- EXAGGERATOR HAS NYQUIST WHERE HE WANTS HIM
- UPTOWN TWIRL MAKES GRASS DEBUT IN SWEET LIFE
- GONZALEZ WINS FOUR, TIES BEJARANO FOR LEAD
EXAGGERATOR ‘READY NOW’ FOR SAN VICENTE
If the Kentucky Derby were run on Monday, Exaggerator might be worth a bet.
As it is, the Run for the Roses is not until May 7, but Keith Desormeaux has the son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin set for a top effort when he takes on Eclipse Award two-year-old champion male of 2015 Nyquist and four others in Monday’s Grade II San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs.
“I told the owner a couple weeks ago after his six furlong work from the gate that El Nino could open its doors now and rain until February 15; this horse is ready now,” Desormeaux said, speaking of Texas native Matt Bryan, who campaigns as Big Chief Racing, LLC.
“Exaggerator was ready two weeks ago and he’s had two works since then and both were outstanding,” Desormeaux said. “The horse is absolutely raring to go. He’s a little different from most Derby horses, because you always worry about fitness or readiness for the big race, but he’s ready to go now.
“Eventually, I hope he can show his class. I don’t think weather will affect us here at all.”
Nyquist owns two victories over Exaggerator, by three lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and 9 ½ in his maiden victory last June, but Desormeaux is inclined to dismiss them.
“We’ve got Nyquist right where we want him now,” Desormeaux said, a sly smile crossing his face.
As to the origin of Big Chief Racing, Bryan says, “Keith has always called me chief and sometimes big chief, since I’m 6-4 and 240 pounds, so I suggested the name to him for the stable. It seemed to fit.”
The San Vicente, which goes as race five on a nine-race program: Nyquist, Mario Gutierrez, 4-5; Electrifying, Tyler Baze, 20-1; El Charro, Joe Talamo, 8-1; Denman’s Call, Flavien Prat, 6-1; Exaggerator, Kent Desormeaux, 5-2; and Sheikh of Sheikhs, Rafael Bejarano, 5-1.
In addition to the attractive racing card, Santa Anita will celebrate Presidents’ Day with another of its popular Dollar Days. Draft beers, hot dogs and sodas will be available for a buck apiece. First post time is 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.
BREEDING FAVORS UPTOWN TWIRL ON SUNDAY
Uptown Twirl makes her turf debut in The Sweet Life Stakes Sunday for three-year-old fillies at about 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside course, but if breeding means anything, she’ll handle the going well.
“Turf is still a question mark,” said John Sadler, who trains the daughter of Twirling Candy for the Hronis brothers, Kosta and Peter, “but she had a nice win here in her previous start, so this looks like the spot for her.”
Uptown Twirl won an overnight race at six furlongs on the main track Jan. 18 by a half-length after prompting the pace into the stretch.
“I think she’ll handle turf,” Sadler said. “All the Twirling Candys so far seem to be able to run on either surface, and he was undefeated on the grass.”
The Sweet Life: Do the Dance, Joe Talamo, 20-1; Decked Out, Kent Desormeaux, 12-1; How Unusual, Stewart Elliott, 15-1; Pageant Material, Flavien Prat, 8-1; Corps de Ballet, Tyler Baze, 4-1; Uptown Twirl, Abel Lezcano, 6-1; Jeremy’s Legacy, Rafael Bejarano, 7-2; Swift Lady, Martin Garcia, 5-2; and Nodiac, Santiago Gonzalez, 5-1.
FINISH LINES: Jockey David C. Lopez escaped serious injury after he was unseated aboard favored Icona nearing the three-eighths marker in Friday’s eighth race. Tied for third with 20 wins through 28 racing days, Lopez was “beat up and super-sore,” Saturday according to his agent, J.R. Pegram, who added that X-rays were negative and his status is “day-to-day.” Lopez took off his seven scheduled mounts today . . . With four wins Friday including one for trainer Steve Miyadi who won three on the day, two at Santa Anita and one at Golden Gate, Santiago Gonzalez moved into a first-place tie with Rafael Bejarano in Santa Anita’s standings. Each has 29 wins through 29 days . . . Congrats to jockey Kyle Frey, who won five races at Golden Gate Friday, including a wire-to-wire score on Scathing for Miyadi in the fourth race . . . Santa Anita-based jockeys Kent Desormeaux, Drayden Van Dyke, Santiago Gonzalez and Mario Gutierrez ride in the Grade III El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate today . . . Suggested reading: a feature story by John Cherwa on the brothers Desormeaux and Exaggerator in today’s LA Times.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Friday, Feb. 12)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||83||8||8||12||10%||34%||$516,939|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||27||5||3||6||19%||52%||$156,680|
|J. Eric Kruljac||23||4||2||5||17%||48%||$91,100|