- PREAKNESS WINNER EXAGGERATOR WALKS SHEDROW
- RALIS TACKLES TURF FOR FIRST TIME IN SNOW CHIEF
- NYQUIST DUE IN CALIFORNIA JUNE 5, PLANS ON HOLD
- SINGING KITTY IS IN TUNE ON A FIRM TURF COURSE
- BOOZER STAYS ON THE ON DIRT IN TIZNOW STAKES
- DYNAMITE DEBUT WINNER ENOLA GRAY HEADS MELAIR
- LENNYFROMALIBU IS REMEMBERED ON SATURDAY
- RON EBANKS NEW AGENT FOR SANTIAGO GONZALEZ
EXAGGERATOR WALKS SHEDROW THIS MORNING AT PIMLICO
Trainer Keith Desormeaux’s Exaggerator, who became the 10th Santa Anita Derby winner to take the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, jogged two miles over Pimlico’s main track on Wednesday and walked the shed row this morning as he continues to prepare for the mile and one half Belmont Stakes on June 11.
“He walked today and he’ll van to Belmont on Sunday,” said Desormeaux, who arrived back in Southern California Wednesday night. “It’s not that far to Belmont. He’ll be on the van about eight or nine hours. We’re gonna breeze him one time, probably five eighths, before the race. He’ll either work a week from Saturday (June 4) or the following Tuesday (June 7).
“I’ll go back for the work and I’m still thinking about whether or not to send Kent (Desormeaux) in to breeze him, or just have Aaron Gryder get on him. Aaron’s already there and he knows my horses and he knows me. As far as the horse is concerned, everything’s pretty basic. He has no issues and there’s nothing (physical) we’re having to deal with. He’s a pleasure to train.”
A winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Derby at a mile and one eighth on April 9, Exaggerator, who has made three out of his five starts this year at Santa Anita, was second to previously unbeaten Nyquist in both the Grade II, seven furlong San Vicente Stakes here on Feb. 15 and in the Kentucky Derby May 7.
RALIS TRIES TURF FOR FIRST TIME IN SNOW CHIEF
Ralis makes his turf debut Saturday when the son of Square Eddie trained by Doug O’Neill for Reddam Racing runs in the $200,000 Snow Chief Stakes for three-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on grass.
“He ran really well on the synthetic surface at Turfway (fifth in the Grade III Spiral, beaten only three-quarters of a length on April 2), so generally, horses that run well on synthetic run well on grass, especially Square Eddies,” O’Neill said. “They run well on anything, so we’re very optimistic he’ll run a good race.”
The Snow Chief field: Ralis, Mario Gutierrez, 5-2; The Big Train, Santiago Gonzalez, 15-1; Glory Bound, Edwin Maldonado, 10-1; Midnight Ming, Rafael Bejarano, 5-1; Tough It Out, Joe Talamo, 2-1; and Gold Rush Dancer, Flavien Prat, 9-5.
O’NEILL HAPPY WITH NYQUIST, BUT HAS NO RACE PLANS
Champion Nyquist, who suffered his first defeat in last Saturday’s Preakness Stakes after eight straight victories including the Kentucky Derby on May 7, is doing well although he will miss the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes on June 11, due to a temperature that surfaced soon after the Preakness.
“He has no temperature right now, his blood looks good, so we’re very happy with the way things are going back there,” trainer Doug O’Neill said Thursday morning at Santa Anita.
“I don’t know what will happen next (as far as plans for future races). We’ll bring him
back (from Maryland) June 5 so we’ll kind of play it by ear from there.”
FIRM COURSE A PLUS FOR SINGING KITTY IN FRAN’S VALENTINE
Trainer Matt Chew is optimistic about the chances of Singing Kitty in Saturday’s $125,000 Fran’s Valentine Stakes for older fillies and mares at one mile on turf.
“She’s coming up to the race really well,” Chew said. “She didn’t really care much going down the hill when the turf course was softer (eighth by four lengths on a “good’ surface in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint Jan. 30).
