LONG ON VALUE & HEART TO HEART HEAD WIDE OPEN GRADE II, $200,000 MATHIS BROTHERS MILE (TURF) ON OPENING DAY, FRIDAY

 

FORMER SIR BEAUFORT STAKES ATTRACTS 14 SOPHS, WITH 12 TO RUN

 

ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 22, 2014)–A winner of three consecutive turf stakes, the last two graded, trainer Brian Lynch’s Heart to Heart and recent Grade II Twilight Derby winner Long On Value, who is trained by Bill Mott, head a full field of sophomores engaged to contest the Grade II, $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile (turf) on Santa Anita’s Winter Meet opening day, Friday.

Formerly run as the Sir Beaufort Stakes, the Mathis Brothers Mile is now sponsored by Oklahoma City-based Mathis Brothers Furniture, which is one of the nation’s leading furniture retailers with outlets in Southern California, attracted a wide open field of 14, with 12 set to run.

A game neck winner of the Twilight Derby with the recently retired Rosie Napravnik up, Long On Value was second, beaten one length, in the Grade III, one mile turf Arlington Classic five starts back on May 24, and he’s in search of his third consecutive win in the Mathis. A gem of consistency of late, the Virginia-bred colt by Value Plus has been beaten by no more than 1 ½ lengths in his last five outs.

With Mike Smith engaged to ride for the first time, Long On Value, who has been in training at Payson Park in South Florida since the Twilight Derby, has a win and a second from two tries at a mile on grass and is 13-5-2-1 overall. Owned by Wachtel Stable or Kerr, he has earnings of $418,388.

A former assistant to the late Bobby Frankel, trainer Brian Lynch returns to Southern California with high-flying Heart to Heart, who is in search of his fourth consecutive turf stakes win–with his last two coming at Churchill Downs, in the Grade III Jefferson Cup on Sept. 27 and the Grade III Commonwealth Turf on Nov. 15.

An Ontario Canadian-bred colt by English Channel, Heart to Heart is undefeated in three starts at a mile on turf and is 12-5-1-2 overall with earnings of $329,807. He is owned by Terry Hamilton and will be ridden by Julien Leparoux.

Second, beaten a neck two starts back by Long On Value in the Twilight Derby Oct. 31, trainer Kristin Mulhall’s Sawyer’s Hill opened up by four lengths after the first half mile in the Grade I, 1 1/8 miles turf Hollywood Derby at Del Mar Nov. 29, but tired to finish fourth, 4 ¾ lengths behind likely Horse of the Year California Chrome. Martin Garcia will try to ration “Sawyer’s” early speed as he cuts back a furlong in distance.

A winner of Remington Park’s Grade III, 1 1/8 miles Oklahoma Derby two starts back on Sept. 28, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s Tonito M. disappointed as the 3-5 favorite in his most recent out, the 1 1/16 miles Zia Park Derby on Nov. 26, finishing second, beaten three lengths by Alert Bay, who he’ll face again in the Mathis Brothers Mile. A Kentucky-bred colt by Rock Hard Ten, Tonito M. will be trying turf for only the second time in his career.

A Group I winner on dirt as a 2-year-old in Puerto Rico, Tonito M. is a four-time group or graded winner and is 14-7-3-2 overall, with earnings of $491,812. Owned by M Racing Group, LLC, he’ll be ridden for the fourth consecutive time by Rafael Bejarano.

Beaten only four lengths in the Grade I, 6 ½ furlong Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, trainer David Hofmans’ Home Run Kitten may be best suited at a mile on grass, as he has two wins and a third under those conditions–including a win four starts back in Santa Anita’s mile turf Singletary Stakes on June 21. Owned by Tarabill Farms, Inc., the chestnut colt by Kitten’s Joy appears well suited to spring a surprise with regular rider Joe Talamo engaged.

Trainer John Sadler’s French-bred Talco, who was most recently third, beaten three lengths by California Chrome in the Grade I Hollywood Derby Nov. 29, has shown ample promise in three stateside starts and would benefit from a fast pace. A close fifth behind Long On Value two starts back in the Twilight Derby Oct. 31, he was a good third in his U.S. debut, the Grade II Del Mar Derby on Aug. 31.

Trainer Blaine Wright’s California-bred Alert Bay enters the Mathis Brothers Mile on a big roll, having won his last three races, all stakes: The Grade III British Columbia Derby on Sept. 14 at Hastings Park in Vancouver, B.C., the Grade III Premier Handicap at Hastings on Oct. 13, and most recently, the Zia Park Derby on Nov. 26. The City Zip gelding has a win, a second and a third from three starts on grass and is 12-6-4-1 overall with earnings of $497,207. He’s owned by Peter Redekop BC, Ltd.

Richard Kritzski’s homebred Awesome Return comes off a sharp come-from-behind win in the restricted Let It Ride Stakes going one mile on turf at Del Mar Nov. 8 and tries graded competition for the first time in his 10th career start. With Mike Smith opting to ride Long On Value, the Mike Puype-trained colt by Decarchy will be handled for the first time by Kent Desormeaux. With three wins, a second and a third from five tries at a mile on grass, Awesome Return is 9-4-1-2 overall with earnings of $330,780.

Trainer Peter Miller likely has theft on his mind with talented California-bred Red Outlaw, as the chestnut gelding by Tribal Rule took the one mile El Cajon stakes in gate to wire fashion three starts back. With six wins from seven starts, he suffered his first defeat last out in the state-bred Cary Grant Stakes going seven furlongs on Nov. 23.

The complete field for the Grade II Mathis Brothers Mile, to be run as the seventh race on a nine-race card Friday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Patriots Rule, Fernando Perez, 118; Red Outlaw, Edwin Maldonado, 118; Ashleyluvssugar, Elvis Trujillo, 118; Alert Bay, Tyler Baze, 120; Sawyer’s Hill, Martin Garcia, 118; Tonito M., Rafael Bejarano, 120; Heart to Heart, Julien Leparoux, 120; Louisiana Flyboy, Aaron Gryder, 118; Home Run Kitten, Joe Talamo, 118; Long On Value, Mike Smith, 123; Awesome Return, Kent Desormeaux, 118, and Talco, Drayden Van Dyke, 118. ALSO ELIGIBLE: Cool Samurai, Victor Espinoza, 118, and Play Hard to Get, Corey Nakatani, 118.

                Special early first post time on Friday, opening day, is at 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.