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Pedroza's only concern is riding Ultimate Eagle

Martin Pedroza can read past performances as well as anyone, and the 46-year-old jockey is a realist. So he is well aware that his mount in Saturday’s Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino is not only the 5-2 morning line favorite, but also the horse to catch in the field of 13 going a mile and a quarter in Santa Anita’s marquee race.


“I wasn’t concerned about who’s going, just with riding my horse,” Pedroza said after a typical morning of working horses before fulfilling his riding assignments Thursday afternoon. “I’ve said that he doesn’t have to be in front, but he probably will be, face it. He’s that fast. He’s probably going to the front. He’s faster than any horse in the race, I think.”


Ultimate Eagle has won at the Big ‘Cap distance, but that was on turf in the Grade I Hollywood Derby last November 27.


“I’m not concerned at all about the distance,” Pedroza said. “He proved he can do it on the grass course, and although the grass course is different from the dirt, I don’t think it should be any problem.”


Mike Pender trains Ultimate Eagle and also Jeranimo, who runs in the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile on Saturday. Both horses are owned by B.J. Wright. Should they pull a Big ‘Cap/Kilroe double, it would not be a first. The late Bobby Frankel achieved the feat in 2002 when he saddled Juddmonte Farms’ Decarchy to win the Kilroe and Stronach Stables’ Milwaukee Brew to take the Big ‘Cap.


And this gem from award-winning sports writer Bill Dwyre on a Santa Anita Handicap column in Thursday’s Los Angeles Times, commenting on trainer Julio Canani, who sends out Holladay Road in the race and who also is portrayed by actor John Ortiz in the HBO hit series, LUCK:


“Then there is the 8-1 choice Holladay Road, trained by the quirky, semi-lovable, untranslatable Julio Canani. Canani, from Peru by way of Mars, is the model for the trainer Turo Escalante in the HBO series LUCK. Escalante is played by actor John Ortiz, who was on hand for Wednesday’s Big ‘Cap draw party at Santa Anita.”


Also on Big ’Cap Day, Santa Anita offers a $500,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4 presented by DRF TicketMaker, and in honor of the classic, fans at Santa Anita will be given free Big ’Cap hats with paid admission while supplies last.


In addition, there will be another popular Food Truck Festival in the infield. First post time is 12 noon. Gates open at 10 a.m.



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