- CHAMPIONS BEHOLDER, STELLAR WIND VIE IN VANITY
- TWENTYTWENTYVISION: SIGHTS SET ON SHOEMAKER
- EXAGGERATOR TO BREEZE ON JUNE 7 FOR BELMONT
- IGGY GETS JIGGY WITH 59-1 MAIDEN WIN FOR SAYLER
- MEMORABLE MEMORIAL DAY: PICK 6 POOL AT $437,763
BEHOLDER, STELLAR WIND HOME AT SANTA ANITA
Champions Beholder and Stellar Wind, who between them have won 15 of 16 career starts at Santa Anita, are set to do battle next Saturday in the Grade I Vanity Mile for fillies and mares, three and up.
Beholder, a six-year-old mare trained by Richard Mandella for owner B. Wayne Hughes who campaigns as Spendthrift Farm, LLC, has won 12 of 13 races at Santa Anita and 16 of 21 overall, earning $4,496,600. Nine of those victories have come in Grade I races. She earned an Eclipse Award as best in her division at ages two, three and five.
Stellar Wind, a four-year-old Curlin filly trained by John Sadler for the brothers Hronis, Kosta and Peter, was champion three-year-old filly of 2015. She is unbeaten in three races at Santa Anita, including the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks last April 4.
“Tomorrow or Wednesday, we’ll breeze her an easy half mile,” Mandella said of Beholder, who seeks her eighth straight victory in the Vanity. “It won’t be much at all.”
Stellar Wind has not raced since finishing second by a neck in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Keeneland last Oct. 30. The chestnut filly’s mid-year return was by design.
“We’re starting her campaign relatively late with the Breeders Cup in mind,” Sadler said. “She’s been training very well for her first race back and we’re looking forward to it.”
Santa Anita will host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for an unprecedented ninth time on Nov. 5 and 6.
“I worked her three times now and she’s ready, but it’s her first race back so you never know how they will perform, especially against Beholder,” said Stellar Wind’s regular rider, Victor Espinoza. “We hope she runs well and we’ll go from there.”
Stellar Wind has won five of eight starts and earned $913,200.
Simon Callaghan plans enter Taris in the Vanity, but probably won’t run the five-year-old Flatter mare, winner of eight of 13 starts including the Grade I Humana Distaff at seven furlongs May 7 at Churchill Downs.
“More likely we’ll wait until the Triple Bend (a Grade I event at seven furlongs against males on June 25),” the trainer said. “We might enter Divina Comedia in the Vanity, but I’ve got to talk to the owner (Marsha Naify) and figure it out.”
TWENTYTWENTYVISION EYES GRADE I WIN IN SHOEMAKER
Richard Mandella hopes Twentytwentyvision lands his first graded stakes when the consistent five-year-old gelding runs in next Saturday’s Grade I, $400,000, “Win and You’re In” Shoemaker Mile for three-year-olds and up on turf.
The bay son of Pollard’s Vision has never been out of the money in 10 starts, but in his only three stakes races, has yet to land in the winner’s circle, finishing second in the Grade I Eddie Read and third in the Grade III Thunder Road and American Stakes.
“He’s a good horse,” Mandella said. “One of these days he’ll win a big race. I hope it’s the Shoemaker.”
Six of Twentytwentyvision’s races have been on turf, but the American, scheduled for the grass, was moved to the main track due to inclement weather on May 6. The horse hopped at the start and was sixth and last much of the way before rallying for third, beaten only a length by Home Run Kitten, who returns in the Shoemaker.
“He got away bad out of the gate,” Mandella said of the American. “We’re hoping the pendulum of luck swings back to good on Saturday.”
Twentytwentyvision worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Monday morning in 1:01.
Probable for the Shoemaker, which gives the winner a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Mile to be run at Santa Anita on Nov. 5: Heart to Heart, Julien Leparoux; Home Run Kitten, Joe Talamo; Midnight Storm, Rafael Bejarano; Obviously (seeking his third win in the race), Mike Smith; Tourist, Jose Lezcano; and Twentytwentyvision, Flavien Prat.
EXAGGERATOR TO WORK FOUR DAYS BEFORE BELMONT
Trainer Keith Desormeaux plans to work Santa Anita Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Exaggerator five furlongs at Belmont Park on Tuesday, June 7, four days before the colt runs in the final leg of the Triple Crown, the mile-and-a-half Belmont Stakes on June 11.
Desormeaux also had contemplated breezing Exaggerator at Belmont seven days out from the race, on Saturday, June 4.
