- THREE-YEAR-OLD STARS GET TO WORK THIS WEEKEND
- SPAWR REMEMBERS CLASSY CLAIM SENSATIONAL STAR
- D’AMATO TAKES ‘HILLUVA’ CHANCE IN JOE HERNANDEZ
TOP SOPHS GET IN THEIR LICKS AT SANTA ANITA
Santa Anita clockers will be at the ready this weekend to record the workout times of leading three-year-olds scheduled to breeze at The Great Race Place, including undefeated champion Songbird for Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains the brilliant daughter of Medaglia d’Oro for the Fox Hill Farm of Rick Porter.
Songbird, preparing for the Grade III Santa Ysabel Stakes a week from tomorrow, on Saturday, March 5, is scheduled to work Sunday at 7:45 a.m. according to Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward.
Also set to work Saturday is San Felipe contender Danzing Candy. Trainer Cliff Sise Jr. has the son of Twirling Candy scheduled to go out at 9 a.m. with Mike Smith up, while Santa Anita Handicap candidate Prospect Park works for Sise on Sunday.
Trainer Gary Sherlock will breeze Robert B. Lewis Stakes runner-up Uncle Lino five furlongs Saturday at 6:45 under regular rider Fernando Perez.
San Vicente winner Nyquist, bound for the Florida Derby on April 2, “will gallop through next week and breeze next Saturday (March 5),” trainer Doug O’Neill said.
Trainer Keith Desormeaux is preparing Swipe for his return to the races. Swipe holds the ignominious distinction of finishing second four straight times to unbeaten champion Nyquist, the last three in Grade I races, the most recent of which was the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Oct. 31 by a half-length.
“Swipe has had several breezes, but they’ve been so slow, I don’t know if the clockers caught him or not,” Desormeaux said of the son of 2004 Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone.
“Swipe had a chip in his left ankle removed that put him on the sidelines after the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.”
Texas Red, upset winner of the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, continues on the comeback trail at age four and will work five furlongs tomorrow under exercise rider Humberto Tellez, Desormeaux said.
SANTA ANITA HONORS BARGAIN CLAIM SENSATIONAL STAR
It’s approaching 30 years since Bill Spawr claimed Sensational Star for $32,000 with the hopes of turning him into a stakes winner.
Spawr wasn’t disappointed.
Sensational Star would go on to become a graded stakes winner under Spawr’s tutelage and retired with a career record of 39 starts, 13 wins, 11 seconds and $442,445 earned, this in the pre-inflation era.
Spawr is known for his keen eye at the claim box. His most accomplished bargain was Exchange, taken for $50,000. She went on to win three Grade I stakes and earn more than a million dollars.
Spawr, a native of Bell, California, who turned 76 last Dec. 13, had his day in the sun with 2011 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Amazombie, who would go on to win an Eclipse Award.
Claimed in 1988, Sensational Star later won the Pat O’Brien Breeders’ Cup Handicap and the Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar and the Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park.
Spawr still has framed winner’s circle photos of Sensational Star in his tack room.
“He was a classy horse who had some minor issues we were able to correct and it changed him into a real good horse,” Spawr said of Sensational Star, who will be remembered by Santa Anita tomorrow with the 19th running of the stakes named in his honor.
In Spawr’s tack room is a picture of Sensational Star winning the Triple Bend Stakes at Hollywood Park on May 6, 1989, when it offered a $75,000 purse. In the saddle was jockey Rafael Meza, older brother of Eddie Meza of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America, Southern California Council.
There also is a framed photo of Sensational Star after he won the Bing Crosby at Del Mar on July 29, 1990, when it was a Grade II race with a $100,000 purse.
“He was a nice looking horse,” Spawr said when asked why he claimed him. “He was routing and showed speed, so I thought he’d make a better sprinter, and he did.”
The Sensational Star: Image of Joplin, Agapito Delgadillo, 30-1; Solid Wager, Victor Espinoza, 15-1; Aotearoa, Drayden Van Dyke, 15-1; Pay the Fine, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1; Lucky J Lane, Santiago Gonzalez, 8-1; McHeat, Fernando Perez, 6-1; Forest Chatter, Mike Smith, 5-2; Richard’s Boy, Flavien Prat, 6-1; Alert Bay, Martin Garcia, 4-1; Boozer, Gary Stevens, 6-1; and Poshky, Joe Talamo, 10-1.
PAPACOOLPAPACOOL SHORTENS UP IN HERNANDEZ
Papacoolpapacool will make his 12th start on grass in 13 career starts when he runs in Sunday’s $75,000 Joe Hernandez Stakes for four year olds and up at about 6 ½ furlongs, but it will mark his first race on the downhill turf course.
In fact, the gelded son of Temple City has never raced at a distance shorter than one mile, and the Hernandez will be his first race in six months.
“This is a good race to put in him,” said Phil D’Amato, who was tied for the training lead with Doug O’Neill through 36 days of the 63-day Winter Meet that concludes April 10. Thanks to two wins yesterday by O’Neill, each has 19 victories. three ahead of Bob Baffert.
“There really aren’t any conditions for him, so we’re kind of using this to get his campaign started for this year,” D’Amato said of Papacoolpapacool, “but you never know. Maybe he’ll love the hill.”
Also in the Hernandez, D’Amato sends out improving Irish-bred Hunt, who comes off an impressive allowance win down the hill.
The Hernandez, which goes as the fourth race: Home Run Kitten, Joe Talamo, 5-1; Hunt, Flavien Prat, 3-1; Papacoolpapacool, Brice Blanc, 6-1; Rocket Heat, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; Holy Lute, Victor Espinoza, 5-1; Guns Loaded, Santiago Gonzalez, 6-1; and Bench Warrant, Tyler Baze, 6-1.
FINISH LINES: Spendthrift Farms’ B. Wayne Hughes was on hand Friday morning to see his champion mare thrice over Beholder gallop as she prepares for her six-year-old campaign under the direction of Richard Mandella . . . Multiple graded stakes winner Om remained on course for the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf March 12 with a five furlong breeze on the main track Thursday in 1:02 under regular rider Gary Stevens for trainer Dan Hendricks. Om’s fractional times were 24.40, 37.20 and 50 seconds flat for the half mile. “He worked great,” Hendricks said. “He’s right on schedule.” . . . La Canada winner Taris, working for the Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes on March 19, went five furlongs Friday on Santa Anita’s fast main track in 1:01.60 for Simon Callaghan . . . Martin Pedroza has been suspended three days (March 3, 4 and 5) for careless riding aboard Miz Graycee, half-length winner of Thursday’s second race who was not disqualified . . . Professional horse and poker player Dave Gutfreund will be Tom Quigley‘s guest Saturday in the East Paddock Gardens at 11:25 a.m. . . . Hot stuff: Santa Anita hosts a chili cook-off tomorrow. Fans can taste delicious chili from several teams, judge the fare, be part of the competition and select their favorite chili for the People’s Choice Award. The $31 package benefits the Wounded Warrior Project. For a $10 discount, use promo code COOKOFF at santaanita.com/events.
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