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McCarron Has History on His Side


The third and most recent time jockey Chris McCarron won the San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap was on Bien Bien, the 2-5 favorite against eight opponents, in 1994.

If McCarron is to add another San Juan to his resume--and move closer to his 7,000th victory--he will do it for virtually the same connections he did seven years ago and on a son of Bien Bien.

Owned by Trudy McCaffery, John Toffan and Robert Sangster and trained by Paco Gonzalez, Bienamado will try to win Santa Anita's longest race today, matching his sire.

A 5-year-old who has won six of 13 in a career that began in Europe, Bienamado is the 7-5 favorite in the about 1 3/4-mile race run over Santa Anita's entire turf course.

Successful in four of his last five starts on grass, the chestnut will be returning to his preferred surface after finishing ninth, 14 1/2 lengths behind, in his main track debut in the Santa Anita Derby on March 3.

A winner of the San Marcos Handicap in January in his only other grass race at Santa Anita, Bienamado didn't scare anybody away when entries were taken Thursday morning.

Ten others are entered and if all run, it will be the biggest field for the Capistrano since 11 started in 1991.

Blueprint, who won the San Luis Rey Stakes on March 11, his first victory in this country, is the 7-2 second choice and Subtle Power, trainer Bill Mott's shipper from Florida, is next at 4-1.

Completing the field, from the inside out, are Guillamou City, Indigo Myth, Mister Kick, Persianlux, who won the San Luis Obispo at 27-1 on Feb. 17; Jack Grandi, Floriselli, Piranesi and Tanaasa.


Earlier on the card, Astra is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the $250,000 Santa Barbara Handicap at 1 1/4 miles on the turf. Trained by Simon Bray, the 5-year-old Theatrical mare will be running for the first time since she was fifth in the Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park last July 2. Before that, Astra had won five of six, one of those in the Grade I Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap over Happyanunoit and Tout Charmant.

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