“He’s probably going to the front. He’s faster than any horse
in the race, I think.”–Martin Pedroza on Ultimate Eagle’s tactics
in the Santa Anita Handicap
Since jockey Martin Pedroza took over in the irons aboard Ultimate Eagle, horse and rider have been nearly unbeatable. They have won five of six races together, including the Hollywood Derby (G1), the Oak Tree Derby (G2) and most recently the Strub Stakes (G2), which marked Ultimate Eagle’s first race on traditional dirt.
Rest assured that Martin Pedroza, a veteran rider, is well aware that his mount is the horse to catch in tomorrow’s $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap (G1).
“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 owns a victory at the Big ‘Cap distance of 1 ¼ miles, but that was on turf in the Hollywood Derby.
“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.”
Santa Anita’s morning-line odds maker Jon White, shared his thoughts on the race with the track’s publicity department.
“Without Game On Dude, I don’t think there is any doubt Ultimate Eagle will be the favorite in the wake of his scintillating dirt debut in the Strub,” White said. “He might even be a lot heavier favorite than 5-2. But if I had made him a lot shorter morning-line favorite than 5-2 that would have meant having to really raise the prices on the other contenders. And in this particular case, I just didn’t feel that was the way to go. By the way, just think, as recently as October, Ultimate Eagle was 34-1 in the Oak Tree Derby. Now here he is, the morning line favorite for the Santa Anita Handicap. And keep in mind his rider (Martin Pedroza) is no stranger to posing in the winner’s circle after a Big ’Cap. Pedroza won it in 1989 aboard 50-1 Martial Law.”
Photo of Martin Pedroza and Ultimate Eagle courtesy of Santa Anita Park/Benoit photo
Morning-line odds for Saturday’s Santa Anita Handicap
By Jon White
|1. Uh Oh Bango||6-1 Won the San Pasqual|
|2. Ultimate Eagle||5-2 Super dirt debut in Strub|
|3. Ron the Greek||6-1 2nd in Sun. Millions Classic|
|4. Boxeur des Rues||50-1 Making first start on dirt|
|5. Thirtyfirststreet||30-1 Thirty-to-one firststreet|
|6. Twice the Appeal||30-1 Highest Beyer only 90|
|7. Fiddlers Afleet||50-1 Assigned feathery 110 lbs.|
|8. Gladding||12-1 Makes first start of 2012|
|9. Setsuko||4-1 Lost 2011 Big ’Cap by nose|
|10. Norvsky||6-1 Recorded a 97 Beyer on dirt|
|11. Prayer for Relief||8-1 Snaps 4-race losing streak?|
|12. Holladay Road||8-1 Sharp and very dangerous|
|13. Victory Pete||50-1 Last win ’09, no stakes wins|
–Santa Anita Publicity contributed to this report.