- WELL-TRAVELED CASSATT IN SANTA MARGARITA
- WARREN‘S VENEDA IN HER FIRST GRADE I STAKES
- ANOTHER WARREN–GUSSIE–GOES IN IRISH O’BRIEN
- JUVENILE WINNER TEXAS RED BREEZES TOMORROW
- RUSTY SLIPPER NO SHOE-IN FOR SALTY SANTA ANA
CASSATT HOPES TO ADD TO STREAK IN SANTA MARGARITA
Cassatt will make her ninth start at a different race track in her 10th career outing when
she runs in Saturday’s Grade I, $400,000 Santa Margarita Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles.
The gray daughter of Tapit trained by Larry Jones has raced at Churchill Downs, the Fair Grounds, Delaware Park, Monmouth Park, Parx, Keeneland, Zia Park and Houston, doubling up at the Fair Grounds in her only repeat visit.
“Thank goodness she doesn’t have to carry her race track with her,” said Jones, a hands-on trainer who was on Cassatt for her Friday morning exercise before taking part in her follow-up washing and walking.
“She does well traveling and she’s a typical Tapit,” said Jones, who will be seeking his second Santa Margarita victory, having won it in 2013 with Joyful Victory. Like Cassatt, Joyful Victory was owned by Rick Porter, who races as Fox Hill Farms.
“She has that nervous energy, she gets a little hot, and I see y’all have welcomed me with record temperatures for us tomorrow (in the 90s) . . . but seriously, she does do well and she’s getting better all the time, as far as her excessive energy. She’s learning how to contain it a little better.”
Cassatt is named for American painter and printmaker Mary Cassatt, who died in 1926.
Making his Santa Anita debut at age 55 to ride Cassatt will be Louisiana native Kerwin Clark, a story in his own right, having ridden the 4-year-old filly in her last seven races, five of them victories, the last three in a row.
“He’s a newcomer,” Jones joked. “He’s trying to be like Gary Stevens and Mike Smith. He’s been around a long time. Back in the early 90’s, he was riding in Chicago and holding his own with Pat Day, Craig Perret, Earlie Fires, all those guys, but he wound up going to Saudi Arabia for a little while and riding for the Prince there.
“That kind of got him off of everybody’s tongues in the United States. When he came back, he just never really picked up momentum that he’d had before. Anyhow, he was riding in New Orleans and I never rode him then, but as I got to know him, I realized him and I are kind of on the same page.
“I’d give him a horse here and there and he’d do really good with it, so he kind of got to be my number one substitute rider. If Rosie (Napravnik) was busy, then I’d put Kerwin on. He’d do good. Rosie was having so much business in New Orleans, she had her pick of all the outfits, so I wound up using him a lot.
“We’ve teamed up and it’s been really good.”
The field for the Santa Margarita, race eight of nine: Legacy, Joe Talamo, 20-1; Cassatt, Kerwin Clark, 3-1; Dame Dorothy, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; Thegirlinthatsong, Mike Smith, 9-2; Tiz Midnight, Martin Garcia, 4-1; Uzziel, Kent Desormeaux, 12-1; and Warren’s Veneda, Tyler Baze, 2-1.
STREAKING LEWIS MARE IN GRADE I SANTA MARGARITA
Warren’s Veneda makes her Grade I stakes debut when she runs in Saturday’s Santa Margarita Stakes.
The consistent California-bred daughter of Affirmative trained by Craig Lewis for owner/breeder Benjamin Warren appears to be in peak form for Santa Anita’s marquee race for older fillies and mares, having won her last two starts by a combined margin of 8 ¼ lengths.
The 5-year-old chestnut mare won the restricted Paseana Stakes on a wet/fast track Jan. 11 by 5 ½ lengths, then came back in the Grade II Santa Maria Stakes on Feb. 14 to win by nearly three lengths despite a wide trip.
“She’s real good right now,” Lewis said. “I think the two fillies that shipped in are very nice fillies. We’ll see. That’s why they run the race, huh?”
Lewis was referring to East Coast invaders Cassatt, winner of six of nine starts, trained by Larry Jones, and Dame Dorothy, winner of five of six, for Todd Pletcher.
But Warren’s Veneda is a creature of habit, which may not bode well for her rivals.
“She’s got a little bit of an attitude (around the barn),” Lewis said. “She just likes things the way she likes them and we adapt to her. We don’t make her adapt to us.”
WARREN‘S GUSSIE CLIMBS LADDER IN IRISH O’BRIEN
It won’t be the greatest step up in company when Warren’s Gussie jumps from an overnight race to Saturday’s $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf, but it does look a tad daunting on paper.
That said, Edwin Maldonado likes his chances on the 6-year-old mare bred in California by owner Benjamin Warren.
