- LARGE FIELD LOOMS FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY
- DORTMUND RETURNS TO DIRT IN SANTANA MILE
- LONGSHOT OR CHALK, PEREIRA ‘NOSE’ BEST
- TWO LUCRATIVE PICK SIX CARRYOVERS TODAY
TEAM O’NEILL SET FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY
Headed by a quartet from the Doug O’Neill barn, as many as 13 three-year-olds are candidates for the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles on April 8.
Among the “Baker’s Dozen” is Battalion Runner, a $700,000 son of Unbridled’s Song trained by Todd Pletcher for the St. Elias Stable. The gray colt was second in his debut at Belmont Park last June 3, but was a runaway maiden allowance winner by nearly nine lengths over seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park Dec. 31, then wired six rivals going 1 1/16 miles at the Florida track, reaching the finish 1 ¼ lengths in front as the favorite at 20 cents on the dollar.
O’Neill, who won the Santa Anita Derby with I’ll Have Another in 2012 and Goldencents in 2103, plans to enter four in the West Coast’s major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby on May 6: Iliad (Flavien Prat); Milton Freewater (Tiago Pereira); So Conflated (Mario Gutierrez); and Term of Art (Tyler Baze).
Others possible for the 80th edition of the Santa Anita Derby include American Anthem, Battle of Midway, Gormley, Reach the World, Kimbear, Sorry Erik, Sonneteer and Midnight Pleasure.
During a span covering more than eight decades, the Santa Anita Derby has been won by titans of the American turf such as Stagehand (1938), On Trust (1947), Your Host (1950), Hill Gail (1952), Determine (1954), Swaps (1955), Silky Sullivan (1958), Silver Spoon (1959), Candy Spots (1963), Hill Rise (1964), Lucky Debonair (1965), Boldnesian (1966), Majestic Prince (1969), Sham (1973), Affirmed (1978), Snow Chief (1986), Winning Colors (1988), Sunday Silence (1989), A.P. Indy (1992), Point Given (2001) and California Chrome (2014).
DORTMUND BACK ON MAIN TRACK IN SANTANA MILE
Dortmund may like to eat grass but he doesn’t fancy running on it.
That was the message trainer Art Sherman got from the oversized son of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown after he finished last by more than 10 lengths in his turf debut in the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile on March 11.
Next Saturday it will be back to square one when the 2015 Santa Anita Derby winner runs in the $75,000 Santana Mile for older horses on Santa Anita’s main track.
“We tried the grass and it didn’t work,” Sherman said. “The horse has breezed well since then for Saturday’s race and he’s right on schedule to run.”
The Kilroe marked the first race for Dortmund under Sherman’s direction. The five-year-old chestnut previously had been trained by Bob Baffert until owner Kaleem Shah moved his horses late last year to Sherman and Doug O’Neill.
FINISH LINES: Tiago Pereira went from the ridiculous to the sublime when he won back to back races Saturday, both by a nose, on 54-1 shot Helen Hillary for Phil D’Amato in the sixth race and aboard 2-1 favorite What’sontheagenda for Doug O’Neill in the seventh. Helen Hillary, a three-year-old daughter of Harlan’s Holiday making her first start, paid $106.40. What’sontheagenda, a three-year-old Dialed In colt, paid $6.20. “It was a fantastic ride,” O’Neill said of Pereira, a 40-year-old native of Brazil whose agent is Patty Sterling. “He’s a seasoned veteran who can win from on or off the lead. I’m very happy to have him ride some of my horses.” Added D’Amato: “I told him to save ground because going a mile and an eighth first out is pretty tough. I told him to wait until he couldn’t wait any longer before making his move and that’s what he did. It was a great ride.” . . . There is a Pick Six carryover into Sunday of $126,168. The total pool is expected to exceed $750,000. Also today, there is a single ticket Pick Six Jackpot carryover of $413,075.95 . . . Santa Anita Handicap third-place finisher Follow Me Crev worked five furlongs Sunday under Kent Desormeaux for Vladmir Cerin in 1:02.80. Follow Me Crev is a candidate for the Grade II, $200,000 Californian Stakes on April 22. Cerin was succinct when asked the reason for the success he’s enjoyed with the resurgent 46-year-old Hall of Fame rider (seven wins in 27 rides, 25.9 percent): “Kent is an exceptional rider and helps us win races.”Desormeaux, third in the standings with 31 victories, is winning at a 20 percent clip. At 22 percent, Cerin is a tad higher thanks to 13 wins from 60 starts . . . Multiple graded stakes-winning sprinter Kobe’s Back worked four furlongs Saturday in 47.80, but trainer Peter Eurton has nothing firm for his next start. “It was a good work,” Eurton said. “His gallop out was huge, but I still don’t know where we’re going to run yet.” Ashleyluvssugar came out of his third-place finish in good order after setting the pace as the 13-10 favorite under Gary Stevens in the mile-and-a-half San Luis Rey Stakes Saturday.” I don’t know if I had him as good as I did previously, taking nothing away from the winner,” Eurton said. “Gary and I talked about it and we’re not sure he wants to be on the lead for that long. He likes to have somebody to track. He actually got bored up there and relinquished the lead when the money counted.” . . . Bargain claim turned Grade I winner Big Macher had his second breeze on the comeback trail Saturday, working four furlongs in 51.80. “He went easy and looks good,” said Richard Baltas, the meet’s third-leading trainer with a consistent across the board record of 23 wins, 22 seconds and 21 thirds, good for nearly $1.3 million in purse earnings . . . Best wishes to longtime trainer Jerry Fanning, who announced on the Roger Stein Show this morning that he is calling it a career at age 84. “I’ll be around, but I wanna do what I wanna do, when I wanna do it,” said Fanning, who ranks 14th all-time with 444 Santa Anita Winter Meet wins and 30th in the stakes-won department with 21…The BBQ masters of Southern California return for the sixth annual Winner’s Circle BBQ championship at Santa Anita next Saturday, April 1. The kickoff event to a season of challenges across the Golden State this year is sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society. Enjoy delicious BBQ and help choose a new “People’s Champion” at the infield event. For more info, visit santaanita.com/events/world-bbq-championship/.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Saturday, March 25)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||105||21||11||10||20%||40%||$923,201|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||45||9||5||6||20%||44%||$515,305|