'Mango' Monrovia-Bound, Baffert Weighs Weights

Edited from a release

Canani Seeks Better Trip For Roberta's Mango In Monrovia

Roberta's Mango, a consistent California-bred daughter of Bold Badgett, takes on open competition in Monday's $100,000 Monrovia Handicap (gr. IIIT), but trainer Julio Canani is optimistic she is up to the challenge.

"She took up in her last race," said Canani, who saddled Silent Sighs to an impressive three-length victory in Saturday's California Breeders' Champion Stakes for Marty and Pam Wygod. "A hole closed up as she was getting in between two horses and she had to steady. She wasn't going to win but she was going to run third."

Roberta's Mango finished sixth in the race in question, the California Cup Distaff Handicap at about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf, the same distance and surface scheduled for the Monrovia. She was beaten only 4 1/2 lengths in the Distaff, but gets a new rider for the Monrovia in Victor Espinoza. Corey Nakatani had ridden her in her last 10 races but opted for the Christophe Clement-trained Dedication in the Monrovia. Roberta's Mango has a 6-2-3 record from 17 starts with earnings of $247,645.

Canani said he plans to run Roberta's Mango even if the race come off the grass, a possibility he did not give much credence to, considering recent frosty mornings with temperatures in the 30s. "It's not going to rain," Canani said. "It may snow, but it's not going to rain."

The French-bred Polygreen, idle since running ninth in the Royal Heroine at Hollywood Park last July 5, was suffering from an ulcer in her throat when she turned in that uncharacteristic performance. She had won two of her three races since arriving from France. "It was a nasty ulcer," trainer Richard Mandella said. "But it cleaned up good and she's training good. She should run well."

The field from the rail out for the Monrovia Handicap with jockey, weight, and morning line odds:
1--Bold Roberta, Matt Garcia, 115, 15-1
2--Honest Answer, David Flores, 112, 20-1
3--Roberta's Mango, Victor Espinoza, 117, 5-1
4--Polygreen, Gary Stevens, 115, 5-2
5--Sweetcakesanshakes, Goncalino Almeida, 115, 15-1
6--Spring Star, Alex Solis, 119, 5-2
7--Dedication, Corey Nakatani, 119. 2-1
8--Reefs Sis, Pat Valenzuela, 114, 15-1
9--Icantgoforthat, Tyler Baze, 114, 6-1
10--Dreamers Glory, Kent Desormeaux, 114, 8-1.

Polygreen and Spring Star race as a Wertheimer Farm entry. First post time Monday is 12:30 p.m.

Baffert Plays 'Weighting' Game With Congaree For San Pasqual Handicap

Bob Baffert will look at the weight assignments before deciding to enter Cigar Mile winner Congaree in Saturday's $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap, which Congaree won earlier this year.

"We'll see what the weights are," Baffert said Sunday morning. Weights are due out Tuesday.

Probable for the San Pasqual: Congaree, no rider; Grey Memo, no rider; Hot Market, David Flores; Nose The Trade, Pat Valenzuela; Olmodavor, Alex Solis; Star Cross, Victor Espinoza; Total Impact, Mike Smith; and Truly A Judge, no rider.

Sterling Returns Home To Ride During Santa Anita Meet

Larry Sterling Jr. is not invading new territory at Santa Anita this meet. Call it a homecoming of sorts.

Sterling has a rich family history going for him in Southern California. His father, Larry Sr., trained the popular Vigors, winner of the 1978 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), among other important stakes races.

The younger Sterling has been a successful riding fixture in the Midwest for years but has decided to try his hand at Santa Anita for the next two months, until Sportsman's Park begins its meet on Feb. 25.

"I grew up in Southern Californian and my dad trained here for 20 years," said the 34-year-old Sterling, who has a home in San Dimas. His book is being handled by Craig O'Bryan.

"I'm just looking to winterize while I'm out here," Sterling said. "I'll probably stay here into February and return to the Midwest in March."

Sterling said he is unconcerned about the stiff competition he'll encounter at Santa Anita.

"It's about the same wherever you go," Sterling said, "just different horses, different people and a different atmosphere."