- STREAKING SHARP SAMURAI SET FOR TWILIGHT DERBY
- SKYE DIAMONDS ‘ON TIME’ FOR BREEDERS’ CUP EVENT
- BALTAS BIDDING FOR TRAINING TITLE IN AUTUMN MISS
- LATE SURGE HAS O’NEILL IN THE RUNNING FOR CROWN
- CARMA HOSTS AFTERCARE AWARENESS DAY ON SUNDAY
SHARP SAMURAI SHARP FOR TWILIGHT DERBY
Sharp Samurai seeks his fourth consecutive win in Saturday’s Twilight Derby, a Grade II event at nine furlongs on turf with a $200,000 purse.
Sharp Samurai’s last two victories came in the Grade II Del Mar Derby on Sept. 3 and the Grade III La Jolla Handicap Aug. 6. Overall, the gelded son of First Samurai has five wins from eight starts with earnings of $345,870.
“Everything has gone well,” said Mark Glatt, who owns a share of the horse with Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal.
“He’s training well and I think the time between races (one month intervals) has been great for him.”
Sharp Samurai worked five furlongs last Sunday in a minute flat.
The field for the Twilight Derby, race nine of 11 with a 12:15 p.m. first post time: Cistron, Tyler Baze, 20-1; Cowboy Culture, Florent Geroux, 6-1; Big Score, Flavien Prat, 4-1; Bowies Hero, Kent Desormeaux, 5-1; Just Howard, Fergal Lynch, 4-1; Sharp Samurai, Gary Stevens, 7-2; Troublewithatee, Corey Nakatani, 20-1; Channel Maker, Drayden Van Dyke, 10-1; Profiteer, Mike Smith, 6-1; Dangerfield, Kyle Frey, 50-1; and Ann Arbor Eddie, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1.
SPAWR FINDS ANOTHER CLAIMING JEWEL IN SKYE DIAMONDS
Time, it has been said, only counts in prison.
Bill Spawr is not necessarily one who adheres to that axiom, but as one of California’s
most successful and respected horsemen in this, his fourth decade of training, he recognizes that bullet workouts in the morning do not always assure victory in the afternoon.
So when bargain claim Skye Diamonds worked six furlongs on Santa Anita’s training track Thursday in a leisurely 1:16.20 under Tiago Pereira for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint on Nov. 4, a sense of panic understandably was void from Spawr’s nervous system.
He’s been there, done that.
“Workouts and time fit the personality of the horse,” said Spawr, who claimed Skye Diamonds for $40,000 last Aug. 27 and developed the four-year-old California-bred daughter of First Dude into a graded stakes winner, namely the Grade II Great Lady M and the Grade III Rancho Bernardo Handicap.
“I haven’t changed anything in her training that has gotten us where we are today. What you don’t know about that work is if she went the last three-eighths in 35 (seconds). That doesn’t show. Working three-quarters, you show me a horse who did that on the training track.”
Spawr planned to ship Skye Diamonds south today where she’ll likely have one more breeze “five or six days from now. We’ll see how the track is.”
This is not the first rodeo for Spawr, a native of Bell, California, who turns 78 on Dec. 13. He claimed Exchange for $50,000 from her second career start on May 2, 1991. She went on to win the Grade I Santa Ana and Santa Barbara handicaps in 1993 and the Grade I Matriarch in 1994, eventually running eighth in the 1992 Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Other memorable Spawr claims include Sensational Star, who earned his investment of $32,000 back tenfold; Restage, taken for $12,500 before becoming a stakes winner; Music Merci, who ran sixth in the 1993 Breeders’ Cup Sprint; and My Sonny Boy, who won the $300,000 California Cup Classic in 1990 after being claimed for $62,500.
The list would be remiss if multiple graded stakes winners Bordonaro, Enjoy the Moment and 2011 Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Amazombie were not included among Spawr’s most laudable accomplishments.
“When Exchange breezed,” Spawr recalled with relish to accentuate his point, “her works were so slow they weren’t even recorded. She’d work a half mile in 55 or 56 (seconds).
“But on game day, there she is. She wouldn’t have been the same if I had let her run (train full out) all the time.
“I kept her happy, within herself.”
In other Breeders’ Cup news:
Princess Karen (Filly & Mare sprint) worked four furlongs Friday for Jeff Bonde in 48.80, while Champagne Room (Distaff) went five furlongs for Peter Eurton in a bullet 59.80 with Mario Gutierrez in the irons.
“Dynamite” is how Bonde termed the move. Princess Karen will ship from Santa Anita on Sunday. Recognizing full well the challenges presented in Breeders’ Cup races, Bonde said, “When you race in a world championship event, you’ve got to come armed and loaded.”
Dan Hendricks plans to ship Om south on Saturday and breeze the five-year-old Munnings horse on the grass Sunday for the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Om was second by a nose last year in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita.
