- PLETCHER SEEKS OAKS GOLD WITH FEATHERED
- MORENO HAS BIG GOALS BEYOND CALIFORNIAN
- ESPINOZA SIGNS ‘PHAROAH’ POSTERS TOMORROW
GRASS IS GREENER FOR OAKS CONTENDER FEATHERED
Feathered made her first seven starts on dirt, winning only a maiden allowance race but placing in a pair of Grade I stakes, the Frizette and the Starlet as a two-year-old, not to mention a solid fourth-place performance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, beaten only a length by champion Take Charge Brandi.
But her breeding suggested she might like the turf, whereupon trainer Todd Pletcher tried her in the Grade III Edgewood at Churchill Downs on May 1. She led the seven-horse field throughout, winning the 1 1/16-mile race by two lengths.
Next up: Saturday’s Grade I American Oaks at 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita.
“We decided we wanted to give her a try on the grass because she’s out of a Dynaformer mare and had a hunch that she would like it,” Pletcher said by phone from New York where he is preparing three horses for possible starts in the June 6 Belmont Stakes.
“It was the first time we put her on grass. We didn’t even have the opportunity to breeze her on it before that. She took to it well and once she ran well, we decided to take a look at the American Oaks. She’s trained well, travel arrangements worked out, and (former Pletcher assistant) Mike McCarthy will look over her while she’s at Santa Anita.”
Feathered, a bay daughter of 1998 Santa Anita Derby winner Indian Charlie out of the Dynaformer mare Receipt, is owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. She has a 2-2-1 record from eight starts with earnings of $400,974 and will be ridden by Santa Anita’s leading rider, Tyler Baze.
McCarthy said Feathered arrived Wednesday night and “couldn’t be doing any better.”
Pletcher, meanwhile, hopes to derail American Pharoah’s Triple Crown express in the Belmont with perhaps Carpe Diem, Materiality and/or Madefromlucky. “We have three currently in training that are possibilities,” said Pletcher, the nation’s leader in purse earnings this year with just over $9.2 million, some $1.7 million more than runner-up Bob Baffert.
“Materiality unfortunately missed the break in the Derby. He got way back, then closed very well and has trained well since then,” Pletcher said.
Carpe Diem finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby, while Materiality was an eventful sixth, closing from 17th at the mile marker in the 1 1/4-mile classic.
The Equibase chart reads: “MATERIALITY hesitated at the break to be away last, dropped well off the early pace, lost ground four wide down the backstretch, remained four wide to the head of the lane, angled to the inside of a tiring Mr. Z in upper stretch, flashed some interest gaining to mid stretch but failed to seriously sustain.”
The field for the American Oaks, which goes as the fifth of nine races: Spanish Queen,
Brice Blanc, 2-1; Dating Lady Luck, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Feathered, Tyler Baze, 7-2; Sharla Rae, Drayden Van Dyke, 6-1; Mrs McDougal, Gary Stevens, 5-2;and Consumer Credit, Flavien Prat, 3-1.
Strict Compliance was scratched.
MORENO HAS BIGGER FISH TO FRY AFTER CALIFORNIAN
If speed and class count for anything, Moreno is a legitimate morning line favorite in the Californian Stakes Saturday, even though trainer Eric Guillot would prefer to have another zero on the purse of $200,000 for the Grade II race at 1 1/8 miles, a forerunner to the Grade I, $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita on June 27.
“I wish there was another zero on there,” Guillot said. “That would be nice. But if things go well, there will be opportunities down the road.”
They could include the Gold Cup, a “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race that gives the winner a fees-paid berth in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland on Oct. 31; the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar this summer; and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“The plan is to run in the Gold Cup if all goes well,” Guillot said. “Then we would look at the Pacific Classic at Del Mar and beyond that the Breeders’ Cup, but everything would have to go right, of course.”
Moreno, a 5-year-old gelded son of 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, is approaching $3 million in career earnings, thanks mainly to his two-length win in the $1.5 million Charles Town Classic on April 18.
While Moreno is winless at Santa Anita in eight starts, twice well beaten in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, in 2013 and again last year, when he was “slammed and steadied” at the start, the speedy bay has four seconds at The Great Race Place.
He captured the Grade I Whitney at Saratoga last August.
The field for The Californian, race No. 8: Big Cazanova, Tyler Baze, 8-1; Bailoutbobby, Drayden Van Dyke, 30-1; Hard Aces, Victor Espinoza, 6-1; Lideris, Joe Talamo, 30-1; Blue Tone, Kent Desormeaux, 8-1; Moreno, Cornelio Velasquez, 8-5; Catch a Flight, Gary Stevens, 9-5; and Sammy Mandeville, Rafael Bejarano, 5-1.
You Know I Know was scratched.
FINISH LINES: Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Victor Espinoza, who goes for the Triple Crown a week from tomorrow aboard American Pharoah in the Belmont Stakes, will sign American Pharoah posters Saturday from 11:15 a.m. until 11:45 a.m. in the East Paddock Gardens across from Champions! Gift Shop. The first 2,000 fans will receive the posters, which will be available free but limited to one per person and the patron must be present. Only the special giveaway posters will be signed, no outside memorabilia . . . Santa Anita will celebrate Belmont Stakes day with live racing, an Infield beer festival, live music, a Chandelier Room party, and more. Visit santaanita.com/events for package tickets and full details. Gates open at Santa Anita next Saturday at 8 a.m., with first post time 11:30 a.m. . . . Beholder worked six furlongs Wednesday in a bullet 1:11.20 for the Grade III, $100,000 Adoration Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on June 13 and hopefully a belated meeting with Santa Margarita winner Warren’s Veneda, who was upset in the Grade I Vanity Stakes on May 9, a race Beholder missed due to a temperature. “She went real nice,” Richard Mandella said of Beholder . . . Laz Barrera winner Kentuckian, prepping for the Los Alamitos Derby on July 4, worked four furlongs Friday in a bullet 45.40 under Mike Smith for Jerry Hollendorfer. It was the fastest of 34 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 48.99. “He was doing it easy,” Hollendorfer said. Santa Anita clockers had a five furlong gallop out time of 57.80 . . . John Sadler has Santa Anita Oaks winner Stellar Wind ticketed for Santa Anita’s Grade II, $200,000 Summertime Oaks at 1 1/16 miles on June 20 . . . The races for leading jockey and trainer are thistight after 20 racing days. Tyler Baze leads Rafael Bejarano, 20-19, with Flavien Prat third at 15. Phil D’Amato tops the trainers with 12 victories, one more than runners-up Doug O’Neill and Richard Baltas, and two more than Peter Miller . . . Favorites at Santa Anita this meet are winning at 37.71 percent (66 of 175), above the national norm of about 33 percent. On dirt, favorites are winning at 38.84 percent (47 of 121) and on turf, 35.19 percent (19 of 54) . . . Trainer Edward Freeman and Tony Matos, agent for jockey Martin Garcia, will be Tom Quigley‘s guests Saturday and Sunday, respectively, in the East Paddock Gardens at 11:20 a.m.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Monday, May 25)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||58||7||6||6||12%||$340,612|