- IT’S A BIRD, IT’S A PLANE, IT’S SUPER MARE!
- UNBEATEN NYQUIST EXCITES TEAM O’NEILL
- ‘PHAROAH’ GALLOPS, TO WORK ON SUNDAY
- BEHOLDER GALLOPS, SCHOOLS FOR GRADE I ZENYATTA
- HALO DARLIN STEPS UP IN GRADE I CHANDELIER
- RODEO DRIVE DISTANCE GOOD FOR ELEKTRUM
- BC MILE IN SIGHT FOR TWENTYTWENTYVISION
- LEANDRO MORA BACK, TEXAS RED ON THE SHELF
‘VENEDA’ SEEKS TO TURN TABLES ON BEHOLDER
If there’s one constant in training Thoroughbreds, it’s not to put the cart before the horse. Of course, in Standardbred racing, that goes without saying.
That said, an agenda or program of some degree makes sense. That’s one reason trainer Craig Lewis has Warren’s Veneda entered to tackle Beholder again in Saturday’s Grade I, Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” Zenyatta Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at 1 1/16 miles, despite being beaten 11 ¼ lengths by Beholder last out in the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar Aug. 1.
Even a loss in the Zenyatta would not necessarily preclude Warren’s Veneda from reaching her ultimate goal, a start in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Keeneland Oct. 30.
“Warren’s Veneda is good, but Beholder’s beyond good,” Lewis said, given a pass for stating the obvious. “Beholder’s from a different planet. She destroyed those colts (in the Pacific Classic) like she was running on kryptonite.
“Warren’s Veneda is coming back from a bad foot bruise at Del Mar. She’s good right now, but she missed some time and we’re just hoping she runs a good enough race Saturday to propel her into the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, where hopefully we won’t meet Beholder, because she’d be in the Classic.”
Warren’s Veneda, a 5-year-old Affirmative mare bred in California by owner Benjamin C. Warren, showed sensational form at Santa Anita last winter, rolling to three straight daylight wins, in the Paseana Stakes, the Grade II Santa Maria Stakes, and the Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes, before disappointing big time at 10 cents on the dollar in the Grade I Vanity on May 9, finishing third. It started a string of four straight losses Lewis hopes will end Saturday.
In addition to the Zenyatta, Santa Anita will showcase the FrontRunner Stakes for two-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles; the Awesome Again Stakes for three-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 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 turf.
Each race offers $300,000 in purse money. The winners will be entitled to automatic entry into their respective Breeders’ Cup races, in addition to a travel stipend if going from a base located outside of Kentucky.
The field for the Zenyatta, race seven: Oscar Party, James Graham, 30-1; Savings Account, Drayden Van Dyke, 15-1; My Monet, Santiago Gonzalez, 15-1; Big Book, Kent Desormeaux, 15-1; Kyriaki, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1; My Sweet Addiction, Mike Smith, 8-1; Wild in the Saddle, Rafael Bejarano, 12-1; Warren’s Veneda, Tyler Baze, 6-1; and Beholder, Gary Stevens, 2-5.
UNBEATEN NYQUIST SEEKS FOURTH STRAIGHT IN FRONTRUNNER
Doug O’Neill and owner J. Paul Reddam could have another Triple Crown contender on their hands in Nyquist, an unbeaten 2-year-old son of Uncle Mo who goes two turns for the first time in Saturday’s Grade I FrontRunner Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.
Nyquist won his maiden outing at five furlongs by a head on June 15, won the Grade II Best Pal next out by 5 ¼ lengths on Aug. 8, then captured the Grade I Del Mar Futurity by nearly four lengths at seven furlongs on Sept. 7.
O’Neill knows a good 3-year-old when he trains one. I’ll Have Another, owned by Reddam, came within an 11th-hour injury of running for the Triple Crown in 2012, and 2013 Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile back-to-back in 2013 and 2014.
“He fits right in with horses of that caliber, just by the way he’s performed so far,” O’Neill said of Nyquist, named for Detroit Red Wings hockey star Gustav Nyquist. “As far as getting a distance, he has shown in his three sprint wins that he has something for the gallop out, and only special horses do that, so there are similarities between him and I’ll Have Another.
“They have different physiques, but are very similar in that they work and perform brilliantly.
“Before Nyquist ever started, we dreamed about stretching him out, so we’re looking forward to going a distance for the first time. He’s really tall at the withers, covers a lot of ground, and has a good mind.
