- BIG THREE EYE ‘BATTLE OF THE BEHOLDER’
- GOLD CUP DAY ATTENDANCE STILL RISING
- 1986 CHAMPION SNOW CHIEF REMEMBERED
- RADISH SEEKS FIRST WIN IN MELAIR STAKES
- MEMORIAL DAY FESTIVITIES ARE UNDERWAY
- DAVID FLORES RIDES AT SANTA ANITA AGAIN
GRADE I BEHOLDER LURES ‘BIG THREE’
With two champions and a streaking graded stakes winner at the ready, the Battle of the Beholder next Saturday has the overwhelming appeal of a heavyweight title bout.
Rarin’ to run are Finest City, Eclipse Award winner as outstanding female sprinter of 2016; Stellar Wind, winner of the Eclipse as best three-year-old filly of 2015; and Vale Dori, winner of six consecutive graded stakes, including the Grade I Santa Margarita on March 18.
“I think we’ll run with them,” Ian Kruljac said of Finest City, playing his cards closer to the vest than Amarillo Slim, then adding as his smile faded, “We’ll run with them.”
Finest City worked five furlongs Saturday under Mike Smith in 1:03.20, while Stellar Wind went the same distance in 59.80 for the Beholder Mile, a Grade I, $400,000 event for fillies and mares, three and up, formerly run as the Vanity Mile.
ATTENDANCE CONTINUES UPWARD TREND ON GOLD CUP DAY
On-track attendance at The Great Race Place continued its upward trend on Gold Cup Day, as 17,634 fans came out to kick off the three-day Memorial Weekend. Yesterday’s attendance marked an eight percent increase over last year’s Gold Cup Day, and dating back to the 45,514 that attended on opening day, Dec. 26, on-track attendance is up four percent.
Additionally, yesterday’s overall pari-mutuel handle of $13.4 million was up six percent over last year’s $12.6 million.
Following are some key Winter/Spring dates and comparative year to year data:
–Dec. 26, Opening Day: On-track attendance, 46,514, up four percent. Total handle, $18.4 million, up five percent.
–March 11, Santa Anita Handicap Day: On-track attendance, 29,412, up eight percent. Total handle, $18.4 million, up three percent.
–April 8, Santa Anita Derby Day: On-track attendance, 36,155, up 30 percent. Total handle, $20.9 million, up three percent.
–May 6, Kentucky Derby Day: On-track attendance, 23,795, up four percent. Total handle, $19.2 million, up 14 percent.
–May 20, Preakness Day: On-track attendance, 20,058, up five percent. Total handle, $15.8 million, down five percent.
–May 27, Gold Cup Day: On-track attendance, 17,634, up eight percent. Total handle, $13.4 million, up six percent.
ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL FOR STUTES AND SNOW CHIEF
Gary Stute was 30 years old when Snow Chief won an Eclipse Award as outstanding three-year-old male of 1986.
Now 60, Gary is the son of 89-year-old retired trainer Mel Stute, conditioner of Snow Chief, for whom Monday’s $200,000 stakes race at 1 1/8 miles on turf for California-bred or sired 3-year-olds is named.
“I usually stayed in California when my dad would run Snow Chief out of town,” recalled Gary this morning from his perch at Clockers’ Corner, his ever-present stogie in hand. “He had a horse named Bold N Ruling and he would send me with him because he said he got tired of reading ‘Gary Stute says this, Gary Stute says that’ about his horses.”
Bold N Ruling ran second in the 1980 Arkansas Derby behind Temperence Hill, ridden by Darrell Haire.
Gary’s most prominent and disappointing memory of Snow Chief is his loss in the 1986 Kentucky Derby, won that year by the Charlie Whittingham-trained Ferdinand, ridden by fellow legend Bill Shoemaker.
“I remember the Derby being the worst day of my life,” Gary said. “He had no excuse for not winning the race. He was perfectly sound, had beaten everybody in the Florida Derby, the Santa Anita Derby, and I thought he was the biggest lock in the world.
“That’s the only clunker he ever ran. In other races he might have got beat, but he had excuses. The Derby, for whatever reason, I did not see any excuse. He did bounce back, winning the Preakness and an Eclipse Award as best three-year-old male, so that was good.”
Mel Stute will present a trophy to the winning connections of Monday’s Snow Chief.
The Snow Chief, race eight: Calli Way, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; B Squared, Mario Gutierrez, 3-1; Alsatian, Kent Desormeaux, 6-1; Accountability, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Elwood J, Mike Smith, 6-1; Cheekaboomboom, Flavien Prat, 8-1; Dr. Troutman, Edwin Maldonado, 20-1; Ninety Nine Proof, Gary Stevens, 12-1; Milton Freewater, Tiago Pereira, 4-1; Marckie’s Water, Joe Talamo, 15-1; More Power to Him, Kyle Frey, 15-1; and also eligibles Highlight Show, Victor Espinoza, 20-1, and Kings River King, Tyler Baze, 20-1.
