- DESORMEAUX RETURNS TO PIMLICO FOR PREAKNESS
- BERNSTEIN EYES KONA GOLD UPSET WITH KAFISTER
- PUYPE SEEKS FITTING MIZDIRECTION STAKES VICTORY
- BEHOLDER, MELATONIN WORK FOR UPCOMING STAKES
KENT DESORMEAUX RETURNS TO ‘HOME AWAY FROM HOME’
Kent Desormeaux knows Pimlico like the back of his hand, probably the front, too.
In 1989, he rode a staggering 598 winners, most of them in Maryland and 185 at Pimlico, breaking Chris McCarron’s 15-year record for most wins in a year.
Desormeaux’s mark still stands.
Desormeaux, 46, has been a member of racing’s Hall of Fame since 2004. He has won 5,873 races including the Kentucky Derby three times, on Real Quiet in 1998; Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000; and Big Brown in 2008.
He missed capturing the 1998 Triple Crown by a nose on Real Quiet in the Belmont, a race Kent says he has watched replays of a thousand times “and every time I still think I’m going to win it.” Call it the worst beat in racing.
Desormeaux, born in Maurice, Louisiana, has a homecoming of sorts Saturday at Pimlico, where he rides Kentucky Derby runner-up Exaggerator in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes for his older brother, Keith, who trains the colt.
Since 1986, Desormeaux has won 649 races from 2,858 rides at Pimlico, 23 percent. His mounts at Old Hilltop have earned $11,775,416.
“Pimlico is like my home away from home,” Desormeaux said. “It’s like my backyard. I’m going to be so comfortable. I know all the streets, I know how to get from Washington, D.C. to North Baltimore, and that translates to the race course.
“I know every grain of sand out there and the nuances of how to ride the race track. I’ll just take that wisdom to the Preakness. The turns at Pimlico are sharper than most tracks and the straights are longer than most tracks, but it’s still the same circumference.
“And if the turns actually aren’t sharper, they ride sharper.”
As for strategy, Desormeaux is not about to reinvent the wheel.
“Keep it simple, stupid,” he said.
In a TVG interview Thursday, Keith commented on Exaggerator. “He looks like he’s not only re-gained that loss of weight (from the Derby) but he put on a few (pounds). He looks very nice. He reminds me of a modern horse. He’s not big and rangy like those throw-back horses.
“I’m focused on getting him and keeping him as fresh as possible and I think I’ve done that. He’s coming out of his skin. The numbers are the numbers. If I went by the numbers then why would I be here today?”
The Preakness lineup: Cherry Wine, Corey Lanerie, 20-1; Uncle Lino, Fernando Perez, 20-1; Nyquist, Mario Gutierrez, 3-5; Awesome Speed, Jevian Toledo, 30-1; Exaggerator, Kent Desormeaux, 3-1; Lani, Yutaka Take, 30-1; Collected, Javier Castellano, 10-1; Laoban, Florent Geroux, 30-1; Abiding Star, J.D. Acosta, 30-1; Fellowship, Jose Lezcano, 30-1; and Stradivari, John Velazquez, 8-1.
First live post time at Santa Anita Preakness Day is 12 noon. Admission gates open at 8 a.m. The Paddock Room opens at 7:15 a.m.
Post time for the $1.5 million Preakness is 3:45 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. It will air live on NBC-TV and the Horse Racing Radio Network.
BERNSTEIN STAKES HIS CLAIM ON KAFISTER
It’s been a long time between stakes for David Bernstein.
The 76-year-old trainer, whose signature horse was Eclipse Award Older Male Champion of 1994 The Wicked North, tries to catch lightning in a bottle Saturday when he runs claiming-horse-seeking- graded-status Kafister in the Grade II, $200,000 Kona Gold Stakes for older horses at 6 ½ furlongs on the main track.
It will mark the first stakes start for the six-year-old son of Kafwain out of the dam Register (hence the name Kafister) since Bernstein claimed him for $20,000 on March 30, 2014, a span of 15 races.
Should Kafister pull an upset, it would be Bernstein’s first stakes win since Unfurl the Flag captured the Grade I Triple Bend at Hollywood Park in 2005 under Corey Nakatani.
Kafister has since won six races for Bernstein and owners Alan Aidekman and Gaylord Ailshie, but the Kona Gold will be the first time he has run in a stakes for Bernstein.
In his 26 race career, Kafister has run in just one added-money event, finishing fourth in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint on Nov. 3, 2012, when trained by Peter Miller. Overall, he has won 11 races, earning $324,450.
