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UNUSUAL HEAT PROGENY HOLD HOT HANDS IN SUNDAY CO-FEATURES
ARCADIA, Calif. (March 26, 2009) – Medzendeekron strives for his third straight win as the 119-pound high weight in Sunday’s $125,000 Sensational Star Handicap at Santa Anita while Beltene will attempt to ignite another winning streak in the Grade III, $100,000 Santa Paula Stakes.
The only commonality between the co-features is the 6 ½-furlong distance and that the likely favorites were both sired by California stallion-sensation, Unusual Heat.
The Sensational Star, which drew 12 entrants for its 12th running, is for California-breds 4-years-old and up over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course. The Santa Paula, which attracted six for its 24th running, is for 3-year-old fillies on the main track.
Medzendeekron is riding a modest winning streak that began with a seven-furlong allowance victory over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface and extended to one-mile on turf in the $100,000 Crystal Water Handicap on Feb. 28.
The 6-year-old gelding has won sprinting and routing over both synthetic and grass surfaces, but trainer Barry Abrams is concerned that he finished fourth in both previous tries over the tricky downhill turf layout. “He’s never run good down the hill, but there’s nowhere else to run him,” commented Abrams.
With leading rider Garrett Gomez out of town after handling Medzendeekron in his last two victorious starts, Joel Rosario has been named to ride the winner of $336,758 from a consistent 5-3-3 record in 20 starts.
Beltene, meanwhile, will try to resume her winning ways in the Santa Paula after her three-win unbeaten streak came to an end when chasing juvenile filly champion Stardom Bound in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks on March 7. Although Beltene finished sixth in such august company, she turned in a game effort. She was beaten by only 2 ¼ lengths for first money.
Trained by Jack Carava for La Canada Stables, the bay filly bred by Charlotte Wrather won her first three starts sprinting climaxed by a 10-1 upset in the $250,000 Sunshine Million Oaks on Jan. 24 at Santa Anita. Rosario is her regular rider.
Medzendeekron’s competition in the Sensational Star includes comebacking Mr. Wolverine, who seemed to be surging last summer for trainer Jorge Gutierrez. At the age of 6, the gelded son of Last Lion won Hollywood Park’s $150,000 Khaled Stakes before turning in a huge effort in the Grade I Charles Whittingham Handicap. He finished fourth behind Artiste Royal, Monzante and Lava Man with just one length separating him and the winner.
Mr. Wolverine subsequently went to the sidelines before returning in August to run fourth and last in the California Dreamin’ Handicap at Del Mar as the 7-5 favorite. This will be his first start since that disappointing effort. Jose Valdivia Jr. will ride the second high-weight at 118 pounds whose overall record is 4-3-2 in 13 races for earnings of $300,726.
Like Medzendeekron, Liberian Freighter will be shortening up in the Sensational Star after losing by a head to the former in the Crystal Water. Rafael Bejarano has the mount on trainer Neil Drysdale’s 4-year-old son of Bertrando who has earned $238,996 from a 4-2-5 mark in 13 starts.
The complete field for the Sensational Star Handicap, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Mr. Wolverine, Jose Valdivia Jr., 118; Raingear, Agapito Delgadillo, 114; Shadow of Illinois, Aaron Gryder, 113; Suit Yourself, Channing Hill, 113; Its in God’s Hands, Tyler Baze, 114; Devoted Magic, no rider, 115; My City by the Bay, Joseph Talamo, 114; Liberian Freighter, Rafael Bejarano, 117; Medzendeekron, Joel Rosario, 119; Cayambe, Chantal Sutherland, 115; Bid Bad Leroybrown, Martin Garcia, 115, and Swift Winds, Alex Solis, 116.
In the Santa Paula, Beltene will face two unbeaten fillies including Arizona-bred Carlsbad, who has been annihilating opposing pitching in the Cactus League. The daughter of Rocky Bar has won her four Valley of the Sun starts by a combined 50 ¾ lengths for owner/breeder Dennis Weir and trainer Kevin Lewis.
Along the way, she took the Arizona Breeders’ Futurity by 14 ¼ lengths, the Arizona Juvenile Filly Stakes by 19, and the Arizona Oaks by 13 ¼ while hardly drawing a deep breath and earning $94,126. Tyler Baze has taken the mount aboard the pride of Turf Paradise.
Heartless Victim also is unbeaten, having won both her races at Santa Anita for owner Gary Broad and trainer Ron Ellis. She is coming off a 4 ¼ length score in an allowance event at seven furlongs. Bejarano takes over in the saddle.
The complete field for the Santa Paula Stakes, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Beltene, Rosario, 118; Empressive Lady, Solis, 116; Pinkarella, Garcia, 114; Carlsbad, Tyler Baze, 116; Ultra Blend, Valdivia, 116, and Heartless Vixen, Bejarano, 116.
The co-features will be raced back-to-back on a nine-race program with the Sensational Star going as the seventh followed by the Santa Paula. First post is 12:30 p.m. HRTV will televise the entire card.