BALTAS HOLDS STRONG HAND IN AUTUMN MISS
Richard Baltas, in a pitched battle with Peter Miller for leading trainer honors at the Autumn Meet, has three horses entered in Sunday’s closing day feature, the Grade III, $100,000 Autumn Miss Stakes for three-year-old fillies at a mile on turf.
Baltas and Miller are tied at nine wins each with only three racing days left. Baltas sends out sends out Kathy’s Song, Reverse and Tapped in a full Autumn Miss field of 14.
“Kathy’s Song returns to a route after finishing fourth despite a wide trip going about 6 ½ furlongs on turf in the Unzip Me (Stakes Sept. 30), but she’s training very well,” Baltas said of the daughter of Candy Ride. “The 6 ½ was too short for her last time.
“All three have been training well. The question mark is Reverse, a new horse we bought privately who’s been working super. Tapped is probably the best of the bunch. She just got beat a zop (head in the Unzip Me) last time.
“I don’t think she’s a late-running sprinter. I think she’ll go long.”
The field for the Autumn Miss, race nine of 11 with a 12:15 p.m. first post time: Kathy’s Song, Tyler Baze, 15-1; Miss Southern Miss, Kent Desormeaux, 6-1; Beautiful Becca, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1; Tapped, Mike Smith, 6-1; Chocolate Coated, Gary Stevens, 12-1; Storm the Hill, Corey Nakatani, 6-1; Domestic Vintage, Joe Talamo, 20-1; Spin Me a Kiss, Edwin Maldonado, 10-1; Meadowsweet, Evin Roman, 4-1; Reverse, Drayden Van Dyke, 15-1; Lull, Flavien Prat, 7-2; Bernina Star, Santiago Gonzalez, 30-1; Sandy’s Surprise, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; and Almost Carla, Stewart Elliott, 20-1.
O’NEILL SURGE PUTS HIM NEAR TOP AMONG TRAINERS
Doug O’Neill, a four-time Santa Anita training king, has overcome a woeful one for 41 start with five victories from his last nine starters, including three on Thursday, to move within three of the training lead at the 19-day Autumn Meet which ends Sunday.
O’Neill sent out True Valor ($5.40) to win the second race; King Eddie ($63.80) to take the third, both under Mario Gutierrez; and Extraordinary Jerry ($21.40) to capture the eighth with Kyle Frey aboard.
O’Neill thus moved into a tie for second with Phil D’Amato and Vladimir Cerin. Each has six wins, trailing co-leaders Richard Baltas and Peter Miller by three.
“We’ve got great owners and a great crew,” O’Neill said by phone from Del Mar where he is preparing for the Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 3 and 4. “We realize these things go in cycles. We’re in a good one now and hope it continues.”
With two wins Thursday, apprentice Evin Roman took a three-win lead, 15-12, in the jockeys’ race over runners-up Kent Desormeaux and Tyler Baze.
“We’re very pleased and very grateful to the horsemen,” said Tony Matos, agent for the 19-year-old Puerto Rican sensation, who stands to win his fourth Southern California crown, having tied with Flavien Prat at Santa Anita’s Winter Meet and twice won at Los Alamitos.
CARMA HOSTS AFTERCARE AWARENESS DAY SUNDAY
CARMA (California Retirement Management Account), which provides funding and rehabilitation for California raced Thoroughbreds, will host its fourth Aftercare Awareness Day at Santa Anita this Sunday in the Paddock Gardens across from Champions! Gift Shop, also with demonstrations on the main track prior to turf races, on the training track, and in round pens in the Infield.
CARMA will stage an on-track equine demonstration featuring retired Thoroughbreds Bad Read Sanchez, Blue Chagal, Daahmer, No Jet Lag and Unbridled Dignity following races two, five and eight.
Fans can also enjoy a Thoroughbred color guard, show jumpers, barrel races and dressage freestyle events.
FINISH LINES: There was a Single Ticket Pick Six Jackpot payoff Thursday of $91,170. The winning ticket was bought for just $72 through a Twin Spires hub in Portland, Oregon . . . Peter Eurton sent Kobe’s Back five furlongs Friday on Santa Anita’s fast main track in 1:01.20 for the Damascus Stakes at seven furlongs on Nov. 3 . . . Now through closing day Sunday, just in time for Halloween, Santa Anita offers a Pumpkin Festival in the Family Fun Zone featuring an Infield full of activities for little jockeys. Inflatable jumpers, face painting, carnival games, pony rides, a playground and even a chance to meet the immortal “Seabiscuit” are part of the exciting package which can be purchased online at santaanita.com/events at a discount price.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Thursday, Oct. 26)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||54||8||2||4||15%||26%||$488,800|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||26||4||3||4||15%||42%||$247,910|