- UNDEFEATED SMOKEY IMAGE IN RICH CAL CUP DERBY
- G. RYDER SEEKS 12TH CAREER WIN IN TURF CLASSIC
- RAIL NO ISSUE FOR SAN ONOFRE IN VALPREDO SPRINT
- RUN FOR BETTS MAKES TURF DEBUT IN CAL CUP OAKS
- SMOOVE IT RETURNS IN FILLY & MARE TURF SPRINT
UNBEATEN SMOKEY IMAGE TRIES TWO TURNS IN CAL CUP DERBY
Undefeated Smokey Image seeks his sixth straight victory and his first for Carla Gaines when the son of 2004 Santa Anita Handicap winner Southern Image goes two turns for the first time in Saturday’s $250,000 California Cup Derby at 1 1/16 miles.
“He’s been here since the first week in November,” Gaines said of the chestnut colt owned by Betty Irvin of Pacific Palisades, who campaigns as Irvin Racing Stable. Smokey Image won his first four races by daylight margins, and his last, the seven furlong Golden State Juvenile at Del Mar on Oct. 30, by three-quarters of a length after he bobbled at the start and steadied at the 5/16 marker.
“We have a good feeling about his going two turns,” Gaines said. “We’ll find out Saturday. His pedigree indicates he’ll do it and we’re hoping he’ll improve going two turns, but if he doesn’t, he’s still a good sprinter. He’s always galloped out beautifully from his workouts.”
Gaines also has Record Highs entered in the Derby. Son of another Santa Anita Handicap winner, Heatseeker in 2008, the chestnut colt owned and bred by Harris Farms came out of his disappointing sixth-place finish in the King Glorious on Dec. 12 a bit under the weather, so Gaines feels he had a legitimate excuse in that one mile race.
In other Derby news:
Richard Baltas admits Demonslayer faces a tough task in the race, coming off two career sprints, but feels conditions merit a go.
“I think he’ll probably get the distance,” Baltas said of the son of Tale of the Cat owned by Perry Ranck and Barbara Ron of Berkeley, who race as Cicero Farms. “Obviously, he’s lacking on seasoning, but these kinds of races don’t come up very often.
“He ran a good number last time. He sat off the pace and he’s had longer works, so we’ll see. I’ve got Bejarano. How bad a shape can we be in?”
The Derby field: Tough It Out, Santiago Gonzalez, 6-1; Smokey Image, Victor Espinoza, 4-5; Record Highs, Joe Talamo, 10-1; Demonslayer, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Glory Bound, Edwin Maldonado, 4-1; Xingontothebone, Martin Pedroza, 8-1;and Loyalist, Flavien Prat, 12-1.
WIN MACHINE G.G. RYDER SET FOR TURF CLASSIC
Bettors and horsemen alike have one thing in common about horses like G.G. Ryder: confidence. When a Thoroughbred wins 11 of 25 starts, his consistency and will power are noteworthy features.
Jerry Hollendorfer and assistant Dan Ward hope that trait continues in Saturday’s $250,000 California Cup Turf Classic presented by City National Bank.
“He’s versatile, and he’s going to have to be,” Ward said, “because there’s a lot of speed in the race. He’s going to get a good trip because he’s going to be up close.”
A five-year-old horse sired by the A.P. Indy stallion Chhaya Dance, G.G. Ryder numbers two Grade III stakes among his 11 triumphs for owners George Todaro and Hollendorfer. A win or a second would push G.G. Ryder’s earnings over the $500,000 mark. To date, he has won $455,294.
A Turf Classic victory is worth $137,500; second, $47,500.
The Turf Classic, one of five stakes races worth a total of $1 million for California-bred or sired horses on Sunshine Millions Day: Tamarando, Edwin Maldonado, 20-1; G.G. Ryder, Santiago Gonzalez, 4-1; Unusually Green, Joe Talamo, 20-1; Image of Joplin, Agapito Delgadillo, 15-1; defending champion Alert Bay, Martin Garcia, 7-2; Grazen Sky, Tyler Baze, 12-1; $25,000 supplemental nominee What a View; Kent Desormeaux, 8-1; Soi Phet, Alonso Quinonez, 15-1; Something Unusual, Iggy Puglisi, 12-1; Poshky, Flavien Prat, 9-2; Boozer, Gary Stevens, 10-1; and Awesome Return, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1.
Leonard Powell said that for the first time since he’s trained Soi Phet, a span of 24 races, the eight-year-old Tizbud gelding will race in blinkers for the Turf Classic.
FAVORED SAN ONOFRE DRAWS RAIL IN CAL CUP SPRINT
San Onofre, speedy winner of half of his 10 starts including the Grade III Midnight Lute Stakes on Jan. 2, his first race in more than six months, must overcome the rail and additional committed front-runners in Saturday’s $150,000 Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint for older horses at six furlongs.
Karen Headley, who trains San Onofre for her mother, Aase, campaigning as Matson Racing, shrugged off any pre-conceived negatives.
