Patrick Valenzuela has never been accused of lacking confidence.
The 39-year-old jockey's enthusiasm usually borders on infectious, but Thursday morning, when speaking of his mount Golden Apples in Saturday's $500,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes (gr. IT), it registered a tad stronger.
"There are some good mares in there," Valenzuela said, referring to Banks Hill and Voodoo Dancer, "but I feel we've got the best mare in the race and I feel we're going to win the race. There's no doubt in my mind."
Valenzuela rode Golden Apples for the first time on Aug. 17 in the Beverly D (gr. IT), winning by three-quarters of a length. He says she's improved since that effort.
"I feel she's probably a little bit better than she was going into the Beverly D," Valenzuela said. "It's hard to really comprehend that, because she was so good in the Beverly D. But she's doing really good right now and she seems to like this turf course. I look forward to her running another big race."
Golden Apples, trained by Ben Cecil for Gary Tanaka, has two wins and a second in three starts over the Santa Anita turf.
Meanwhile, Richard Mandella is looking for a trouble-free journey for Noches de Rosa, who figures to be the rank outsider in the prestigious Yellow Ribbon.
"She didn't have good trips in either one of her first two races (in the United States)," Mandella said. "I think she should have run better, and she will sure have to to run with these, but there's nowhere else to run right now."
Mandella said Fernando Toro recommended the Chilean-bred daughter of Stagecraft. $500,000 Yellow Ribbon (gr. IT), 1 1/4 mile, Fillies & Mares
1. Noches de Rosa, Alex Solis
2. Nepenthe, Mike Smith
3. Golden Apples, Pat Valenzuela
4. Voodoo Dancer, Gary Stevens
5. Banks Hill, Corey Nakatani
6. Viernes, Jose Valdivia Jr.
All carry 123 pounds.