- NO SENSE RAILING AGAINST RAIL IN PREAKNESS
- STEVENS FANCIES HIS VIEW FROM THE OUTSIDE
- BIG MACHER WITH WARD FOR ROYAL ASCOT RACE
PREAKNESS POSTS NO DETERRENT, HOLLENDORFER SAYS
Bob Baffert doesn’t always draw the rail. It just seems like it.
While no records are immediately available, the Hall of Fame trainer seems to live on
the rail in post position draws. Such is the case in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, where the two horses he trains, Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah and third-place finisher Dortmund will break from one and two respectively in a field of eight going a mile and three-sixteenths.
“I didn’t like the draw,” Baffert told Daily Racing Form. “I hate seeing them next to each other like that.”
Horsemen in general, be they trainers or jockeys, have no great love of inside post positions. A strong intimidation factor seems to exist for both horse and rider.
“The facts are the facts when you’re on the rail, going short especially,” said Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who is steadfastly approaching career victory No. 7,000. “Guys don’t seem to like being there.
“I guess it’s considered a disadvantage. Part of the problem is riders on the rail feel like they have to send their horses out of there and try to get a good position and some horses don’t like to be sent off their feet out of there.
“When horses break a little slow, the tendency is to try and rush them up from the one hole so they don’t get shuffled back too far. It’s a problem, but if you have a good enough horse, they can overcome it.”
“A good enough horse” would certainly be an appropriate description of American Pharoah and Dortmund in the Preakness, which, at a sixteenth of a mile shorter than the mile and a quarter Kentucky Derby, is far from a sprint.
“I don’t consider the Preakness post positions for them a disadvantage at all,” Hollendorfer said.
STEVENS HAPPY OVER PREAKNESS DRAW
As far as jockey Gary Stevens is concerned, the post position draw for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes couldn’t have gone any better if he drew the race himself.
Stevens was not only happy to have his mount, Kentucky Derby runner-up Firing Line, draw the outside post in the eight-horse field, but he seemed downright giddy that his major competition, American Pharoah and Dortmund, drew posts one and two, respectively.
Moreover, Mr. Z, a late addition to the field after he was purchased privately by Calumet Farm, drew post three. Mr. Z, who finished 13th in the Kentucky Derby, remains in the care of trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
“I’m pleased not so much where I drew but where Dortmund and American Pharoah drew, one and two, and Mr. Z outside of them,” said Stevens, a three-time winner of the Preakness. “I expect Mr. Z to show more speed than he did in the Kentucky Derby with new ownership.
“Wayne’s going out for the kill; that’s going to make those guys make some decisions earlier in the race that they didn’t have the benefit of making in the Kentucky Derby. Now I’ve got that benefit.”
In the Kentucky Derby, Firing Line dueled outside of Dortmund before putting that horse away in deep stretch. But, American Pharoah, who broke from post 15 in the Kentucky Derby, rallied several paths outside of Firing Line, pulling away from that rival late to win by one length.
Stevens said Firing Line, owned by Arnold Zetcher and trained by Simon Callaghan, would have no problem sitting off the pace, something he did in the Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Feb. 7 when he made the lead in mid-stretch but was outgamed to the wire by Dortmund, who won that race by a head.
“He’ll sit about any trip,” Stevens said. “I wasn’t overly concerned about the draw. I told
Mr. Zetcher just prior to it I’d love to have the outside, but if we don’t I’ll be fine with where we’re at. But those three being down inside it gives me a lot of options.”
Stevens also believes the fact that Firing Line had six weeks from the Sunland Derby to the Kentucky Derby gives him a fresher horse for the two-week turnaround from the Kentucky Derby to the Preakness.
“I think it helps him,” he said. “That’s one thing Simon, Mr. Zetcher and myself talked about before. For a guy that’s never been through the Triple Crown before, Simon was sorting this stuff out prior to; he knew what he was getting into and how tough it was going to be on him and he felt the six weeks would be to our benefit.
