- GLATT HOPES BLACKJACKCAT CAN MAKE HIS MARK
- ALL SOURCES HANDLE UP $70 MILLION, PURSES HIKED
- MARLEY’S FREEDOM IN HIS FIRST START FOR BAFFERT
- FINAL PLANS SET FOR JUSTIFY’S TRIPLE CROWN BID
- UNIQUE BELLA WORKS FOR GRADE I BEHOLDER MILE
BLACKJACKCAT SET TO POUNCE IN SHOEMAKER MILE
With six wins and five thirds from 17 starts, Blackjackcat is consistent as they come, but the Tale of the Cat gelding trained by Mark Glatt for prominent owners/breeders Al and Sandee Kirkwood faces what appears to be a daunting task in Monday’s Grade I, $400,000 Shoemaker Mile on turf, the first of this year’s North American Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge races, giving the winner a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Still, Glatt holds optimism that Blackjackcat will give a good account of himself, since he has three wins over Santa Anita’s turf course and four at a mile, including the restricted Obviously Mile last Oct. 7.
“I think he’s coming into the race good,” Glatt said. “He’s not been himself the last couple of starts (fifth and fourth, respectively, in the Thunder Road and American, both Grade III’s at a mile on Santa Anita’s turf), but he’s coming off two really strong workouts and hopefully he’s rounding back into the same form he had last year.
“He might have run so hard in the Breeders’ Cup (Mile last Nov. 4, closing from well back to be third despite a five-wide trip into the stretch and the rider losing his whip), that could have accounted for not winning his last two, but this will be his third start off of a layoff, so maybe he’s coming back into form.”
Glatt has enjoyed a long run with the Kirkwoods, and he’d like nothing more than to win a Grade I for them. “The Shoemaker would be a good way to start,” he said.
The Shoemaker, race seven of 10: Om, Joe Talamo, 5-1; Bowies Hero, Corey Nakatani, 5-2; Pavel, Mario Gutierrez, 10-1; Colonist, Drayden Van Dyke, 15-1, Hunt, Flavien Prat, 8-1; Heart to Heart, Julien Leparoux, 2-1; Arms Runner, Alonso Quinonez, 15-1; Next Shares, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; and Blackjackcat, Kent Desormeaux, 6-1.
SANTA ANITA ALL-SOURCES HANDLE UP $70 MILLION; OVERNIGHT PURSES RAISED
Due to a $70 million increase in overall pari-mutuel handle dating back to Dec. 26, Santa Anita Park has announced a 10 percent increase in overnight purses, effective Friday, June 1, through closing day, Sunday, June 24.
“The fact that we’re up $70 million in handle is obviously very gratifying and there are several factors involved, including field size, which is very important,” said Tim Ritvo, Chief Operating Officer for The Stronach Group (TSG). “We’ve seen an increase of a half a horse per race, so that has certainly helped. Considering where we were from an economic standpoint a year ago, it’s gratifying to be able to card 18 additional races over the same time period and still be in a very good position in terms of our purse account.
“We appreciate the cooperation received from the TOC (Thoroughbred Owners of California), the CTT (California Thoroughbred Trainers), our staff and most importantly, the economic engine that drives our business, our fans in Southern California and around the country.
“We want to sincerely thank all of them for betting on our races and we acknowledge one of our biggest challenges is to continually improve our product and thereby provide better and better gambling opportunities. We look forward to this purse increase being the first of many more such increases in the future.”
For his part, Nick Alexander, one of California’s most active owners and breeders and current TOC Chairman, was supportive of the upcoming purse hike.
“The TOC welcomes the 10 percent purse increase for the remainder of the Santa Anita meet,” he said. “We want to extend our congratulations to Tim Ritvo and his team for their excellent work in revitalizing the Santa Anita racing product and for the increased handle we’re seeing nationwide.”