“She’s back where she’s somewhat confident, and I think she’ll like this surface the way it is right now. She won her races last year when it was 100-degree weather and everything was nice and firm. The course was a little soft this winter and it wasn’t to her liking.”
The field for the Fran’s Valentine: Smoove It, Mario Gutierrez, 3-1; Nite Delite, Stewart Elliott, 12-1; Sheer Pleasure, Martin Garcia, 7-2; Madame Mousse, Santiago Gonzalez, 10-1; Lily Kai, Dryden Van Dyke, 8-1; Bert’s Melody, Brice Blanc, 5-1; Velvet Mesquite, Tyler Baze, 9-2; and Singing Kitty, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1.
BOOZER ON DISPLAY CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH DAY
Boozer, a versatile son of Unusual Heat who has won six of seven career starts on turf, returns to the main track Saturday in the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes for four-year-olds and up at one mile, one of five added money events in the Golden State Series for California-bred or sired horses on Gold Rush Day at Santa Anita.
Trained by Mark Glatt for Al and Sandee Kirkwood, Boozer won at a mile on dirt at Los Alamitos last out on April 16 under Edwin Maldonado, who retains the mount in the Tiznow.
“He’s versatile, so it’s nice to have different options,” Glatt said of Boozer. “We’ll see how it works out for us.”
The Tiznow: Howdy, Mario Gutierrez, 6-1; Boozer, Edwin Maldonado, 5-2; Songforjohnmichael, Joe Talamo, 2-1; Avanti Bello, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Indygo Holiday, Fernando Perez, 15-1; Soi Phet, Kent Desomreaux, 4-1; and Rocko’s Wheel, Martin Garcia, 5-1.
EXPLOSIVE DEBUT FOR 2-5 MELAIR CHOICE ENOLA GRAY
Enola Gray won by a pole, as they say, in her debut race, coming home 16 ¼ lengths in front of eight rivals in a 6 1/2-furlong sprint on April 10. It was no surprise to leading trainer Phil D’Amato, even though the gray daughter of Grazen owned and bred by Nick Alexander paid $10.80 to win.
“She was well-meant that day,” said D’Amato, who sends out Enola Gray in Saturday’s $200,000 Melair Stakes for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on dirt. “I thought she had a really good chance to win, although I didn’t think she’d win by 16.
“She’s always shown that kind of talent in the mornings. She breezed so fast, we never really put her in company to see how fast she really was, so it was a pleasant surprise.
“She came out of the race good and she’s ready to go.”
The Melair: Enola Gray, Tyler Baze, 2-5; Allsquare, Joe Talamo, 10-1; Cheekaboo, Rafael Bejarano, 5-1; Hacktivism, Mario Gutierrez, 8-1; The Spiral Jetter, Santiago Gonzalez, 12-1; and Shy Carmelita, Martin Garcia, 6-1.
RACE BRINGS FOND MEMORIES OF LENNYFROMALIBU
The Lennyfromalibu Stakes, the first of five added money events to be run Saturday in the Golden States Series for California-bred or sired horses on Gold Rush Day, has a notable back story.
The race for four-year-olds and up at about six and a half furlongs on turf drew but five starters, but the derivation of its name is from stakes winner Lennyfromalibu, who won the Crystal Water in 2004 and the California Cup Mile in 2003. But wait. There’s more.
“Lennyfromalibu was named after Lenny Goldstein, a liver doctor who treated my husband (Jim),” related Madeline Auerbach, who campaigned the horse, and is still an active owner/breeder and a member of the California Horse Racing Board.
“Dr. Goldstein had an office at UCLA, lived on the beach in Malibu, had a big handlebar mustache and was really a throwback guy. He was very pro-active and helpful in my husband getting a liver transplant, and he was fascinated that we were in the racing business.
“So the very first baby that we had available from Unusual Heat’s first crop (in 1999) was named Lennyfromalibu.”
