- ESPINOZA EYES DERBY WIN NO. 4 ON GORMLEY
- ROYAL MO ‘POINTS’ TO 143RD KENTUCKY DERBY
- GOOD THINGS SEEN FOR TWENTYTWENTYVISION
SANTA ANITA DERBY WINNERS BLOOM IN RUN FOR ROSES
Gormley will attempt to become the 11th Santa Anita Derby winner to capture the Kentucky Derby when the son of Malibu Moon trained by John Shirreffs runs in the first leg of the Triple Crown Classic May 6 at Churchill Downs.
Aboard the bay colt owned by Jerry and Ann Moss will be Hall of Fame candidate Victor Espinoza, who certainly knows his way around the mile and a quarter dirt course that rests beneath the fabled Twin Spires, having won the Run for the Roses three times, on War Emblem in 2002; with two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome in 2014; and Triple Crown champion American Pharaoh in 2015.
Gormley won the Santa Anita Derby by a half-length against 12 rivals, so all things being equal, he should be relatively battle tested facing 19 foes in the Kentucky Derby, looming as one of the most wide open in this, its 143rd edition.
“I’m really looking forward to the Derby this year,” Espinoza said. “I’m excited, because every year that I have a horse in the Derby, I feel I have a chance. I feel the same this year.
“The race is wide open, Gormley is doing well and ran a big race to win the Santa Anita Derby. Hopefully, he’ll run his race in Kentucky and I think I’ll be in good shape.”
Previous Santa Anita Derby winners who went on to take the Kentucky Derby are Hill Gail (1952), Determine (1954), Swaps (1955), Lucky Debonair (1965), Majestic Prince (1969), Affirmed (1978), Winning Colors (1988), Sunday Silence (1989), I’ll Have Another (2012) and California Chrome (2014).
Shirreffs also has another Kentucky Derby hopeful lurking in the wings, Santa Anita Derby third-place finisher Royal Mo, who with 30 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, currently ranks 23rd on the leader board, having moved up one spot with the defection of Cloud Computing, who had been 20th.
Royal Mo worked five furlongs for Shirreffs Sunday in 1:01. “We’re training him like he’s going to run,” the trainer reaffirmed Sunday morning.
Fans at Santa Anita May 6 can enjoy the biggest Derby party west of Kentucky and watch and wager on the Run for the Roses. Derby Day highlights include a Kentucky Derby Trackside event; a KROQ Super Games and Craft Beer Festival; a Chandelier Room Derby Party; a Kentucky Derby Hat Contest; the Bud Light Lounge; and a guaranteed Late Pick 4 pool of $500,000 and Pick 6 pool of $100,000.
The Derby Day Hat Contest presented by Southern California Life Magazine is free to enter and boasts three grand prizes including $1,000 cash and a year’s subscription to the publication for each winner. The three categories (Most Creative, Most Glamorous and Fascinators and Fedoras) will be judged by a panel of fashion industry experts just west of the winner’s circle at 2:30 p.m. Look for the rent tent to enter.
TWENTYTWENTYVISION HAS ACT TOGETHER FOR THUNDER ROAD
In hindsight, perhaps Twentytwentyvision should do his training on a couch, tutored by a Freudian psychiatrist, but since that’s out of the question, Richard Mandella will have to do.
The Hall of Fame conditioner has been trying to figure out the six-year-old son of Pollard’s Vision since he began training him 17 races ago, back in January of 2015.
Hopefully, he’ll find the answer in next Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Thunder Road Stakes for four-year-olds and up at a mile on turf.
Twentytwentyvision has been much more than an empty stall, however, with a 5-3-7 record from 17 starts and earnings of $425,208 for owners Ellen and Peter Johnson. The latter bred the bay gelding in Kentucky.
Twentytwentyvision finished seventh by more than 19 lengths last out on March 11 in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap, only his sixth start on dirt.
