- BEHOLDER SET FOR ANOTHER ‘CLASSIC’ EFFORT
- SONGBIRD NO. ONE ON CHANDELIER HIT PARADE
- TRIPLE CROWN ACE AMERICAN PHAROAH GALLOPS
- SHARED BELIEF COULD RETURN FOR ‘BIG MEET’
- NO NEWS, GOOD NEWS FOR TRACKMAN MOORE
BEHOLDER SOMETHING TO BEHOLD, STEVENS SAYS
If he ever writes a book on his legendary career, Gary Stevens could devote several
chapters on the great horses he has ridden and their great performances.
If not No. One on the list, certainly high up would be Beholder’s 8 ¼-length Pacific Classic victory, achieved against males at a mile and a quarter on Aug 22.
“I didn’t really ask her to extend herself until she swapped into her right lead, well inside
the three-sixteenths pole,” Stevens recounted Thursday morning of the two-time Eclipse Award champion, who will be seeking an unprecedented third consecutive Zenyatta Stakes victory on opening day Saturday at Santa Anita.
The Zenyatta is one of five Grade I, Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge events Saturday and will be decided at 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares, age three and up.
“I let her stretch to the wire, but by no means got to the bottom of her,” Stevens said of Beholder, who has 10 wins from 11 starts at Santa Anita. “It was probably the most powerful performance of any race I’ve ridden in my career, the most dominating performance.
“It was unbelievable, and the ease with which she did it even surprised me. On that day, I don’t believe there was a horse walking on any continent that could have beaten her.”
In addition to the Zenyatta, Santa Anita will showcase the FrontRunner Stakes for two-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles; the Awesome Again Stakes for three-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles; the Chandelier Stakes for two-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles; and the Rodeo Drive Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at 1 ¼ miles on turf.
Each race offers $300,000 in purse money. The winners will be entitled to automatic entry into their respective Breeders’ Cup races, in addition to a travel stipend if going from a base located outside of Kentucky.
First post time for the 11-race program is 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m. There will be free parking and General Admission every Thursday and Friday, with post time at 1 p.m.
The field for the Zenyatta, race seven: Oscar Party, James Graham, 30-1; Savings Account, Drayden Van Dyke, 15-1; My Monet, Santiago Gonzalez, 15-1; Big Book, Kent Desormeaux, 15-1; Kyriaki, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1; My Sweet Addiction, Mike Smith, 8-1; Wild in the Saddle, Rafael Bejarano, 12-1; Warren’s Veneda, Tyler Baze, 6-1; and Beholder, Gary Stevens, 2-5.
CHANDELIER CHOICE SONGBIRD SPECIAL FROM THE START
Songbird was no secret when she made her first start. A filly that cost $400,000 should go off as the 2-1 favorite. Breaking from the No. One post position in a field of nine 2-year-old fillies going six furlongs, she won by 6 ½ lengths under Mike Smith for Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro for Fox Hill Farms, Inc.
She did even better in her next race, winning the Grade I Del Mar Debutante by 5 ¼ lengths as the 11-10 favorite, breaking from the outside 10 post position going seven furlongs.
Next up: Saturday’s Grade I Chandelier Stakes at a mile and a sixteenth.
“She’s certainly surpassed our expectations at this early stage,” said Dan Ward, valued assistant to Hall of Famer Hollendorfer, fresh from capturing the Del Mar training title.
“You know when you start training if they’re nice horses or not, but she might be really special. When we brought her to the track for the first time, you could see how well she acted. She was very professional. She did everything right in the paddock and in the gate, but still, we didn’t expect her to be like that.
“She was training well, but she has exceeded our expectations.”
As for going two turns for the first time, Ward was realistically confident. “It’s not a concern,” he said. “You never know until they do it, but she’s a good size, big and long-striding.”
Mike Smith, who has ridden Songbird to her two victories, was up for a four furlong drill Monday in 47.20.