“Everything says he’ll route, but you don’t know until he does it. We’ll see on Saturday.”
The field for the FrontRunner, race five: Go Long, Fernando Perez, 20-1; On Fire, Gary Stevens, 12-1; Blameitonthelaw, Tyler Baze, 5-1; Nyquist, Mario Gutierrez, 6-5; Hollywood Don, Brice Blanc, 4-1; Rare Candy, Joe Talamo, 15-1; Swipe, Kent Desormeaux, 5-1; and Mt Veeder, Martin Garcia, 6-1.
PUYPE SUPPLEMENTS HALO DARLIN TO CHANDELIER STAKES
Songbird would turn out to be the 3-5 morning line favorite for Saturday’s Chandelier Stakes on Jon White’s morning line, but that hasn’t deterred Mike Puype from supplementing maiden winner Halo Darlin at a cost of $6,000 to the race for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.
A California-bred daughter of Lucky Pulpit owned and bred by Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams, Halo Darlin won at first asking, beating state-breds by five lengths going six furlongs Sept. 2 at Del Mar.
“She broke her maiden nicely and you don’t know about the other fillies,” Puype said. “They’re all untested two-year-olds going a route. I never felt going into her first race that Halo Darlin could sprint a lick. I always felt she was a router.
“The Chandelier is a Grade I, it’s for $300,000, and if she can make the distance, she’s going to run a good race. It would be a life-changing dollar amount added to her value if she does, so you’ve got to take a shot.”
The field for the Chandelier, race eight: Pretty N Cool, Martin Garcia, 4-1; Halo Darlin, Tyler Baze, 12-1; Vieja Luna, Juan Leyva, 15-1; Yodelsong, Fernando Perez, 20-1; Songbird, Mike Smith, 3-5; Sheeza Milky Way, Rafael Bejarano, 12-1; Land Over Sea, Mario Gutierrez, 9-2; Jade Princess, Victor Espinoza, 9-2; and Right There, Kent Desormeaux, 20-1.
AMERICAN PHAROAH GALLOPS; WORKS ON SUNDAY
Triple Crown king American Pharoah galloped a mile and a half for the second straight
day Friday morning. The son of Pioneerof the Nile is preparing for the $5 million
Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland on Oct. 31, his final start before being retired to stud.
Trainer Bob Baffert plans to work American Pharoah at 6:30 Sunday morning at a distance to be determined.
CHAMPION MARE BEHOLDER GALLOPS 1 ¼ MILES, SCHOOLS IN PADDOCK
Two-time Eclipse Champion mare Beholder once again took to the main track at 5:50 a.m. and galloped a mile and a quarter for trainer Richard Mandella. As she has done the past two days, she was scheduled to school at 12:30 this afternoon in the saddling paddock before heading back to the Mandella barn.
A smashing 8 ¼ length winner of the Grade I Pacific Classic Aug. 22, she’ll be shooting for a record third consecutive win in Saturday’s Grade I Zenyatta Stakes.
LONGER DISTANCE GOOD FOR ELEKTRUM SADLER SAYS
John Sadler expects Elektrum to continue to show good form Saturday when she runs in the Grade I Rodeo Drive Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at 1 ¼ miles on turf.
“The longer distance should be better for her,” said Sadler, who trains the Irish-bred daughter of High Chaparral for the Hronis brothers, Peter and Kosta. “She’s undefeated at a mile and an eighth in the U.S., and the races she had trouble in were mostly at a mile. I think she’s going to like the added distance.”
Elektrum’s Daily Racing Form trouble lines in her five U.S. races read like something out of a day in the life of Al Capp’s perennially snake-bitten comic strip character Joe Btfsplk, to wit: “Off bit slow, three wide lane; Steadied ¾, blocked 1/8; Steadied early, 5 wide lane; Boxed in stretch out kicked;” and “three wide bid, between stretch, game.”
Sadler understandably is more than pleased with his successful association with the Hronis brothers. “It’s been wonderful,” Sadler said. “We’re having another good year and it looks like we’re still going forward, so we’re pretty excited.”
The Rodeo Drive, race nine: Star Act, Gary Stevens, 15-1; Lady Pimpernel, Rafael Bejarano, 9-2; Photo Call, Drayden Van Dyke, 8-1; Famous Alice, Kent Desormeaux, 20-1; Three Hearts, Mario Gutierrez, 15-1; Elektrum, Tyler Baze, 5-1; Queen of the Sand, Mike Smith, 8-1; Hard Not to Like, Victor Espinoza, 3-1; Sharla Rae, James Graham, 8-1; Stormy Lucy, Corey Nakatani, 20-1; and Fanticola, Joe Talamo, 5-1.
