- ESPINOZA DID THE RIGHT THING IN THE PREAKNESS
- TRAINER FEELS GRASS IS GREENER FOR GRAZEN SKY
- THERMODYNAMICS GOES LONG IN MELAIR STAKES
- SPRING FEVER HOPEFUL SUNDAY RULES ‘COULDN’T BE DOING ANY BETTER’
- TRAINER HOPES TIZNOW STAKES IS MILLER TIME
- 4 O’CLOCK FRIDAYS TOMORROW AT SANTA ANITA
- CHAMP BEHOLDER WORKS FOR ADORATION STAKES
DESORMEAUX ENDORSES RIDE BY ESPINOZA
Kent Desormeaux won the Belmont Stakes in 2009 on Summer Bird, so the 45-year-old Hall of Fame rider certainly knows his way around the massive mile and a half oval, even though he also has some bittersweet memories.
In perhaps the toughest beat ever, Desormeaux and Real Quiet were nosed out of the Triple Crown by Victory Gallop in 1998, and in 2008, Big Brown failed to complete the course as the odds-on favorite after winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.
Desormeaux at this point has no mount this year in the final jewel of racing’s Triple Crown, which will be decided June 6 with American Pharoah seeking to become the first winner of racing’s most elusive prize since Affirmed in 1978.
If the 3-year-old colt ridden by Victor Espinoza and trained by Bob Baffert for Ahmed Zayat runs as he did in the Preakness last Saturday, taking the lead from the start and winning by seven widening lengths on Pimlico’s sloppy track, Desormeaux likes Espinoza’s chances.
“He did the right thing, doing what he did,” Desormeaux said of Espinoza’s take-it-to-’em tactics. “He sent him like they were going across the street and that was the right strategy, to establish the lead and annihilate the field.
“Two hundred yards from the gate, when he was squeezed to the fence, you could tell he was swimming. He was in six inches of water before he was getting into the race track. There was a pool down on the fence, but he splashed through that, got to higher ground, and won like the very good horse that he is.”
Is he good enough to win the Triple Crown?
“He’s definitely the fastest horse out there, but the true test of a champion is whether they can recover and hold their form in three weeks going a mile and a half,” Desormeaux said.
“For him to put in an effort like that, he’s going to be tired. But Bob knows what to do. He’s only failed by a lip and a neck and then some of winning the Triple Crown.
“Baffert knows how to get ’em ready.”
GRAZEN SKY TRIES ‘DIFFERENT’ TURF IN SNOW CHIEF
Grazen Sky was an authoritative winner in the Silky Sullivan at one mile over a “good” turf course at Golden Gate April 26, but trainer Steve Miyadi is taking nothing for granted when the gray son of Grazen owned and bred by Nick Alexander runs in Saturday’s $200,000 Snow Chief Stakes for three year olds at 1 1/8 miles on grass.
“The win was on Golden Gate turf,” Miyadi said. “There is a difference. It’s a little bit slower turf course up there.
“We got a good draw but there are a lot of horses in the race. I don’t tell Rafael (Bejarano) how to ride but I imagine we’ll be behind Pete Miller’s horse (Richard’s Boy). My horse has trained well up to the race and he’s ready to go.”
Coincidentally, Silky Sullivan and Snow Chief each won the Santa Anita Derby, in 1958 and 1986, respectively.
The Snow Chief is one of five stakes Saturday in the Golden State Series for horses bred or sired in California.
The field for the Snow Chief, race eight of 10: Cardiac, Santiago Gonzalez, 8-1; Richard’s Boy, Fernando Perez, 7-2; Book Thirty Four, Felipe Valdez, 20-1; Zinvor, Victor Espinoza, 7-2; Grazen Sky, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; Chief of Staff, Tyler Baze, 12-1; Temple Keys, Drayden Van Dyke, 15-1; Neveradoubt, Flavien Prat, 20-1; Rocko’s Wheel, Joe Talamo, 6-1; Pulmarack, Corey Nakatani, 6-1; and Over Par, Mario Gutierrez, 30-1.
HENDRICKS FILLY GOES LONG ON DIRT IN MELAIR STAKES
Thermodynamics broke her maiden on turf, then finished third in allowance company on grass, both at one mile.
Saturday it’s back to the main track for the daughter of The Pamplemousse in the $200,000 Melair Stakes for 3-year-old fillies in at 1 1/16 miles.
“We thought she wanted to go long the way she’s been working, and Gary (Stevens) doesn’t think the grass moved her up as much as two turns, so we’ll give it a try,” trainer Dan Hendricks said in explaining the return to dirt.
The Melair: Barbara Beatrice, Tiago Pereira, 8-1; Thermodynamics, Gary Stevens, 3-1; Sheer Pleasure, Tyler Baze, 5-2; Niassa, Flavien Prat, 6-1; Ashley’s Baby, Mike Smith, 3-1; La Fiera, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1; and Tribal Express, Alonso Quinonez, 15-1.
UNBEATEN SUNDAY RULES SHARP FOR SPRING FEVER
Unbeaten Sunday Rules will be favored to capture her fifth straight victory when she runs in Saturday’s $150,000 Spring Fever Stakes for older fillies and mares at six furlongs. A speedy 4-year-old bay daughter of the late Tribal Rule owned and bred by Nick Alexander, Sunday Rules has won her four starts by a combined margin of nearly 24 lengths.