“All along, even before she ran, a longer distance is what we felt she’d want,” Smith said. “She wound up being a lot quicker early on than what we’d expected, but that’s because she’s naturally talented. She’s bred to go long. Again, you don’t know if she will until she does it, but I see no problem for her.”
The field for the Chandelier, race eight: Pretty N Cool, Martin Garcia, 4-1; Halo Darlin, Tyler Baze, 12-1; Vieja Luna, Juan Leyva, 15-1; Yodelsong, Fernando Perez, 20-1; Songbird, Mike Smith, 3-5; Sheeza Milky Way, Rafael Bejarano, 12-1; Land Over Sea, Mario Gutierrez, 9-2; Jade Princess, Victor Espinoza, 9-2; and Right There, Kent Desormeaux, 20-1.
AMERICAN PHAROAH GALLOPS, TO WORK SUNDAY
Triple Crown winner American Pharoah galloped a mile and a half Thursday morning as he prepares for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland on Oct. 31, the final start for the brilliant 3-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile.
Trainer Bob Baffert plans to work American Pharoah at 6:30 Sunday morning at a distance to be determined, but likely five furlongs or less.
SHARED BELIEF COULD RETURN AT WINTER MEET
Shared Belief, who has not raced since suffering a non-displaced hip fracture in the Charles Town Classic last April 18, is back on the training track with expectations that he could return to the races at Santa Anita’s signature Winter Meet that starts on Dec. 26.
“He’s jogging at the Pegasus Training and Rehabilitation Center in Redmond, Washington, near Seattle,” said Dan Ward, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. “He’s finished with the AquaTred and swimming.
“From there, I believe he would return to train at Golden Gate, because he’s been training on a synthetic surface (Polytrack) at Pegasus, and Golden Gate also has a synthetic (Tapeta) surface.
“If all goes well, we hope to be ready for the Big Meet at Santa Anita.”
Owned in part by renowned radio talk show host Jim Rome, Shared Belief earned an Eclipse Award as champion male 2-year-old of 2013.
He has 10 wins from 12 lifetime starts, including the 2015 Santa Anita Handicap, with earnings of $2,932,200.
The versatile Candy Ride gelding won three straight races at Santa Anita after his fourth-place finish in the controversial Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 1, 2014: the Grade I Malibu at seven furlongs; the Grade II San Antonio Invitational at 1 1/8 miles; and the Grade I Big Cap at a mile and a quarter.
MOORE THE MERRIER ABOUT MAIN TRACK
No news is good news for Dennis Moore, and Santa Anita’s respected track superintendent is content that mum’s the word.
He and his crack crew are responsible for keeping the main track safe and sound for the hundreds of horses working in the mornings and running over it on race days.
“So far, so good,” Moore said on a routine stop at Clockers’ Corner Thursday morning. “It is indeed a case of no news is good news, but the guys I’ve talked to are happy with the track so far. It looks good to me. We did a lot of work on it this summer and it’s paid off.”
FINISH LINES: Multiple graded stakes winner Catch a Flight was not entered in Saturday’s Awesome Again Stakes because he “came up a little sore” Wednesday following a five-furlong workout Tuesday in 1:04.20. “It doesn’t appear to be serious,” trainer Richard Mandella said, “but it was enough for me not to enter.” . . . Ty Kennedy makes his Santa Anita riding debut this meet. A seven-pound apprentice rider from Hiawatha, Kansas (population 2,900), the 21-year-old has won two races at Los Alamitos after riding three horses at Del Mar. He began his career at Remington Park in Okalahoma and rode at Prairie Meadows before heading to California, where he is represented by agent and former rider Mark North, whose mother, Betsy Irvine, was an assistant to the late trainer Don Porter. North was the agent for Kyle Frey when he won an Eclipse Award as the nation’s top apprentice in 2011 . . . Journeyman Kerwin John is at the track before sunup these days, working hard to establish himself in the competitive Santa Anita riding colony. The native of the Virgin Islands is represented by agent Susan McBrayer . . . There will be a Late Pick 4 pool guarantee of at least $500,000 every Saturday and Sunday during Santa Anita’s Autumn Meet.