- FANS EAGER TO SEE TRIPLE CROWN KING TOMORROW
- STREAKING CATCH A FLIGHT SET FOR GRADE I GOLD CUP
- SAN ONOFRE SEEKS TO MAKE AMENDS IN TRIPLE BEND
- STORMY LUCY SHARP FOR RETURN IN ROYAL HEROINE
- PRIZE EXHIBIT RETURNS HOME FOR GRADE III SENORITA
L.A. ANGELS IMPRESSED WITH AMERICAN PHAROAH
American Pharoah has brought racing into the mainstream. Three weeks after he
captured the Triple Crown by winning the Belmont Stakes on June 6, his pictures still appeared in Sports Illustrated’s June 29 editions.
Bob Baffert, the most recognizable trainer on the planet with his signature snow white hair, was getting Rock Star treatment in restaurants and fast food joints.
And on Saturday, American Pharoah will make an eagerly anticipated public appearance at Santa Anita, his home track, after the seventh race.
“There are a lot of fans coming tomorrow,” Baffert said after watching Pharoah gallop at Santa Anita Friday morning. “I went to pick up some dinner last night at an Italian restaurant and there was this older couple there and they were all excited and said they can’t wait to come out tomorrow to see him, so it’s pretty neat.
“There were a lot more people watching the Triple Crown than I thought, but you don’t hear about it. I get recognized everywhere I go now, even Chipotle’s.
“But I haven’t tried Burger King yet.”
A front office entourage from the Los Angeles Angels that also included Angels Vice President of Communications Tim Mead, right-handed pitcher Cam Bedrosian, third baseman Kyle Kubitza and bullpen coach Steve Soliz, visited Pharoah at his barn Friday morning.
“It’s pretty cool to get to meet American Pharoah,” Bedrosian said. “How many times do you get the chance to meet the Triple Crown winner? Getting the invitation to come here is pretty incredible. I watched all three races in the Triple Crown. I grew up on a horse farm, so I’ve been around them my whole life you could say, so I like watching racing.
“American Pharoah seems huge! He’s a lot bigger than the horses I grew up with. That’s a beautiful horse and they take really good care of him; that you can see.”
(Bedrosian, Kubitza, Soliz and company can be found in uniform approximately 40 miles southeast of The Great Race Place at Angel Stadium tonight for a 7:05 p.m. engagement with the Seattle Mariners).
STREAKING CATCH A FLIGHT SHARP FOR GOLD CUP
Rising handicap star Catch a Flight will seek his third straight stakes victory in Saturday’s Grade I, $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita for 3-year-olds and up at 1 ¼ miles.
With speedsters Moreno and Big Cazanova entered, Catch a Flight should have a favorable pace scenario, although Richard Mandella wasn’t about to spill any pre-race strategy.
“He can make the pace if need be,” Mandella said of the 5-year-old Argentine-bred horse, winner of nine races from 15 starts. “In Brazil (where he won six of 10), he ran on the lead all the time.
“But since he’s been here, I like that he settles and runs like a professional. I think that’s been helping him develop, so we’re anxious and excited to try the Gold Cup.”
The second automatic berth into the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic is on the line in the Gold Cup, which will be televised live on NBCSN beginning at 5 p.m.
The Gold Cup is the third of 10 programs in the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge: Win and You’re In Series,” all leading to the 32nd Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky. Oct. 30-31 on NBC and NBCSN.
NBCSN’s coverage of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series Saturday features host Laffit Pincay, III; analysts Randy Moss, Hall of Fame jockey and five-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Jerry Bailey; and reporter Nick Luck. Daily Racing Form’s Matt Bernier serves as handicapper.
The Gold Cup is the second of five televised Breeders’ Cup Classic-qualifying races in the series for potential challengers to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. The first “Win and You’re In” qualifier of 2015 was Noble Bird, who won the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs on June 15.
