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BIG BOOSTER, ZAPPA RENEW RIVALRY IN TOKYO CITY CUP SATURDAY
ARCADIA, Calif. (March 25, 2009) – Big Booster, an 8-year-old gelding who came within less than a length of winning the Breeders’ Cup Marathon in his last start, heads a field of seven long-fused runners in Saturday’s 53rd running of the Grade III, $100,000 Tokyo City Cup at 1 ½ miles over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride synthetic surface.
The high weight at 119 pounds, Big Booster finished third, three-quarters of a length behind victorious Niagara Causeway, in last year’s Tokyo City when attempting a marathon distance for the first time.
The former claimer, trained by Mike Mitchell for the partnership of Anastasi, Anastasi and Ukegawa, seemed to have found his niche in long-distance events. He subsequently captured Santa Anita’s Grade II San Juan Capistrano Handicap at 1 ¾ miles on turf and Hollywood Park’s Gallant Man Handicap at 1 5/8 miles over Cushion Track.
Regular rider Rafael Bejarano will be back aboard on Saturday as Big Booster returns from a five-month freshening which followed a fast-closing third behind Muhannak and Church Service in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon last Oct. 25 over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride footing.
With earnings of $788,623 from a 10-2-10 record in 47 lifetime starts, Big Booster – claimed for $62,500 in February of 2007 -- is the most accomplished runner in a lineup that includes two other Mitchell-trained entrants: Dynamalt and Fire Wood. Each has competed but once previously in stakes company without winning.
Zappa, a 7-year-old gelding claimed for $32,000 in April of 2007 by trainer John Sadler for Gary Barber, will carry two pounds less than Big Booster while seeking a scenario similar to a meeting last summer in Del Mar’s Cougar II Handicap.
In between chasing Big Booster in the 2008 Tokyo City Cup (fourth) and the Breeders’ Cup Marathon (seventh), front-running Zappa secured an uncontested lead in the Del Mar event and ran away to win the mile-and-one-half contest by 6 ¼ lengths over Tissy Fit as 7-10 choice Big Booster checked in a well-beaten third.
The son of Afternoon Deelites, who will be ridden for the first time by Alex Solis, may have company on the front end this time. Kizzy’s Chaos, a 4-year-old trained by Vladimir Cerin, competes in his first stakes race following a wire-to-wire victory in an optional claimer at 1 ¼ miles on March 4.
While Big Booster has been on the sidelines, Zappa has raced four times since the Breeders’ Cup. He enters Saturday’s race, run as the San Bernardino Handicap prior to 2005, with $549,032 in earnings from a record of 13-3-7 in 40 career starts.
The complete field for the Tokyo City Cup, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Big Booster, Rafael Bejarano, 119; Medjool, Michael Baze, 114; Dynamalt, Joel Rosario, 110; Stream Cat, Joseph Talamo, 116; Zappa, Alex Solis, 117; Fire Wood, Mike Smith, 111, and Kizzy’s Chaos, Martin Garcia.
Stakes winners Triumphant Flight and Flashmans Papers will each carry high weight of 122 pounds among six 3-year-olds entered in a companion feature on Saturday, the $70,000 San Miguel Stakes at six furlongs.
Charlie’s Moment, weighted at 119, is a multiple-stakes winner. Reynaldothewizard ran third in last summer’s Grade II Saratoga Special and Turk is coming off an impressive 4 ½-length maiden victory. The latter is trained by Bob Baffert, who has saddled three of the past seven winners of the San Miguel.
The complete field for the San Miguel Stakes, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Triumphant Flight, Victor Espinoza, 122; Flashmans Papers, Bejarano, 122; Turk, Rosario, 117; Gotmymojoworkin, Garcia, 117; Reynaldothewizard, David Flores, 117, and Charlie’s Moment, Danny Sorenson, 119.
The Tokyo City Cup is scheduled as the eight-race on a ten-race program that will be televised by HRTV. The San Miguel will go as the fourth race. First post is at 12:30 p.m.