FIELD OF NINE VETERANS WITH VARYING STYLES SET TO GO ONE MILE
ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 26, 2014)–A wide open field of nine older horses with varying styles, headed by trainer Steve Asmussen’s venerable Regally Ready, will contest the $75,000 Big Bear Stakes at one mile on Thursday at Santa Anita.
A winner of the one mile turf More Than Ready Stakes at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 13, the 7-year-old gelding will bid for his third consecutive victory in combination with Rosie Napravnik. Although 12 of his 15 wins have come on turf and he’s never run a flat mile on dirt, he was a 12 ½ length winner going a mile and 70 yards on Mountaineer Park’s main track two starts back Aug. 2.
Currently in the midst of a terrific year, the Kentucky-bred son of More Than Ready has won five of eight starts dating back to a one mile turf allowance score at Santa Anita on Jan. 2. Owned by Vinery Stables, LLC, Regally Ready is 36-15-2-6 overall with earnings of $1,606,806. Blessed with an abundance of natural speed, he has proven he can stalk early or lead throughout.
Trained by Bob Hess, Jr., upstart Blue Tone comes off a pair of impressive wins going one mile on Del Mar’s Polytrack, the most recent a head victory in the Harry F. Brubaker Stakes on Aug. 30. The Brubaker win was accomplished in gate to wire fashion and the 5-year-old Birdstone gelding figures to be on the lead or close-up again in the Big Bear.
Blue Tone will again be handled by the comebacking Kent Desormeaux, who rode him both times at Del Mar. This is significant, as Desormeaux and Hess are a high percentage combination spanning more than two decades. Owned by Beverly Engelberg, Schoeder Farms, LLC and Jan Steeper, Blue Tone has four wins, two seconds and one third from nine starts. He has earnings of $216,980.
A winner of the Grade III Longacres Mile on Aug. 24, trainer Larry Ross’s Stryker Phd closed from last in a field of 12 in the Mile and is in search of his fourth consecutive stakes victory. A 5-year-old Washington-bred gelding by Bertrando, Stryker Phd has two wins and two seconds from four starts at a flat mile. Owned by Jim and Mona Hour, he’s 16-5-4-4 overall with earnings of $292,751. The Big Bear will mark his first-ever start at Santa Anita and he’ll be ridden by regular pilot Leslie Mawing.
Bob Baffert’s speedy Everton comes off an impressive gate to wire win going 1 1/16 miles on Oct. 3, but will have to overcome his far-outside post position with regular rider Martin Garcia at the controls. A lightly raced 5-year-old horse by Indian Charlie, Everton was idle from Oct. 27, 2013 prior to his win earlier this month. Owned by Kaleem Shah, Inc., he has three wins and a second from five starts with earnings of $124,450.
A runaway winner of the $200,000 Los Alamitos Mile two starts back on Sept. 6, trainer Leonard Powell’s Soi Phet pressed the pace and tired badly in the one mile turf Grade II City of Hope Mile on Oct. 4. Claimed for $16,000 in May, 2013, the 6-year-old California-bred gelding by Tizbud has won seven times since, with five of those tallies coming at a flat mile. Owned by Benowitz, Powell, Viskovich and partners, Soi Phet is 30-8-2-2 overall with earnings of $472,936.
The complete field for Thursday’s Big Bear Stakes, to be run as the eighth race on a 10-race card, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Soi Phet, Joe Talamo, 124; Sweet Sunshine, Corey Nakatani, 120; Politicallycorrect, Joel Rosario, 118; Blueskiesnrainbows, Martin Pedroza, 124; Safety Belt, Tyler Baze, 122; Stryker Phd, Leslie Mawing, 124; Blue Tone, Kent Desormeaux, 124; Regally Ready, Rosie Napravnik, 124, and Everton, Martin Garcia, 120.
First post time on Thursday is at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m.