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Win earns Jibboom some time off
ARCADIA, Calif. - Jibboom's success in the first six weeks of 2009 at Santa Anita has earned the mare a brief vacation.
Monday, she won her second stakes of the meeting in the $150,000 Buena Vista Handicap, a race scheduled for the turf but switched to the main track because of significant morning rain. Last month, Jibboom won the Grade 3 Monrovia Handicap on the hillside turf course on Jan. 4 and was later second to stablemate Ventura in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap on Jan. 31.
"She's done a lot this year," trainer Bobby Frankel said. "I may give her a month or two off."
In the Buena Vista, Jibboom set a slow pace for the first half-mile - 25.10 and 50.30 seconds - and pulled away from six rivals to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Foxysox, winner of the Grade 3 Tuzla Handicap on Jan. 24. Tizfiz, who won the Grade 2 San Gorgonio Handicap on Jan. 4, finished third.
Jibboom ran a mile on the Pro-Ride synthetic track in 1:38.68.
The Buena Vista was Jibboom's first stakes win on a synthetic track since the Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes at seven furlongs at Keeneland in 2007. The Buena Vista was the longest stakes win of Jibboom's 11-race career. She has won five races and earned $487,600 for Juddmonte Farms.
"I thought she could handle the synthetic track," Frankel said.
Jibboom was ridden by Garrett Gomez, who swept Monday's two stakes. In the preceding race, he guided Evita Argentina to a victory against males in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes.
Evita Argentina became the first filly to win the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes since Hubble Bubble in 1947.
The victory was the first of two objectives that trainer John Sadler has in mind for the three-time stakes winner. She is expected to make her next start April 7 in the $150,000 Beaumont Stakes at seven furlongs at Keeneland.
Evita Argentina rallied from last to win the San Vicente Stakes by a length over Leedstheway, finishing seven furlongs in 1:24.30. Her presence against males did not concern Gomez.
"She's a late-running sprinter," Gomez said. "It was right in her wheelhouse. I wasn't too worried."
Evita Argentina has won 4 of 6 starts around one turn. In her only start around two turns, she finished ninth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies here last October.
Overall, Evita Argentina has won 4 of 7 starts and $324,900. Owned by Halo Farms and Three Sisters Thoroughbreds, Evita Argentina won the Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar last August and the Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park last November.
In her first start of 2009, she was second to stablemate Alpha Kitten in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Jan. 17.
Main track weathers the storm
Santa Anita's main track endured more than an inch of rain before the nine-race program Monday. While several riders said there were soft spots in places on the track, the program was completed without incident.
In addition, the rainstorm was the latest indication that the Pro-Ride synthetic track has successfully handled significant rainfall during recent storms.
Monday's storm began before dawn and ended by noon.
There were 42 recorded works on the main track in the morning. By late morning, there was water standing on the main track through the stretch, but that dissipated over the following two hours.
By the fifth race, horses were still kicking up water while racing, but not as badly as earlier. At the end of the program, there was no water visible on the surface.
After the first race, jockey Tyler Baze said the track was "kind of spotty." He rode Plug Me In to a fourth-place finish in the $62,500 claimer at 1 1/16 miles.
"For 100 yards it was good, and then you go into a soft spot," he said.
Gomez won the last three races. He said there was a soft spot over a span of about 30 yards near the three-eighths pole that required riders to give their mounts extra attention.
"It gets real deep and they struggle," he said of his mounts. "It's handled [the rain] pretty good, but there are a couple of spots."
Last year, the track lost 11 days of racing after the Cushion Track brand surface failed to sufficiently drain after rainstorms. Three of those days were later made up.
A Pro-Ride brand surface was installed last summer. This winter, there have been no lost days despite several rainstorms in recent weeks.
Life Is Sweet, Santa Teresita will square off
Life Is Sweet and Santa Teresita, graded stakes winners last weekend, will meet for the first time in the $300,000 Santa Margarita Handicap on March 14, the meeting's top race for older fillies and mares.
The winner can be considered the champion of the division of the meeting. Unfortunately, the national title holder is on her way back and resides on this circuit.
Zenyatta, the 2008 champion older female, is nearing her first workout since winning the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic here last October. She is expected to return to racing in the spring for trainer John Shirreffs.
Until then, Life Is Sweet and Santa Teresita have each other to beat.
Santa Teresita pulled an upset in Saturday's Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap for older fillies and mares, her first win for Michael Moreno and trainer Eric Guillot since being acquired privately for a reported $1.5 million last summer.
Life Is Sweet rallied from last of nine to win Sunday's Grade 2 La Canada Stakes for 4-year-old fillies in striking fashion. Owned by Marty and Pam Wygod, Life Is Sweet chased a slow pace and seemed beaten until unleashing a furious rally in the final furlong.
"That was a tough race, the way it came up," said Wygod, who felt the La Canada was tougher than the Santa Maria.
Trained by Shirreffs, Life Is Sweet is unbeaten at this meeting, having won the Grade 2 El Encino Stakes here in January.
Desert Code to stretch out on turf
Desert Code, winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint last October and Sunday's Daytona Handicap, may make a career change for his next start. Trainer David Hofmans would like to move away from turf sprints and into two-turn turf stakes for Desert Code's next start.
The $150,000 Arcadia Handicap at a mile on turf on April 4 is a likely destination. After the Daytona, Hofmans was relieved that Desert Code was able to win his comeback.
"I'm glad he ran this well fresh," Hofmans said. "He gets really fat fast. It's hard to keep him in as tight of condition as you need him."
Gloriously euthanized after injury
Gloriously, who placed in three stakes at Woodbine last year, was euthanized last weekend after suffering a leg injury in deep stretch of Saturday's seventh race, track officials said.
Trained by Mark Casse, Gloriously, 4, was leading a six-furlong optional claimer when she was injured about 50 yards from the wire. Owned by Woodford Racing, Gloriously won 2 of 7 starts and $118,277. She was second in the Fury Stakes, Ontario Damsel, and Duchess Stakes last spring and summer.
Gloriously was the first horse euthanized as a result of an injury suffered during racing since the start of the year at Santa Anita, according to California Horse Racing Board officials.