SANTA ANITA DERBY WINNER DORTMUND, IDLE SINCE PREAKNESS, AIRS IN $70,000 BIG BEAR STAKES
ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 24, 2015)–In a sensational performance, favored Om set fast fractions and opened up on his competition turning for home to take Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Twilight Derby at Santa Anita by 2 ¼ lengths. Ridden by Gary Stevens and trained by Dan Hendricks, the 3-year-old Kentucky-bred colt by Munnings got a mile and one eighth on turf in 1:45.90.
Breaking from post position three in a field eight sophomores, Om sped to the lead and set fractions of 23.15, 46.55, 1:10.49 and 1:34.40. Off at 1-2, he paid $3.00, $2.40 and $2.20.
“I was actually worried about Guillot’s (trainer, Eric) horse, Boone Docks,” said Stevens. “The first eighth of a mile, I didn’t want to shake him up to make the lead. I took a look over at Corey (Nakatani, on Boone Docks) and he didn’t look like he wanted to get into a dog fight with me.
“I let my horse out a little notch going into the first turn and he was able to get the lead and was going very comfortably underneath me until the head of the stretch where he gave me a tremendous burst.”
Owned by the Sareen Family Trust, the win was an emotional one for the winning connections, as U.S. Marine Major Taj Sareen, the son of Mr. and Mrs. K.B. Sareen, was killed this past Wednesday following a tour a duty in the Persian Gulf when his FA-18 fighter jet crashed shortly after taking off from a British airbase for what was to be a return flight to the United States.
“What can I say?” said Hendricks. “They lost their son and he’s a hero for real, not pretend. A fighter jet pilot who gave his life for our country. The race set up just like the Del Mar Derby (Sept. 6). It just looked like he did it easier than Del Mar. He seemed to mature a little more and he’s coming into his own at the right time of year. It looks like we’re headed to the Hollywood Derby (Grade I at Del Mar Nov. 14).”
With the win, Om improved his overall mark to 8-4-1-1 and with the winner’s share of $120,000, increased his earnings to $394,500.
Ridden by James Graham and trained by Jeremy Noseda, Irish-bred Mister Brightside, who was making his U.S. debut for his owner, retired riding legend Walter Swinburn, broke a bit slowly but was into second positon turning for home and stayed there, finishing a half length in front of Royal Albert Hall.
Off at 9-1, Mister Brightside paid $6.40 and $4.40.
“I got a beautiful trip, just didn’t have enough but he ran his rear end off,” said Graham.
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, English-bred Royal Albert Hall was off at 10-1 and paid $3.40 to show.
Note: Baseball Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda presented the Twilight Derby trophy.
“I come to watch the horses and be around the people,” said Lasorda, who was accompanied by his favorite knuckleballer, Charlie Hough and Dodger PR consultant Steve Brener. “It’s fun to bet because it’s a challenge.”
COMEBACKING SANTA ANITA DERBY WINNER DORTMUND SIZZLES FLAT MILE IN 1:36.42
In his first start since running fourth in the Preakness Stakes May 16, Santa Anita Derby winner Dortmund was nothing short of brilliant in taking Saturday’s $70,000 Big Bear Stakes at a flat mile. With regular rider Martin Garcia up, the 3-year-old colt by Big Brown exuded class in his first start versus older horses, winning by 1 ¾ lengths while getting the distance in 1:36.42.
With Kent Desormeaux aggressively sending longshot Soi Phet into the Club House turn, Dortmund sat a close second and assumed command while in hand five sixteenths from home.
“He’s back,” said Garcia. “I knew he was going to come back strong. They never took him to the ranch, he’s always been here at the track…It was a morning workout for him and I’m really excited about the future with him.”
Off at 1-5 in a field of five, Dortmund paid $2.60, $2.10 and $2.10.
Trained by Bob Baffert and owned by Kaleem Shah, Inc., Dortmund, who was undefeated in six starts prior to running third in the Kentucky Derby, got his seventh win from nine starts. With the Big Bear winner’s share of $43,080, he increased his bankroll to $1,622,480.
“It was a good race for him,” said Baffert. “We wanted to prep him for the Clark Handicap (Grade I, 1 1/8 miles) at Churchill Downs Thanksgiving weekend. After that, we’ll look at the Malibu (Grade I, seven furlongs, Dec. 26) here on opening day.”
Santa Anita’s 19-day Autumn Meet will conclude on Sunday with a nine-race program. First post time is at 1 p.m., admission gates open at 11 a.m.