ARCADIA, Calif. -- Falcon Rock will give Simon Callaghan his best chance for a graded stakes win this year in Sunday's $150,000 San Juan Capistrano, and the trainer has virtually no chance of seeing the race live.
Last week, Callaghan traveled to his native England to attend a 2-year-olds in-training sale. He has been stuck there in recent days after a volcano in Iceland spewed ash in the sky and shut down air travel in that country.
"I've had a bit of a nightmare with the flights and everything because of the volcano," he said by phone Friday. "I'm pretty sure I won't make it. There is not much I can do. I was going to come back [Friday]. If a flight goes, I'll be on it."
Callaghan, 26, relocated from England to Southern California over the winter and has won three races with 24 starters at Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields this year. Falcon Rock won an optional claimer over 1 1/2 miles on turf at Santa Anita on March 6 in his U.S. debut, drawing off late to win by a convincing 2 1/4 lengths.
Last year in England, Falcon Rock had one win in seven starts but was never worse than third, racing at distances ranging from seven furlongs to 1 1/2 miles. The recent win has left Callaghan optimistic that Falcon Rock can give race favorite Bourbon Bay a scare.
"He ran very well and has improved from that race," Callaghan said. "He was going away at the finish. This is his first time over 1 3/4 miles. I think he's one to beat Bourbon Bay, if there is one that is good enough."
The trainer said he will take it in stride if he wins his first American stakes but is stuck in England.
"I'll still be very happy if I win a Grade 2," he said. "We had a winner the other day. The horses are in good form and running well. Fingers crossed, we can get that prize."
Valdivia moving tack to Philly-Monmouth
Jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. is relocating to the Philadelphia Park-Monmouth Park circuit next week.
Valdivia, 35, has won five races from 78 mounts at the current winter-spring meeting. Last year, Valdivia was the regular rider of Rail Trip, winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup.
"Business here was getting tougher," he told Santa Anita publicity. "There are more riders and fewer horses. My business has dropped significantly. It's not that you're not a good rider, you're just not fashionable anymore."
Valdivia was represented by Jim Pegram, who has taken over as an agent for Martin Garcia, who through Thursday was tied for fifth in the standings with 45 wins.
On Wednesday, Garcia fired Vic Stauffer, who remains the agent for Tyler Baze, the seventh-leading rider at the meeting.