- SAHARA SKY RETURNS IN GRADE II KONA GOLD
- GOOD POST FOR MASOCHISTIC IN KONA GOLD
- THEATRE STAR WORKING WELL FOR COMEBACK
- ESPINOZA: AMERICAN PHAROAH ‘AMAZING’ HORSE
- MIKE LUZZI TO RECEIVE WOOLF AWARD SUNDAY
- WARREN‘S VENEDA PREPS FOR GRADE I VANITY
SAHARA SKY SET TO CATCH THE SPEED IN KONA GOLD
With speed, speed and more speed on paper in Saturday’s Grade II Kona Gold Stakes, stretch-running Sahara Sky is primed to pick up the pieces in the 6 ½ furlong race for older horses that offers $200,000 in prize money.
“He’s ready,” Dan Ward, assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer, said of the 7-year-old Pleasant Tap horse owned by Hollendorfer and the Sweetwater Stable of former trainer Kim Lloyd.
“He’s not a fast worker, but he has two 13s (six furlong drills in 1:13, handily from the
gate on March 28 and six furlongs in 1:13.20 on March 22), and that’s a good work for him.”
On Sunday, Sahara Sky worked six furlongs in 1:16.
“There are six other speed horses in there, but you know what happens,” Ward cautioned. “You look at an overnight and it looks like there are four speed horses, and somebody will go 23 and 46 by himself, so you never know.
“But the horse is doing very well.”
Sahara Sky, winner of the Grade I Metropolitan Mile in 2013, has earnings of $1,145,578 with eight wins, four seconds and four thirds from 21 starts.
The Kona Gold: Spirit Rules, Iggy Puglisi, 8-1; Caminetto, 8-1, Martin Garcia; Seeking the Sherif, Kayla Stra, 4-1; Sahara Sky, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; San Onofre, Alex Solis, 3-1; Masochistic, Tyler Baze, 2-1; and Ankeny Hills, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1.
MASOCHISTIC MAY RATE FOR ELLIS IN KONA GOLD
The only time Masochistic didn’t make the lead or wasn’t in front at any point in the race came in his first start, March 15, 2014, when he finished fifth, beaten 4 ¼ lengths.
The 5-year-old California-bred son of Sought After won four of five subsequent starts, each time in front-running fashion, all under the aegis of trainer A. C. Avila.
Purchased privately following his most recent start by Samantha Siegel and now trained by Ron Ellis, Masochistic is favored at 2-1 on the morning line to capture Saturday’s Kona Gold Stakes, although there are several other speed horses in the race.
Asked if he had to be on the lead to win, Ellis said, “I hope not, because it’s kind of one dimensional. He drew a good post to be able to kind of adapt to whatever goes on. We’ll see how the break goes and see what Tyler (Baze) thinks.
“I would hope he can rate a little bit. He’s been good since I’ve had him. He’s been working great.”
THEATRE STAR SHORTENS UP IN LAS CIENEGAS STAKES
Theatre Star is cutting back in distance after 10 career starts at a mile or longer when she runs in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Las Cienegas Stakes for older fillies and mares at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf. It will mark her first start in six months.
The 5-year-old War Front mare trained by Tom Proctor for Glen Hill Farm has four wins, but seeks her first stakes score Saturday. Drayden Van Dyke, who has ridden the bay three times, has been aboard for her recent drills.
“She’s working lights out and Tom knows where to put his horses,” said the Eclipse Award-winning apprentice rider of 2014. “If he thinks she belongs in that spot, I think she does. I hope for a nice, clean break and a nice trip to give her the best chance possible.”
The field for the Las Cienegas: Theatre Star, Drayden Van Dyke, 8-1; Home Journey, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; Living the Life, Flavien Prat, 9-2; Salsita, Felipe Valdez, 50-1; Blingismything, Elvis Trujillo, 4-1; Go West Marie, Gary Stevens, 2-1; Unforgettable U, Edwin Maldonado, 20-1; and Heavens Stairway, Tyler Baze, 5-2.
‘PHAROAH’ SPEAKS VOLUMES TO ESPINOZA
American Pharoah will try to trump stablemate Dortmund in their running battle of one-upmanship in Saturday’s Grade I, $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park.
Regular rider Victor Espinoza will be aboard the son of Pioneerof the Nile owned and bred by Ahmed Zayat.
