- ASHLEYLUVSSUGAR RETURNS IN CRYSTAL WATER
- DERBY KING NYQUIST IS AT HOME AT SANTA ANITA
- KENT KEEN ON EXAGGERATOR WITH FAST TRACK
- HIKING TAKES LONG ROAD IN POSSIBLY PERFECT
- GRASS IS GREENER FOR PRAT IN RACE FOR TITLE
ASHLEYLUVSSUGAR RETURNS IN SWEET SPOT
Ashleyluvssugar returns to the races in Saturday’s $100,000 Crystal Water Stakes after an absence of more than nine months and a string of marathon races on grass.
The Crystal Water is part of the lucrative Golden State Series for California-bred or sired runners, this one at a mile on turf for four-year-olds and up.
Peter Eurton hopes it leads to bigger and better things.
“This is our beginning goal,” the trainer said of the five-year-old gelded son of Game Plan owned by Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable and Ciaglia Racing, LLC. “He was just body sore, nothing that needed surgery or anything. It was just a lot of little things all over . . . There were no fractures anywhere. He just needed a few months off.”
Ashleyluvssugar last ran Aug. 22, 2015, finishing second in the Grade II Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf. Prior to that he was sixth in Monmouth Park’s Grade I United Nations at the same distance, won the Grade II Charles Whittingham at a mile and a half on grass at Santa Anita last May, the Grade II San Luis Rey also at a mile and a half last March, and a Santa Anita overnight turf race at 1 1/8 miles early last February.
Returning in a mile race can be interpreted in a variety of ways.
“There are different kinds of miles,” Eurton pointed out, “like the Shoemaker facing Grade I horses, but that said, the Crystal Water is going to be tough enough against Cal-breds.”
The field for the Crystal Water, race two of 11: Poshky, Fernando Perez: Zinvor, Santiago Gonzalez; Ashleyluvssugar, Rafael Bejarano; Boozer, Edwin Maldonado; Alert Bay, Tyler Baze; and Spirit Rules, Iggy Puglisi.
NYQUIST COULD ‘STRETCH HIS LEGS IN WEEK OR SO’
Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist has settled in nicely at his Santa Anita headquarters after arriving late Sunday from Maryland, where he was upset by Santa Anita Derby winner Exaggerator in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 21.
“He looks great,” trainer Doug O’Neill said Thursday morning of the son of Uncle Mo owned by Paul and Zillah Reddam. “He’s back on the track, he’s jogging two miles. We’re looking for him to stretch his legs and have an easy breeze in about a week or so.
“He’s doing really well.”
FAST BELMONT TRACK SHOULDN’T HAMPER EXAGGERATOR
Kent Desormeaux, who won the 2009 Belmont Stakes aboard Summer Bird, guns for his second on favored Exaggerator Saturday in the 148th Belmont Stakes, the final jewel in racing’s Triple Crown.
Exaggerator won both the Santa Anita Derby and the Preakness on sloppy tracks, but Kent feels the colt owned in part and trained by his older brother, Keith, will acquit himself well on a fast track over the mile and a half Belmont Stakes distance.
“The rain and sloppy track did give me a little more confidence in the Preakness,” Desormeaux said before leaving for New York, “because Exaggerator was tried and true on an off track (after capturing the Santa Anita Derby by 6 ¼ lengths in the slop).
“The Belmont is longer than the Preakness (by 5/16ths of a mile), so nobody knows whether a horse will get the distance, but I’m hopeful that because Exaggerator’s been such a tremendous ride of late, and if he maintains his demeanor, I don’t see why he wouldn’t.”
Post time for the Belmont is 3:37 p.m. Pacific Time. NBC’s telecast of the Belmont will start at 2 p.m. Pacific. Post time for the first of 11 live races at Santa Anita Saturday is 12 noon. Admission gates open at 8 a.m.
HIKING HITS THE TRAIL IN MARATHON STAKE
Hiking seems like an appropriate name for a horse about to run a mile and a half on turf, and that’s the case with the five-year-old mare entered in Sunday’s $75,000 Possibly Perfect Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up.
“I think she’ll get the distance,” said Simon Callaghan, who trains the five-year-old bay mare for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.
Although she’s never run that far in 18 career starts, 10 in the United States and eight in England, her style of running indicates it’s within her wheelhouse.
She generally comes from well out of it and was third in an overnight race at 1 1/8 miles on turf May 5, prior to winning by a head under the same conditions on March 24.
The Possibly Perfect, named for the Grade I-winning distaff star trained by the late Bobby Frankel two decades ago, marks the first added money race in the U.S. for Hiking.
GRASS IS GREENER FOR PRAT IN RIDING RACE
Through 20 racing days, Flavien Prat and perennial Southern California riding king Rafael Bejarano are in a flat-footed tie for Santa Anita’s Spring Meet title at 23 victories each.
Most of Prat’s wins have come on the turf, a surface on which he rode almost exclusively in his native France before coming to the United States, where he has become an international presence under agent Derek Lawson.
Of Prat’s 23 wins, 16 have come on Santa Anita’s turf from 46 rides, 35 percent. He also has four seconds, seven thirds and grass earnings of $941,913. He has won seven of 30 on dirt, 23 percent, with five seconds and three thirds, for earnings of $253,858.
But he’d better make hay while the sun shines because Santa Anita will offer no turf racing from June 20 through the end of the meet, July 10, when the course will be renovated.
“In Europe we only ride on turf or on the training track, so that’s where I honed my skills on the grass,” said the 23-year-old Prat. “I’m getting good horses to ride and that builds my confidence. That’s the key: riding the right horse. I’m grateful to all the trainers, especially Richard (Mandella) who has helped me a lot.”
FINISH LINES: Unbeaten champion Songbird is scheduled to work Sunday morning for a possible start in the Grade II Summertime Oaks at 1 1/16 miles a week from Saturday, June 18. Nominations for the Oaks close today . . . Trainer Simon Callaghan hopes to have 2015 Kentucky Derby runner-up Firing Line ready for the Grade II San Diego Handicap at Del Mar July 23 and a possible meeting with 2014 Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome. Firing Line worked five furlongs Monday in 1:02.60 . . . Trainer Doug O’Neill and owner/player Steve Young will be Tom Quigley‘s guests, 10:50 a.m. Saturday and 12:20 p.m. Sunday, in the East Paddock Gardens.
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|(Current Through Sunday, June 5)|