“He’s paid his way for us,” Bernstein said, then explaining his decision to try a stakes with Kafister for the first time under his tutelage: “There’s no other place to run, that’s the problem. They’re not going to write a four-other-than (condition race), so we’ve got to run here or stay in the barn.
“We’ve got a good rider (Flavien Prat), the horse loves to run and win, and he loves this track (eight wins, two seconds and a third from 15 starts), so we’ll see what happens.”
The Kona Gold, race nine of 11: Wild Dude, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; Souper Knight, Abel Lezcano, 30-1; Cautious Giant, Santiago Gonzalez, 12-1; Coastline, Tyler Baze, 4-1; Cherubim, Tiago Pereira, 20-1; Dream Sunday, Mike Smith, 12-1; Subtle Indian, Ramon Vazquez, 3-1; Kafister, Flavien Prat, 10-1; Sahara Sky, Martin Garcia, 8-1; and San Onofre, Edwin Maldonado, 7-2.
MIZDIRECTION VICTORY FOR PUYPE WOULD BE FITTING
It would be only appropriate if Mike Puype should win Saturday’s $75,000 Mizdirection Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf.
Puype saddles Home Journey in the race, and it was he who trained Mizdirection to win 11 of 17 career starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita in 2012 and 2013.
Home Journey, a six-year-old California-bred mare, has not raced since last Nov. 22, but has been training forwardly for her return.
“She’s been away, but we’ll see what happens,” Puype said. “She’s ready to run. She just got to a point where she needed a little break and we gave it her. She’s ready for this race, the summer and fall, and we’ll make babies with her next year.
“It would be nice to win a race named for Mizdirection. We’ll be trying. We have many great memories of her and her accomplishments on the track.”
The Mizdirection, race 10 of 11: Off the Road, Stewart Elliott; So Sweetitiz, Mike Smith; Velvet Mesquite, Tyler Baze; Revenue Virginius, Drayden Van Dyke; My Year Is a Day, Brice Blanc; Minks Aprise, Alex Solis; Miss Double d’Oro, Santiago Gonzalez; Home Journey, Martin Garcia; Avenge, Flavien Prat; and Swift Lady, Rafael Bejarano.
FINISH LINES: Unbeaten champion Songbird is scheduled to work Sunday, probably four furlongs after the 6:30 renovation break, according to Dan Ward, assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer . . . Three-time Eclipse award winner Beholder, prepping for the Grade I Vanity Mile on June 4, worked four furlongs Thursday for Richard Mandella in 48.20 with Janeen Painter up. “Just an easy half,” Mandella said . . . Santa Anita Handicap winner Melatonin went five furlongs in 1:03.40 for David Hofmans, who has designs on the Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita June 25. “Just a nice, easy move,” Hofmans said . . . Bellamentary, an impressive 2 ¼-length winner of Sunday’s Angel Flight Stakes at seven furlongs, could make her next start in either the Grade II Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita on June 18 or the Grade I Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park on June 11, said Phil D’Amato, Santa Anita’s training leader through eight days with seven victories from 22 starts (32 percent) . . . Agent Vic Lipton reports that 37-year-old Louisiana native Jaime Theriot, a mainstay on the Kentucky, Arkansas and Louisiana circuits in recent years, will start working horses at Santa Anita next Wednesday and be available to ride at The Great Race Place full time thereafter. Theriot won two Breeders’ Cup races in 2010, aboard Dubai Majesty in the Filly & Mare Turf Sprint and Chamberlain Bridge in the Turf Sprint. On June 18, 2008, Theriot became the seventh rider in Churchill Downs history to ride six winners in a single day . . . Dan Kaplan, 2016 Horse Player World Series Champion (won $319,000), and Kevin Cox, Saratoga Bets So Cal handicapper, will be Tom Quigley‘s guests, 10:50 a.m. Saturday and 12:50 p.m. Sunday, respectively, in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Jockey Ramon Vazquez, tied for the riding lead at Prairie Meadows, invades Santa Anita Saturday to ride Navy Hymn in the third race and Subtle Indian in the Kona Gold Stakes, both for trainer Robertino Diodoro . . . Santa Anita offers an $18 Trackside Package on Preakness Day, including admission, seating, the first drink, a tip sheet and a commemorative Nyquist mason jar. Purchase tickets at http://www/santaanita.com/events-and-tickets/ . . . Sunday, Santa Anita presents the Cal Rods Car Show, a free Infield event featuring the finest classics in the San Gabriel Valley. Post time for the first live race is 2 p.m. Admission gates open at 11:30 a.m.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, May 15)|
|Hector O. Palma||6||3||2||0||50%||83%||$54,945|