“I’m fine with the rail,” said Karen, whose father, trainer Bruce, bred San Onofre, making the gelded son of Surf Cat an all-family affair.
And as far as Karen perplexing Hall of Fame rider Alex Solis with pre-race instructions for San Onofre, forget it.
“A good jockey always knows what to do,” she said.
The field for the Sprint: San Onofre, Alex Solis, 4-5; Solid Wager, Victor Espinoza, 10-1; Old Man Lake, Tyler Baze, 30-1; Richard’s Boy, Flavien Prat, 8-1; Raised a Secret, Santiago Gonzalez, 12-1; Sunday Rules, Edwin Maldonado, 9-5; and Pay the Fine, Mario Gutierrez, 12-1.
RUN FOR RETTS TRIES GRASS IN CAL CUP OAKS
Run for Retts makes her first start on grass in Saturday’s $200,000 Xpressbet California Cup Oaks at one mile. Trainer Steve Miyadi hopes her breeding lets her adapt from dirt to turf.
“She’s actually bred for grass,” said Miyadi, who trains the daughter of Ministers Wild Cat for owner/breeder Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, LLC. “Of horses bred for turf that run on it for the first time, I’d say only 10 percent actually improve on it.
“So I’m hoping Run for Retts does improve on turf, because on paper, I don’t think she can compete with these. I’m hoping the turf moves her up. We put blinkers on her and we’re ready to rock and roll.”
The lineup: Just Google Me, Edwin Maldonado, 6-1; Patriotic Diamond, Rafael Bejarano, 7-2; Hurricaine Callie, Santiago Gonzalez, 15-1; Run for Retts, Tyler Baze, 20-1; Roo’s Valentine, Martin Pedroza, 4-1; Run Like the Boss, Joe Talamo, 12-1; Pacific Heat, Flavien Prat, 9-5; and $25,000 supplemental nominee Cheekaboo, Mario Gutierrez, 4-1.
SMOOVE IT RETURNS IN FILLY & MARE TURF SPRINT
Smoove It returns to the races Saturday in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint after a six-month absence. The five-year-old Square Eddie mare trained by Doug O’Neill for owners/breeders Paul and Zillah Reddam last raced on Aug. 16, 2015, finishing fifth in the Solana Beach Handicap at a mile on grass.
“She just got a little body sore so we freshened her up,” explained O’Neill. “But she obviously likes this course with two wins and five in-the-money finishes in six starts, and she’s doing very well, so we’re excited to see her back at the races.”
Mario Gutierrez has ridden Smoove It in all of her 20 starts.
“That shows the loyalty Reddam has for Mario,” O’Neill said. Their union dates back to 2012, when Gutierrez piloted the Reddams’ I’ll Have Another to victory in the Kentucky Derby.
The field: Smoove It, Mario Gutierrez, 6-1; Chati’s On Top, Santiago Gonzalez, 5-1; Heaven’s Stairway, Joe Talamo, 6-1; Velvet Mesquite, Kent Desormeaux, 7-2; Singing Kitty, Gary Stevens, 5-1; Jenna’s Faith, Drayden Van Dyke, 30-1; Light One, Flavien Prat, 12-1; Qiaona, Victor Espinoza, 8-1; Ashley’s Sassy, Alonso Quinonez, 12-1; Nite Delite, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1 and Princess Bertrando, Abel Lezcano, 30-1.
Yana, My Fiona and Sheer Pleasure were scratched.
FINISH LINES: Fans can obtain California General and VIP packages at santaanita.com/events for Saturday’s Sunshine Millions & Wine Festival, which will offer food from some of the best local wineries and food vendors. First post time is 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m. . . . Three-time champion Beholder arrived at Santa Anita today from Julie Adair-Stack‘s facility in Chino Hills. “She’ll gallop here tomorrow,” trainer Richard Mandella said . . . Jerry Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward said unbeaten champion Songbird may or may not work “an easy half Tuesday, depending on the track conditions,” prior to her three-year-old debut next Saturday in the Las Virgenes Stakes . . . Richard Baltas has engaged Mike Smith to ride Imperative in the $500,000 San Antonio Stakes a week from Saturday . . . Bob Baffert says he’ll know more about Dortmund‘s status for the San Antonio after the Santa Anita Derby winner breezes this week . . .Happy 49th birthday to trainer Keith Desormeaux . . . Brice Blanc worked Flamboyant six furlongs on the main track Friday in a bullet 1:13.20 for Paddy Gallagher, who has the San Gabriel winner ticketed for the Grade II San Marcos Stakes next Saturday . . . Santa Anita was in the news last Friday in the form of the New York Times’ mobile crossword puzzle. Readers had to fill in the correct missing word in “California’s Santa _____ racetrack.” Did you guess Anita? Duh!
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Thursday, Jan. 28)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||54||6||7||6||11%||35%||$369,134|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||22||5||0||6||23%||50%||$135,790|
|J. Eric Kruljac||21||3||2||5||14%||48%||$78,560|