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Johnny Eves Tops Palos Verdes; Magical Fantasy Heads Tuzla
ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 22, 2009) – Grade I winner Johnny Eves, a 5-year-old California-bred gelding who has experienced a series of ups-and-downs during his three-year career, will be the starting high weight at 118 pounds Sunday in Santa Anita’s 57th running of the Grade II, $150,000 Palos Verdes Handicap at six furlongs.
Garrett Gomez will be back aboard the Mooncoin, LLC sprinter who broke a seven-race losing streak in Hollywood Park’s Grade III Vernon O. Underwood Stakes last November before being eased at 17-10 odds after tracking a blistering pace on New Year’s Day in Santa Anita’s Grade III El Conejo Handicap.
A companion feature, the seventh running of the Grade III, $100,000 Tuzla Handicap for fillies and mares at one mile on turf, attracted 14 entrants headed by 118-pound high weight Magical Fantasy. The 4-year-old filly, trained by Paddy Gallagher, is exiting four successive Grade I competitions including the Aug. 16 Del Mar Oaks, which she won by two lengths at odds of 42-1.
With Principle Secret, who took Del Mar’s 2006 Grade II Best Pal Stakes, being the only other graded stakes winner in the Palos Verdes’ field of eight, trainer Jay Robbins seems to have chosen a realistic spot to attempt to get Johnny Eves back on a wining course. Johnny Eves’ Grade I stakes victory was achieved in the 2007 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita.
Machismo, a 5-year-old gelding who previously had raced exclusively in Florida, ran a bang-up second behind In Summation in the El Conejo while making his first start for trainer John Sadler and owners Gary and Cecil Barber. That, too, was his graded stakes debut after not having won any type of stakes event in 25 previous races. Machismo’s overall record is 5-6-3 in 26 starts for earnings of $158,730. He will carry second high weight of 115 pounds and jockey Mike Smith in the Palos Verdes.
Principle Secret, trained by Christopher Paasch for Charles Cono, is coming off a nose victory in an allowance event at Hollywood Park on Dec. 21. It was his first win in 12 starts since capturing the Best Pal in his second career start. Joel Rosario has the mount aboard the Paasch trainee who has banked $255,080.
Claimed for $40,000 by Ted H. West for Jeffrey Sengara last March, Talkin to Mom Roo returned to win an optional claimer. In another optional claimer two races later, he finished two lengths behind Gayego, who ran 6 ½ furlongs in 1:13 1/5 at Hollywood Park on Nov. 30.
“It’s a big step up,” West said in reference to the Palos Verdes, but he was second last time to a horse that ran a fifth off the world record. I think he’s talented enough to handle the jump.” Talkin to Mom Roo, a 6-year-old gelding, possesses a lifetime record of 4-5-1 in 15 races. He has earned $183,560.
Johnny Eves, whose earnings of $491,120 well exceed those of any opponent, captured 5 of his first 10 starts before hitting the seven-race skid. He has posted a lifetime record of 6-4-0 in 19 starts.
The complete field for the Palos Verdes Handicap, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Principle Secret, Joel Rosario, 113; Machismo, Mike Smith, 115; Big Bad Leroybrown, Martin Garcia, 113; Johnny Eves, Garrett Gomez, 118; Six Pack Abs, Tyler Baze, 113; Talkin to Mom Roo, Clinton Potts, 114; Devoted Magic, Joseph Talamo, 113, and Hal Najib, Rafael Bejarano, 114.
Magical Fantasy, who drew the difficult outside post, No. 14, in the Tuzla, was imported to the United Stakes after breaking her maiden in England in November of 2007. The class-dropper has competed strictly in graded competition in the U.S. Alex Solis rides for the partnership of Bienstock, Mandabach and Winner.
The Kentucky-bred daughter of Diesis missed by a nose in Hollywood Park’s Grade III Senorita, her debut in his country. She won the Del Mar Oaks after decent efforts in Hollywood Park’s Honeymoon Handicap and American Oaks. Following her stunner in the Del Mar Oaks, Magical Fantasy ran sixth, beaten by 4 ½ lengths, in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Keeneland and fourth, beaten by two, in Hollywood Park’s Matriarch Stakes. She has banked $247,431 from a career record of 2-3-0 in 11 races.
Magical Fantasy will be giving one pound to multiple-graded stakes winner Foxysox, a 6-year-old mare who has demonstrated a fondness for Santa Anita’s turf course. Trained by Carla Gaines for Warren Williamson, Foxysox has won 4 of 8 starts over the Santa Anita layout while compiling a 6-2-4 career record in 23 starts for earnings of $621,118. Her last victory came four races back in Santa Anita’s Grade II Santa Barbara Handicap. Rafael Bejarano rides.
The complete field for the Tuzla Handicap, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Santa Teresita, Michael Baze, 115; Dawn After Dawn, Rosario, 114; Trouble Maker, Victor Espinoza, 114; Kyniska, no rider, 112; You Lift Me Up, Smith, 115; Gambler’s Justice, Talamo, 113; Gotta Have Her, Richard Migliore, 116; Storybook, Gomez, 113; Sprung, Patrick Husbands, 114; Foxysox, Bejarano, 117; I Can See, Aaron Gryder, 115; Bahama Mama, David Flores, 115; Charming Legacy, Tyler Baze, 115, and Magical Fantasy, Alex Solis, 118.
The Palos Verdes is slotted as the fourth race on a program of nine races with the Tuzla going as the eighth. First post is at 12:30 p.m.