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OAK TREE : Cerin Enjoys His Usual Luck in the Morvich


Even though he wasn't represented at Churchill Downs, Vladimir Cerin had another memorable Breeders' Cup day.

For the second time in the last five years, the trainer won the $81,675 Morvich Handicap, and it was an absolute breeze Saturday.

Repeating what Yes I'm Blue did in 1990, Rotsaluck outran his six rivals early and pulled away from them late.

Three weeks after winning his debut on Santa Anita's hillside turf course by seven lengths, the 3-year-old Rajab gelding rolled home by 6 1/2 under Fernando Valenzuela in the Morvich.

Trained by Dan Dennison for the first four starts of his career, Rotsaluck is much improved since joining Cerin's barn. The victory was his third in a row after he ran second and eighth in his first two races for Cerin.

"I don't think the horse has turned around," Cerin said. "I think this horse showed this kind of ability right from the start. Earlier in the year (Jan. 9) he was only beaten a length and a quarter by Soul Of The Matter (who was fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic), and he wasn't the soundest horse in the world at the time.

"He had knee surgery on both knees. But he's recovered and he's come back."

The 4-1 third choice, Rotsaluck obviously has a fondness for Santa Anita's unique course, but Cerin said he might also supplement him to Hollywood Park's Turf Express on Nov. 25.

"I think we've got a (course) freak here," Valenzuela said. "I came away from there and found myself on the lead in front of some speed horse, going pretty easy.

"Then, coming down the hill, my horse stumbled and went down all the way to the ground. I think he hit a soft spot in the turf. But I picked him back up and he just accelerated. I guess it's mostly the course with him. He sure seems to like going down the hill. He really accelerates on it."

In a race that included favored D'Hallevant and Winning Combo, it was surprising Rotsaluck made the lead so easily, but he opened up two lengths after a quarter of a mile. He went 21 1/5, 43 4/5 and 1:07 1/5 en route to the final time of 1:13 3/5 for about 6 1/2 furlongs.

D'Hallevant, the 3-2 choice, finished second, a half-length in front of 7-1 shot Didyme. Geographe was fourth, then came Winning Combo, Portoferraio and Mr Impose.

"He ran a decent race," said Aaron Gryder, who was on the favorite. "The winner got away from him a little bit around the turn. I tried to stay with him and keep the pressure on as much as I could, but he just drew away from us. Just the same, my horse kept to his task and ran a solid race to hang on for second."


Corrazona, fourth as the heavy favorite in last month's Las Palmas, is the 5-2 choice to make amends in the $400,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes today.

Reunited with Gary Stevens, the 4-year-old El Gran Senor filly has lost her last two starts after winning her first three in this country. The Las Palmas was her initial loss on this turf course after previously winning an allowance race and the Santa Anita Budweiser Breeders' Cup.

Aube Indienne, who was 8-1 when she won the Las Palmas in her first start for trainer Charlie Whittingham, is the 7-2 second choice in the 1 1/4-mile Grade I. She will again be ridden by Kent Desormeaux.

The Juddmonte Farms-owned entry of Wandesta and Yenda is next at 4-1, along with Magical Maiden, then comes Fondly Remembered (5-1), the entry of Zoonaqua and La Frontera (10-1), Freckling Shadows (20-1), and Chesa Plana and Wende (30-1).

Alywow, second in the recent Rothmans International, was supposed to run in the Yellow Ribbon, but trainer Roger Attfield decided against it at the last minute.

"She didn't breeze as well as I wanted," Attfield told Daily Racing Form. "I was worried about the turf course (at Santa Anita) and decided to abort the mission. She'll fly to California next week to prepare for the Matriarch (Nov. 27 at Hollywood Park)."

Horse Racing Notes

On-track attendance at Santa Anita was 22,671 and the total handle was $17,006,419. Total attendance was 51,451. . . . Four of the seven Breeders' Cup winners paid more locally than they did at Churchill Downs. Cherokee Run paid $8.80 ($7.60 in Kentucky), Flanders $3 (2.80), Timber Country $7.20 ($6.80) and Concern $26.40 ($17). The winners that paid less than in Kentucky were: One Dreamer $69.40 ($96.20 at Churchill Downs), Tikkanen $31.60 ($35.20) and Barathea $19.60 ($22.80). . . . A field of nine was entered in Oak Tree's closing-day feature, the $150,000 Carleton F. Burke Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on turf. Newton's Law, who has two victories at the meeting, Sir Mark Sykes, Savinio and the European import Frenchpark head the field. . . . Fernando Valenzuela and Chris Antley won twice Saturday. . . . Heavily favored Salta's Pride won the $50,000 Charles H. Russell Handicap over a sloppy track at Bay Meadows. Roberto Gonzalez rode the winner for trainer Pico Perdomo.

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