- O’NEILL WORKS ILIAD FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY
- FLAMBOYANT SET FOR MARATHON SAN LUIS REY
- FAMILIARITY BREEDS VICTORY IN DUBAI: ESPINOZA
- WAGERING FRIDAY ON THE DUBAI WORLD CUP
- TOP NOTCH SHOULD FANCY A MILE ON SUNDAY
- DRAYDEN VAN DYKE DUE TO RETURN IN MID-MAY
ILIAD BREEZES FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY
San Vicente Stakes winner Iliad, one of four possible starters in the Santa Anita Derby for Doug O’Neill, worked five furlongs Friday morning in 1:01.40 for the $1 million, Grade I event on April 8, the West Coast’s major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby on May 6.
Also working for the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby was San Felipe third-place finisher Term of Art, who went five furlongs under Tyler Baze in 1:01.80.
“Both horses went real well,” said O’Neill, who watched the drills with Kaleem Shah, owner of Iliad. “Iliad finished up great and both Kaleem and I thought he showed great energy.”
Iliad had jockey Amir Cedeno in the saddle. He worked with Royal Albert Hall who also was clocked in 1:01.40.
O’Neill, who won the Santa Anita Derby back-to-back in 2012 and 2013 with I’ll Have Another and Goldencents, also plans to enter California Derby winner So Conflated and California-bred Milton Freewater.
So Conflated also worked Friday morning, going four furlongs in 52.80.
SAN LUIS REY DISTANCE SUITS FLAMBOYANT
Marathon turf specialist Flamboyant, who has run 23 of his 25 career races on grass, will add to those statistics in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Luis Rey Stakes at a mile and a half on the green.
The French-bred son of Peer Gynt trained by Paddy Gallagher for owners Bienstock or Winner was third in the Feb. 4 San Marcos Stakes, his first start in nine weeks.
“He seems to be doing well since his last race,” Gallagher said. “He acts like he’ll run OK at a mile and a half. He’s run well at a mile and a quarter.” Flamboyant won the Grade II San Marcos at a mile and a quarter in 2016.
Asked if a mile and a half marathon was “a jockey’s race,” Gallagher quipped, “It’s a jockey’s race as long as they have the horse.”
Brice Blanc, who rode Flamboyant in this year’s San Marcos, says he could have had better racing luck when beaten just 2 ½ lengths.
“I got fanned out, but otherwise had a perfect trip,” said the native of Lyon, France. “The rider inside me kept moving out and pushed me a little bit, but my horse ran well anyway.
“It’s going to be tough to beat Ashleyluvssugar, but if Flamboyant takes to the distance, I really have a good shot, I think.”
The San Luis Rey, the ninth and final race: Inordinate, Corey Nakatani, 8-1; Power
Foot, Kent Desormeaux, 15-1; Flamboyant, Brice Blanc, 6-1; Ashleyluvssugar, Gary Stevens, 5-2; Liam the Charmer, Victor Espinoza, 12-1; Syntax, Rafael Bejarano, 15-1; Buster Douglas, Santiago Gonzalez, 30-1; Papacoolpapacool, Edwin Maldonado, 10-1; Texas Ryano, Joe Talamo, 7-2; Itsinthepost, Tyler Baze, 5-1; Some in Tieme, Tiago Pereira, 30-1; and Site Read, Stewart Elliott, 30-1.
LIAM THE CHARMER EYES FIRST STAKES WIN
Victor Espinoza hopes to pilot Liam the Charmer to his first stakes victory in the San Luis Rey after capturing an overnight race at a mile and a quarter on turf Feb. 9. The lightly raced son of Smart Strike trained by Michael McCarthy for Mr. and Mrs. W.K. Warren Jr. bobbled at the start of his last race but closed from ninth and last to win anyway.
“This distance is exactly what he wants,” Espinoza said of Liam the Charmer, bred by
Ron and Deborah McAnally. “The first time I rode him, at a mile and a sixteenth, it was too short for him (he raced willingly but finished fourth). He came back at a mile and a quarter and it was an ideal distance.
“He broke a little slow but still won easy. I think a mile and a half is definitely going to
ESPINOZA SAYS FAMILIARITY WOULD HELP ARROGATE, SMITH
Victor Espinoza knows his way around Meydan Racecourse whether the saddle is on properly or not.
Last year the Hall of Fame nominee who turns 45 on May 23 piloted California Chrome to victory in the $10 million Dubai World Cup despite riding with a saddle that slipped early on in the mile and a quarter race.
Espinoza will be watching from afar Saturday when Arrogate is favored to vanquish 13 rivals in the World Cup under Mike Smith, no stranger to the Meydan course, although he is winless in his lone try in the lucrative event.
Espinoza says it helps to have ridden over the course at least once before a race like the World Cup.