“He’s an amazing horse,” Espinoza said of the bay colt trained by Bob Baffert. “He’s improving all the time and every time I ride him I learn something new and different that shows me how amazing he is.
“He has everything a horse needs to win the Kentucky Derby.”
Espinoza should know. He won his first Run for the Roses in 2002 on War Emblem for Baffert, and captured the Derby last year on eventual Horse of the Year California Chrome.
MIKE LUZZI TO ACCEPT WOOLF AWARD SUNDAY
Mike Luzzi will accept Santa Anita’s 2015 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in a Winner’s Circle ceremony after the sixth race on Sunday.
Sidelined because of a broken leg and a fractured pelvis sustained in a paddock accident last Nov. 2 at Aqueduct, Luzzi has undergone reconstructive surgery and is going through rehabilitation for a return to the saddle at some point this year.
Presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950, the Woolf Award is one of the most coveted honors in racing, as it recognizes riders whose careers and personal character have earned esteem for both the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing.
Luzzi, who has won 3,420 career races, is expected to be accompanied by his wife, Tania, and children Larue and Lane.
MEET, GREET UNBEATEN DORTMUND AT TOC CLINIC TOMORROW
As a special bonus, all attendees at Saturday’s TOC Conformation Clinic will get an up-close look at undefeated Santa Anita Derby winner and Kentucky Derby contender Dortmund at the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who has graciously agreed to bring the towering colt out for viewing during the morning’s program.
The Conformation Clinic starts 10 a.m. at Santa Anita’s Top o’ the Stretch. The workshop, which is intended to help participants develop an “eye” for a horse, will be co-hosted by trainers Dan Blacker, Matt Chew, Mike Machowsky and Howard Zucker.
There is still time to register for the event by calling (626) 574-6620.
FINISH LINES: Streaking stakes winner Warren’s Veneda, prepping for the Grade I Vanity Stakes on May 9, worked five furlongs at 6:30 Friday morning in 1:00.40 under exercise rider Manny Rotela for Craig Lewis. Asked if he was happy with the drill, Lewis said, “Everything about her makes me happy.” . . . Gusto Dolce, stablemate of 1-5 morning line choice Beholder in today’s Santa Lucia Stakes, was one of three scratches in the 1 1/16-mile race. “She hit her head in her stall and there was blood in her nose,” said trainer Richard Mandella, displaying a picture of the mishap on his iPhone . . . Joe Talamo is recovering in Palm Springs from a sore right shoulder suffered when his mount, Sensitively, fell after the finish of Sunday’s Santa Paula Stakes. Agent Scotty McClellan said the 25-year-old Louisiana native would resume riding next Thursday . . . Trainer David Hofmans passed on today’s Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland with Home Run Kitten and now will point to the Grade III San Simeon Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf April 19 . . . Safety Steward Luis Jauregui is well-satisfied with the innovation several months ago that announces the location of loose horses on the track during morning workouts. “It’s really important,” said Jauregui, a former jockey, “because when you’re on a horse, you hear the sirens (warning of a loose horse), but you don’t know where the horse is. By announcing it over the PA system, it gives the riders on the track a chance to look up and see where the incident happened. We started this at Santa Anita. I approached (President) Tom Ludt and he jumped right on board and said, ‘Let’s do it.'” Jauregui ended his career in style, going out on a winner at Hollywood Park in December of 2006 on a horse named Charming Dot trained by Roger Stein. “I’ll never forget that,” Jauregui said. “It paid $160 to win.” . . . On Sunday, April 19, Santa Anita celebrates Hispanic music and culture with a Latin music festival in the Infield. Enjoy Los Ramones and other top musical acts for concert admission of just $5. Parking is free through Gate 6 . . . John DeSantis of Xpressbet.com, and TV host/analyst Peter Lurie,will be Tom Quigley‘sguests Saturday and Sunday, respectively,11:20 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . .Today’s Santa Lucia Stakes trophy will be presented by Anthony Barr. A 2013 Consensus All American at UCLA, Barr was the No. 9 pick in the first round of the 2014 draft by the Minnesota Vikings, for whom he is currently a starting outside linebacker.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Thursday, April 9)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||216||23||26||25||11%||$1,466,663|
|A. C. Avila||25||7||2||3||28%||$208,298|