“We’ll give him more long gallops before the work,” Desormeaux said at Santa Anita Memorial Day morning. “We’ll let him get used to the track.”
Meanwhile, Doug O’Neill reported Monday morning that Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist continues to do well at Pimlico following his loss to Exaggerator in the May 21 Preakness. “No complaints,” the trainer said. “He arrives back (at Santa Anita) June 5.”
PUGLISI RIDES PROFICIENTLY ON $121 WINNER
The fourth race at Santa Anita on May 21 had to be seen to be believed.
Shades of Silky Sullivan and Zenyatta. Proficiently, a three-year-old California-bred daughter of Drum Major making her first start for owner Alyson Harper of Lincoln City, Oregon, and trainer James Sayler, rallied from eighth and last, 15 lengths behind after a half mile in the race at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf, to win by 2 ¼ lengths under jockey Ignacio (Iggy) Puglisi at a $121 payoff.
Words don’t do it justice, but Iggy did his best to describe the ride first hand.
“It was a very exciting race to ride, as I imagine anyone who watched could tell,” said the 42-year-old Puglisi, who was born in Rosario, Argentina, but is a veteran at Santa Anita, where he has four wins from just 15 mounts at the Spring Meet, a 27 percent win rate.
“James had given me very little instruction on riding her other than she hadn’t shown much speed in the ayem. He had mentioned she’d probably need a mile race to show her best.
“I was a little concerned about how far back she was taking herself the first eighth of a mile, but then she quickly got into a nice rhythm even though she was trailing. At about the half-mile pole I could feel she was starting to advance on her own power and I thought she might hit the board at that point.
“Right before getting to the dirt crossover, she had made up quite a bit of ground on the field and I felt we had a big chance of winning. At that point I decided to try and find a seam along the inside and that’s when she really revved her motor and started picking them off one by one at a very fast clip.
“Inside of the eighth pole I knew she was traveling much faster than the rest of the field, so I just made sure we had a clean path so she wouldn’t have to alter course much and keep her momentum. I was actually able to ease up on her the last 100 yards and let her coast home. I was very impressed with her turn of foot as a first-time starter.
“I would be very surprised if she didn’t excel even more at routing than (she did) in her sprint race. Her demeanor is very quiet and professional. You don’t run into Cal-bred fillies that handy and that cooperative first time out, especially on that tricky downhill course.
“James did a tremendous job getting her ready to fire at first asking and I look forward to seeing what she has for us in the future. Horses like this make it all worthwhile. I was extremely impressed with her from the paddock to the winner’s circle.”
One of Iggy’s go-to guys through the years is Paul Aguirre (AH-gear-ee, as in you made life cheery), who has been training 30 years and holds a degree in economics from UCLA.
“I’ve been training out of Los Alamitos,” said the 59-year-old Aguirre, who made his headquarters at Hollywood Park before the Inglewood track closed in December of 2013.
“Iggy’s been riding for me a long time and I get a good, honest ride from him. We communicate well and we’ve won a lot of races together.
“I’ve got some babies here, but I don’t know if they’re stakes caliber or not. I’m just looking forward to having a good meeting. I’ve got some horses ready to run.”
FINISH LINES: Today’s two-day Pick Six carryover of $437,763 could result in a mutuel pool that approaches $2 million, game-changing get-out numbers on the Memorial Day card. The last five winners Sunday paid off in double figures, ranging from $10 to $31.80 . . . The Out-of-Towners: Brice Blanc, Kent Desormeaux, Iggy Puglisi and Drayden Van Dyke ride in the Grade III All American Stakes at Golden Gate Fields today, while Martin Garcia pilots Cyrus Alexander for Jerry Hollendorfer in the Grade III Lone Star Park Handicap . . . Bridge jumpers leaped when 2-5 favorite Rare Candy finished out of the money in Sunday’s third race, creating box car payoffs for place and show on the first three finishers, to wit: Dalmore, $9.60, $5.60 and $11.40; Prince of Arabia, $12 and $21.80; and Afleet Domination, $12.60. Rare Candy finished fourth in the field of five, beaten four-and-a-half lengths after leading at the three-quarter mark in the 1 1/16 mile race . . . Belated congratulations to iconic bartender Frank Panza on the occasion of his 86th birthday. A 56-year employee of Santa Anita, Panza’s service and longevity were acknowledged in a winner’s circle ceremony after Saturday’s sixth race . . . Live racing resumes at Santa Anita 2 p.m. on Friday. Simulcast wagering will be offered on Thursday, with the Paddock Room and Sirona’s opening at 10:30 a.m. Free General Admission and parking will be offered both Thursday and Friday.
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