PROUDINSKY SEEKS SAN GABRIEL THREE PEAT ON MONDAY

ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 23, 2010) – German-bred Proudinsky, who has excelled in Santa Anita’s Grade II San Gabriel Stakes, can move ahead of every horse ever to compete in the $150,000 grass event at 1 1/8 miles on Monday when faced by nine challengers in the event’s 64th running.

After finishing a close second in the 2007 San Gabriel, Proudinsky returned to capture the 2008 and 2009 runnings while becoming the fourth two-time winner of an historic race whose roster of past winners includes such luminaries as John Henry, Cougar II and Determine.

Proudinsky, thus, joined Romarin, Brave Act and Irish Prize as the San Gabriel’s two-time winners. In attempting to distinguish himself from all the others, the 7-year-old bay will be ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, last aboard when Proudinsky won the Grade III Bay Meadows Derby in 2006.

The San Gabriel heads a nine-race holiday-season program as Santa Anita moves into the second day of its 76-day meet. First post is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

Following last year’s San Gabriel, Proudinsky was given an 11month vacation by trainer Humberto Ascanio. He returned to run second in Hollywood Park’s Grade II Citation Handicap on Nov. 27.

Purchased privately by Stella Perdomo following last December’s San Gabriel, the earner of $1,275,953 is identified with another historic marker in the turf event. He provided the late Bobby Frankel with his record 900th career victory at Santa Anita in 2008 when he defeated Ferneley by three-quarters of a length.

Following Frankel’s passing in November of 2009, the Hall of Famer’s longtime assistant, Ascanio, took over as Proudinsky’s trainer. One month later, Proudinsky defeated Loup Breton by a neck in the San Gabriel as a comebacking Lava Man faded to last.

Aside from his two victories and a second in the San Gabriel, Proudinsky won his only other start, an allowance race in 2007, over Santa Anita’s grass course. Including his first two races in Germany, he has posted an overall record of 7-5-2 in 23 starts.

His competition on Monday includes multiple Grade I stakes winner The Usual Q.T. and Unusual Suspect, upset winner of Hollywood Park’s Grade I Hollywood Turf Cup in his last start on Nov. 13.

The complete field for the San Gabriel Stakes, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Proudinsky, Patrick Valenzuela, 120; Unusual Suspect, Corey Nakatani, 123; The Usual Q. T., Victor Espinoza, 123; Jeranimo, Rafael Bejarano, 120; Voilon Sacre, Joel Rosario, 118; Medici Code, Martin Pedroza, 118; Expansion, Garrett Gomez, 118; Meteore, Alonso Quinonez, 118; Spurrier, no rider, 118, and Riviera Cocktail, Mike Smith, 118.

A 4-year-old bay gelding trained by James Cassidy for Don Van Racing and Michael Nentwig, The Usual Q. T. has developed into an ultra consistent grass performer, as he has won 8 of 12 starts with a pair of seconds plus a third on turf. The other start resulted in a fourth-place finish among 16 runners last March in the Group I, $5 million Dubai Duty Free Stakes at Meydan in the United Arab Emirates.

Victor Espinoza rides the California-bred son of Unusual Heat who has been freshened since finishing third, two lengths behind winning superstar Goldikova in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6.

The Usual Q. T.’s Grade I triumphs include Del Mar’s Eddie Read Stakes last July and the Hollywood Derby in November of 2009 at Hollywood Park. That win marked the fifth of six straight victories for the gelding. He is 3-for-3 over Santa Anita’s turf course. His overall record of 8-5-1 in 18 starts has accounted for earnings of $1,405,240.

Unusual Suspect, another son of Unusual Heat, has been a virtual workhorse for trainer and co-owner Barry Abrams. His head victory over Temple City in the Hollywood Turf Cup was his 55th career start and ended a 16-race losing streak. Unusual Suspect, who will have Corey Nakatani back aboard, has earned $1,035,171 from a career log of 9-8-6. His only win over Santa Anita’s grass layout was achieved in Oak Tree’s 2007 California Cup Mile.

With the San Gabriel carded as the eighth race, the seventh will serve as a supporting stakes feature, the 31st running of the $100,000 California Breeders’ Champion Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. Promising two-time winner Teddy’s Promise is the 119-pound high weight in a field of seven with Joel Rosario to ride for trainer David Hofmans.

The complete field for the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Teddy’s Promise, Rosario, 119; Noise of the Crowd, Joseph Talamo, 115; California Nectar, Valenzuela, 117; Screaming Regal, Espinoza, 115; Bathing Beauty, Gomez, 115; Warren’s Flyer, Pedroza, 117, and Going for a Spin, Bejarano, 117.

Santa Anita will be dark on Tuesday before embarking on a five-day racing week that will run Wednesday through Sunday.

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