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Bob Black Jack Returns in Cal Cup Sprint

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 on.

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.



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