MANDELLA EYES BIGGER THINGS FOR TWENTYTWENTYVISION
Richard Mandella hopes to learn whether Twentytwentyvision is the real deal or not when he runs in Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 City of Hope Mile on turf for 3-year-olds and up.
A solid performance could put the 4-year-old Pollard’s Vision gelding on a path to the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland Oct. 31.
“I entered him to see if he’s good enough for the Big Dance,” Mandella said of Twentytwentyvision, who was second after leading into the stretch in the Grade I Eddie Read at 1 1/8 miles on grass July 18, before winning an allowance test at Del Mar on Aug. 22.
“Tomorrow’s race is kind of a test, but he’s worked his way up to deserve it and we’ll see what happens,” Mandella said. “It’s a test to see if he’s good enough.”
The field for the City of Hope: Poshky, James Graham, 12-1; Hot Hot Seat, Tyler Baze, 20-1; Big Cazanova, Kent Desormeaux, 15-1; Silentio, Mike Smith, 15-1; Twentytwentyvision, Victor Espinoza, 5-1; Talco, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; Avanzare, Gary Stevens, 3-1; Big Bane Theory, Joe Talamo, 5-1; and Alert Bay, Martin Garcia, 4-1.
FINISH LINES: Just a week to the day from suffering a stroke, Leandro Mora was back at Santa Anita Friday morning, looking as healthy as he did before he left. “Doctors told me to take two weeks off before I return to work,” said Mora, a valued assistant to trainer Doug O’Neill, “but I think I’ll be back in a week. I’m very fortunate and grateful to the doctors and all the support I’ve received from my friends at the track. I was so lucky, Doug bought me lottery tickets. I didn’t win so far, but I haven’t opened all of them yet.” . . . Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red has bruised bones in his ankles and “is off short term,” trainer and part owner Keith Desormeaux said Friday morning at Santa Anita, just back from the Keeneland Sale where be bought 27 horses, some of which will be pinhooked. “We won’t make the Breeders’ Cup with Texas Red this year, but all he needs is a couple of months off to heal. There are no chips, no fractures, no bowed tendons, no soft tissue issues, which is very good news. He’ll get a needed rest. He never had a real break except for the time we sent him to the farm before the Triple Crown races. This will give him time to grow and mature, so I only look at it as a positive experience.” . . . Tom Quigley‘s guests handicappers this weekend in the East Paddock Gardens will be XpressBet TV host Aaron Vercruysse (11:20 a.m. Saturday) and Santa Anita simulcast host Michelle Yu (Sunday at 11:50 a.m.) . . . Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN), the Eclipse Award-winning broadcast organization based in Lexington, Ky., and official radio home of the 2015 Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup World Championships, will host three hours of Breeders’ Cup Challenge coverage from Belmont Park and Santa Anita Saturday. HRRN’s exclusive radio broadcast airs from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time on SiriusXM, channel 93 with live streaming provided on the HRRN website, www.horseracingradio.net. Anthony Stabile will broadcast live from Belmont Park, with HRRN President Mike Penna and retired jockey Jeff Bloom on-site at Santa Anita. HRRN’s full slate of programming begins Saturday morning from 5 to 7 a.m. with their popular weekly talk show, the Equine Forum, hosted from Santa Anita. The Equine Forum airs nationwide on Sirius 93/XM 93 along with terrestrial affiliates across the country and is streamed live and podcast on the HRRN website. A complete schedule of upcoming broadcasts along with SiriusXM and affiliate information can be found on the HRRN website . . . Multiple graded stakes winner Catch a Flight, scratched from the Awesome Again Stakes due to soreness, is scheduled to undergo a nuclear scan, the results of which won’t be available for a few days, Richard Mandella said. By the way, Mandella was asked by a friend why he chose Victor Espinoza to ride Twentytwentyvision in Sunday’s City of Hope Mile. His answer drew a laugh: “I liked the way he danced,” Mandella said. . . . Programming Note: There is special early first post time of 12:30 p.m. on opening day, Saturday. Santa Anita will offer fans a blockbuster 11-race program which includes five Grade I Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” Challenge races.