“I took a little time with him,” Mandella said, adding, “he’s an odd-thinking kind of horse. He’s not bad but he’s odd and I think it’s done him good to back off and try and get his head together. I think he’s ready for a good effort.”
Flavien Prat reunites with Twentytwentyvision for the Thunder Road, which also could include Fabozzi, Farhaan, Mithqaal, Perfectly Majestic and Sawyer’s Hill.
Fabozzi (four furlongs in 49.20 for Mark Glatt) and Perfectly Majestic (five furlongs in 1:00 for Bob Hess Jr.) worked Sunday morning.
MIKE SMITH HONORED BY CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE
Jockey Mike Smith was honored by the California legislature earlier this week with a special resolution recognizing his Hall of Fame career, along with his leadership and sportsmanship as a professional athlete.
ACR 63, introduced by Assemblymember Adam Gray of District 21 in California’s Central Valley, also recognizes the history and importance of Thoroughbred racing in the Golden State, along with Santa Anita-based Arrogate, whose victories with Smith aboard in this year’s Pegasus World Cup and Dubai World Cup made him the all-time leading money-winner among American Thoroughbreds with more than $17 million.
FINISH LINES: Ian Kruljac still has the door open for Eclipse Award winner Finest City to run in the Grade I Beholder Mile at Santa Anita June 3 as opposed to the Grade I Humana Distaff at seven furlongs May 6 at Churchill Downs. “We’re not 100 percent for the Humana,” the trainer of last year’s champion female sprinter said Sunday morning. “I do not want to ship on April 29, because I want to work her here again that day, meaning I would have to ship on May 1, which personally is not my first option, so we’ll see.” . . . Richard Mandella wasn’t overwhelmed when Paradise Woods won the Santa Anita Oaks on April 8 by 11 ¼ lengths, the largest winning margin ever in the prestigious Grade I race, but he was surprised. “Any horse that wins like she did surprises you,” he said, “but it did not surprise me that she was very good. She showed us that right from the start.” Paradise Woods ships May 1 for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks on May 5 . . . Victor Espinoza rides Mrs. Norris in quest of her first stakes victory in next Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Santa Barbara Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at a mile and a half on turf. Other probables include Dressed to a T, Estrechada, Evo Campo, Hiking, Place des Vosges and Responsibleforlove. Estrechada worked five furlongs Sunday in 1:01.20 for Mike Puype, while Place des Verges went the same distance in 1:01.40 for Richard Baltas . . . Kilroe Mile winner Bal a Bali, a leading contender for the Grade I Shoemaker Mile June 3, worked seven furlongs in company Sunday in 1:24 for Mandella. Stablemate Blame It On Alphie was given a six furlong time of 1:12.40 . . . California Cup Turf Classic winner Ashleyluvssugar worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 for Peter Eurton, who has designs on the Grade II Charles Whittingham Stakes at a mile and a quarter on turf May 28 . . . Returning from a freshening the past few months, Om, runner-up by a nose in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, worked three furlongs for Dan Hendricks in 37 flat . . . Every Saturday and Sunday at Santa Anita, fans can enjoy Family Fun Zone, featuring an Infield full of activities. A special $40 online only discount package includes food for four, two racing programs, two unlimited jumper wristbands, two pony ride vouchers, two face painting vouchers and eight carnival game vouchers. The package can be purchased online at santaanita.com/events . . . Forget about the six degrees of separation involving actor Kevin Bacon. How about the six degrees of separation with the Thoroughbred Imperative, who won the $1,250,000 Charles Town Classic Saturday for the second time, this year by a neck for trainer Bob Hess Jr. over an old-fashioned sloppy track. Previously, the seven-year-old Bernardini gelding was trained by Richard Baltas, who some 10 minutes prior to the rich West Virginia race, won the Grade III San Juan Capistrano Stakes at Santa Anita with Inordinate. Some 30 minutes earlier, George Papaprodromou, who trained Imperative when he won the Classic in 2014, captured the third race at Santa Anita with the filly Sooner Time, who was running for an $8,000 claiming tag.