RADISH TRIES, TRIES AGAIN IN MELAIR STAKES
Radish, a maiden in 11 starts, including stakes in her last two in which she finished second, tries to win her first race in Monday’s $200,000 Melair Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, one in the lucrative Golden State Series for California-bred or sired horses.
“Sometimes on paper it seems odd, but between (owner) Paul (Reddam) and (trainer) Doug (O’Neill), they make good decisions, and this filly has talent,” said O’Neill assistant Leandro Mora. “She’s been second in two stakes, so we’ll try it again.”
A bay daughter of the prolific sire Square Eddie, Radish will be going long on dirt for the first time. She was second at 6 ½ furlongs on dirt in the Evening Jewel for Cal-breds at Santa Anita on April 8, and second in the Campanile at one mile on turf at Golden Gate on April 30.
The Melair, race five: Miss Sunset, Mike Smith, 5-2; So Heres the Thing, Edwin Maldonado, 20-1; Radish, Mario Gutierrez, 4-1; S Y Sky, Joe Talamo, 4-5; Ocean Dream, Santiago Gonzalez, 15-1; and Queen Bee to You, Kent Desormeaux, 6-1.
MEMORIAL DAY TRACKSIDE BBQ SUPPORTS VETS ON MONDAY
On Memorial Day tomorrow, fans can offer their thanks to active and former service members and help support the local Veterans’ Memorial, sponsored by the Rotary Club Foundation of Arcadia.
A $5 donation (all proceeds go directly to the Veterans’ Memorial) includes General Admission to Santa Anita Park, a program, access to special trackside seating, and walking tours to the Paddock and Winner’s Circle throughout the day.
Delicious BBQ will also be available for purchase. Veterans or active military with valid Military ID will receive a voucher good for a free lunch, courtesy of Santa Anita horse owners, industry personnel, and Santa Anita Park. The BBQ menu ($12 per meal) offers spare ribs or pulled pork and two sides from a choice of three: baked beans, potato salad or cole slaw, plus a slice of white bread, pickles and onions.
The Rotary Club of Arcadia is spearheading an effort to build a local Veterans’ Memorial. The Field of Honor Project, involving 1,000 American Flags displayed at County Park at the corner of Huntington and Santa Anita during the week preceding Memorial Day will help to raise funds.
Those wishing to participate or donate should make their contribution to The Arcadia Rotary Club Foundation, Veterans’ Memorial Fund.
Please visit http://www.santaanita.com/events/memorial-day-charity-trackside/ for more information.
DAVID FLORES TO RIDE AT SANTA ANITA
David Flores, a popular and successful fixture in Southern California for decades before moving his tack eastward several years ago, will return to Santa Anita Tuesday from Kentucky and “be ready to ride,” said his agent, Joe Griffin.
Flores, 49, winner of nine Southern California riding titles including the 1998-99 Santa Anita crown with 75 victories, boasts three Breeders’ Cup wins: the 2003 Juvenile aboard Action This Day for Richard Mandella; the 2001 Juvenile Fillies on Tempera for Eoin Harty; and the 2004 Mile on Singletary for Don Chatlos.
Flores, who won six consecutive Fairplex Park titles from 1989 through 1994, has 3,607 career victories.
FINISH LINES: Cupid, 7-1 upset winner of Saturday’s Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita, came out of his race in good order, Bob Baffert reported Sunday, as he watched Kentucky Oaks winner Abel Tasman work six furlongs in a bullet 1:11.80 for the Grade I Acorn at Belmont Park on June 10. Abel Tasman went in company with Cat Burglar, who was clocked in 1:11.20. Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Drefong went three furlongs for Baffert in 37 flat. Horse of the World Arrogate, meanwhile, continues to gallop, but Baffert offered no plans on his next race. “Once I start breezing him,” he said, “I’ll figure out something.” . . . There were 202 recorded workouts at Santa Anita Sunday, including 20 on the training track . . . Midnight Storm, fourth as the 5-2 second choice in the Gold Cup, came out the race in good shape but “will be given a little breather and we’ll regroup,” trainer Phil D’Amato said . . . Michael McCarthy was delighted with Illuminant‘s half-length victory thanks to Flavien Prat‘s rail-riding stretch run in Saturday’s Grade II Monrovia Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf. “She came out of the race in great order, I’m very happy,” McCarthy said. “She ate up last night, and we’ll wait till Del Mar (for her next race). We’re in no hurry. She’s had three races a month apart. We’ll stretch her out at Del Mar and go from there.” . . . Owner/player Ed Mace will be Tom Quigley‘s handicapping guest Monday, 11:50 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Tyler Baze is suspended three racing days (June 2, 3 and 4) for causing interference with Eckersley in Friday’s third race . . . Santa Anita will be dark Tuesday and Wednesday, May 30 and 31. Live racing resumes Thursday, June 1, at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Saturday, May 27)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||46||8||6||8||17%||48%||$482,348|