Called to Serve

Called to Serve

Coglianese Photos

Called to Serve Posts Bullet Big 'Cap Move

Nick Canani trainee continues to move forward for March 2 race; others work as well.

Called to Serve registered his third straight bullet work in preparation for the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) when he went five furlongs on a fast main track at Santa Anita Park Feb. 22 in :59 1/5 with Gary Stevens up.

The Hall of Fame rider, who turns 50 March 6, has the mount in the March 2 Big 'Cap.

Called to Serve was one of several Santa Anita Handicap probable starters to work Feb. 22.

"I was very pleased with the work," said trainer Nick Canani, who clocked the 4-year-old son of Afleet Alex  in 1:10 3/5 for six furlongs. "He worked great. He did it the right way and I really couldn't ask for much more. I'm happy that Gary breezed him a second time."

Stevens was also aboard Called to Serve for a six-furlong bullet move in 1:13 2/5. Feb. 16 at Santa Anita. Prior to that, Called to Serve worked five furlongs on the dirt training track at Belmont Park Feb. 1 in a bullet 1:00 3/5.

Canani, the son of trainer Julio Canani, who won the Santa Anita Handicap in 1989 with 50-1 shot Martial Law, said: "I know Gary's got to go to New Orleans (he rides at the Fair Grounds on Saturday) and catch a plane this morning, but I think having him work him one more time allowed them to get to know each other a little bit better. The second time's always better than the first."

Called to Serve, owned by Marc Ferrell, has not raced since winning the Broad Brush Stakes at Laurel Park Dec. 31. He captured the Discovery Handicap (gr. III) Nov. 17 at Aqueduct Racetrack in his prior start for his only graded stakes victory. The dark bay gelding with a big late kick began his career at Santa Anita, where he broke his maiden in his fourth start last April.

As far as planning pre-race strategy for the Santa Anita Handicap, Canani was ambivalent.

"I don't think we can change our horse's style," he said. "I really think the mile and a quarter's going to benefit us. I think that's the horse's true distance and what he really wants to do."

Other Big 'Cap workers Friday included Strub Stakes (gr. II) runner-up Stephanoatsee , who went six furlongs in company with an unnamed Richard Mandella 3-year-old in 1:14 4/5, and San Antonio Stakes (gr. II) runner-up Clubhouse Ride , who clocked seven furlongs in 1:25 1/5 for trainer Craig Lewis.

"He went well," trainer Graham Motion said of Stephanoatsee before catching a flight to the East Coast. "He worked in company because he's not a good work horse, but I was happy with his effort."

Also on the worktable was Handsome Mike , who covered six furlongs in 1:11 4/5 with regular rider Mario Gutierrez aboard for trainer Doug O'Neill. Reddam Racing's 4-year-olds Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) winner weakened to finish fourth in the Strub Feb. 2.

"Handsome Mike can rate," said O'Neill's brother, Dennis. "When he won the Pennsylvania Derby, he was sitting right in behind them on the outside and rallied. So he would love to get another pace scenario like that."

Another O'Neill-trained Big 'Cap candidate, Richard's Kid , who disappointed in the grassy San Marcos Stakes (gr. IIT) Feb. 9, worked six furlongs under Tyler Baze in 1:13 4/5.

Others listed as probable for the Santa Anita Handicap presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino include the past two winners and likely favorites, Game On Dude and Ron the Greek, as well as Guilt Trip, John Scott, and Tritap.