- IS MISS SOUTHERN MISS KEITH’S ‘GIANT KILLER’ ?
- CHAMPIONS STELLAR WIND AND DREFONG WORK
- MIDNIGHT STORM TO BREEZE SUNDAY FOR BIG ‘CAP
MISS SOUTHERN MISS VS. LAS VIRGENES TOUGHIES
Miss Southern Miss tackles a champion and a potential champion Sunday in the Grade II Las Virgenes Stakes for three-year-old fillies at one mile, but her trainer, Keith Desormeaux, has been known to light up the tote board with a longshot winner now and then.
He sends out Miss Southern Miss against 2016 two-year-old filly Eclipse Award winner Champagne Room and Unique Bella, handy winner of her last two starts by a combined 17 ¾ lengths, including a 7 ½-length romp in the Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes on Jan. 8.
Miss Southern Miss, owned by Peter Cantrell, has not raced since last Oct. 10, when she won the restricted Surfer Girl Stakes at one mile on turf at Santa Anita. She was second to Champagne Room in the Grade II Sorrento at 6 ½ furlongs on dirt last August at Del Mar.
Miss Southern Miss does, however, have two bullet works for the Las Virgenes.
“We didn’t have many options on dirt,” Desormeaux explained, “and she’s shown some class on the dirt before. There were other subtleties into the decision. She’s a very aggressive horse and I prefer to start her out routing instead of sprinting in the Sweet Life (Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf Feb. 12), just to keep her settled.
“It’s a tough race but we’re optimistic.”
Anyone who doubts Keith’s prowess with an eye for an underdog need only look at Sorry Erik’s victory in Thursday’s seventh race.
Claimed after a five-length victory for $20,000 on Jan. 6, Sorry Erik came back to win for $75,000 at 6-1, leaving in his wake by two lengths 2-5 favorite Conquest Farenheit, a $735,000 Keeneland Sales purchase.
The Las Virgenes, race six of eight: Mopotism, Flavien Prat 6-1; Champagne Room, Mario Gutierrez, 5-2; Mistressofthenight, Corey Nakatani, 15-1; Unique Bella, Mike Smith, 3-5; and Miss Southern Miss, Kent Desormeaux, 6-1.
STELLAR WIND, DREFONG WORK FOR RETURN
Three-year-old filly champion of 2015 Stellar Wind had her first recorded workout since finishing fourth behind multiple champions Beholder and Songbird in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last Nov. 4 at Santa Anita, going three furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Saturday in 36.80 under exercise rider Jose Contreras at 7:45 a.m. for trainer John Sadler with co-owner Kosta Hronis on hand.
Also working Saturday was Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion and Eclipse Award-winning sprinter Drefong, who went four furlongs under Martin Garcia in 50 flat for the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai March 25.
Trainer Bob Baffert termed the move “just maintenance.”
FINISH LINES: Midnight Storm, a graded stakes winner on dirt and turf for trainer Phil D’Amato, is scheduled to work at 7:45 Sunday morning in preparation for the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 11 . . . Trainer Ian Kruljac says he is weighing three races for 2016 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint champion Finest City‘s next start: the Grade III Las Flores Stakes at six furlongs March 5; the Grade II Santa Ana Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf March 12; and the Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on dirt March 18 . . . Apprentice Chad Lindsay loses his ‘bug’ Sunday and will ride as a full-fledged journeyman starting next Thursday . . . Multiple graded stakes winner Om, runner-up by a nose to Obviously in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, has been turned out at Oakmont Farm in Murrieta. “He just wasn’t doing well in the mud, so I gave him another couple months off,” trainer Dan Hendricks said. “We’ll bring him back fresh and ready this summer.” . . . Actor Daniel Franzese will present a trophy to the winning connections of the Palos Verdes Stakes, today’s third race. Franzese has appeared in more than 14 films, including Bully, Party Monster, Mean Girls, Bristol Boys and War of the Worlds (2) . . . Tomorrow, the day of The Big Game, live racing at Santa Anita begins at 11 a.m., allowing fans to watch three-point favorite New England against Atlanta at Sirona’s Sports Bar after the races or to be home in time for the start at 3:30 p.m. Sirona’s will offer $5 drink specials all day. General admission to the track Sunday is only one dollar.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Friday, Feb. 3)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||64||9||5||4||14%||28%||$458,830|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||19||7||2||4||37%||68%||$406,275|