Put Patrick Valenzuela on a committed front-runner and a potentially
fast pace is a virtual certainty in Saturday’s $100,000 Donald Valpredo
California Cup Sprint.
The horse is Bob Black Jack, who equaled Santa Anita’s track
record of 1:20 1/5 for seven furlongs when he won the Grade I Malibu
Stakes in 2008. Bob Black Jack will have Valenzuela on his back for the
first time in a race in the Sprint, a six furlong dash that has also
drawn another Malibu winner, M One Rifle, no slouch himself on the front
end, who was victorious in the 2009 Malibu.
Both horses are coming off layoffs, but Bob Black Jack’s is more
extensive. The 6-year-old Stormy Jack horse has not run since winning
the Grade II San Carlos Handicap on Feb. 20, 2010. M One Rifle has been
absent since July 2 of this year, when he finished seventh in the Grade I
Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park.
Despite published reports that Bob Black Jack had been retired
after suffering a soft tissue injury to his right leg during a workout
at Hollywood Park in late March of last year, trainer and part owner
James Kasparoff said that was not written in stone.
“Bob Black Jack was never ‘officially’ retired,” Kasparoff
said. “He suffered a suspensory injury in a workout after the San
Carlos. We decided to give him as much time as he needed and if he
couldn’t come back at the same level as before, we wouldn’t race him.
But he’s as good as he was before. I don’t think he’s lost a step.”
That’s discouraging news for Bob Black Jack’s nine Cal Cup
rivals. Owned by Kasparoff, his brother, Tim, and Jeff Harmon, Bob Black
Jack almost carried his speed nine furlongs when he finished second by a
half-length in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby in 2008, then finished
16th by 32 lengths in the Kentucky Derby after setting the pace early
The field for the Sprint, the eighth of nine races: Mensa Heat,
Joe Talamo; Legal Separation, Victor Espinoza; Cost of Freedom, Rafael
Bejarano; Chiloquin, Martin Pedroza; Bob Black Jack, Patrick Valenzuela;
Dance with Gable, Garrett Gomez; Courtside, Joel Rosario; Warren’s
Knockout, Alonso Quinonez; M One Rifle, Chantal Sutherland; and
Frumious, Martin Garcia.
M One Rifle blew out three furlongs for Bruce Headley on Thursday in :36 flat.