- IT’S ON TO KENTUCKY FOR GORMLEY, ROYAL MO
- STEVENS IN PURSUIT OF FOURTH DERBY VICTORY
- SANTA ANITA DERBY WINNER DORTMUND RETIRED
- TWO-TIME CHAMPION SONGBIRD IN BULLET BREEZE
- SPRING PORTION OF THE MEET STARTS NEXT FRIDAY
FROM SANTA ANITA DERBY TO KENTUCKY DERBY FOR SHIRREFFS
A rolling stone may gather no moss, but a Moss hoss gathers points to the Kentucky Derby.
That’s what happened yesterday, when a pair of three-year-olds owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, Santa Anita Derby winner Gormley and third-place finisher Royal Mo, earned 100 and 20 qualifying points, respectively, for the Kentucky Derby on May 6.
Both will wind up in the starting gate at Churchill Downs for the mile and a quarter classic if all is well, and as of Sunday, all systems were go.
“They looked good this morning,” said John Shirreffs, who trains the colts. “They ran just like we had hoped and we’re happy to be going to the Derby again.”
The Mosses and Shirreffs won the 2005 Run for the Roses with 50-1 shot Giacomo, who finished fourth in the Santa Anita Derby.
Gormley, ridden by three-time Kentucky Derby winner Victor Espinoza, had an ideal trip in the mile and an eighth race, tracking the three pacesetters, Battle of Midway, Royal Mo and Midnight Pleasure, early on, making a four-wide bid in mid-stretch and prevailing by a half-length.
The first four in the field of 13, Gormley, Battle of Midway, Royal Mo and Reach the World, finished a half length apart from each other, a total of two lengths separating the quartet.
Royal Mo, breaking from the extreme outside post position, took the worst of it, going five wide early but continuing gamely despite Gary Stevens losing his whip inside the 16th pole.
“It was an excellent race for him,” Shirreffs said of the bay son of Uncle Mo. “He was wide from a bad post position. I thought he ran super.”
Having already captured the Kentucky Derby with a rank outsider at 50-1, Shirreffs was unconcerned that his two horses could be lost in a milieu of contenders in what now looms a wide open race, what with unbeaten and ill-fated Mastery on the sidelines.
“They don’t know their odds,” he said.
STEVENS IN GOOD STEAD FOR FOURTH DERBY VICTORY
Gary Stevens could be sitting pretty in a bid for his fourth Kentucky Derby victory, gaining an 11th-hour mount on Royal Mo when trainer John Shirreffs called an audible less than a week before Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby and decided to run the colt after he worked to his satisfaction last Monday.
Stevens finished a very eventful third on Royal Mo in the Santa Anita Derby, beaten only a length by stablemate Gormley. Now it’s on to Kentucky and the Run for the Roses on May 6.
“It was a tremendous effort,” said Stevens, who won the Kentucky Derby in 1988 on the filly Winning Colors, in 1994 on Tabasco Cat, and in 1997 on Silver Charm.
“I usually don’t pay much attention to Trakus, but I think it said 64 feet (wide) or something, and we were going in the gate and I’m thinking, ‘My God, I’m a long ways out here.’ I was right on the crest of the crown on the track, and I’m thinking if there were 14 horses they’d be standing lopsided.
“I was just hoping I got away good and I did. If we’d have drawn down inside, I still would have had to send him, but not like I did to clear. I got over to the three path by the time we hit the (first) turn, and it takes a hell of an athlete to be able to do that.
“He’s got an unbelievable high cruising speed. We didn’t come home that fast (the last eighth in 13.61) but nobody else did, either. Royal Mo reminded me a lot of Silver Charm. He’s got fight. He didn’t act like he was going to run by Hollendorfer’s horse (Battle of Midway).
“He seemed like he was pretty content. When Victor (Espinoza on Gormley) went by me, he knocked the whip out of my hand and I thought, ‘God, I need this thing,’ but my horse re-engaged with Gormley and I thought I was going to run second.
“Corey (Nakatani, on Battle of Midway) came out and Victor came in ever so slightly, so I got crowded pretty good the last 50 yards and it might have cost me second, and it would have been great if I finished second, because we’d automatically be in (the Kentucky Derby) now with those points (40).