“We had the freshest horse going into the Derby and I got to think of the top three Derby finishers we may have come out of the race with the freshest horse going into the Preakness.”
In conjunction with the Preakness, Santa Anita will present an attractive day of live racing along with a festive Preakness party featuring the Preakness Handicapping Challenge offering $100,000 in prizes this weekend, May 16 and 17.
Santa Anita offers a $500,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4 pool on Saturday as well as a guaranteed Pick 6 pool of $150,000. First post time is 11:30 a.m.
For details, visit santaanita.com.
ULTIMATE HOLIDAY WORKING WELL FOR ANGEL FLIGHT
Ultimate Holiday goes from an impressive maiden allowance win to the $75,000 Angels Flight for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs Saturday.
Richard Baltas, currently in the mix for leading trainer with six wins through 12 days, was cautiously optimistic about her chances.
“She’s been working great, although I was looking for a softer spot for her, but couldn’t find one, so here we are,” he said.
Ultimate Holiday, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Harlan’s Holiday, captured her last race by 3 ¼ lengths on April 4, her first start since last Aug. 31.
The field for the Angels Flight, the second race on an 11-race card: Ultimate Holiday, Felipe Valdez, 12-1; Tara’s Tango, Mike Smith, 1-1; Suva Harbor, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1; $1,500 supplemental nominee Moon’s Over, Elvis Trujillo, 6-1; Fantastic Style, Rafael; Bejarano, 9-5; and Ben’s Duchess, Joe Talamo, 7-2.
A ‘SPECIAL’ MONDAY AT DERBY RESTAURANT
With the Special Olympics World Games being held throughout Southern California from July 25-Aug. 9, the City of Arcadia will be among the many communities hosting a group of participating athletes and their coaches for three days prior to the competition.
And the legendary Derby restaurant at 233 Huntington Drive is doing its part to help.
This Monday, May 18, the Derby will donate, after costs, all proceeds from lunch, dinner and alcohol to a volunteer committee that has been making plans to house, feed, transport and entertain a contingent of approximately 100 from the twin-island country of Trinidad & Tobago and the Kyrgyz Republic, the former Soviet Union country of Kyrgyzstan.
A number of jockeys, including Mike Smith and Gary Stevens, and retired great Laffit Pincay Jr., plus horse trainers and city dignitaries, have indicated they will be at the Derby on Monday. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made by calling 626 447-2430. A mention of Special Olympics is encouraged.
For further information, contact committee member Larry Stewart at 818 512-1608.
FINISH LINES: Richard Baltas reports that Grade I winner Big Macher is in England with trainer Wesley Ward who will prepare the California-bred son of Beau Genius for either the King’s Stand at five furlongs on turf June 16 or the Diamond Jubilee at six furlongs on turf June 20 at Royal Ascot. “I spoke with Wesley yesterday and the horse seemed like he shipped in fine,” said Baltas, who also is the new trainer of 2014 Charles Town Classic winner Imperative. The son of Bernardini currently is at Bonnie Acres in Hemet for evaluation before returning to the track. “He’ll have at least a month’s rest,” Baltas said . . . With 4-5 favorite Wandering Heart creating a minus show pool of $129,722 while finishing fourth in a five-horse field in yesterday’s first race, show prices were greatly inflated. Victorious High Intensity paid $19.60, $6 and $21.40 across the board; runner-up Kiss My Face paid $3.80 and $5.60; and third-place finisher West Mid returned $29 to show . . . Through 12 racing days, favorites at Santa Anita were winning right about the national norm, 33.98 percent (35 of 103). Favorites on dirt were winning at a 32.86 percent clip (23 of 70), while on turf, 36.36 percent (12 of 33) . . . The Great Race Place presents its Santa Anita Carnival Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, May 23 through Monday, May 25. The entire family is invited for three days of live racing, carnival rides, games and prizes, with unlimited rides for children for only $10. Admission and parking to the Infield is free through Gate 6 off Colorado Place.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Thursday, May 14)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||36||7||4||2||19%||$258,910|