Called to Serve registered his third straight bullet work in
preparation for the Santa Anita Handicap when he went five furlongs on
Santa Anita’s fast main track Friday in 59.20 with Gary Stevens up. The
Hall of Fame rider, who turns 50 on March 6, has the mount in the Big
“I got him in 59 and one and had him home in (one) 23 flat (for
seven furlongs) and out the three-quarters in (one) 10 and three,” said
trainer Nick Canani, son of trainer Julio Canani, who won the Santa
Anita Handicap in 1989 with 50-1 shot Martial Law.
“I was very pleased with the work. 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 (he was aboard for a six-furlong bullet
in 1:13 2/5 on Feb. 16. Prior to that, Called to Serve worked five
furlongs at Belmont Park on Feb. 1 in a bullet 1:00 3/5).
“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.”
As far as digesting and planning pre-race strategy, Canani was
“I don’t think we can change our horse’s style,” said Canani, who
trains the stretch-running son of Afleet Alex for owner Marc Ferrell. “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.
“The best horse will prevail, hopefully.”
Other Big ’Cap workers Friday included Strub Stakes runner-up
Stephanoatsee, who went six furlongs in company with an unnamed Richard
Mandella 3-year-old in 1:14.80, while San Antonio runner-up Clubhouse
Ride went seven furlongs in 1:25.20 for trainer Craig Lewis.
“He went well,” trainer Graham Motion said of Stephanoatsee
before catching a flight back East. “He worked in company because he’s
not a good work horse, but I was happy with his effort.”