early September, with no date set for a hearing that could lead to the resumption of his career, according to his agent and a California Horse Racing Board official.

Baze has not ridden since Aug. 31 at Del Mar. The following day, he did not take a Breathalyzer test that was part a mandated program stipulated by the racing board after he failed a Breathalyzer test in mid-August.

Baze, 28, must appear at a hearing with the stewards before regaining the right to resume riding.

“We’re still waiting on a hearing,” his agent, Craig O’Bryan, said on Wednesday. “He called me the other day and he sounded good.”

A racing board spokesman said an email that the Baze’s hearing “is still pending.”

At the time of his failed test in early September, Del Mar stewards indicated that they wanted Baze to seek counseling. At Del Mar, Baze, the champion apprentice jockey of 2000, had 10 wins from 134 mounts.

Carava to open stable to public

Trainer Jack Carava is opening his stable to outside clients this fall, ending a private relationship with Ron Valenta’s La Canada Stables.

Carava said earlier this week that his partnership with La Canada Stables will continue, although he expects Valenta to reduce his Thoroughbred holdings.

“He’s slowing down a little bit,” said Carava, 45. “I’m going to have an open barn. I think Ron will come back and get more involved in a couple of years.”

La Canada led all owners at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting earlier this year with 16 wins.

Carava said he has 30 horses in his stable right now, many of which are claimers. He said he would like to have as many as 35 runners.

“As many as we trade, that number could go down pretty quick,” he said.

Smiling Tiger works for Sprint

Smiling Tiger, the winner of the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park in July but beaten in two stakes at Del Mar during the summer, worked a half-mile in 46.80 seconds at Santa Anita on Wednesday.

Trainer Jeff Bonde said that Smiling Tiger will be trained toward the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5. Last fall, at 3, Smiling Tiger was third in the BC Sprint at Churchill.

At Del Mar this summer, Smiling Tiger was second to Euroears in the Bing Crosby Stakes and fourth to The Factor in the Pat O’Brien Stakes.

◗ Residents of Arcadia, Calif., will receive free clubhouse admission, with proof of residency, for Friday’s opening day program of the Santa Anita autumn meeting.