Shapiro's analysis of Santa Anita Park's early jockey/trainer standings
by Scott Shapiro
Eight days into the winter meeting at Santa Anita Park and familiar names sit atop the jockey standings while there is a logjam amongst the leading trainers.
Jockey Rafael Bejarano is off to a strong start in Arcadia this summer, with nine victories in 37 starts giving him a one-race lead over apprentice Evin Roman and a two-race edge over veteran Kent Desormeaux.
Bejarano has done his best riding over the lawn, with four of his wins coming over the sod, including his lone stakes triumph thus far aboard the Mike Pupye-conditioned Ippodamia’s Girl in the Blue Norther Stakes on New Year’s Eve.
The highly likely Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey Evin Roman continues to show serious talent riding for many of the circuit’s top barns. He has found his way to the wire first eight times after dominating the December meeting at Los Alamitos. The Puerto Rico native leads the jockey colony with 50 mounts and has yet to win a stakes race at the meeting, but that is just a matter of time.
Hall of Famers Kent Desormeaux and Mike Smith are off to strong starts at Santa Anita this winter. Desormeaux has notched seven victories in 39 mounts, including three stakes wins and “Big Money Mike” has five wins in just 22 mounts, including nearly $670K in earnings and, to no one’s surprise, a colony-leading four stakes wins.
While many of the names we come to expect success from are off to strong starts, jockey Flavian Prat has not visited the winner’s circle as much as we are used to. The Frenchmen has just four wins in 35 starts and has yet to get his picture taken after a stakes race. He still has performed well on the grass with three wins, but has been subpar in races run over the main track.
Also off to slow starts at the Santa Anita winter meeting are Tyler Baze (three wins in 44 starts), Stewart Elliott (two for 29) and two-time Kentucky Derby-winning rider Mario Gutierrez (two for 25).
Like the jockey standings, mostly recognizable names appear at the top of the leading trainers list eight days into the meeting.
Peter Miller is one of three conditioners with five victories over the first two weeks of racing. Miller has been a mainstay at the top of the Santa Anita leaderboard over the past several years and he is expected to make a strong bid at another title this winter. He is still looking for his first stakes victory of the meet though.
A bit more surprising is the early success of trainers Mark Glatt and Vladimir Cerin.
Both trainers are highly capable horsemen, but generally speaking do not have the stock to compete with the top few barns on the circuit. That being said both Glatt and Cerin win races in bunches and are worth “riding” when hot. They both have one stakes win early on.
Jerry Hollendorfer and Phil D’Amato sit one win behind the leaders heading into racing action this week.
The “Dorf” has a Grade 1 win “under his belt” with Unique Bella getting the best of Paradise Woods in the La Brea (G1), while D’Amato is the lone trainer to have multiple wins at the stakes level thus far. Bowies Hero captured the Mathis Brothers Mile (G1) on opening day and Pee Wee Reese dominated a group down the hill in the Joe Hernandez on New Year’s Day.
A number of well-known trainers led by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert have three wins as we head into the third week of the meeting on Thursday afternoon.
John Sadler and Doug O’Neill are amongst those that are off to slow starts at the Santa Anita winter meeting. Both have just one win, but are likely to get things going sooner rather than later.
A five-day week looms as racing runs through a holiday card on Monday afternoon. A Pick 6 carryover of $92,218 headlines an eight-race slate on Thursday.