“I really like what I felt, a lot like I did with Silver Charm. I lost a battle yesterday but I might have won the war, because he put in a hell of an effort, got a lot of fitness, and a lot of schooling out of it.”
DORTMUND RETIRED, LIFE AS A STALLION AWAITS
Dortmund, the 2015 Santa Anita Derby winner who finished third to eventual Triple Crown champion American Pharoah in that year’s Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness Stakes, has been retired, trainer Art Sherman said Sunday morning.
“It seemed like the right time now that’s he’s getting older,” Sherman said of the five-year-old chestnut horse, who finished sixth in the Grade I Kilroe Mile in his turf debut March 11, and fourth by nearly 10 lengths in the Santana Mile on April 1.
“He’s just not the Dortmund he used to be,” said Sherman, who received the over-sized son of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown in late December after owner Kaleem Shah moved him from Bob Baffert’s barn.
Dortmund will serve as a stallion, but Sherman had no details. “We’re still in negotiations right now,” he said.
Dortmund retired with $1,987,505 in earnings thanks in the main to eight wins from 16 starts, with two seconds and two thirds. His last victory came in the Grade III Native Diver Stakes at Del Mar Nov. 28, 2015.
CHAMPION SONGBIRD IN BULLET BREEZE
Two time Eclipse Award winner Songbird had her first official workout early Sunday morning since returning late January from WinStar Farm in Kentucky, going three furlongs in a bullet 35.80.
Exercise rider Edgar Rodriguez was aboard the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, who galloped out four furlongs in 48.40 for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
FINISH LINES: After Sunday’s races, there will be a four-day break before the Spring portion of the Santa Anita meet that started Dec. 26 has a fresh start next Friday, April 14. First post time is 1 p.m. . . . Saturday’s Late Pick 4 pool of $1,473,681 set an all-time Santa Anita record, topping the 2015 mark of $1,425,025, also set on Santa Anita Derby Day . . . Richard Baltas had high praise for Corey Nakatani after the 46-year-old jockey piloted 7-1 shot Hillhouse High to a half-length victory over stablemate Mokat in Saturday’s Grade II Royal Heroine Stakes before an on-track crowd of 36,155. “Corey has been helping me in the mornings,” said Baltas, third among trainers this meet with 26 victories that includes five stakes wins. “He was helping me even before he started his comeback and he must have breezed 25 or 30 horses for me. I love Corey’s attitude right now. It’s great, and a lot of people don’t say that about him.” . . . Leading rider Flavien Prat rides Spooky Woods for Jerry Hollendorfer in Friday’s Grade III Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park, and Grade I Gamely winner Illuminant for Michael McCarthy in Saturday’s Jenny Wiley at Keeneland. Illuminant worked four furlongs Sunday in 48 flat . . . Prat piloted Paradise Woods to an 11 ¾-length triumph over 9-10 favorite Abel Tasman in Saturday’s Grade I Santa Anita Oaks, the largest winning margin ever in the race, topping Hall of Famer Silver Spoon‘s 10 ½ length romp under Ray York in 1959 . . . Congrats to sisters Norma and Nancy Ramirez of Parking Operations on finishing one-two among Santa Anita women employees in Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby Day 5K event in 25.27 and 30.57 over the 3.1 mile course. Steven Vega of Hospitality won the Men’s competition in 19.55 over Racing’s Jesus Camacho, who was second in 21.23 . . . Woolf Award winner Stewart Elliott rides Kentuckian for Hollendorfer in next Saturday’s Grade III Los Angeles Stakes for three-year-olds and up at six furlongs. Elliott worked the gray son of Tiznow five furlongs Sunday in a minute flat . . . Mike Smith has but 19 wins this meet, but 10, count ’em, 10, have come in graded stakes. His mounts here have earned $2,114,687, but nationally, thanks to agent Brad Pegram and Arrogate, they have earned more than $9 million.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Saturday, April)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||131||26||14||13||20%||40%||$1,087,111|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||52||10||5||6||19%||40%||$546,040|