ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 30, 2015)–Arguably the quickest horse on the grounds, trainer Jeff Bonde’s Distinctiv Passion figures to be tested early as he defends his title in the Grade III, $100,000 Midnight Lute Stakes for older horses at 6 ½ furlongs this Saturday at Santa Anita.
Idle since running a well-beaten fifth in the Grade I, six furlong Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 3, the 6-year-old Florida-bred horse by With Distinction could likely get early pressure from the likes of California-bred San Onofre, and rising star, Seattle Seranade. Distinctiv Passion has five front-running wins from nine local starts and is undefeated in two tries at 6 ½ furlongs.
Owned by Edward Brown, Jr., Alan Klein and Phillip Lebherz, Distinctiv Passion will be reunited with Edwin Maldonado, who has guided him to seven of his eight career wins. With 20 overall starts to his credit, Distinctiv Passion has earnings of $482,400.
Classy eastern invader Salutos Amigos, who was fifth, beaten 4 ½ lengths by top sprinter Runhappy in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint two starts back, was finishing well when beaten 1 ½ lengths as the 3-2 favorite in the Grade III, six furlong Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct Nov. 26 and would appreciate a fast pace to run at on Saturday.
Conditioned by David Jacobson, Salutos Amigos, a 6-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by Salute the Sarge, is a four-time graded stakes winner and has 10 wins from 34 overall starts. Owned by Jacobson and Southern Equine Stable, LLC, Salutos Amigos has banked a Midnight Lute-best $1,122,406.
A sharp second in both the Grade III, six furlong Los Angeles Stakes and Grade II, 6 ½ furlong Kona Gold Stakes this past spring at Santa Anita, trainer Karen Headley’s San Onofre has been idle since well beaten in the Grade I, seven furlong Triple Bend Stakes here on June 27.
Naturally quick, the 6-year-old California-bred gelding by Surf Cat will hope to survive what could develop into an all-out rush for the lead with Distinctiv Passion. Owned by Matson Racing, lightly raced San Onofre, who will be bidding for his first stakes win, is 9-4-4-0 with earnings of $273,040.
Jerry Hollendorfer’s Seattle Serenade, who comes off a smashing 6 ¼ length allowance score going six furlongs at Los Alamitos on Dec. 11, will try stakes company for the first time as he tries to remain unbeaten in what will be his third career start. A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred colt by Smart Strike, Seattle Serenade was bred in-part by Hill ‘N’ Dale Equine Holdings.
Owned by Hollendorfer, Hill ‘N’ Dale Equine Holdings, Inc., and Mark DeDominico, Seattle Serenade will break from the rail with regular rider Mike Smith.
The complete field for the Grade III Midnight Lute Stakes, to be run as the sixth race on a nine-race card Saturday, with jockey and weights in post position order: Seattle Serenade, Mike Smith, 119; San Onofre, Alex Solis, 119; Distinctiv Passion, Edwin Maldonado, 121; Pulling G’s, Victor Espinoza, 119; Raised a Secret, Fernando Perez, 119; All Run, Mario Gutierrez, 119, and Salutos Amigos, Martin Garcia, 121.
First post time on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m., with admission gates opening at 10:30 a.m.