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Who's mad? Ellis still in hunt
ARCADIA, Calif. - Don't Get Mad's ranking in the California 3-year-old division rose by default on Friday when his stablemate Declan's Moon, the champion 2-year-old male of 2004, was taken off the Kentucky Derby trail with a knee injury.
Long considered a promising Triple Crown candidate, Don't Get Mad is now trainer Ron Ellis's only hope for a starter in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7. Don't Get Mad is also the top contender for owner B. Wayne Hughes, who has watched the colt win two of his first three starts.
Next Saturday, Hughes and Ellis will learn more about where Don't Get Mad ranks among a tough crop of California-based 3-year-olds when the colt makes his first start around two turns in the $250,000 San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita.
As a tune-up, Don't Get Mad worked a mile in 1:41 at Hollywood Park on Friday.
Ridden by exercise rider Carlos Arias, Don't Get Mad worked solo, finishing the final quarter-mile in 24.20 seconds, according to Ellis.
"The track has been a little deep, and this is about what I wanted him to go," Ellis said.
Purchased for $350,000 at the 2004 Ocala March sale of 2-year-olds in training, Don't Get Mad won twice for trainer Paul McGee at Churchill Downs last November before joining Ellis's stable.
In his California debut, and first race as a 3-year-old, Don't Get Mad rallied from fourth to finish a length behind Fusaichi Rock Star in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs on Feb. 13.
Don't Get Mad ran the last furlong of that race in about 11 seconds.
"You just don't see them go that way on the dirt," Ellis said.
Friday's workout impressed Hughes, who is certain that the Kentucky Derby distance of 1 1/4 miles is ideal for Don't Get Mad, a son of Stephen Got Even.
"He was galloping out there," Hughes said. "He'll get a mile and a quarter. He's the kind you're looking for."
The absence of Declan's Moon from the Triple Crown scene is likely to result in a change in Don't Get Mad's schedule. Following the San Felipe, he will be considered for the Santa Anita Derby on April 9. Before Declan's Moon's defection, Don't Get Mad was expected to travel to another prep outside of California.
The Grade 2 San Felipe is expected to draw an outstanding field, including three runners from the 2004 Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Lone Star Park - Wilko, the upset winner, and Consolidator and Roman Ruler, who were fourth and fifth. Consolidator and Roman Ruler won graded stakes at 2. Other probable starters are the stakes-placed Giacomo and the impressive allowance race winner Golden Shine.
"To me, whoever wins the race will be the favorite for the Santa Anita Derby," Ellis said.
Hughes has another Kentucky Derby hopeful in Greeley's Galaxy, the winner of a $52,400 allowance race at 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on Thursday.
Trained by Warren Stute, Greeley's Galaxy disputed the pace until early stretch before drawing off to win by four lengths over Yes He's a Pistol.
Hughes said Greeley's Galaxy will be sent to Keeneland for the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes on April 16.
Some come back - some hope to bounce back
Royal Place, Skipaslew, and Silver Traffic, who have won or placed in stakes at this meeting, are the leading contenders in Sunday's $75,000 Santana Mile.
Run on the main track, the race serves several purposes for the nine entrants - as a comeback opportunity for National Park, and as a confidence booster for Bluesthestandard, Danthebluegrassman, Ender's Shadow, Oceanus, and Skukuza, who are all coming off losses.
Royal Place and Bluesthestandard share high weight of 117 pounds. Royal Place won the Daytona Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs on Feb. 20. A stalker in route races, he has won several races at a mile or farther.
Bluesthestandard, the runner-up in the 2003 Breeders' Cup Sprint, is winless in his last seven starts. A stakes winner at a mile earlier in his career, Bluesthestandard was entered for a $62,500 claiming tag on March 5 but was scratched.
The Santana Mile could produce a few starters for the $100,000 Tokyo City Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on April 2, a race formerly known as the San Bernardino Handicap.
Skipaslew finished third in the San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes in January and was sixth, promoted to fifth via disqualification, in the Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap at Fair Grounds on Feb. 12. Silver Traffic, who won on dirt in France, finished second in the Thunder Road Handicap on turf on Feb. 9.
Win means more than milestone for Baze
Tyler Baze knew he had broken a 49-race losing streak when Meeting by Design won Thursday's eighth race for maiden claimers. He also considered the race to be a milestone, the 1,000th win of his career.
Officially, Baze, 22, had won 998 Thoroughbred races, but he counts two victories in the trials and final of the 2003 Marathon National for Quarter Horses at Los Alamitos in his career total. Baze won two races early on Friday's card to officially reach 1,000 wins.
On Thursday, regardless of the scorekeeping, Baze was just happy to be back in the winner's circle for the first time since Miss Thirtyfour D won the third race on Feb. 26. Following that race, Baze had just 10 seconds and nine thirds until Meeting by Design scored by four lengths.
The drought had little effect on the jockey standings. After the Feb. 26 program, Baze had a two-race lead on Rene Douglas, 43-41, with Patrick Valenzuela in third with 36. Through Thursday, Baze still led a struggling Douglas by two, 44-42, with Valenzuela in third with 41.
Baze could lose ground in the standings later this month when he travels to Dubai to ride Congrats in the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 26. Baze wants to return the following day to ride Star Over the Bay in the San Luis Rey Handicap, even though the trip from the Middle East to California is time-consuming.
"I'm trying not to miss too many days," he said. "I've got to get back."
Stevens to ride at Keeneland in April
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens plans to ride at Keeneland in April in an effort to ride more horses.
Stevens said he will leave for Keeneland after the Santa Anita Derby. The Keeneland meeting runs from April 8-29. Stevens will ride at Churchill Downs through the Kentucky Derby program on May 7.
Stevens had just one mount on Wednesday and Thursday.
"I'm not riding any horses. It gets frustrating," he said. "I'm committed to riding 100 percent this year. I want to ride a bunch."
Through Thursday, Stevens was in 11th place in the standings, with 17 wins from 93 mounts.
Fusaichi Samurai to gallop on Monday
Fusaichi Samurai, an impressive maiden winner in December who was taken out of Triple Crown consideration in February because of a pulled muscle, will resume galloping on Monday, trainer Neil Drysdale said.
Purchased for $4.5 million at the 2004 Fasig-Tipton Florida 2-year-olds in training sale, Fusaichi Samurai was given 30 days off after he was found to have the muscle injury.