All fans attending on-track will get an officially licensed “American Pharoah Triple Crown Champion” T-shirt free with paid admission and Santa Anita Thoroughbreds Club membership. (Thoroughbreds Club signups will be available free at all T-shirt distribution locations).
First post time Saturday and closing day Sunday, June 28, will be 1 p.m.
The field for the Gold Cup, race nine of 10: Batti Man, Fernando Perez, 30-1; Hard
Aces, Victor Espinoza, 12-1; Poshsky, Flavien Prat, 30-1; Motown Men, Tyler Baze, 6-1; Majestic City, C.C. Lopez, 12-1; Hoppertunity, Martin Garcia, 7-2; Big Cazanova, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Moreno, Cornelio Velasquez, 7-2; Catch a Flight, Gary Stevens, 5-2; Lideris, Joe Talamo, 50-1; and Finnegans Wake, Mike Smith, 6-1.
BLOOM, BALTAS EYE UPSET WITH MAJESTIC CITY
Owner Jeff Bloom of Bloom Racing Stable LLC and trainer Richard Baltas are optimistic about Majestic City’s chances in Saturday’s Gold Cup at Santa Anita.
The 6-year-old City Zip horse is one-for-one under Baltas, who sent him out for a front-running two length victory on a sloppy track in the Lone Star Park Handicap May 25.
“Jeff gave me the horse to train and we won first out at Lone star,” said Baltas, enjoying a solid Santa Anita Spring Meet with 17 wins, tying him with Phil D’Amato. “The horse is coming up to the race perfect. He’s got speed, but there’s a lot of speed in the race and he’s going to sit off of it. He’ll be up there close.
“Moreno is the horse to beat. He’s the only consistent Grade I horse. Catch a Flight fits well, too, and Finnegans Wake has been running on grass. The others are all taking shots.”
Added former jockey Bloom: “He’s never been a mile and a quarter, but he’s
one of these horses that just grinds it out. The horse doesn’t have that huge burst of acceleration, but he keeps coming after them, so it will be interesting to see.”
HEADLEYS HOPE SAN ONOFRE GOES NUCLEAR
San Onofre is nothing if not consistent. The 5-year-old Surf Cat gelding has never been worse than second in eight career starts, winning four, but not since Feb. 20 last year.
The speedy California-bred bay seeks his first stakes win in Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Triple Bend Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs. Favored in every start but his first, he has finished a gut-wrenching second in his last three races, all stakes, beaten less than a length each time.
“I hope our luck changes,” said Karen Headley, who trains the horse bred by her father, trainer Bruce, and owned by her mother, Aase, who campaigns as Matson Racing.
“He shouldn’t have gotten beat last time. I’m really proud of how consistent he’s been since bringing him back. He grabbed a quarter after his first race (Dec. 31, 2012) and I didn’t want to get him ready for Del Mar when it still had the Polytrack, so I turned him out in my back yard and let him heal and mature.
“I wanted to make sure that when he did come back, he was ready, because this is what we were aiming for. He ran a helluva race last time.”
The field for Triple Bend, which goes as race seven: Blue Tone, Kent Desormeaux, 12-1; San Onofre, Alex Solis, 3-1; Appealing Tale, Joe Talamo, 10-1; Sahara Sky, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1; Masochistic, Tyler Baze, 9-5; Wild Dude, Flavien Prat, 9-2; and Holy Lute, Mike Smith, 10-1.
STORMY LUCY RETURNS IN GRADE II ROYAL HEROINE
Stormy Lucy makes her first start in 10 months when she runs in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Royal Heroine Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at one mile on turf.
Ed Moger Jr. says she’s ready. A longtime presence in California, mainly in the Bay Area, the 59-year trainer said the 6-year-old Stormy Atlantic mare merely needed some R&R after her fourth-place finish in the Grade II Yellow Ribbon at Del Mar last Sept. 1. She won the Grade III Santa Barbara at Santa Anita last April.
“She’s a good horse,” Moger said. “She was tired; we had to give her some time off, but she’s training really well.
