SANTA ANITA HONORS THE MEMORY OF THE ORIGINAL ‘VOICE OF SANTA ANITA’
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 20, 2014)–Trainer Steve Asmussen’s Unbridled’s Note, a three-time stakes winner down Santa Anita’s unique 6 ½ furlong hillside turf course, will be back to defend his title in Sunday’s $75,000 Joe Hernandez Stakes, which has attracted a field of seven older horses.
A winner of the Grade III Daytona Stakes down the hill two starts back, Unbridled’s Note comes off a close fourth place finish in the Grade II Arcadia Stakes at one mile on turf Feb. 1. Owned by Mike McCarty, the 5-year-old horse by Unbridled’s Song has an outstanding overall hillside resume’, as he also won the Grade III Eddie D. Stakes in Sept., 2012, and has just missed twice in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint–finishing second in 2012, and fourth, beaten 1 ¾ lengths, on Nov. 2, 2013.
With three wins, a second and a third down the hill, Unbridled’s Note has an overall mark of 17-5-3-4, with earnings of $648,683. He has been proven effective down the hill both stalking and on the lead and will be handled by Corey Nakatani, who has been aboard for all three wins over the course.
John Sadler’s Sweet Swap, who was idle for 7 ½ months prior to running a big second to the highly regarded Lakerville in the downhill Clockers’ Corner Stakes Jan. 26, will get a new rider in Joe Talamo, as Rafael Bejarano, who had been aboard for his last three starts, will ride Midwestern shipper Pure Tactics.
Sweet Swap, who most often prefers a stalking trip, stumbled at the break of the Clockers’ Corner and was rolling late to be beaten 1 ¼ lengths. A 5-year-old horse by Candy Ride, Sweet Swap has two wins, two seconds and a third from six tries down the hill. He is owned by Hronis Racing, LLC.
Jerry Hollendorfer’s Moonshine Bay, who earned a career-best Beyer Speed figure in running a close third in the Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes Feb. 2, has ample speed and rates a big chance as well. The Hernandez will be the 6-year-old gelding’s first try down the hill and only his second start on turf.
Ridden by Gary Stevens in his last two starts, he was hustled to the lead in the Palos Verdes and went head and head with Breeders’ Cup Sprint Champ Secret Circle through splits of 21.95, 44.27 and 55.97, with stable mate Wild Dude picking up the pieces late in a fast 1:08.09 for six furlongs.
Owned by Hollendorfer, Al Morrison, Marvin Kirsner and George Todaro, Kentucky-bred Moonshine Bay is 37-15-9-7 with earnings of $315,567.
A minor stakes winner down the hill 11 ½ months ago, the Julio Canani-trained Rosengold has been idle since running second in the downhill Uniformity Stakes Oct. 20. Bred in-part and owned by the Estate of William L. Currin, the 4-year-old colt by Stormello will be ridden back by regular pilot Martin Garcia and he figures to again show plenty of speed. Rosengold has a win and a second from three hillside tries and has four wins from nine starts overall.
Idle a year and three days, Tom Proctor’s Zimmer was a convincing winner of a $50,000 claimer down the hill Jan. 23, and the 8-year-old horse by Empire Maker will make his third Southern California start with apprentice Drayden Van Dyke engaged to ride. Off at 9-2 in his first start for Proctor, Zimmer sat second down the hill and took command a sixteenth of a mile out to win by 1 ¼ lengths under Mike Smith, who will be in his home state of New Mexico Sunday to be inducted into their Sports Hall of Fame.
Clubhouse Ride, who chased top older horse Game On Dude for the better part of last year in the Grade II San Antonio Stakes, the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap, the Grade II Charles Town Classic and the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup, has been idle since running poorly in the Ralph M. Hinds Handicap Sept. 22 at Fairplex and is likely in need of a race if he is to again become one of America’s more prominent two turn horses.
With a win and four seconds from nine starts last year, the Craig Lewis trainee amassed $581,374 in winnings, which hiked his overall total to $997,994. Owned by Six-S Racing Stable and Niko Petralia, Clubhouse Ride has proven effective down the hill. Dating back to March 22, 2012, he has a win, a second and a third from four starts. He is 32-4-8-8 overall, and will be ridden for the first time by Tyler Baze.
The complete field for the Joe Hernandez Stakes, to be run as the eighth on a nine-race program Sunday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Moonshine Bay, Gary Stevens, 118; Pure Tactics, Rafael Bejarano, 118; Zimmer, Drayden Van Dyke, 118; Unbridled’s Note, Corey Nakatani, 123; Rosengold, Martin Garcia, 118; Sweet Swap, Joe Talamo, 118, and Clubhouse Ride, Tyler Baze, 118.
First post time on Sunday is 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.