- PRAT LOOKS FORWARD TO FIRST KENTUCKY DERBY
- VALE DORI EYES SIXTH STRAIGHT WIN IN ADORATION
- SKY RING FACES UNBEATEN SIRCAT SALLY SATURDAY
PRAT HAS KENTUCKY DERBY VICTORY IN FOCUS N
Jerry Hollendorfer be seeking a first and Flavien Prat will achieve one at Churchill Downs next Saturday.
The 70-year-old Hall of Fame trainer will be after his first victory in the Run for the Roses, in this, his sixth attempt, while the 24-year-old Prat will be riding in the Triple Crown classic for the first time.
Hollendorfer will give Prat a leg up on Santa Anita Derby runner-up Battle of Midway in the mile and a quarter race, which will be run for the 143rd time.
Prat has been a proverbial overnight sensation since be began riding full time in Southern California after earning his bones in his native France. He is approaching his Kentucky Derby debut with the steely coolness of Dirty Harry.
He hopes it makes his day.
“I can’t really say I focused on the Derby when I rode overseas, because in Europe, most racing is on grass, so for us, the big day in the U.S. is the Breeders’ Cup,” said Prat, who readily doffs his chapeau to agent Derek Lawson for his role in Prat’s rise to racing’s apex.
“Obviously, the Kentucky Derby is on dirt so we don’t pay much attention to it.
“But since I’ve been riding here, I realize the importance of the Derby and the magnitude it has. It’s really a big day. Last year I rode at Churchill Downs on Derby Day, but not in the race. I watched the Derby from the Grandstand, and with all the tumult and excitement it generated, I realized that one day I had to ride it in.
“I’m grateful the opportunity came this year. Hopefully, we’ll do well.”
Dan Ward, assistant to Hollendorfer, expects nothing less from Prat.
“When he rides, he looks like he’s always in the right position and he rides with confidence, and that can make a difference,” Ward said. “He’s very professional.”
In other Derby doings:
Brice Blanc rides Union Strike for Mick Ruis in Friday’s Eight Belles at Churchill Downs; Mike Smith rides Prize Exhibit for Jim Cassidy in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile and Masochistic in the Grade II Churchill Downs at seven furlongs on Saturday, and trainer Dan Blacker sends out Ritzy A.P. in Saturday’s American Turf.
Victor Espinoza, who rides Santa Anita Derby winner Gormley in pursuit of his fourth Kentucky Derby triumph, leaves Tuesday at 2 p.m. for the Blue Grass State, and forget about the latest Hall of Fame member flying first class. Victor will ride with Gormley’s owner, Jerry Moss, on his private jet.
Fans at Santa Anita next Saturday can enjoy the biggest Derby party west of Kentucky and watch and wager on the Run for the Roses. Derby Day highlights include a Kentucky Derby Trackside event; a KROQ Super Games and Craft Beer Festival; a Chandelier Room Derby Party; a Kentucky Derby Hat Contest; the Bud Light Lounge; and a guaranteed Late Pick 4 pool of $500,000 and Pick 6 pool of $100,000.
The Derby Day Hat Contest presented by Southern California Life Magazine is free to enter and boasts three grand prizes including $1,000 cash and a year’s subscription to the publication for each winner. The three categories (Most Creative, Most Glamorous and Fascinators and Fedoras) will be judged by a panel of fashion industry experts just west of the winner’s circle at 2:30 p.m. Look for the rent tent to enter and please visit santaanita.com/events for more information.
VALE DORI SEEKS SIXTH STRAIGHT IN ADORATION STAKES
Streaking Vale Dori, monster winner of her last five races, including the Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes March 18, will be heavily favored to make it six in next Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Adoration Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at 1 1/16 miles.
Bob Baffert, who trains the five-year-old Argentine-bred mare for Sheikh Mohammad bin Khalifa al Maktoum, has Rafael Bejarano back on board the speedy bay, whose forte is to take the lead and improve her position, although she has stalked in close pursuit of the pace in two of her victories in the United States.
Vale Dori worked five furlongs on the main track Sunday in 1:00.80.
With eight wins from 13 starts and earnings of $934,943, victory in the Adoration would put her just under millionaire status at $994,943, since $60,000 goes to the winner.
Also likely for the Adoration are Autumn Flower, no rider; Bellamentary, Stewart Elliott; Lady Tapit, Mario Gutierrez; Nickname, no rider; She’s a Warrior, no rider; Show Stealer, no rider; and bargain claim Skye Diamonds, Tiago Pereira.
FINISH LINES: Former jockey and longtime jockey’s valet Luis Leon sustained a massive stroke yesterday, according to his son, David. Luis Leon, who began his career in racing working for owner/breeder Rex Ellsworth and Hall of Fame trainer Mesh Tenney, worked as a valet on the Southern California circuit for jockeys such as Patrick Valenzuela, Eddie Delahoussaye, Chris McCarron and Martin Pedroza. Born in Fresno, CA., in 1930, Leon underwent emergency brain surgery yesterday and is recovering in a hospital near San Diego . . . Spy Ring has had two bullet works since finishing second by a head in her U.S. debut over Santa Anita’s hillside turf course at about 6 ½ furlongs on April 2. Next Saturday, the Irish-bred filly stretches out to a mile on grass in the Grade III Senorita Stakes. “It’s the first time she’ll be going this far, so we don’t know if she can handle it,” said Jim Cassidy, who trains the daughter of Bushranger for principal client Deron Pearson. “But she’s a very nice filly.” The Senorita will be headed by undefeated Sircat Sally, winner of all five of her races by daylight margins. With regular rider Mike Smith in Kentucky, Stewart Elliott will ride the California-bred daughter of Surf Cat for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Also possible are Beau Recall, Helen Hillary, La Force, Madam Dancealot, Pacific Wind, Spy Ring and Tiburtina . . . Next Saturday’s $75,000 Singletary Stakes for three-year-olds at a mile on turf is expected to draw a large field likely to include Arms Runner, Bird Is the Word, Bowies Hero, City Storm, Comma Sister, Fashion Business, Kenzou’s Rhythm, Monster Man, Sharp Samurai and Vending Machine . . . There were 216 recorded workouts at Santa Anita Sunday, including 21 on the training track . . . Humberto Ascanio, valued assistant to the late Bobby Frankel for more than three decades, was a welcome visitor to Clockers’ Corner Sunday . . . Mario Gutierrez rides at Golden Gate Fields today for Reddam Racing and Doug O’Neill, aboard Radish in the $100,000 Campanile and B Squared in the $100,000 Silky Sullivan, each race one in the Golden State Series for California-bred or sired horses . . . Laura Werner, a 21-year-old, 10-pound apprentice rider from England, is expected to make her United States debut in the middle of May. Known as “Midge,” the four foot, nine inch, 105-pound Werner rode 50 races in England, 60 “trial races” in Australia where she won four, and has been working horses daily at Santa Anita. Retired Hall of Fame rider Julie Krone is her friend and mentor. Carolyn Conley is her agent . . . Leading rider Rafael Bejarano has been suspended four days (May 5, 6, 7 and 11) for causing interference shortly after the start of Friday’s eighth race aboard victorious Dr. Dorr . . . Santa Anita clockers have amended Saturday’s seven furlong workout times of Gormley and workmate Ziconic to 1:28 and 1:29, respectively.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Saturday, April 29)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||26||4||3||7||15%||54%||$225,178|