Effinex settles in at Santa Anita ahead of Big 'Cap
Effinex, the probable favorite for the $1 million Santa Anita H. (G1) on March 12, arrived safely from Florida early Thursday evening and was bedded down in trainer Eoin Harty's barn to prepare for the prestigious 1 1/4-mile race.
"We left Palm Meadows at 6:30 a.m. our time (EST) and got in the barn about 6:30 (PST)," said Kent Sweezey, assistant to Jimmy Jerkens, who trains Effinex.
"It made for a long day for him but he ate up everything last night and looks good. I had him walking this morning and bouncing around, so he shipped good.
"The horse hasn't run since November 27," Sweezey continued. "Initially, we were going to give him a break after that. Then the [Dubai] World Cup (G1) was considered but we felt he wouldn't be ready to go all the way to Dubai (for the March 26 race), so we decided the Santa Anita H. was the next-best option."
Effinex, a five-year-old by Mineshaft, is owned by the Tri-Bone Stables. The horse has won seven of 20 starts and earned $2,112,950. He won the Clark H. (G1), Suburban H. (G2) and Excelsior (G3) last season, and placed in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1).
"Effinex will breeze here for sure, but rain is supposed to come the next couple days, so it puts us in a predicament," Sweezey said. "We gave him a little breeze Wednesday before we left Palm Meadows -- I'm not sure it even went down as a breeze -- but he blew out a little bit.
"He jogged [Friday], will gallop [Saturday], breeze in the next couple of days and then go straight into the race. Maybe Jimmy will be here for the race. I'm not sure. We've got a bunch of good young horses in Florida one of which might run there the same day Effinex runs here, so Jimmy will have to make a decision if he's going to come out or not."
Probable for the Santa Anita H.: Donworth, Mario Gutierrez; Effinex, Mike Smith; General A Rod, Rafael Bejarano; Hard Aces, no rider; Imperative, Santiago Gonzalez; and Melatonin, no rider.
According to Santa Anita's work tab, Donworth worked four furlongs Friday on a fast main track in :48 under exercise rider Jonny Garcia. Trainer Doug O'Neill, however, had the son of Tiznow going a mile in 1:45, the last eighth of a mile in 11:60.
"He went super," O'Neill said. "All systems are go."
Gold Cup at Santa Anita winner Hard Aces is scheduled to work Saturday for John Sadler at 6:45 or 7:45 a.m.
Team Hollendorfer also is likely to have a starter, although Dan Ward, assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, said they were waiting on "the weights and the weather" before rendering a final decision. Hollendorfer has three horses nominated: Cyrus Alexander, Point Piper and Southern Freedom.
(Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography)