- TRAINING KING O’NEILL PRIMED FOR AUTUMN MEET
- BAFFERT HAS TWO READY FOR AMERICAN PHAROAH
- GEROUX INVADES SANTA ANITA FOR GRADE I RACES
- DISTANCE OF CHANDELIER SHOULD SUIT BELLAFINA
- LA FORCE WORKS SATURDAY FOR ZENYATTA STAKES
- TWO DOLLAR HAPPY HOURS START ON OPENING DAY
- FREE HALL OF FAME POSTERS ON SATURDAY, SEPT. 29
O’NEILL EXCITED ABOUT PRESTIGIOUS AUTUMN MEET
Doug O’Neill, who finished strong to capture Santa Anita’s Spring Meet training title with 31 victories, hopes to keep the ball rolling when the provincial but prestigious 22-day Autumn campaign starts a week from today, Friday, Sept. 28.
The 50-year-old native of Dearborn, Michigan has seven overall titles at Santa Anita dating back to the 2004-05 Winter Meet and has 12 horses nominated for the five stakes races on Saturday, Sept. 29 and Sunday, Sept. 30.
Each is a Grade I, Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, providing the winner with a fees-paid berth to the respective Breeders’ Cup races Nov. 2 and 3 at Churchill Downs.
One nominee is Pavel for the Awesome Again Stakes on Saturday, although O’Neill will pass the race and train the four-year-old Creative Cause colt up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 3 after being vanquished three times by Horse of the Year candidate and Awesome Again favorite Accelerate, 12 ½-length winner of the Pacific Classic on Aug. 18.
Pavel, who worked three furlongs at Santa Anita Friday in 37.60, was second in the Pacific Classic.
“The horse is doing well and I thought he tried hard at Del Mar, but Accelerate ran like a freak,” O’Neill said. “We know Pavel likes Churchill Downs, so that’s a bonus.” Pavel won the Grade I Stephen Foster at the Kentucky track by nearly four lengths last June 16.
“But we’re excited about the meet at Santa Anita,” O’Neill continued. “We had a pretty active Del Mar. You don’t know how that form carries here, but it should carry well, and we look forward to a good meet here. It’s a short meet but a solid meet.
“We’ve got a horse named Whooping Jay that won impressively at Los Alamitos. He might come back in the Speakeasy on Oct. 6.” Whooping Jay broke his maiden going five furlongs at the Cypress track by 5 ¼ lengths on Sept. 9.
The Speakeasy, for two-year-olds at five furlongs on turf, is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race with a purse of $100,000.
Whooping Jay worked four furlongs Friday in 51 flat, one of 30 recorded workouts this morning for O’Neill horses.
TWO BAFFERT JUVENILES EYE AMERICAN PHAROAH STAKES
Bob Baffert needs another stakes win like California needs another Starbucks, but that won’t stop the two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer from seeking more.
He has five horses nominated to next Saturday’s “Win and You’re In” American Pharoah Stakes for two-year-olds, with two likely to start, Game Winner and Tale of the Union.
Baffert trainee Roadster, who could have vied for favoritism based on his 4 ¼-length maiden win at first asking, is getting a two-month break. Game Winner, a son of Candy Ride, won his only start by 5 ¾ lengths. Tale of the Union, a bay son of Union Rags, also won his lone start by daylight, eight lengths on Aug. 26.
GEROUX ON QUEEN FOR DAY IN RODEO DRIVE
Richard Baltas has six horses nominated to next Saturday’s “Win and You’re In” Rodeo Drive Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at 1 ¼ miles on turf, but only Queen Blossom is likely to start.
“She came out of her race at Del Mar good,” Baltas said, speaking of a second by one length on Aug. 15. “I think the distance is good, although she really wants to go farther.”
Baltas has engaged Florent Geroux to ride the five-year-old Irish-bred mare.
CALLAGHAN KEEN ON BELLAFINA FOR CHANDELIER
Simon Callaghan is optimistic that Bellafina can successfully negotiate the 1 1/16 miles of the Grade I, “Win and You’re In” Chandelier Stakes for two-year-old fillies next Saturday.
A bay daughter of Quality Road owned by Kaleem Shah, Bellafina won the Grade II Sorrento Stakes at seven furlongs on Aug. 5 after finishing second in her debut July 4.
“I don’t think the distance will be any problem,” Callaghan said. “She’s trained really well since her last win and we’re looking forward to the race.”
Flavien Prat retains the mount on Bellafina, who is scheduled to have her final major work for the Chandelier on Sunday.
Also set for the Chandelier is Brill, a daughter of Malibu Moon who won at first asking, coming from behind at five furlongs as the 7-10 favorite for Jerry Hollendorfer. The Hall of Fame trainer has engaged Florent Geroux for the Chandelier.
LA FORCE IS WITH IT FOR ZENYATTA STAKES
La Force, a consistent German-bred filly trained by Paddy Gallagher, seeks her first stakes win next Sunday in the “Win and You’re In” Zenyatta Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at 1 1/16 miles.
The dark bay daughter of Power is scheduled to work tomorrow and if all goes well, it’s on to the Zenyatta. “It’s a race we’ve been pointing to,” Gallagher said.
