- MILLER HAS TWO FOR THE MONEY IN KONA GOLD
- FREE ROSE STEPS UP AGAIN IN GRADE SATURDAY
- NESSY MAKES HIMSELF AT HOME FOR SAN JUAN
- RACING COMMUNITY RALLIES TO AID VALENZUELA
MILLER DUO DOING WELL FOR KONA GOLD
Peter Miller has two for the money in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Kona Gold Stakes for three-year-olds and up at 6 ½ furlongs, Bobby Abu Dhabi and Calculator.
Bobby Abu Dhabi was a game second to multiple Grade I winner City of Light last out in the Grade I Triple Bend on March 10, leading until deep stretch.
Calculator is coming off a third in the Grade III Daytona at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf Feb. 24 but is graded stakes-placed on dirt.
“Their styles are not that much dissimilar, although Bobby showed more speed last time,” Miller said. “But they’re both doing really well right now, so I’m expecting a good race from each one.”
Meanwhile, Miller is settling in at his main base of operations, San Luis Rey Downs, after the facility recovered from a devastating fire that struck last Dec. 7.
“We moved everything in (from Del Mar) last Sunday,” Miller said. “It’s good to get home, although it was great at Del Mar.”
The field for the Kona Gold, race five of 11 with a 12 noon first post time: $4,000 supplemental nominee Blameitonthelaw, Joe Talamo, 8-1; Bobby Abu Dhabi, Victor Espinoza, 2-1; Ten Blessings, Drayden Van Dyke, 3-1; Calculator, Kent Desormeaux, 7-2; and Ransom the Moon, Flavien Prat, 9-5.
AMERICAN VICTORY COULD BLOSSOM FOR FREE ROSE
In his last nine races, Free Rose has run in eight graded stakes, including a victory in the Grade II Del Mar Derby, and returns to graded competition again Saturday in the Grade III, $100,000 American Stakes for three-year-olds and up at a mile on turf.
“He came out the race good,” trainer Richard Baltas said of a second behind Kenjisstorm in a March 29 overnight race. “He’s doing well and we expect a good performance.”
A five-year-old gelded son of Munnings, Free Rose is winless in three races at one mile on turf and has never won over the Santa Anita green in six attempts, but he has been meeting stalwarts such as Bowies Hero, Itsinthepost and Bal a Bali, the latter pair Grade I winners.
The field for the American, race eight: Fabozzi, Tyler Conner, 10-1; What a View, Stewart Elliott, 6-1; Colonist, Drayden Van Dyke, 6-1; Ritzy A.P., Geovanni Franco, 12-1; Blackjackcat, Kent Desormeaux, 5-2; Sawyer’s Hill, Martin Garcia, 10-1; Free Rose, Joe Talamo, 6-1; Mr. Roary, Alonso Quinonez, 12-1; and Kenjisstorm, Flavien Prat, 3-1.
NESSY SETTLES IN FOR SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO
Nessy, a well-traveled son of Flower Alley, makes his West Coast debut Sunday in the Grade III, $100,000 San Juan Capistrano Stakes for three-year-olds and up at about a mile and three-quarters on turf.
The five year-old gelding’s last two races were at Gulfstream Park where he finished second and third in two graded stakes before arriving at Santa Anita on April 11.
“It’s a race the owners always wanted to win,” explained Paige Montanye, assistant to trainer Ian Wilkes. “The horse seems to be taken with the scenery at Santa Anita. He stopped to look at the mountains before he did his exercises.
“He’s a cool horse. He’s like a puppy, and he loves to train, loves his job, loves being a race horse.”
Although he has but two wins from 20 starts, Nessy has paid his way through six seconds and six thirds with earnings of $240,420 compiled from stops at Keeneland, Indiana, Churchill Downs, Ellis Park, Kentucky Downs, Saratoga and the aforementioned Gulfstream.
Nessy races for his breeders, Ed and Sharon Hudon, who campaign as Sierra Farm, also the breeders of another San Juan entrant, Principal Bob, trained by Paddy Gallagher.
The San Juan, race six of nine with an 11:30 a.m. first post time: A Red Tie Day, Tyler Baze, 6-1; Nessy, Mike Smith, 6-5; Evo Campo, Drayden Van Dyke, 4-1; Lazzam, Corey Nakatani, 5-1; Principal Bob, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1; Moonman, Brice Blanc, 20-1; and Rye, Kent Desormeaux, 3-1.
RACING COMMUNITY RALLIES AROUND ADRIAN VALENZUELA
The racing community responded en masse Thursday morning for a benefit breakfast at Clockers’ Corner to raise funds for popular exercise rider Adrian Valenzuela, 21-year-old son of trainer Martin Valenzuela Jr., who sustained a spinal cord injury during training hours March 31.
In partnership with the entire Southern California racetrack community, Santa Anita conducted a charity raffle and auction, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to support Adrian and his family.
Michelle Yu of XBTV worked the crowd with aplomb as she passionately hawked wares offered through a live auction and other goodies donated by Santa Anita, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, horsemen and fans.
Proceeds were still being calculated on Friday.
“Everyone joined together for Adrian and his family,” said Santa Anita’s Vice President of Racing and Racing Secretary Rick Hammerle. “We thank all those who participated.”
FINISH LINES: Condolences to family and friends of Virginia Strub Kelly, daughter of Santa Anita founder, Dr. Charles H. Strub and Vera W. Strub, who died on April 12 at the age of 95. Dr. Strub, a San Francisco-based dentist, also owned the contract of Joe DiMaggio in the mid-1930s, when he was playing for Strub’s San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League . . . There is a Pick Six carryover today of $68,739 which is expected to exceed $250,000, plus a single ticket Pick Six Jackpot carryover of $43,252 . . . Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, who turned 48 on Feb. 27, is still riding with the skill and savvy he displayed a quarter century ago. With 5,955 career victories, he is zeroing in on 6,000. His purse earnings of $279,865,783 have him sixth all time, behind, in alphabetical order, Jerry Bailey, Javier Castellano, Pat Day, Mike Smith and John Velazquez.