ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 21, 2015)–An impressive gate to wire winner last time out, Om heads a field of 10 sophomores Saturday at Santa Anita as he seeks his second consecutive graded stakes win in the Grade II, $200,000 Twilight Derby at a mile and one eighth on turf.
Trained by Dan Hendricks, the Kentucky-bred colt by Munnings was a disappointing second two starts back in the Grade III La Jolla Handicap, but took no prisoners en route to a stirring gate to wire score in the Grade II Del Mar Derby going 1 1/8 miles on turf Sept. 6.
Owned by the Sareen Family Trust, Om has the distinction of handing eventual Triple Crown Champion American Pharoah a 9 ¼ length defeat going 6 ½ furlongs in “Pharoah’s” first start on Aug. 9, 2014 at Del Mar. Ridden for the first time by Gary Stevens in the Del Mar Derby, Om has three wins from seven starts and has career earnings of $274,500.
Bloom Racing’s Soul Driver, a winner of the one mile turf Singletary Stakes at Santa Anita June 20 and a nose winner of Del Mar’s one mile turf Oceanside Stakes July 16, never got untracked in the Del Mar Derby, finishing fifth, beaten eight lengths.
A Kentucky-bred colt by Street Boss, Soul Driver, who is conditioned by Jeff Mullins, rallied from well off the pace in both stakes wins, but could be positioned a bit closer on Saturday. A mile and one eighth maiden turf winner here on Oct. 23, 2014, he is 4-2-1-1 over the course. Owned by Jeff Bloom’s Bloom Racing Stable, LLC, Soul Driver has three wins from 10 overall starts and has earnings of $208,350.
Second, beaten 2 ¼ lengths by Om two starts back in the Del Mar Derby, trainer Doug O’Neill’s English-bred Royal Albert Hall caught a soft turf when well beaten in his most recent out, the Grade III, 1 1/8 miles turf Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont Park Oct. 3. Third in the Grade III La Jolla three starts back, “Royal Albert” was also third, beaten 3 ½ lengths, by Soul Driver in the Oceanside Stakes July 16.
Owned by Head of Plains Partners, LLC, Keh, Knight and partners, Royal Albert Hall has had eight stateside starts and seeks his first United Stakes win in the Twilight Derby. He is 13-1-5-3 overall with earnings of $124,333.
Trainer Phil D’Amato’s Irish-bred Hunt, who finished well to be second, beaten a half length in his U.S. debut at a mile on turf Aug. 30, could improve by many lengths with Mike Smith engaged to ride him back. He is owned by Michael House and will try graded competition for the first time on Saturday.
The complete field for the Twilight Derby, to be run as the seventh race on a nine-race card Saturday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Hunt, Mike Smith, 118; Mister Brightside, James Graham, 118; Om, Gary Stevens, 122; Ground Rules, Martin Garcia, 118; Boone Docks, Corey Nakatani, 118; Soul Driver, Tyler Baze, 118; Daddy D T, Victor Espinoza, 118; Royal Albert Hall, Rafael Bejarano, 118; Second Summer, Mario Gutierrez, 118, and Verraco, Santiago Gonzalez, 118.
First post time on Saturday is at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m.