RACE ALSO MARKS RETURN OF HALL OF FAMER GARY STEVENS FOLLOWING HIP REPLACEMENT
ARCADIA, Calif. (March 5, 2017)–In what looms as perhaps the most highly anticipated non-graded stakes of the Winter Meet, comebacking Illuminant, recent graded winner Prize Exhibit and consistent Hillhouse High all figure prominently in Friday’s $75,000 Wishing Well Stakes for older fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course. Carded as Friday’s fifth race, the Wishing Well attracted a field of seven.
The race, named for the dam of 1989 Horse of the Year, Sunday Silence, holds additional appeal due to the fact it marks the return to the saddle of racing’s Bionic Man, Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, who’s been idle since undergoing hip replacement surgery on Dec. 21. A winner of 5,083 career races, including three Kentucky Derbies and 11 Breeders’ Cup events, Stevens underwent knee replacement surgery in July, 2014 and last rode on Dec. 10, 2016 at Los Alamitos.
Adding to the Wishing Well drama is the fact that Stevens, who has been named to ride Chilean-bred Paquita Coqueta for Richard Mandella, will turn 54 on Monday and be joined in the starting gate by his older brother, Scott. Currently the leading rider at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, AZ, Scott Stevens will ride Arizona-based Kera Kera, an Iowa-bred mare who’s trained by Satchell (no relation) Stevens.
ILLUMINANT: Trained by Michael McCarthy and idle since winning the Grade I, 1 1/8 miles turf Gamely Stakes here on May 30, this 5-year-old Quality Road mare has a win and a second from three tries down the hillside turf and appears strictly the horse to beat. With regular rider Flavien Prat engaged, look for Illuminant to be on or near the early lead. Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, she’s 11-4-2-1 overall with earnings of $367,650.
PRIZE EXHIBIT: With “Big Money” Mike Smith rationing her finite late kick, this 5-year-old English-bred mare took the Grade III, one mile turf Megahertz Stakes by 1 ¼ lengths on Jan. 16. Although she’s routed in her last 10 starts, she did win the Grade II Monrovia Stakes here 12 starts back in her only hillside turf try. With recency in her corner and Smith at the controls, she rates a big chance to notch her second consecutive win on Friday. Owned by Deron Pearson’s D P Racing, Prize Exhibit has earnings of $637,045 from an overall mark of 31-7-3-2.
HILLHOUSE HIGH: Originally based in New York with Chad Brown, this 6-year-old Exchange Rate mare has done very well in four Southern California starts for trainer Richard Baltas. A close third two starts back in the Grade II, one mile turf Goldikova Stakes here on Nov. 6, she was a well beaten third in the Grade III Buena Vista on Feb. 18, a race that due to heavy rains, was switched to the main track. She’ll get back to her preferred surface in the Wishing Well as she tries the hill for the first time under new pilot Corey Nakatani. Owned by Golden Eagle Farm, Hillhouse High is 21-3-6-6 overall with earnings of $316,487.
THE $75,000 WISHING WELL STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 5 of 8 Approximate post time 3 p.m. PT
- Cadet Roni–Rafael Bejarano–120
- Kera Kera–Scott Stevens–120
- Illuminant–Flavien Prat–125
- Miss Double d’Oro–Santiago Gonzalez–122
- Prize Exhibit–Mike Smith–125
- Paquita Coqueta–Gary Stevens–120
- Hillhouse High–Corey Nakatani–120
First post time on Friday at Santa Anita is at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m. For scratches, changes and complete morning line information, please visit santaanita.com.