- McCARTHY SEES ‘LIGHT’ AT END OF THE TUNNEL
- ADDED DISTANCE IN GAMELY AIDS BEAU RECALL
- D’AMATO DUO IN GOOD SPOT FOR WHITTINGHAM
- TEAM BAFFERT HAPPY AS JUSTIFY EYES ‘TRIPLE’
- AGELESS SOI PHET IS ‘A 10’ ON THE RACE TRACK
- AFTER 30 YEARS, TSAGALAKIS IS DONE TRAINING
CITY OF LIGHT EYES FOURTH STRAIGHT IN GOLD CUP
Streaking City of Light goes for his fourth consecutive graded stakes win and his third Grade I in his last four races Saturday in the Grade I, $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita, one of three appealing and challenging graded stakes on a nine-race card that starts at 12:30 p.m.
At a mile and a quarter, the Gold Cup will be an eighth of a mile longer than City of Light’s previous longest race, in which he posted a neck victory, the Grade II Oaklawn Handicap at a mile and an eighth on April 14.
Prior to that, the four-year-old Quality Road colt captured the Triple Bend and the Malibu, both Grade I’s at seven furlongs, but credit trainer Michael McCarthy for developing the Kentucky-bred bay with patience and poise, as might be expected from one who came up under Todd Pletcher.
“It’s been a nice progression from the Malibu to now,” McCarthy said. “We tossed and turned about going to New York for the Met Mile, but the bottom line was, the horse relaxed so nicely going a mile and an eighth in the Oaklawn Handicap, we thought it was worth going ahead and finding out if a mile and a quarter was well within his scope.
“It opens a lot of options for us coming into the summer.”
The field for the Gold Cup, race five of nine: Little Scotty, Asa Espinoza, 15-1; Accelerate, Victor Espinoza, 2-1; Prince of Arabia, Stewart Elliott, 12-1; City of Light, Drayden Van Dyke, 9-5; Dr. Dorr, Joe Talamo, 5-2; Pavel, Mario Gutierrez, 5-1; and Full of Luck, Flavien Prat, 15-1.
Little Scotty, also entered in today’s seventh race, was scratched from that spot, while Thursday morning Jerry Hollendorfer was still deciding on where to run Full of Luck, who is also entered in Saturday’s Charles Whittingham Stakes on turf.
GAMELY DISTANCE ‘FINE’ FOR BEAU RECALL
After rallying late to win the Grade II Royal Heroine at a mile on grass April 7, Beau recall should benefit from the added eighth of a mile in Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Gamely Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
“I think a mile and an eighth is fine for her,” trainer Simon Callaghan said of the Irish-bred filly. “She was second in the (Grade I) Del Mar Oaks at that distance, beaten just a nose.
“She seems to always run her race, is very consistent, and I’m really happy with the way she’s been training.”
The field for the Gamely, race eight: Madam Dancealot, Corey Nakatani, 7-2; Midnight Crossing, Brice Blanc. 10-1; Mopotism, Mario Gutierrez, 10-1; Sophie, Kent Desormeaux, 12-1; Uni, Irad Ortiz Jr., 3-1; Beau Recall, Flavien Prat, 4-1; Hawksmoor, Julien Leparoux, 5-2; and Madame Stripes, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1.
WHITTINGHAM CONDITIONS SUIT D’AMATO DUO
Phil D’Amato has runners with diverse styles in Saturday’s Grade II Charles Whittingham Stakes for three-year-olds and up at a mile and a quarter on turf, Kenjisstorm, usually forwardly placed, and Syntax, a stone closer in his last five, including a second by a half-length as the 4-5 favorite in last year’s Whittingham.
“The distance is right for him,” said the Spring meet’s leading trainer of the Irish-bred Syntax, an onrushing fourth despite going wide last out in the Grade III San Francisco Mile.
“He missed the longer distance races here recently, but now he should be ready. This distance is right in his sights and he’s training very well.
“Kenji trains like a horse that should go long, nice and comfortable, and he can rate. I think Flavien (Prat) will have him in the right spot.”
The Whittingham, race six: Flamboyant, Brice Blanc, 4-1; Full of Luck, Drayden Van Dyke, 12-1; Frank Conversation, Mario Gutierrez, 8-1; What a View, Stewart Elliott, 6-1; Kenjisstorm, Flavien Prat, 8-1; Itsinthepost, Tyler Baze, 6-5; Ritzy A.P., Gary Stevens,
20-1; and Syntax, Geovanni Franco, 4-1.