The field: Forest Chatter, Mike Smith,6-5; Pay the Fine, Mario Gutierrez, 9-2; Ambitious Brew, Flavien Prat, 7-5; Old Man Lake, Tyler Baze, 12-1; and K Thirty Eight, Edwin Maldonado, 6-1.
MUSICAL AGENTS CONTINUE: GONZALEZ HIRES EBANKS
Santiago Gonzalez, who fired agent Craig Stephan last Saturday after a two-year run that saw him become an overnight success, has changed representatives again, parting company with 28-year-old Brandon O’Bryan after four days and hiring veteran Ron Ebanks.
“Santiago called me and wanted to know if I was interested and available,” Ebanks said. “I said I’d definitely like to talk, so we met, discussed issues and I was happy with what I heard.
“He’s one of the most sought-after riders and rides for everybody. He’s achieved a lot in a short amount of time and looks like he can be a top rider.
“I represented Gary Stevens for two weeks at Del Mar last summer, but we just weren’t a good fit for each other,” Ebanks said, referring to his last gig as an agent.
Ebanks has had plenty of experience with world-class riders. “I’ve had Chris Antley, Tyler Baze, Joe Talamo, Michael Baze, Patrick Valenzuela, Joel Rosario, Jorge Chavez and Shane Sellers for 15 years when he earned $115 million,” Ebanks said.
“I’ve been in the business 38 years. I started when I was 13. I rode horses from 15 to 23 and became an agent when I was 23.”
SANTA ANITA BIDS FAREWELL TO FAN FAVORITE ‘LEXI’
Santa Anita’s racing family and fans of The Great Race Place are mourning the passing of Lexi, the little Jack Russell Terrier who rode the carriages at Santa Anita for all of her 15 years, becoming a fan favorite.
Owned by Santa Anita’s Operations Office Manager Paige Rickerd, Lexi died Monday afternoon but did her job until the very end.
“She had such a huge fan base and was really one special dog,” said the understandably saddened Rickerd. “There are over 7,000 people who have reached out on Facebook. We knew she was popular and loved but we had no idea to what extent.
“She was the best companion and friend anyone could ever ask for. We are truly heartbroken . . . She will forever be in our hearts, forever missed and forever loved. Rest in peace, Lexi. We love you.”
Rickerd has a tribute to Lexi posted on Facebook under Carriage Horses.
FINISH LINES: Trainer Simon Callaghan could run Taris against males in the Grade I Triple Bend Stakes at seven furlongs on June 25, although the Grade I Vanity Mile on June 4 and a potential meeting with distaff champions Beholder and Stellar Wind remains an option. “I’ll talk with the owners and we’ll make a decision,” Callaghan said . . . Congratulations to Jeff Mullins on registering his 1,500th training victory last Saturday, with odds-on favorite Spirit World ridden by his main man, Tyler Baze. “It’s a nice milestone,” said Mullins, who saddled three consecutive winners of the Santa Anita Derby from 2003-05 (Buddy Gil, Castledale and Buzzards Bay). “I’ve been training for 30 years, ever since I was old enough to get a license.” . . . Chad Lindsay will represent the United States in the 2016 Longines Future Racing Stars international apprentice jockey challenge race at Chantilly Race Course in Paris on June 19. Represented by agent Vince DeGregory, the 23-year-old Lindsay, a native of Aledo, Texas, near Fort Worth, will be one of the apprentices all under the age of 25 from 10 different nations . . . Agent Vic Lipton says he will not be representing Jaime Theirot . . . Ron Ebanks, agent for Santiago Gonzalez, and Simon Bray, TVG analyst and former trainer, will be Tom Quigley‘s guests, Saturday and Sunday, respectively, 12:50 p.m. in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Sunday’s lone winning Pick Six ticket worth $98,243.80 was purchased at Golden Gate Fields for $72 . . . Santa Anita races through this Monday, Memorial Day, but will be dark for live racing next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, May 31, June 1 and June 2. Live racing resumes Friday, June 3 at 2 p.m.
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