- LADY ELI SETTLED IN FOR GRADE I GAMELY
- BETTER LATE THAN NEVER FOR BIG JOHN B
- ENOLA GRAY HAS GOOD POST IN MONROVIA
- MEMORIAL DAY FESTIVITIES BEGIN SATURDAY
- SAUDI CHARM IMPRESSIVE FIRST-TIME VICTOR
LADY ELI DESERVING FAVORITE IN GAMELY STAKES
Lady Eli, the mare who has no scare, is the 4-5 morning line favorite in Saturday’s Grade I Gamely Stakes, and deservedly so.
The five-year-old daughter of Divine Park trained by Eclipse Award winner Chad Brown for Sheep Pond Partners has a near-impeccable record, with seven wins and three seconds from 10 starts, her combined margin of defeat in those three seconds less than a length.
Lady Eli has been favored in nine of her 10 races, her last eight in a row, six of those at odds-on. She had her last major breeze for the Gamely on Sunday at Belmont Park before arriving at Santa Anita five days ago.
“She settled in beautifully and has been training great since we’ve been here,” said
Cherie DeVaux, who has been Brown’s assistant for seven years. “She came in Monday and we’re excited to get her going again. She likes the track at Santa Anita.”
Lady Eli has been ridden in all of her races by Irad Ortiz Jr., who will be astride again Saturday. Together they won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf here on Oct. 31, 2014, and were beaten a nose in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita last Nov. 5.
Ortiz, who turns 25 on Aug. 11, is a graduate of the Escuela Vocacional Hipica, a school for prospective jockeys in his native Puerto Rico. He currently leads the nation in wins with 114 from 476 mounts and is fifth in earnings with $6,238,238.
One of his idols was Angel Cordero Jr., the first Puerto Rican jockey to be inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame. Cordero’s agent was Tony Matos, who now represents Santiago Gonzalez and apprentice Evin Roman, the latter a graduate of Escuela Vocacional Hipica and currently the leading ‘bug’ rider at Santa Anita with four victories.
The field for the Gamely, race five: Avenge, Flavien Prat, 5-2; Pretty Girl, Mike Smith, 12-1; Goodyearforroses, Corey Nakatani, 4-1; Mokat, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; and Lady Eli, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 4-5. September Stars was scratched.
STRETCH RUNNER BIG JOHN B ‘DOING WELL’ FOR GOLD CUP
In addition to 5-2 morning line favorite Midnight Storm, Phil D’Amato sends out late-running 8-1 chance Big John B in Saturday’s Grade I, $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita for three-year-olds and up at a mile and a quarter.
Racing on dirt is not Big John B’s forte, although the trainer was not quick to dismiss his chances if conditions are fortuitous.
“He’s run some big races on the main track here,” D’Amato said of Big John B, who has had 35 of his 42 career races on grass. “Going a mile and a quarter with a bunch of tactical speed horses, you never know what’s going to happen.
“One thing for sure with this horse, he always sits back there and then gives you his best, big run. Anything can happen and he’s doing well.”
Owned by Michael House, Big John B would gain millionaire status should he win the Gold Cup, which awards $300,000 to the winner. The son of Hard Spun already has bankrolled $871,030, thanks mainly to 15 wins, seven seconds and five thirds.
The Gold Cup, race nine of 10 with a first post time of 1 p.m.: $10,000 supplemental nominee American Freedom, Martin Garcia, 4-1; Follow Me Crev, Kent Desormeaux, 4-1; Prime Attraction, Jamie Theriot, 30-1; Midnight Storm, Flavien Prat, 5-2; Cupid, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; Big John B, Mike Smith, 8-1; Accelerate, Tyler Baze, 4-1; and 2015 Gold Cup winner Hard Aces, Santiago Gonzalez, 8-1. Texas Ryano was scratched.
ENOLA GRAY TRIES TO STAY UNBEATEN ON DOWNHILL COURSE
Enola Gray, perfect in three starts on Santa Anita’s downhill turf course at about 6 ½ furlongs, attempts to add to that impressive resume in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Monrovia Stakes for fillies and mares, three and older.
Enola Gray, a gray daughter of Grazen owned and bred by Nick Alexander, drew post position eight in a field of nine over the unique layout.
“There looks to be a couple other speeds in there, but they’re to our inside,” D’Amato said. “Our filly likes that outside post and I’m very happy with how we drew.”
The Monrovia: Swift Lady, Martin Garcia, 15-1; Spy Ring, Mike Smith, 20-1; Watch This Cat, Rafael Bejarano, 10-1; Illuminant, Flavien Prat, 9-5; Coniah, Irad Ortiz Jr., 8-1; Juno, Kent Desormeaux, 8-1; Paquita Coqueta, Gary Stevens, 8-1; Enola Gray, Tyler Baze, 5-2; and Anita Partner, Brice Blanc, 12-1.
MEMORIAL DAY TRACKSIDE BBQ TO SUPPORT VETS MONDAY
On Memorial Day, Monday, fans can offer their thanks to active and former service members and help support the local Veterans’ Memorial, sponsored by the Rotary Club Foundation of Arcadia.
A $5 donation (all proceeds go directly to the Veterans’ Memorial) includes General Admission to Santa Anita Park, a program, access to special trackside seating, and walking tours to the Paddock and Winner’s Circle throughout the day.
Delicious BBQ will also be available for purchase. Veterans or active military with valid Military ID will receive a voucher good for a free lunch, courtesy of Santa Anita horse owners and Santa Anita Park. The BBQ menu ($12 per meal) offers spare ribs or pulled pork and two sides from a choice of three: baked beans, potato salad or coleslaw, plus a slice of white bread, pickles and onions.
