- TWO MORE SOPHS POINTED TO SANTA ANITA DERBY
- NYQUIST BREEZES FOR MOHAYMEN SHOWDOWN
- GLORY, GLORY HALLEJULAH IN SANTA ANA STAKES?
- D’AMATO ENJOYING ‘DREAM’ MEET AT SANTA ANITA
- DESORMEAUX SETS HIS SIGHTS ON NEW HORIZONS
IRON ROB, DENMAN’S CALL EYE SANTA ANITA DERBY
Iron Rob and Denman’s Call, the one-two finishers in the San Pedro Stakes at six furlongs on March 20, are being pointed to the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby on April 9, their trainers said Friday morning.
Iron Rob, a bay Twirling Candy colt who upset 2-5 favorite Denman’s Call by a length and a half in the San Pedro, will retain jockey Stewart Elliott for the Derby, trainer George Papaprodromou said, while Rafael Bejarano replaces Flavien Prat on Denman’s Call in the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby, according to trainer Doug O’Neill.
The two newcomers are expected to join the first five finishers in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes that was run on March 12: Danzing Candy, Mor Spirit, Exaggerator, Uncle Lino and Smokey Image.
“We’ll try to stretch him out,” Papaprodromou said of Iron Rob, who was nearly 10-1 when he won the San Pedro. “It’s worth taking a shot.”
Bob Baffert, trainer of Mor Spirit, will be seeking his record eighth Santa Anita Derby victory, having won with Cavonnier (1996), Indian Charlie (1998), General Challenge (1999), Point Given (2001), Pioneerof the Nile (2009), Midnight Interlude (2011) and Dortmund (2015).
O’Neill has two Santa Anita Derby victories, with I’ll Have Another in 2012 and Goldencents in 2013.
NYQUIST FINISHES ‘STRONG’ IN FLORIDA DERBY DRILL
Undefeated male two-year-old champion of 2015 Nyquist worked five furlongs Friday morning in 1:03 under Jonny Garcia in the colt’s final major drill before leaving Monday for Florida where he will face unbeaten Kentucky Derby favorite Mohaymen in the $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park a week from Saturday, April 2.
Santa Anita clocker Dane Nelson had Nyquist going the last half-mile in 49.60. Nyquist worked with stablemate Pay the Fine who was timed in 1:04.40.
“It was a good drill,” trainer Doug O’Neill said on a picture-perfect but busy Friday morning. “Nyquist finished up really strong and I’m very optimistic about next week.
“He’ll walk tomorrow, track Sunday, and fly out on Monday. That’s the plan. I’ll be leaving the same day.”
CONSISTENT GLORY SET FOR SANTA ANA STAKES
Team Hollendorfer hopes Glory enjoys a favorable pace scenario and can carry her speed to victory in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Santa Ana Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1 /8 miles on turf.
The four-year-old daughter of Tapit owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms (Songbird) was second in an overnight race March 4, but missed by a neck after leading in the Grade III Frankel Stakes last Dec. 27.
“She’s doing well and she’s nice to work with,” said Jerry Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward. “She’s coming into the race well and she always runs good.”
In 11 career starts, Glory has three wins, three seconds and two thirds, with earnings of $158,220. A win would give Hollendorfer his fifth stakes victory of the meet. After an uncharacteristically slow start, the Hall of Fame trainer has been picking up steam of late and ranks third, only five wins behind training leaders Phil D’Amato and Doug O’Neill, 27-22.
The Santa Ana, race five of 11: Her Emmynency, Joe Talamo, 2-1; Nancy From Nairobi, Abel Lezcano, 5-2; Nashoba’s Gold, Rafael Bejarano, 10-1; Fresh Feline, Alex Solis, 8-1; Glory, Mike Smith, 7-2; and Tuttipaesi, Chris DeCarlo, 3-1.
D’AMATO CONTINUES ‘DREAM’ MEET SUNDAY
Phil D’Amato, in the hunt for Santa Anita’s Winter Meet training lead from the get-go last Dec. 26, sends out Sheer Pleasure in quest of the $100,000 Dream of Summer Stakes at one mile on Sunday.
The race is for older fillies and mares and is another in the popular Golden State Series for California-bred or sired horses.
Sheer Pleasure, a four-year-old daughter of Birdonthewire, was second in an overnight race last out on March 5 despite going four-wide into the stretch in the 1 1/16-mile test.
“I like the way she’s coming into the race,” D’Amato said. “Her last race was a good effort. She had a little bit of trouble at the three-eighths pole, but she came running strong.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction. Her confidence is good and she’s ready to go the distance.”
As to the trainers’ race, in which D’Amato and Doug O’Neill are tied at 27 with 11 racing days remaining, D’Amato is “very happy” with how the meet’s unfolded.
“We’re just taking it as it comes, and whatever happens, happens,” D’Amato said. “We’re just happy all our horses are firing.”
The field for the Dream of Summer, race nine of 10: Kiss At Midnight, Rafael Bejarano; Lucy in Diamonds, Felipe Valdez; Swissarella, Edwin Maldonado; Melanistic, Tyler Baze; Tiz a Kiss, Kent Desormeaux; Ashley’s Sassy, Alonso Quinonez; Light One, Drayden Van Dyke; Singing Kitty, Gary Stevens; and Sheer Pleasure, Martin Garcia.
DESORMEAUX SEEKS FRESH START WITH PEGRAM
At the age of 46, Kent Desormeaux has resurrected his Hall of Fame career and has no intention of slowing down.
His eyes are on the future, which is one reason for Thursday’s surprising announcement that he parted company with agent Mike Ciani and hired J. R. (as in James Russell) Pegram.
“I just thought it was time for me to shake things up a little bit,” the three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey said between workers Friday morning. “Things had gotten kind of stale and it’s a move that has worked for me and lots of others multiple times.
“I want the public to know that I’m not satisfied and I want more, and this is the only way to do it without going on to social media, I guess.
“But there are still plenty who don’t read social media. I want the horsemen to know I’m not done yet.”
Through Thursday, Desormeaux had won with 17 of 115 mounts, good for a 10th-place tie in the standings with Fernando Perez, although Desormeaux had ridden 53 fewer horses.
Pegram previously represented Desormeaux in New York in 2012 and 2013.
FINISH LINES: With exercise rider Janeen Painter up, three-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder worked five furlongs in company Friday morning in 1:01.60 for Richard Mandella, who has either the Grade I, $200,000 Royal Heroine Stakes at a mile on turf May 5 or the Grade III, $100,000 Adoration Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on dirt May 8 ticketed for the six-year-old mare’s 2016 debut. Stablemate El Super was clocked in 1:02 . . . Imperative, fourth in the Santa Anita Handicap, worked four furlongs for Richard Baltas Friday in 50.60, breezing with Mike Smith aboard. “It was perfect,” said Baltas, who has designs on the April 23 Charles Town Classic for the son of Bernardini, winner of the race in 2014 when trained by George Papaprodromou . . . Leading jockey Rafael Bejarano has been suspended three days (April 3, 7 and 8) for careless riding aboard Yellow Bonnet who finished sixth in Sunday’s fourth race . . . Bring the family to Santa Anita Sunday for the largest Easter egg hunt and family fun day in the San Gabriel Valley. Visit santaanita.com/events for details.
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