FAST TRACK IN STORE FOR JUSTIFY ON BELMONT DAY
Bob Baffert, back at his home base of Santa Anita Thursday after watching Justify fend off all comers to win the Preakness Stakes last Saturday, said the big red colt went to the track at Churchill Downs this morning as he prepares for a Triple Crown triumph in the 150th Belmont Stakes on June 9.
“He’s happy and we’re all happy,” said Baffert, seeking his second Triple Crown in four years, having won with American Pharoah in 2015.
After enduring rain and sloppy tracks in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Baffert and Justify are likely to have clear and fast sailing on Belmont Stakes day. The long-range forecast calls for sunshine and humid weather conditions, with temperatures in the 70s.
“I hope to get a track like Secretariat got,” Baffert said, alluding to 1973, when Secretariat moved “like a tremendous machine” to win the Belmont by 31 lengths, climaxing a Triple Crown sweep.
SOI PHET, A 10-YEAR-OLD WONDER GELDING
At age 10, he’s believed to be the oldest horse to ever win a Santa Anita Stakes. Soi Phet’s the name, and with his ultra-game head victory going one mile on turf in Sunday’s $100,000 Crystal Water Stakes in the history books, his trainer Leonard Powell is proud and looking for more.
“I’m extremely proud of him and we are blessed to have him,” said Powell on Thursday morning. Claimed for $16,000 by Powell himself and fellow owners the Benowitz Family Trust and Paul Viskovich 42 starts prior to the Crystal Water on May 23, 2013, the California-bred gelding by Tizbud has won 13 of his 43 starts with Powell (seven of them stakes) and has amassed total earnings of $955,250 from an overall mark of 58-14-7-6.
“To see him run like he did the other day, it’s like you’re rooting for one of your kids,” Powell said. “The key has been to give him a break every winter. It’s kept him fresh and instead of just grinding ahead with him, he’s come back well every time we’ve given him the time.
“You have to love horses that try that hard. In the Californian (Grade II, 1 1/8 miles on dirt April 28), he was on the lead, but when Baffert’s horse (Dr. Dorr) passed him, he just said, ‘I’ll save myself for another day.’ He didn’t exert himself and that’s why I ran him back so quick in the Crystal Water . . . It didn’t have anything to do with running him on the grass, it was just that the Californian didn’t take anything out of him.
“He’s special, no question. We’ve been selecting horses over the last two centuries, trying to find those with the will to win. He’s come out of the Crystal Water extremely well and he’s gone back to the track (to train). If all goes well, we’ll run him in the Bertrando (one mile, dirt) at Los Alamitos on July 9.”
Beyond that, Powell said on Sunday, “We’ll just race him as long as he’s happy. I hope another year, but he’ll tell us . . . I’ll race him once or twice at Del Mar, again in September and then he’ll get a vacation and we’ll try it again next year.”
Old Guys Rule!!
TSAGALAKIS CALLS IT A CAREER AS TRAINER
Mark Tsagalakis started his last horse as a trainer when he sent out Breathless Charm in Sunday’s seventh race. A three-year-old filly bred in Kentucky, Breathless Charm finished sixth under Stewart Elliott.
The 55-year-old Tsagalakis has purchased 160-acre Endeavor Farm in Midway, Ky., with his business partner, Terry Nickell, and they will have their first consignment of yearlings at the Fasig-Tipton Sales in July and October.
“I’ve been training over 30 years and it’s just time,” Tsagalakis said. “I love the game and I’m going to miss it, but I’ll still have horses with (trainer) Mike Puype and come back from time to time.
“I’m grateful to Santa Anita, old Hollywood Park, Del Mar and Los Alamitos for giving me stalls all these years. It’s bittersweet, but I’m looking forward to the future.”
FINISH LINES: Tyler Baze, recovering from a riding mishap last Saturday, took off his three scheduled mounts today. . . Racing rarity: Last Friday, the Late Pick Five was a “four gone” conclusion as horses wearing saddle cloth No. four won the last five races, the Late Pick Five paying $119.05.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, May 20)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||69||12||10||10||17%||46%||$559,713|