“I feel she has a good shot,” said Maldonado, who has ridden the bay mare in seven of her 12 career starts, winning three, her last two in a row.
“She’s won down the hill and is three-for-three on Santa Anita’s turf course overall. You never know. When fillies get good, they get good.”
The Irish O’Brien: Bert’s Melody, Brice Blanc, 8-1; Demonica, Joe Talamo, 6-1; Warren’s Gussie, Edwin Maldonado, 6-1; Go West Marie, Gary Stevens, 2-1; Qiaona, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; Velvet Mesquite, Mike Smith, 9-5; and Star Field, Tiago Pereira, 6-1.
TEXAS RED WORKS TOMORROW TO REJOIN DERBY TRAIL
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red, back at Santa Anita after recovering from an abscessed right foot at the Premier Equine Center in Oakdale, about five hours north of Santa Anita in California’s Central Valley, is scheduled to have his first workout Saturday since Jan. 24, prior to his runner-up finish in the San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 1, as he seeks to get back on the Triple Crown trail.
The son of Afleet Alex owned in part by Keith Desormeaux, who also trains the bay colt, has not raced since finishing a fast-closing second by a neck to Lord Nelson in the seven furlong San Vicente. Desormeaux hopes use either the April 4 Santa Anita Derby or the April 11 Arkansas Derby as a steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby on May 2.
“He came in Sunday and this will be his first breeze back, a half-mile,” said Keith, who expects to have his brother, three-time Kentucky Derby winner Kent, in the saddle.
“We’ll let him stretch out. It won’t be any spectacular time, but we’ll do that next weekend. This one’s just to let him re-introduce himself.”
Asked if the abscess healed satisfactorily, Desormeaux said, “No issues. His next race will depend on the liveliness of his works; is he finishing well, is he galloping out well, is he coming back after the works in good shape?
“He looks great. He doesn’t look like he’s lost a bit of fitness, but it’s been a month, so we’ll have to see. Hopefully, he will be (fit enough), but that is the goal.”
GRYDER SEEKS SANTA ANA UPSET ON RUSTY SLIPPER
Aaron Gryder seeks his first win in four rides on Rusty Slipper in Sunday’s Santa Ana Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf, a salty Grade II event that drew a contentious field of 11.
“She runs hard and she’s pretty steady,” Gryder said of the 5-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid trained by Graham Motion for R M J Stables. “She’s somewhat one-paced but she always gives a good effort.
“The Breeders’ Cup (Filly & Mare Turf last Nov. 1, in which she finished 10th but beaten less than six lengths) was not only extremely tough company, but I was caught wide all the way around.
“She definitely ran a good race last time (third by three-quarters of a length in the Megahertz at one mile on Jan. 17). This is a step up in class, but she’s a filly that shows up and tries hard every time.”
The Santa Ana: Testa Rossi, Rafael Bejarano, 5-1; Winning Rhythm, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; Hoop of Colour, Drayden Van Dyke, 12-1; Diversy Harbor, Gary Stevens, 7-2; Queen of the Sand, Mike Smith, 4-1; Electrum, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Rusty Slipper, Aaron Gryder, 6-1; Rosalind, Joel Rosario, 6-1; Indecise, Flavien Prat, 8-1; Three Hearts, Tyler Baze, 8-1; and Lady of Gold, Kent Desormeaux, 10-1.
FINISH LINES: Victor Espinoza has a busy schedule in front of him. He rides Eclipse Award winner American Pharoah in his 3-year-old debut tomorrow in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, then goes to Sunland Park to ride Turf Paradise Derby winner Why Two for Mike Machowsky in the Sunland Derby on March 22 before leaving for Dubai March 24 to ride Horse of the Year California Chrome in the $10 million World Cup March 28. “He’ll get back to California Sunday afternoon (March 29), but unfortunately, it won’t be in time to ride,” said his agent, Brian Beach. California Chrome worked seven furlongs at Los Alamitos Friday in 1:23.80 under exercise rider Anna Wells . . . Two-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder worked six furlongs at Santa Anita in 1:14 as she nears her 5-year-old debut for Richard Mandella . . . El Camino Real Derby winner Metaboss, set for the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park March 21, went six furlongs in 1:14.80 for Jeff Bonde . . . Horses wearing the No. 4 saddle cloth won six of the eight races yesterday, including the first four: When We Met (7.80); Highly Elusive ($8.80); Keezheekeni ($5.60); My Jealous (11.80); Swissarella ($41.80) and Talco ($6).
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Thursday, March 12)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||164||18||18||21||11%||$1,126,566|
|A. C. Avila||25||7||2||3||28%||$208,298|