The Rotary Club of Arcadia is spearheading an effort to build a local Veterans’ Memorial. The Field of Honor Project, involving 1,000 American Flags displayed at County Park at the corner of Huntington and Santa Anita during the week preceding Memorial Day will help to raise funds.
Those wishing to participate or donate should make their contribution to The Arcadia Rotary Club Foundation, Veterans’ Memorial Fund. For more information, please visit http://www.santaanita.com/events/memorial-day-charity-trackside/.
TEAM O’NEILL SCORES WITH FIRST TIMER SAUDI CHROMA
In any sport or endeavor, hindsight is 20/20. That said, Dennis O’Neill, assistant to his brother Doug, was kicking himself early on in yesterday’s second race, a 4 ½ furlong open maiden special weight for two-year-old fillies, as their first-time starter Saudi Chroma was large and in charge with Victor Espinoza heading into the far turn.
“She broke so sharp yesterday and we were eight to five. I’m sitting on my hands and thinking, ‘Oh my God, what a time to quit gambling,'” said Dennis. “We had been very high on her, but in her last work, she got outrun by another filly we’ve got and we were really confused. Victor was on the other filly, Tyfosha, and we had her in 46 flat. We had Saudi Chroma in 46 and three and Kyle Frey, who was on Saudi Charma, told us, ‘I want to ride the other one!'”
A California-bred chestnut filly by Lucky Pulpit (see California Chrome), Saudi Chroma, who fetched $360,000 at the Barrett’s March two-year-old in training sale, won in-hand by 3 ¼ lengths and paid $7.80 to win. Owned by Amar Zedan’s Zedan Racing Stables Inc., she’s out of the Mr. Greeley mare Nine to Five and was bred by Cole Ranch.
“Amar is a new client and he’s very enthusiastic about our game,” said Dennis. “He was born in LA. His parents went to USC and he graduated from Texas A & M., but renounced his U.S. citizenship to run his family’s business in Saudi Arabia.
“He gave me a budget and we bought four colts and two fillies, most of them in Florida. I gotta tell you, I had just got back from Baltimore and I didn’t sleep much Wednesday night. That’s gotta be the most money ($360,000) ever spent for a Lucky Pulpit and with the way she worked that half mile . . . It was very, very nerve racking. On top of that, we decided to run against open company, which made it much tougher. To see her win and gallop out the way she did yesterday, it was like winning the Derby. It was one of my biggest wins, that’s for sure.
“She was geared down at the end and she came out of the race good. She ate up good this morning and we’re going to look at the Landaluce ($100,000 at six furlongs) on July 4.”
As for Saudi Chroma’s workmate, Tyfosha, who is also owned by Zedan Racing? She’s tentatively scheduled to make her debut in a five furlong maiden special weight here on June 8.
FINISH LINES: Richard Baltas, who trails leader Peter Miller, 18-16, in the trainers’ standings, has a personal record high of eight horses entered Saturday, including two in the Gamely, Mokat and Goodyearforroses, against favored Lady Eli. “I’m more worried about the (Richard) Mandella horse, to tell you the truth,” Baltas said, speaking of Avenge. “She was a very good filly who developed late last year and I think she’s going to be better with age. She’s the lone speed in the race. “Both my fillies are training great, it’s a small field, a tactical race, and we’ll see how it goes.” . . . Grade I Kilroe Mile winner Bal a Bali worked six furlongs on the main track Friday in 1:14.80 for next Saturday’s Grade I, $400,000 Shoemaker Mile on turf. The seven-year-old Brazilian-bred went in company and was ridden by Mike Smith, who has the mount in the Shoemaker, a “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race giving the winner automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Bal a Bali stablemate Airlite was given a five furlong time of 1:03.20. Also expected for the Shoemaker on are Thunder Road winner Farhaan (Flavien Prat), Del Mar Derby winner Free Rose (Norberto Arroyo Jr.) and 2016 Kilroe Mile winner What a View (Tyler Baze) . . . Smith also rides champion Finest City in next Saturday’s Grade I Beholder Mile against Stellar Wind (Victor Espinoza) and Vale Dori (Rafael Bejarano) . . . Irap, winner of the Blue Grass Stakes as a maiden, worked six furlongs in 1:14.40 for Doug O’Neill, who has the Tiznow colt ticketed for the Belmont Stakes on June 10 . . . There is a single ticket Pick Six Jackpot carryover of $271,260.40 into Friday’s races . . . Leading rider Prat has been suspended three racing days (June 4, 8 and 9) for causing interference on Pacific Heat in Sunday’s Fran’s Valentine Stakes, resulting in the disqualification of his horse from first to sixth. Prat leads runners-up Bejarano and Joe Talamo, 23-20, through 23 days in the Spring portion of Santa Anita’s current meet . . . TVG host, analyst and reporter Joaquin Jaime and Horseplayer Leo Vukmanovich will be Tom Quigley‘s guests, Saturday and Sunday respectively, 11:50 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Trainer Mike Chambers, a fixture in California before moving his base of operations to Arizona several years ago, is back at Santa Anita with 10 head, already “breaking his maiden” by winning with one of his four starters. “Hopefully, we’ll bring in a few more,” said Chambers’ assistant, Todd Rarick. “Mike is up in Alaska now, fishing for a while. He might be down here in a few weeks.”
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Thursday, May 25)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||45||7||6||8||16%||47%||$392,348|