- DESORMEAUX ‘KEEN’ ON BELMONT UPSET
- PROSPECT WORKS FOR AFFIRMED STAKES
- FOREST CHATTER GOES THE EXTRA MILE
- TRAINER BALTAS BASKS IN GRADE I GLORY
DESORMEAUX IN SPOILER ROLE ON KEEN ICE
Kent Desormeaux hopes to play the role of spoiler next Saturday when he rides Keen Ice in the Belmont Stakes in an effort to prevent American Pharoah from becoming the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
The 44-year-old Hall of Fame rider won the mile and a half Belmont in 2009 aboard Summer Bird, and missed the Triple Crown by a nose on Real Quiet in 1998.
“Speed at this point is now irrelevant,” Desormeaux said of the Belmont’s testing mile and a half distance. “You’d need a horse that can stay, and the guy that I ride will be naturally closer because of the human element.”
Keen Ice, trained by Dale Romans, closed from 17th after a half mile to finish seventh under Desormeaux in mile and a quarter Kentucky Derby, beaten nine lengths by American Pharoah, who was first by a length.
“They’re not going to go 46 (for the half-mile) in the Belmont, otherwise you’d have no chance,” Desormeaux reasoned. “So they’ll slow it down and that will put me naturally closer and if Keen Ice finishes like he finished in the Derby, he has a chance, he’ll be competitive.
“I’m looking forward to it. I like running out of horse at about the16th pole and then trying to carry him the rest of the way and win a race.
“In the Derby, I went under the wire full of horse. After a mile and a quarter he was just as fresh going under the wire the second time.”
Fans are encouraged to join in the Belmont Stakes day festivities at Santa Anita Saturday and see if Santa Anita-based American Pharoah can win the Triple Crown.
Santa Anita will celebrate the big day with live racing, an Infield beer festival, live music, a Chandelier Room party, and more. The “American Pharoah” trackside package includes a program, trackside seating with your first drink included and an exclusive American Pharoah cap all for just $20. Visit santaanita.com/events for full details and special promo codes.
Gates open Saturday at 8 a.m. First post time is 11:30 a.m.
PROSPECT PARK RETURNS IN SATURDAY’S AFFIRMED
When last seen, Prospect Park was finishing a troubled fourth in the Santa Anita Derby behind front-running winner Dortmund. That was on April 4.
Fast forward to Sunday morning, when the son of Tapit owned and bred by Pam and Marty Wygod worked five furlongs under Kent Desormeaux in 1:01.60 for next Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Affirmed Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.
“It was a little slow,” trainer Cliff Sise Jr. said of the work, “but he came home the last three-eighths in 36. He had some kind of viral thing going on in the Santa Anita Derby. Two days later he popped a temperature.
“He was flat. As soon as he went off in the post parade and he stayed with the pony, we knew we were in trouble. But this will be a good starting point back. He’s doing great, fantastic.”
Named for the last Triple Crown winner, the Affirmed also could attract two from the Jerry Hollendorfer barn, California Derby winner Cross the Line (Corey Nakatani) and consistent Cyrus Alexander (Rafael Bejarano), who worked five furlongs Sunday in 1:01.
Cross the Line, who worked seven furlongs Sunday in 1:26, also is being considered for the $500,000 Ohio Derby at Thistle Downs Racino on June 20.
Also set for the Affirmed are Gimme Da Lute, Martin Garcia, and Om, Fernando Perez.
FOREST CHATTER TO STRETCH OUT IN CRYSTAL WATER
Forest Chatter makes his first start beyond 6 ½ furlongs when he runs in next Saturday’s $100,000 Crystal Water Stakes at one mile on grass. The streaking son of Dixie Chatter, winner of his last four races as the heavy favorite, shouldn’t be hampered by the additional two furlongs.
“I’ve never thought a mile would be too far for him,” trainer Richard Mandella said. “He’s awfully good on the hill,” referring to Santa Anita’s downhill turf course at about 6 ½ furlongs, where the Kentucky-bred gelding has won his last four starts. “But we’ll have to see about the mile.”
Forest Chatter worked five furlongs on the main track Sunday in 1:03.
