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Masterful Advocate Returns Today as Santa Anita Opens

Times Staff Writer

Trainer Joe Manzi undoubtedly was left with some nice gifts under his Christmas tree, but none will compare with the return of Masterful Advocate if the 3-year-old colt can regain the form that he flashed almost a year ago.

Masterful Advocate, bought by Manzi by accident for $5,500--he was leaving the yearling sale, but a bid-spotter mistakenly thought he had made the final bid--was such a standout early this year that he went off the 2-5 favorite in the Santa Anita Derby in April.

Bumped leaving the gate and then put in a tight spot going into the first turn, Masterful Advocate finished a poor second, 5 1/2 lengths behind Temperate Sil.

Favoritism is fickle, and that race alone made Masterful Advocate a virtually forgotten horse when he arrived at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby a month later.

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In the 17-horse field in Louisville, Masterful Advocate again had trouble negotiating the clubhouse turn, and the 6-1 shot never regained contention, struggling home in 12th place.

That was Masterful Advocate’s last race. There was some soreness in his muscular hindquarters after the Santa Anita Derby, and following the Kentucky Derby he came back to California stiff and sore in a lot of places.

Manzi returns Masterful Advocate to the races today in the $100,000 Malibu Stakes as Santa Anita opens its 51st season, and it certainly won’t be a case of easing the colt back into the program. Eleven other horses were entered for the seven-furlong race, including Temperate Sil, Candi’s Gold and two horses--W.D. Jacks and Hot and Smoggy--who won stakes races in their last start.

The Malibu will be the first of 58 stakes races at Santa Anita in a 91-day season that runs through April 25. Post time for today’s first race is noon. Sunday it goes to 12:30 and will change to 1 p.m. after Feb. 15.

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Although he hasn’t won since July, Candi’s Gold may be the favorite in the Malibu. Running longer distances, Candi’s Gold has been close in all of his races and was fourth, after prompting the early pace with Judge Angelucci, in the 1-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic at Hollywood Park on Nov. 21. One race later, W.D. Jacks won the Affirmed Handicap at a mile for his fifth victory in six starts this year.

All Masterful Advocate has had next to his name since May has been a string of strong workouts. He recuperated at the farm of Earl Scheib--one of Manzi’s clients--and rejoined the trainer at Santa Anita in October.

“We thought a little bit about the Breeders’ Cup,” Manzi said, “but that would have been rushing him. We figured we’d give him more time and then just point him for the Strub series.”

The series starts with the Malibu, and after the horses gain a year on Jan. 1, it will be completed with 4-year-olds running in the 1 1/8-mile San Fernando on Jan. 17 and in the 1-mile Charles H. Strub Stakes on Feb. 7.

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Manzi doesn’t talk as though the Malibu is just a prep for the other races.

“This horse was a big horse before, and now he’s matured and he’s even bigger,” the trainer said. “He’s been training good, he’s fit and I look for a good effort from him.”

The Santa Anita Derby was probably more of a disappointment for Manzi than the Kentucky Derby, because Masterful Advocate went into the earlier race with successive wins in the Los Feliz and San Rafael at Santa Anita and the El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows. Masterful Advocate demolished his opposition, winning the three by 15 1/2 lengths.

At the Kentucky Derby, Manzi, usually an amiable sort, quickly tired of explaining what happened at Santa Anita.

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“I’d like to have that first turn run over again, and see what would have happened with a clean trip,” Manzi said.

At Churchill Downs, Manzi thought that Masterful Advocate “had a real good shot. But he didn’t break well, and then on the turn, he lost all chance. The crowd didn’t faze him, it was just the heavy traffic that took him out of the race.”

Horse Racing Notes Jockeys who have won 13 of the 16 Eclipse Awards since 1971 will be riding at Santa Anita, although Pat Day won’t be competing there on a full-time basis. . . . Given an option by the California Horse Racing Board, Santa Anita will leave its public telephones open during the races. There is a rule that says the results of a race can’t been given over the phones until 15 minutes after it’s over. . . . Pick Six payoffs will award 60% to the bettors picking the most winners, with the group selecting the next highest number getting 40%. Last season, the payoffs were in three tiers. There will be no carryovers if no one picks all six. . . . Racing will be held Wednesday through Sunday, plus a special program next Tuesday and Monday cards on Jan. 18, Feb. 15 and April 25. . . . Announcer Trevor Denman is scheduled to shift to Golden Gate Fields after Santa Anita closes. . . . Bill Shoemaker, who won his first Malibu with Round Table in 1957 and his eighth last year with Ferdinand, goes for No. 9 with Temperate Sil. . . . Zany Tactics will carry top weight of 123 pounds, with Shoemaker riding him for the first time, in Sunday’s $100,000 Palos Verdes Handicap at six furlongs. Broadway Pointe, entered in the Malibu, is also listed for the Palos Verdes, which has attracted Hilco Scamper, Zabaleta, Exclusive Enough, My Favorite Moment, High Brite and Bid Us. . . . Creme Fraiche runs today at Hialeah in the $200,000 Widener.


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