Dating back to Dec. 26, several big days and events were instrumental in Santa Anita’s strong Winter/Spring showing. All sources handle Preakness Day, May 19, of $20,030,222, was a 26 percent increase over last year.
On-track attendance on Preakness Day of 23,428 was a 17 percent increase and on-track handle of $3,185,095 marked a 16 percent increase over last year.
Additionally, Santa Anita’s popular Michelada Festival in the Infield on Preakness Day attracted more than 10,000 fans and two days of live-money handicapping tournaments over Preakness weekend generated more than $1 million in on-track handle.
With Santa Anita Derby winner Justify winning the Kentucky Derby on May 5, Santa Anita’s all sources handle of $19,818,707 was up three percent over last year, while on-track attendance of 26,121 was up 10 percent. On-track handle on Kentucky Derby Day was up 10 percent, with $3,606,064 wagered at The Great Race Place.
Santa Anita Derby Day, April 7, resulted in a dramatic 16 percent increase in all sources handle, as $24,170,879 was wagered–the biggest Santa Anita Derby Day all sources handle since 2007. On-track attendance of 39,023 was up eight percent from a year ago (biggest Santa Anita Derby Day crowd in eight years) and Derby Day handle of $3,494,979 was up seven percent.
MARLEY’S FREEDOM DEBUTS FOR BAFFERT IN DESERT STORMER
Marley’s Freedom makes her first start for Bob Baffert in Sunday’s Grade III, 100,000 Desert Stormer Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at six furlongs.
“She came to me in good shape,” said the Triple Crown-winning trainer of the four-year-old Blame filly previously conditioned by Bob Hess Jr.
After finishing second behind streaking graded stakes winner Selcourt in the Grade II Santa Monica Stakes on March 24, Marley’s Freedom won an overnight race by 2 ¼ lengths on April 20 in her final start for Hess.
The bay owned by Cicero Farms LLC is the 7-5 second choice behind 6-5 favorite Miss Sunset on Jon White’s morning line.
The field for the Desert Stormer, race eight of nine: Cuyathy, Edwin Maldonado, 10-1; Classy Tune, Tyler Baze, 4-1; Yuvetsi, Victor Espinoza, 8-1; Miss Sunset, Julien Leparoux, 6-5; and Marley’s Freedom, Drayden Van Dyke, 7-5.
BELMONT COUNTDOWN ON FOR JUSTIFY
The countdown is on in earnest for undefeated Justify’s pursuit of the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes on June 9. In winning the Preakness, Bob Baffert is now undefeated in the middle jewel with all five of his Kentucky Derby winners–Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet 1998), War Emblem (2002), American Pharoah (2015) and Justify this year.
Baffert will soon join top assistant Jim Barnes and the chestnut son of Scat Daddy–winner of the Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes–at Churchill Downs to oversee final preparations in quest of a second Triple Crown sweep in four years.
He became the first trainer in 37 years to win it in 2015, with American Pharoah.
Baffert plans to leave California for Kentucky on Monday, with Justify scheduled to have his final major work at the Louisville track a week hence, Sunday or Monday, June 3 or 4, for the 150th Belmont Stakes, final jewel in the Triple Crown, at a mile and a half.
FINISH LINES: Champion female sprinter of 2017 Unique Bella, prepping for the Grade I Beholder Mile on June 2, worked four furlongs at 5:30 Saturday morning in 52.20, breezing, for Jerry Hollendorfer. Exercise rider Freddie Rodriguez was aboard. Mike Smith rides Unique Bella in the Beholder, also expected to attract Paradise Woods (Flavien Prat), Vale Dori (Rafael Bejarano) and possibly La Force (Drayden Van Dyke) . . . Today is the final day as an apprentice for Franklin Ceballos. Starting Sunday, Ceballos, tied for fifth with 13 wins through 24 days of Santa Anita’s Spring Meet, loses his five-pound weight allowance and rides as a full-fledged journeyman.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Friday, May 25)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||75||12||11||10||16%||44%||$572,888|