La Force, second to champion Unique Bella in two Grade I races, the Beholder Mile and the Clement L. Hirsch, is versatile in her style, either stalking the pace or coming from off it.
In 21 starts, she has two wins, six seconds, four thirds and earnings of $310,800.
SANTA ANITA OFFERS ALL-DAY ‘FRIDAY HAPPY HOUR’ STARTING SEPT. 28
With the beginning of Santa Anita’s 22-day Autumn Meet next Friday, Sept. 28, on-track fans 21 years of age and up will be treated to an all-day “Friday Happy Hour” each Friday featuring $2 draft beers and half price on signature cocktails such as the “Baldwin Buck,” made with Woodford Reserve, the official bourbon of Santa Anita Park.
Ice cold draft Budweiser and Montejo Pale Lager will be available until the last race is official at Sirona’s Sports Bar, the Club House Bar across from the sandwich carving station on the main floor, and the Horseshoe Bar located on the track’s Mezzanine level.
While draft beers will be available for $2, signature cocktails will be sold for just $6.
“We feel this provides great value for everyone and along with free parking and admission on weekdays, it’s a compelling way to bring in new fans and take care of our core customers as well,” said Nate Newby, Santa Anita Vice President, Marketing. “We’re offering a great many promotions now on the weekends that are attracting a much younger demographic and there’s also no question there’s room to grow our business on weekdays.”
For more information on Santa Anita’s Autumn Meet “Happy Hour” and other promotions, including the Santa Anita Oktoberfest Sept. 29 & 30 and Oct. 6 & 7, please visit www.santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
FREE HALL OF FAME POSTER AVAILABLE SATURDAY, SEPT. 29
In addition to four Grade I Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge races, the first 5,000 on-track fans at Santa Anita will be treated to a beautiful full color poster depicting some of the greatest Hall of Fame jockeys and trainers of all time on Saturday, Sept. 29, at 10:30 a.m. in the track’s Paddock Gardens area.
Retired Hall of Famers Eddie Delahoussaye, Julie Krone, Laffit Pincay, Jr., Donald Pierce and Alex Solis will be joined by an array of active HOFers, including Kent Desormeaux, Mike Smith, Gary Stevens, Neil Drysdale, Jerry Hollendorfer, Richard Mandella and Ron McAnally.
Vintage photos of the above jockeys and trainers will be included on the poster, as will printed recognition of other Hall of Fame legends such as Charlie Whittingham, Lazaro Barrera, Bill Shoemaker, John Longden, Eddie Arcaro, Chris McCarron, Chris Antley, William Molter, Milo Valenzuela, Bill Hartack, Russell Baze, Gary Jones, Garrett Gomez, Manuel Ycaza, George Woolf, Bill Boland, Ted Atkinson, Mesh Tenney, Bob Wheeler, Buster Millerick and many others.
Santa Anita’s 22-day Autumn Meet will include Oktoberfest the first two weekends, Sept. 29 & 30 and Oct. 6 & 7.
For additional information on Santa Anita’s Hall of Fame Autograph Session Sept. 29 and all other promotions and racing opportunities, please visit www.santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
FINISH LINES: Congratulations to seven-pound apprentice rider Luis Fuentes on winning his first-ever race in California yesterday when he captured the sixth event at Los Alamitos aboard Principe Carlo at a $12 win mutuel for trainer and part owner Marcelo Polanco. The 18-year-old brother of apprentice Ruben Fuentes, Luis previously raced at Parx and Monmouth Park. Thursday’s victory was the 20th of his young career. He is represented by agent Patty Sterllng, who also has journeyman Tiago Pereira . . . Octogenarian Huey Barnes is in the midst of his 64th year at The Great Race. An assistant starter, Barnes came to Santa Anita with Charlie Whittingham in 1954 and has been a member of the gate crew for 40 years . . . Significant Friday morning works at Santa Anita are on the following links: Ann Arbor Eddie: https://www.xbtv.com/video/ann-arbor-eddie-(outside)-and-sold-it-worked-5-furlongs-in-1/ann-arbor-eddie-outside-and-sold-it-worked-5-furlongs-in-102-20-at-santa-anita-park-on-september-21st-2018/; B Squared: https://www.xbtv.com/video/workout/b-squared-worked-4-furlongs-in-49-20-at-santa-anita-park-on-september-21st-2018/; and Kazan: https://www.xbtv.com/video/workout/kazan-worked-5-furlongs-in-102-00-at-santa-anita-park-on-september-21st-2018/. Significant Thursday works are on the following links: West Coast: https://www.xbtv.com/video/west-coast-(outside)-and-ax-man-worked-6-furlongs-in-1/west-coast-outside-and-ax-man-worked-6-furlongs-in-112-60-at-santa-anita-park-on-september-20th-2018/ Hoppertunity: https://www.xbtv.com/video/hoppertunity-(inside)-and-rayana-worked-5-furlongs-in-1/hoppertunity-inside-and-rayana-worked-5-furlongs-in-101-20-at-santa-anita-park-on-september-20th-2018/.