“Things change,” Espinoza said, reflecting on what a difference a year makes for him. “Last year I won the race; now, I’m watching it. Everything is different about that track except the distance. That’s the same everywhere you ride. In Dubai you’re competing against a lot of different horses and you really don’t know how they’re going to run.
“As for me, when I was there, I was just guessing what all the horses and jockeys were going to do. I just did my thing and I think that was best. If a jockey tries to study every single horse in the race, he’s really going to get confused.
“I didn’t worry about any other horse or study anything. I just broke out of there and did my thing, but I think it helps a lot if a jockey has at least one race over that surface before the big race. Any other track in the world, it doesn’t matter.
“It took me twice to really nail it, but the first race helped me a lot when I won last year. That was a bonus.”
ADVANCE WAGERING TODAY ON SATURDAY’S DUBAI WORLD CUP
There is advance wagering on races three through nine today on Saturday’s Dubai World Cup program. Early bird wagering opens at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, with betting available on races seven through nine, the ninth race being the World Cup with an approximate post time of 9:45 a.m.
Arrogate, trained by Bob Baffert, drew post position nine in a field of 14. Hoppertunity, also trained by Baffert, has post position 11.
TOP NOTCH MAKES STAKES DEBUT IN DREAM OF SUMMER
Top Notch makes her stakes debut and her first race beyond six and a half furlongs Sunday in the $100,000 Dream of Summer Stakes for older fillies and mares at one mile on the main track, another in the Golden State Series for California-bred or sired runners.
Trained by Jeff Bonde for owners/breeders George and Mary Schmitt, Top Notch is a four-year-old chestnut daughter of Old Topper who won her last start, an overnight race at five-and-half furlongs under Edwin Maldonado, who retains the mount Sunday.
“She’s a consistent filly and tries hard every time and she should route,” Bonde said. “She’s a big, long-striding filly and training well.”
The field: Top Notch, Edwin Maldonado; Skye Diamonds, Tiago Pereira; Time for Ebby, Stewart Elliott; Ashley’s Sassy, Jaime Theriot; Run for Retts, Tyler Baze; Roo’s Valentine, Martin Pedroza; Mizzen Glory, Chantal Sutherland; Sheer Pleasure, Kent Desormeaux; Dressed to a T, Corey Nakatani; and Cuddle Alert, Israel Ocampo.
VAN DYKE DUE BACK IN TWO MONTHS
Drayden Van Dyke, the nation’s Eclipse Award winner as outstanding apprentice of 2014, is expected to resume riding in two months after recovering from a major injury in a spill at Santa Anita in the fourth race on Jan. 26, suffering “an open break” in which the bone went through the skin on his right forearm.
“His cast has been cut down so it’s below the elbow now,” said his agent, Brad Pegram, who also represents the nation’s leading money earner and regular rider of Arrogate, Mike Smith. “Drayden will have that on for three weeks, then it will be replaced with a soft brace that he can take on and off.
“He’ll start therapy at that time, so we’re looking at two months from yesterday that he can resume riding, putting us at mid-May. He’s at home in Pasadena, he’s comfortable, he’ll start therapy in a couple weeks and is looking forward to coming back.”
A 22-year-old native of Louisville, Kentucky, Van Dyke had five wins, nine seconds and two thirds from 51 mounts, with earnings of $319,786, before his mishap.
FINISH LINES: Stellar Wind, champion three-year-old filly of 2015, worked six furlongs Friday for John Sadler under Victor Espinoza in 1:13 prepping for her 2017 debut in the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn April 14. She went in company with Mr. Opportunist who was clocked in 1:13.60. “She went good,” Espinoza said of Stellar Wind, two-time conqueror of four-time champion Beholder. “She’s going in the right direction.” . . . There is a single ticket Pick Six Jackpot carryover of $368,689.71 into Friday . . . Martin Garcia, Mario Gutierrez and Gary Stevens ride at Sunland Park in New Mexico Sunday. Joe Talamo was scheduled to ride Kimbear for Eric Kruljac there Sunday, but the trainer had an 11th hour change of heart and is passing the Sunland Derby. The son of Temple City is a late nominee to the Santa Anita Derby . . . What a View, winner of the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile on grass last year, worked four furlongs on the training track Friday in 49.40 for trainer Kenny Black, who was aboard the six-year-old California-bred Vronsky gelding. “It was the best he worked in the three years I’ve had him,” Black said. It was the first breeze for What a View since his crushing head loss to Bal a Bali in this year’s Kilroe on March 11. “I can’t say enough about this turf course,” Black said. “Horses just come out of the grass races here in great shape.” Black said What a View’s next start could either be in Southern California or out of town.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Thursday, March 23)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||105||21||11||10||20%||40%||$923,201|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||44||9||4||6||20%||43%||$509,505|