ELLIS HAS A HORSE, AFTER ALL; EXOTIC WOOD SCRATCHES INTO $1 MILLION SPRINT.
After Twice the Vice dropped out of the $1 million Distaff with an injury, Ron Ellis joked Sunday about founding a support group ``for trainers disappointed by the Breeders' Cup.''
``I could get Dick Mandella and the guy with Formal Gold, and we could just sit around and talk about it,'' he said.
But Ellis canceled the session Monday morning. His mare Exotic Wood made the field for the $1 million Sprint after Allen Jerkens-trained Kelly Kip was withdrawn. Ellis, the 37-year-old graduate of Monroe High in North Hills, will have his first Breeders' Cup starter after all.
``It feels good,'' he said. ``Now, if my brother-in-law gets in, it will make for an interesting day.''
Ellis' brother-in-law is Kentucky trainer Paul McGee, whose Bet on Sunshine is next on the Sprint waiting list.
Kelly Kip never left New York. Jerkens said he didn't like the look of a morning gallop.
Anet out: Trainer Bob Baffert withdrew 3-year-old Anet from the $1 million Mile because of an abscessed left hind foot.
That would let Hesabull into the 14-horse race. But his handlers opted for the Sprint. So Naninja is in the Mile and becomes the first Breeders' Cup runner for veteran trainer Mike Mitchell.
``It's exciting,'' Mitchell said. ``I'd run in the Steinlen (on Saturday's undercard) if I didn't get in, but I'd love to be in the Breeders' Cup right here in my own backyard.''
Chris McCarron will ride Naninja and Exotic Wood.
Stevens wins: Gary Stevens won twice Monday at Santa Anita and captured the Oak Tree riding title 23-21 over Kent Desormeaux. Baffert's only starter finished second; the trainer had 19 winners to tie Mitchell's Oak Tree record.
Yellow Ribbon winner Ryafan was voted Horse of the Meet.
Add Baffert: His four 2-year-olds recorded some of the fastest workouts of the morning at Hollywood.
Johnbill went 6 furlongs in 1:10 3/5 and Souvenir Copy went 5 in :58 in their last tuneups for the $1 million Juvenile. Marie J went 5 in :58 3/5 and Vivid Angel went 6 in 1:12 2/5 to stay sharp for the $1 million Juvenile Fillies.
``Bullet Bob came back today,'' said Baffert, who had yielded the fastest-trainer title Saturday when Patrick Byrne sent out Sprint favorite Richter Scale (5 furlongs in :57 1/5) and Juvenile favorite Favorite Trick (:58 4/5).
Who's left?: The rash of injuries and illnesses has cost the seven Breeders' Cup races several would-be favorites and reduced the total number of horses expected to be entered Wednesday to 80.
That's far from the fewest ever. Only 69 horses were entered in the first Breeders' Cup in '84 at Hollywood Park.