ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 28, 2017)–Shrouded in controversy since his debut nearly four years ago, top sprinter Masochistic is set to make his first start since early May as he heads a field of nine 3-year-olds and up in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Midnight Lute Stakes at Santa Anita. Idle since distanced over a wet fast track going seven furlongs in the Grade II Churchill Downs on May 6, the 7-year-old California-bred gelding will be making his first start for Bob Baffert in the Midnight Lute.
Masochistic’s primary competition on Saturday is located to his immediate outside, as Kaleem Shah’s homebred Americanize, who was most recently a well beaten fourth in the Grade I Cigar Mile Handicap Dec. 2 at Aqueduct, figures to be plenty tough as he returns to the sprint game.
Peter Miller’s Calculator, well beaten in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint Nov. 4, is a top sprinter who will no doubt vie for favoritism and rates a huge look with four-time Eclipse Champion Javier Castellano set to ride.
Trainer Mark Glatt is well represented by lightly raced Silent Bird, who comes off a troubled third place run in the Grade II Pat O’Brien Stakes going seven furlongs on Aug. 26.
Jerry Hollendorfer’s venerable Ike Walker, a 5-year-old gelding, comes off a solid second condition allowance win going a flat mile on Nov. 16 and will to purloin his recent route form into victory at 6 ½ furlongs.
Owner: Los Pollos Hermanos Racing or Jay Em Ess Stable Trainer: Bob Baffert
If it were possible, he no-doubt would’ve been cast prominently in a Dick Francis novel. Originally trained by A.C. Avila, Masochistic was fifth at odds of 8-1 in his career debut March 15, 2014 at Santa Anita. Subsequently bet down to 2-1 favoritism off a morning line of 20-1 in a maiden special weight affair going six furlongs on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs, Masochistic responded with a 14 length score for the ever-crafty Avila, who was soon besieged with inquiries as to the machinations of such an improbable victory. Fast forward to Nov. 5, 2016, when the then 6-year-old gelded son of Sought After finished second in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint when conditioned by Ron Ellis. Although he ran second, Masochistic was stripped of his purse money because a trace amount of prohibited medication was found in his system. Following that, he made the early lead and finished second, beaten one length as the 1-2 favorite in the Grade I, seven furlong Triple Bend Stakes here on March 11. In what would be his final start for Ellis, he pressed the pace and faded to finish 13th in the Grade II Churchill Downs Stakes as the 2-1 favorite on May 6. With Baffert calling the signals for the first time, 7-year-old Masochistic has been on a serious five-day work pattern since late November and appears primed for a big effort as he’ll be ridden for the first time by Drayden Van Dyke. The leading money earner in the field with $857,550, he’s 16-8-3-0 overall.
Owner: Kaleem Shah, Inc. Trainer: Simon Callaghan
A rousing 2 ¼ length winner of the ungraded Damascus Stakes going seven furlongs two starts back on Nov. 3, he was subsequently well beaten when stretched out to a one-turn mile in the Grade I Cigar Mile at Aqueduct Dec. 2. Originally trained by Baffert, he also ran twice for Doug O’Neill prior to being transferred to Callaghan early last summer. Owned by his breeder, Kaleem Shah, Americanize is much better suited sprinting and with his natural speed, could prove problematic for the comebacking Masochistic. A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by Concord Point, Americanize is 10-3-5-0 overall with earnings of $273,045.
Owner: Richard C. Pell Trainer: Peter Miller
Although his 2017 earnings haven’t kept pace with last year’s ($142,480 to $254,960), this 5-year-old Florida-bred full horse by In Summation merits considerable respect as he’s kept good company, particularly in his last two starts. Most recently seventh in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 4, he was second, beaten 1 ½ lengths two starts back by Giant Expectations in the Grade II, seven furlong Pat O’Brien Stakes Aug. 26. The Pat O’Brien looks even better in retrospect, as Giant Expectations pulled off an upset here on Tuesday in the Grade II San Antonio Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. NOTE: Calculator’s presence on Saturday takes on added significance, as he was one of several hundred horses rescued from the horrific fires at San Luis Rey Downs Training Center on Dec. 7. Transported to Del Mar, he appears to acclimated well, as he has three recorded works at the seaside for Peter Miller, his most recent a three furlong move in 38.60 Tuesday morning. He’ll be ridden for the first time by four-time Eclipse Champ Javier Castellano.
Owner: Norman Stables, LLC Trainer: Mark Glatt
A hard knocking winner of five of his eight starts, this 5-year-old full horse by Summer Bird bobbled at the break of the seven furlong Pat O’Brien and did well to finish third, beaten 4 ¼ lengths. Fourth two starts back in the Grade I Triple Bend Stakes March 11, he enters the Midnight Lute a fresh commodity and rates a huge chance from off the pace with Kent Desormeaux. A winner of five of his eight starts, he seeks his first graded stakes win on Saturday.
Owner: C T R Stables, LLC, Dr. M. Sigband or Hollendorfer, LLC Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Primarily a sprinter early in his career, this 5-year-old Bellamy Road gelding has now routed in 21 out of his last 22 starts and has run a flat mile in his last seven. A one length winner going a mile in a second condition allowance on Nov. 16 at Del Mar, Ike Walker earned a sizzling 95 Beyer Speed figure in what was his 34th career start. With 10 wins, four seconds and five third-place finishes, “Ike” is obviously all racehorse and rates an upset chance with national win leader Irad Ortiz, Jr. opting to take the Midnight Lute call.
THE GRADE III MIDNIGHT LUTE STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 8 of 9 Approximate post time 4 p.m. PT
1. Silent Bird–Kent Desormeaux–120
2. Ohio–Brice Blanc–120
3. Ike Walker–Irad Ortiz, Jr.–122
4. Masochistic–Drayden Van Dyke–120
5. Americanize–Rafael Bejarano–122
6. Solid Wager–Victor Espinoza–122
7. Tough Sunday–Tyler Baze–120
8. Calculator–Javier Castellano–120
9. Smokey Image–Gary Stevens–120
First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com.