“Right now I’ve got about 50 horses in training. Southern California is a tough circuit, but I do pretty good up north.”
The field for the Royal Heroine: Blingismything, Tyler Baze, 4-1; Generosidade, Tiago Pereira, 20-1; Stormy Lucy, Flavien Prat, 6-1; Birdlover, Mike Smith, 4-1; Famous Alice, Gary Stevens, 12-1; Fanticola, Joe Talamo, 7-2; Queen of the Sand, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; Alexis Tangier, Victor Espinoza, 6-1; and One More, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1.
Supplemental nominee Mangita was scratched.
PRIZE EXHIBIT HOPES TO REBOUND IN SENORITA
Prize Exhibit ran an even fifth and last throughout in the Penn Oaks at Penn National in Pennsylvania on May 30, disappointing trainer Jim Cassidy, who hopes the English-bred daughter of Showcasing can rebound in Saturday’s Grade III Senorita Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on turf.
“There was no pace and we got back too far,” Cassidy said of the Grantville (Pa.), gaffe. “She ran pretty good coming to them, but she had too much to do. She’s on the outside Saturday (nine in a field of nine), but she wants to come from out of it anyway.”
The field for the Senorita: Rattataptap, Tyler Baze, 6-1; Long Hot Summer, Joe Talamo, 4-1; Lutine Belle, Rafael Bejarano, 15-1; Curlin’s Fox, Mike Smith, 5-2; Mio Me, Martin Pedroza, 15-1; Screaming Skylar, Victor Espinoza, 8-1; Miss Double D’oro, Martin Garcia, 12-1; Avenge, Flavien Prat, 4-1: and Prize Exhibit, Santiago Gonzalez, 5-1.
FINISH LINES: Triple Crown-winning jockey Victor Espinoza participated in a golf tournament at Dana Point Friday morning sponsored by New Era Hats and benefiting Victor’s primary charity, City of Hope. Several retired Los Angeles Dodgers players also participated, according to Espinoza’s agent, Brian Beach. Espinoza will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at tonight’s Padres-Diamondbacks game at Petco Park in San Diego, marking the fifth time this year he’s made a Major League mound appearance. Previous pitches were done for the Angels, Dodgers, Mets and Yankees . . . One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: Henry Moreno was a welcome sight at Clockers’ Corner Friday morning, visiting from a retirement facility for Senior Citizens in Sierra Madre. The 85-year-old veteran of the Korean War had been confined there since suffering a fall a month ago . . . Deepest condolences to Doug O’Neill and his family on the passing from melanoma of his brother, David, 57, in Honolulu. “He was a big part of our success,” said Dennis O’Neill, himself a cancer survivor. “We’re a very tight family. It’s been a rough week.” Yet another O’Neill brother, Danny, died at 38 of melanoma in 1998 . . . O’Neill held a 21-20 lead over runner-up Peter Miller with three racing days remaining in a battle for training honors that could go down to the wire. O’Neill had horses entered in two races today, while Miller had three. Each has horses entered in four races Saturday and Sunday . . . Neil Drysdale seeks his fifth San Juan Capistrano victory when he sends out Going Somewhere in Santa Anita’s closing-day feature at about 1 ¾ miles on turf Sunday. A 6-year-old Brazilian-bred horse, at even-money on the morning line Going Somewhere looks like the lone speed and could lead his six rivals on a merry chase throughout under Mike Smith . . . Bolo, prepping for the $1,250,000 Belmont Derby Invitational at 1 ¼ miles on turf July 4, worked six furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Friday in 1:12.40 for Carla Gaines . . . Jockey David Flores took off his three mounts Friday to be with his ailing mother in Mexico . . . Charles Whittingham winner Ashleyluvssugar runs in the United Nations at Monmouth July 5, trainer Peter Eurton said. Gary Stevens rides.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Thursday, June 25)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||124||16||16||12||13%||$704,622|