Baze building momentum after injury

Updated: April 17, 2010, 8:00 PM ET
By Steve Andersen | Daily Racing Form



ARCADIA, Calif. -- Injury prevented Tyler Baze from having anything close to a meaningful meeting at Hollywood Park last fall. He is determined to make up for that when the track opens its spring-summer meeting on Wednesday.

"I think I have a lot of momentum and a lot of good business," he said on Friday.

Baze, who through Friday was tied for sixth in the standings at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, had three wins at Santa Anita on Friday, including the $58,300 Santa Lucia Handicap on Devine Actress.

Last fall, Baze rode the first three days at Hollywood Park, going winless with 10 mounts before taking off time to undergo hand surgery. He returned to riding on the opening day of the Santa Anita meeting on Dec. 26, and had regained a spot in the top 10 a week into the meeting.

Friday's Santa Lucia was Baze's third stakes win of the Santa Anita meeting, preceded by Papa Clem in the Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes in January and Tap It Light in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Handicap in March.

In between, he rode Harissa to a win in the Sunland Park Oaks in New Mexico. Harissa is unlikely to gain a spot in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on April 30 because of insufficient graded stakes earnings, but Baze considered her to be a candidate for the $150,000 Hollywood Oaks on June 6.

"I'm looking forward to riding her," he said.

Devine Actress ($19.40) was the longest shot in a field of five in the Santa Lucia. Trained by David Hofmans, Devine Actress rallied from third behind pacesetters Dance to My Tune and Made for Magic, took the lead in the final sixteenth, and won by a half-length, finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.47.

The Santa Lucia was Devine Actress's third win in six starts for owners John and Jerry Amerman. Hofmans said he considered starting Devine Actress in an optional claimer on turf on Thursday, but opted for Friday's race after she worked well on the synthetic main track earlier this month.

"She loves the synthetic track," Hofmans said.

Devine Actress made her stakes debut in the Santa Lucia, which was restricted to horses who had not won a stakes at a mile or over this year. It could lead to a start in the $150,000 Milady Handicap at Hollywood Park on May 16.

Wynning Ride steps up

Wynning Ride, who won an allowance race on Friday, is the latest horse owned by Arnold Zetcher to demand attention in 2010.

Making her first start since August, Wynning Ride ($4.20) won an allowance race by 2 1/4 lengths over Madel, finishing 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.41. Ridden by Martin Garcia, Wynning Ride was near the front throughout and took the lead in early stretch.

Zetcher said that he and trainer Bob Baffert have not finalized plans for Wynning Ride, who could run in a sprint or route this year. She was third in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks over 1 1/4 miles at Belmont Park last summer.

"I think she'll do whatever Bob wants," Zetcher said.

Zetcher is already having a strong season. On March 13, his Zardana spoiled the comeback of the 2009 Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra, in the New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds. Trained by John Shirreffs, Zardana is being pointed for the $400,000 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs on April 30.

There is a chance the La Troienne could draw Rachel Alexandra, though no final plans have been announced. Careless Jewel, the winner of the 2009 Alabama Stakes, is another probable starter.

The presence of such tough 4-year-old fillies is cool with Zetcher.

"It's okay with me," Zetcher said. "Whoever runs in there, we'll be looking forward to running against them."

Evening Jewel headed back east

Evening Jewel, the winner of the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland on April 3, is headed back to Kentucky for the Kentucky Oaks, trainer Jim Cassidy said on Saturday.

Owned by Tom and Marilyn Braly, Evening Jewel worked five furlongs in 1:00 at Santa Anita on Saturday, which convinced Cassidy that the filly is ready for another start in a Grade 1 this month.

"As of right now, it looks like we're going," he said. "There doesn't seem to be any issue."

Cassidy did not finalize plans for Evening Jewel until Saturday's work, questioning how she would respond to a return to training following the Ashland.