- BEHOLDER BOASTS FIELD OF ‘FAST FILLIES’
- FREE ROSE IN STELLAR SHOEMAKER LINEUP
- IRISH-BRED LASEEN IN U.S. STAKES DEBUT
FINEST CITY NEEDS HER BEST IN BEHOLDER
Finest City is nothing if not versatile. She has run well on dirt, turf, sloppy tracks, going short and long, and has won five of 17 starts with six seconds and two thirds, good for earnings of $1,184,394, most coming from capturing the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita last Nov. 5, which led to an Eclipse Award as female sprint champion of 2016.
Next up for the five-year-old Pennsylvania-bred daughter of City Zip trained by Ian Kruljac for Seltzer Thoroughbreds is Saturday’s Grade I Beholder Mile and a widely anticipated showdown with Stellar Wind, champion three-year-old filly of 2015, and Vale Dori, winner of her last six races including the Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes on March 18.
“A mile is in her comfort zone, but she’s going to have to run her best race,” Kruljac said in assessing her chances. “We’re looking for another marquee effort. They’re all fast fillies, so she’ll run according to whatever Mike feels he has underneath him early on in the race.”
“Mike” is Mike Smith, who has ridden Finest City three times, winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint and the Grade II Santa Monica Stakes, and finishing second last out in the Grade I Humana Distaff on a sloppy track at seven furlongs May 6 at Churchill Downs.
The Beholder, race eight: Vale Dori, Rafael Bejarano, 8-5; Stellar Wind, Victor Espinoza, 3-5; Show Stealer, Gary Stevens, 20-1; Finest City, Mike Smith, 3-1; and Faithfully, Flavien Prat, 20-1.
FREE ROSE A FRESH HORSE FOR SHOEMAKER MILE
Free Rose will attempt to overcome two hurdles in Saturday’s Grade I, $400,000 Shoemaker Mile on turf for three-year-olds and up: an absence of six months, and tackling older horses.
Now a four-year-old, at three the gelded son of Munnings won the Grade III La Jolla Handicap and the Grade II Del Mar Derby before finishing second in the Grade II Twilight Derby at Santa Anita on Nov. 4. He then finished fifth in the Grade I Hollywood Derby at Del Mar last Dec. 3 before trainer Richard Baltas gave him a breather.
“He was tired,” Baltas said. “There was nothing major wrong, he just needed a break, but he’s been working very well for this race. He’s a lot happier and sounder than he was, although he was running against straight three year olds in his last four races and now he’s running against older. There are some established horses in the Shoemaker.
“It’s a different goal for us this year, but the horse is fresh and I think he’s going to run well. He always tries hard and he’s a very willing horse, so I’m hoping the freshening helped.”
The Shoemaker is the first Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race this year, entitling the nominated winner to automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Mile Nov. 4 at Del Mar.
The field for the Shoemaker Mile, the seventh of nine races: Heart to Heart, Julien Leparoux, 5-2; What a View, Tyler Baze, 3-1; Bal a Bali, Mike Smith, 3-1; Farhaan, Flavien Prat, 4-1; Free Rose, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 12-1; Gangster, Mario Gutierrez, 30-1; and Bolo, Corey Nakatani, 4-1.
LASEEN MAKES U.S. STAKES DEBUT SUNDAY
Laseen makes her United States stakes debut in Sunday’s $75,000 Possibly Perfect Stakes for fillies and mares, three and older, at 1 ¼ miles on turf.
Trainer James Cassidy liked what he saw when he purchased the six-year-old Irish-bred mare for principal client Deron Pearson.
“I’ve had her since early this year,” Cassidy said of the bay daughter by the Danehill sire Dylan Thomas out of the Rahy dam La Seine. “She’s run well twice here at a mile and an eighth, and I think the extra furlong suits her style.”
The Possibly Perfect is named for the multiple Grade I stakes winner trained by the late Bobby Frankel in the early 1990s. She was a granddaughter of 1964 Kentucky Derby winner Northern Dancer, who turned out to be one of the world’s greatest stallions.
FINISH LINES: Youth will be served dept.: seven-pound apprentice rider Evin Roman is named to ride in all eight races Friday, and today the 19-year-old native of Puerto Rico is named to ride in six of the eight races . . . Kent Desormeaux has been suspended June 4, 8 and 9 for causing interference on Informality in last Sunday’s fourth race, resulting in a disqualification of his mount from sixth to eighth . . . In perhaps an unprecedented racing oddity, four of the six horses in Monday’s third race were sent off at identical odds on the tote board of 3-1: Girl Downstairs ($33,192 wagered to win, $3.20-1); Dis Smart Cat ($34,364, $3.10-1); That’s a Lady ($34,813, $3-1); and Majestic Vixen ($31,598, $3.40-1). Majestic Vixen, ridden by Mario Gutierrez for owner Gary Broad and trainer Peter Eurton, won the one mile race for fillies and mares by a nose, getting up on the outside in a driving finish over Dis Smart Cat and Gary Stevens, who led until the very last jump. Majestic Vixen, a three-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Majesticperfection, paid her anxious backers $8.80 to win . . . On a Johnny Mathis/Erroll Garner (“Misty”) morning, there were 142 recorded workouts Thursday, 15 on the training track . . . There is a single ticket Pick Six jackpot carryover of $397,862.48 into Thursday’s races.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Monday, May 29)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||46||8||6||8||17%||48%||$482,348|