“She couldn’t be doing any better,” said trainer Phil D’Amato, who knows another committed front-runner, Tribal Gal, drew outside of Sunday Rules in a field of six.
“It is what it is; if they want to 21, 44 or whatever, we’ll keep going,” D’Amato said. “She breezed 59 the other day and it looked like she was going 1:02, she was doing it so easy. She’s just so talented. Good horses do that.
“She’s had a little of this, a little of that,” D’Amato said in explaining her limited campaigns of two starts in 2013, one start last year and one so far in 2015, a 2 ½-length score on April 30. “She had some issues at two, then she got sick at three, but she’s never been as good as she is right now and I look forward to giving her a more substantial campaign this year.”
The Spring Fever: Shakeitupbetty, Elvis Trujillo, 15-1; Harlington’s Rose, Joe Talamo, 5-2; Sidepocket Run, Tiago Pereira, 15-1; Meinertzhageni, Fernando Perez, 5-1; Sunday Rules, Tyler Baze, 3-5; and Tribal Gal, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2.
MILLER HAS TWO FOR THE MONEY IN TIZNOW
Peter Miller, in the mix for leading trainer as usual, sends out two horses in Saturday’s $150,000 Tiznow Stakes for 4-year-olds and up at one mile on the main track, Solid Wager and Poshky. Each will be seeking his first stakes win, although they have combined for eight career victories from a combined 32 starts.
Through 15 racing days, Miller had eight victories at the Spring Meet, one behind leader Doug O’Neill. Phil D’Amato also had eight wins.
The Tiznow: Sold Wager, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; Spirit Rules, Iggy Puglisi, 6-1; Toledo Eddie, Drayden Van Dyke, 6-1; Magic Mark, Fernando Perez, 10-1; Short Heat Wave, David Flores, 20-1; Soi Phet, Kent Desormeaux, 4-1; Poshky, Elvis Trujillo, 8-1; Rousing Sermon, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Motown Men, Tyler Baze, 5-2; and Joy Boy, Joe Talamo, 4-1.
BUCK STOPS WITH TRUMAN FOR GO WEST MARIE
Consistent and versatile Go West Marie stretches back out to a mile when she runs in Saturday’s $125,000 Fran’s Valentine Stakes for older fillies and mares at one mile on turf for red-hot trainer Eddie Truman, who won four races last weekend, two on Saturday and two on Sunday.
“I, Gary (Stevens), Mr. Redekop (owner Peter Redekop) and Brian (Anderson), his agent, are all on board with running her two turns instead of off the hill, actually,” Truman said. “She’s run super down the hill (at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf), but we just love her at two turns.
“Brian is the one who talked Mr. Redekop into giving me a chance to train for him. He’s been a friend for years and there’s a great partnership there. We won four races down the hill last weekend and I think we’ve won seven of 11 over that course.”
The Fran’s Valentine: My Monet, Gonzalo Nicolas, 6-1; Wild in the Saddle, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1; Go West Marie, Gary Stevens, 2-1; Heat Du Jour, Corey Nakatani, 5-1; Chati’s On Top, Santiago Gonzalez, 6-1; Qiaona, Mike Smith, 5-1; Mangita, Aaron Gryder, 8-1; and Chilada, Elvis Trujillo, 15-1.
SANTA ANITA STARTS 4 O’CLOCK FRIDAYS TOMORROW
Santa Anita will offer a series of six twilight racing cards dubbed “4 O’clock Fridays,” featuring a 4 p.m. first post time beginning tomorrow through the month of June.
All Santa Anita Thoroughbreds Club members will receive free General Admission and the track will also present a “Totally 80s” concert series, hosted by K-EARTH 101 Radio after the races, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in Sirona’s Sports Bar.
In addition to live music (provided tomorrow by “The Young Guns Band”), fans 21 and older will be treated to the following discount drink specials in Sirona’s and in the track’s newest sports bar, The Gallop Out, on the Club House turn:
–$3 Bud and Bud Light (16 oz. draft)
–$5 Well Cocktails
–$10 Domestic Draft Pitchers
Santa Anita will also open at 11 a.m. each Friday beginning May 22 for simulcast racing from across North America. For more information regarding “4 O’clock Fridays,” including a complete schedule of “Totally 80s” live bands, please visit santaanita.com/events.
FINISH LINES: On a fast Santa Anita main track Thursday morning, Beholder had her first work back since missing the May 9 Vanity Stakes with a temperature, going five furlongs under David Neusch in 1:01. “It was a very nice work,” Richard Mandella said of the two-time Eclipse Award winner. “She wanted to do more. We’re still looking at the Adoration Stakes for her on June 13.” Mandella also sent Precisionist winner Catch a Flight six furlongs in 1:12.80 in preparation for the Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita on June 27 . . . Feeling a bit under the weather, Corey Nakatani took off the two horses he was scheduled to ride today . . . The Great Race Place presents its Santa Anita Carnival Memorial Day weekend, this Saturday through Monday. The entire family is invited for three days of live racing, carnival rides, games and prizes, with unlimited rides for children for only $10. Admission and parking to the Infield is free through Gate 6 off Colorado Place.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, May 17)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||41||7||4||5||17%||$275,888|