NO GRADE I CELEBRATION FOR BALTAS AFTER BIG WIN
It was business as usual for Richard Baltas Sunday morning after he saddled Spanish Queen to a three-quarter length victory in Saturday’s Grade I American Oaks as the odds-on favorite. Baltas, who turned 54 yesterday, barely took time to celebrate his birthday.
“She ate good last night and she looks great this morning,” he said. “I celebrated a little bit, but I couldn’t stay out too late. My owners wanted me to come to their house in Chatsworth but I had to get up at 3:30 in the morning.
“My wife (Debby) did plan a little birthday party, so we celebrated with a dinner in Pasadena. As far as Spanish Queen, we’ll just regroup and see how she’s doing before deciding on her next race.
“I know there’s that big race in New York coming up (the Grade I, $1 million Belmont Oaks at 1 1/4 miles on turf July 4), but the owners are local and they might want to run her at Del Mar. The million dollar race is tempting, but we’ll have to see.”
The American Oaks victory moved Baltas into a tie for the training lead with Doug O’Neill and Phil D’Amato at 12 each. Peter Miller is only one behind with 11.
The success of Baltas is no surprise to Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, who mentored Baltas for some two years circa 2003.
“He paid his dues,” Mandella said of Baltas. “He’s very smart and a good horseman.”
TOC HOSTS FREE SEMINAR ON JUNE 13
The Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) will host a free seminar, “Demystifying the Racing Office,” at Santa Anita on Saturday, June 13, at 10 a.m. Panelists will include Rick Hammerle, Santa Anita Vice President of Racing and Racing Secretary, and David Jerkens, Del Mar Racing Secretary.
Hammerle, known in racing circles simply as “Hammer,” has worked in racing coast to coast since attending the University of Arizona in 1986. He is on the Graded Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Selection committees and has been the racing secretary a record six times for Breeders’ Cup events. He is also a regular featured guest on Sirius/XM radio’s “At The Races with Steve Byk.”
Prior to being named Racing Secretary at Del Mar, Jerkens worked at Golden Gate Fields and NYRA after graduating from Nassau College. The son of trainer Steven Jerkens and grandson of the late Hall of Fame trainer, Allen Jerkens, his background includes work as an entry clerk, racing official, assistant racing secretary and stakes coordinator.
The seminar will be moderated by Richard Scheidt, TOC’s Northern California Director of Operations, and will cover the basic operations of the Racing Office, including: creating the condition book, stall applications, race types, working and training schedules, day-to-day operations, role of the racing secretary and other racing office staff, and TOC’s role in developing purse and stakes schedules.
The event will begin 10 a.m. in the Baldwin Conference Room at Santa Anita, third floor Clubhouse. Santa Anita is located at 285 W. Huntington Dr., Arcadia, CA 91007. Although it is free and open to the public, reservations are recommended and can be made by calling TOC at (626) 574-6620 or online at www.toconline.com.
TOC is the official organization serving new, veteran and future Thoroughbred owners in the state. It represents, advances, and protects owners’ interests and rights in legislative, administrative and business matters.
FINISH LINES: Victor Espinoza takes a commercial red-eye flight from LAX to New York tonight as his pursuit of the Triple Crown begins in earnest. “I’ll sleep on the plane,” Espinoza said . . . Richard Mandella said Catch a Flight came out of his half-length victory in Saturday’s Californian Stakes in good order and will be pointed to the Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita on June 27 . . . Trainer Ted H. West hasn’t ruled out a start in the Gold Cup for bargain claim Motown Man, who won the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes on May 23 . . .Santa Anita clockers were busy Sunday morning as 236 works were recorded, including five on the training track . . . Agent Tom Knust reunites with 2012 Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Mario Gutierrez beginning Wednesday when the meet’s final condition book comes out, covering races through the last day, June 28 . . .The last names of the riders of the first three finishers in Saturday’s second race all began with the letter “P”–Fernando Perez on victorious Star of Munster; Martin Pedroza on runner-up Aiming Straight; and Flavien Prat aboard third-place Princess Kendra. The $1 trifecta returned a p-retty p-rofitable $171.60 . . . Santa Anita will host a book signing of John Perrotta‘s new publication, “Racetracker,” from 12 noon to 2 p.m. across from Champions! Gift Shop next Saturday, Belmont Stakes Day. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Saturday, May 30)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||68||9||9||6||13%||$419,592|