- BEHOLDER BREEZES IN BID FOR FOURTH ZENYATTA WIN
- CALIFORNIA CHROME SEEKS SIXTH STRAIGHT VICTORY
- EURTON HOPES DISTANCE SUITS CHAMPAGNE ROOM
- FRENZIFIED WORKS WELL FOR RODEO DRIVE STAKES
- TRAINER OK WITH EXAGGERATOR, FAST TRACK OR NO
CHROME, BEHOLDER HEADLINE AT SANTA ANITA OCT. 1
Three-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder worked six furlongs under regular rider Gary Stevens in 1:12.60, breezing, Friday morning in pursuit of an unprecedented fourth win in the Zenyatta Stakes next Saturday at Santa Anita.
Santa Anita clockers had fractional times of 24.60, 36.80, 48.80 and a minute flat, with a seven furlong gallop out of 1:27 flat.
The Zenyatta is one of five Grade I, “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge events on the second day of Santa Anita’s 23-day Winter Meet. It shares the bill with the Awesome Again Stakes, in which 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome will be a heavy favorite to capture his sixth straight victory.
At his Los Alamitos base, streaking California Chrome was at the ready. Trainer Art Sherman plans to work the five-year-old California-bred seven furlongs at 6:30 Saturday morning for the Awesome Again, which he expects will lead to the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 5.
Santa Anita hosts the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for an unprecedented ninth time on Nov. 4 and 5.
“Beholder went great,” said Richard Mandella, who trains the six-year-old Henny Hughes mare for B. Wayne Hughes. “She never looked better.”
Added Stevens: “It was an excellent work. She’s happy, and if she’s happy, I’m happy.”
Should Beholder win the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Nov. 4, she would be the first horse to win three Breeders’ Cup races on dirt.
Supplementing the headline events will be the FrontRunner Stakes for two-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles; the Chandelier Stakes for two-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles; and the Rodeo Drive Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at 1 ¼ miles on Santa Anita’s renovated turf course.
Victory gives the winning horse in each race a fees paid berth to its respective Breeders’ Cup event.
On Saturday, Oct. 8, the Grade I Santa Anita Sprint Championship for three year olds and up at six furlongs will serve as a springboard to the $1.5 million TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 5.
Santa Anita’s 23-day Autumn Meet starts next Friday, Sept. 30 and concludes on Sunday, Nov. 6. Friday’s feature is the $100,000, Grade III Eddie D., named for one of the game’s greatest riders, Hall of Fame member Eddie Delahoussaye. The ever-popular Cajun will be on hand to present a trophy to the winning connections.
First post time opening day will be 1 p.m. First post Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 1 and 2, will be 12:30 p.m.
EURTON HOPES TO CELEBRATE WITH ‘CHAMPAGNE’
Peter Eurton is hopeful Champagne Room gives a good account of herself in the Chandelier Stakes for two-year-old fillies on Saturday, Oct. 1 and earns a spot in the $2 million 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 5.
“She ran second from an inside draw first time out,” the trainer said. “She won the Sorrento pretty handily, then ran third in the Del Mar Debutante going five wide. From a physical standpoint, she should like the distance. She’s a very big filly with a long gait.
“She’s always had to move early in her sprints to play catch up, so I’m hoping she’s in more of a cruising mode when she goes long, rather than having to play catch up.
“She’ll work an easy five-eighths Saturday, we’ll see how she comes out of it, and go from there.”
NO FRENZY FOR FRENZIFIED IN RODEO DRIVE
Trainer Jim Cassidy expects Frenzified to fancy the mile and a quarter distance of the Grade I, “Win and You’re In” Rodeo Drive Stakes on Oct. 1.
The four-year-old English-bred filly worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Friday in 1:01 flat.
“It was a good work,” Cassidy said. “She’s coming up to the race well. She’s by a sire (Yeats, pronounced Yates) that ran two miles.”
Frenzified won a restricted stakes at 1 3/8 miles on Del Mar’s turf course Aug. 19 by a length and a half after prompting the pace under Santiago Gonzalez.
EXAGGERATOR’S BANKROLL ANYTHING BUT SLOPPY
Exaggerator still must prove to critics he’s more than a horse that needs a sloppy track to run his best race, and no less an authority than Keith Desormeaux isn’t eager to dispute that, although the trainer of the Santa Anita Derby and Preakness winner isn’t about to alter his thoughts on the colt’s achievements.
Exaggerator takes on Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and 10 others in Saturday’s $1.25 million Pennsylvania Derby, scheduled to be run on a fast track at 1 1/8 miles. A son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, Exaggerator was purchased for $110,000 and to date has won $3,571,120.
“The numbers say he’s just as good on a fast track,” Desormeaux said. “He ran a great race in the San Vicente, he ran a great race in the Delta Jackpot and he ran a great race in the Saratoga Special. Those were dry tracks. (The Delta Jackpot was actually on a muddy track).
“But his major wins have all come on wet tracks, so it (the criticism) is not BS. Until I prove different, the naysayers can have their day. It doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t diminish what he’s accomplished, it doesn’t reflect on how much money he’s won. He’s a superstar.
“We don’t look at the Pennsylvania Derby any differently. The type of surface he runs on doesn’t change his style. It’s up to Kent (Desormeaux) to get him in a nice, rhythmic gallop behind the pace and run them down. Nothing changes.”
FINISH LINES: With Honors and Straight Flyer, bound for the Oct. 1 Chandelier Stakes and the FrontRunner Stakes, respectively, are scheduled to work Saturday under Flavien Prat. “Everything’s going as expected,” said Keith Desormeaux, who trains both two-year-olds. “We’re looking forward to them getting the chance to go a distance (1 1/16 miles). If we get it, a lot of questions will be answered.” Desormeaux plans to run Chandelier nominee Miss Southern Miss in the $100,000 Surfer Girl Stakes at a mile on turf Monday, Oct. 10 . . . ShowVivor, Santa Anita’s popular free handicapping contest, returns opening day next Friday and continues through the Autumn Meet, with $2,500 to the winner. Visit santaanita.com for details . . . Santa Anita will again offer fans FREE shuttle service during the Autumn Meet to the track from the Arcadia Gold Line Station. The regular schedule is from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on live race days only. Patrons will be dropped off at the Infield admission gates, Club House gates and the South Battery. Operating hours are subject to change to accommodate post times . . . Richard Baltas gave Santa Anita’s rejuvenated main track a positive review after returning from the Keeneland Sales in Kentucky. “I was gone for five days,” said the trainer, who enjoyed a solid Del Mar meet, finishing in third place with 20 wins, three behind leader Phil D’Amato. “The track was good before I left and it’s still good. Horses are getting over it and it’s not very hard. It’s a really good surface and hopefully it stays that way.”