- BATTLE OF MIDWAY IN FINAL MAJOR DRILL FOR DERBY
- SONGBIRD BETTER THAN EVER AS A FOUR-YEAR-OLD
- D’AMATO HOPES FARHAAN STEPS UP IN THUNDER ROAD
- CECIL ‘DRESSED TO A T’ FOR SANTA BARBARA STAKES
- ANKLE ISSUE PUTS ILIAD OFF THE TRIPLE CROWN TRAIL
BATTLE OF MIDWAY IN ‘GOOD WORK’ FOR KENTUCKY DERBY
Battle of Midway, who will attempt to give Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer his first Kentucky Derby victory a week from Saturday at Churchill Downs, worked towards that goal at Santa Anita Friday morning, going six furlongs under Flavien Prat in 1:13.40.
Runner-up by a half-length in the Santa Anita Derby to Kentucky Derby-bound Gormley, Battle of Midway worked in company with Mangita who was given a five furlong time of 1:01.60.
“I got him in 13 and four and it was a good work,” Hollendorfer said of Battle of Midway.
Santa Anita clocker Dane Nelson had fractional times of 24.80, 37, 49.20 and 1:00.40, with a seven furlong gallop out of 1:27.20.
“I wanted to have his last work here rather than at Churchill Downs,” Hollendorfer said, “because I’ve had different kinds of results from working horses at Churchill earlier on in that meet. I think I got what I needed here, and he’ll just gallop into the race down there.”
Battle of Midway is scheduled to ship early Saturday morning from Ontario Airport to Kentucky, while Hollendorfer will leave for the Blue Grass State on Tuesday.
Also working for Hollendorfer Friday was two-time Eclipse Award champion Songbird, set to make her four-year-old debut in either the $750,000 Ogden Phipps at Belmont June 10 or the $400,000 Beholder Mile at Santa Anita June 3, although she also is nominated to the $100,000 Adoration Stakes at Santa Anita a week from Sunday, May 7.
Winner of 11 of 12 races, her only loss coming by a nose to Beholder in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita, Songbird went four furlongs under Mike Smith in 48.40.
“I felt like I was just floating,” Smith said after the drill. “She’s just so beautiful. She looks better, feels better, feels stronger, too. She was so happy out there.
“I’m so excited, I feel like I just won a Group 1.”
Fans at Santa Anita May 6 can enjoy the biggest Derby party west of Kentucky and watch and wager on the Run for the Roses. Derby Day highlights include a Kentucky Derby Trackside event; a KROQ Super Games and Craft Beer Festival; a Chandelier Room Derby Party; a Kentucky Derby Hat Contest; the Bud Light Lounge; and a guaranteed Late Pick 4 pool of $500,000 and Pick 6 pool of $100,000.
The Derby Day Hat Contest presented by Southern California Life Magazine is free to enter and boasts three grand prizes including $1,000 cash and a year’s subscription to the publication for each winner. The three categories (Most Creative, Most Glamorous and Fascinators and Fedoras) will be judged by a panel of fashion industry experts just west of the winner’s circle at 2:30 p.m. Look for the rent tent to enter and please visit santaanita.com/events for more information.
FARHAAN STEPS UP IN GRADE III THUNDER ROAD
Farhaan, a well-traveled son of 2006 Belmont Stakes winner Jazil, seeks his first victory since being claimed by trainer Phil D’Amato for $40,000 at Saratoga last August when he runs in Saturday’s Grade III Thunder Road Stakes for four-year-olds and up at one mile on turf.
Farhaan, an eight-year-old full horse, was second in an overnight race March 9, his first start in four months after coming in from the East Coast, where he ran at Belmont, Laurel, Saratoga, Aqueduct, Penn National and Keeneland.
The Kentucky-bred arrived in the United States from England in the summer of 2013.
“He got pretty sick on me traveling from the East Coast to the West Coast,” D’Amato said. “It took me a while to get him over that, and he ran a good race the other day.
“He hasn’t missed a beat since then so he should step up, and he’ll have to in order to beat those horses.”
The field for the Thunder Road: Perfectly Majestic, Kent Desormeaux, 7-2; Twentytwentyvision, Flavien Prat, 7-2; Bolo, Mike Smith, 5-2; Mithqaal, Rafael Bejarano, 15-1; Fabozzi, Corey Nakatani, 6-1; Farhaan, Tyler Baze, 6-1; and Sawyer’s Hill, Martin Pedroza, 7-2.
DRESSED TO A T EYES FIRST STAKES WIN SUNDAY
The consistent Dressed to a T has paid her way for Ben Cecil, who trains the five-year-old daughter of Square Eddie for owners Paul and Zillah Reddam. On Sunday, she seeks her first stakes victory in the Grade III, $100,000 Santa Barbara Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at 1 ½ miles on turf.
Dressed to a T has a 4-2-2 record from 14 starts with earnings of $220,932.
The gray California-bred is coming off a third-place finish at one mile on dirt March 26, her first non-turf start. Prior to that, she had run all 13 races on grass, only one as short as a mile and the longest, the Astra Stakes, at a mile and a half.
“There was nothing else for her going long and it was (against) Cal-breds, so we thought we’d try her,” Cecil said in explaining the dirt experience. “I thought she ran well, but a mile is too short for her. I knew that going in but I thought if they went quick enough early, maybe she’d get there.
“They didn’t go very quick and she still made up ground. She’s tough, consistent and tries every time and that’s all you can ask for. The mile and a half distance is good for her; she just needs a bit of luck.
“We’ve got our fingers crossed, and I’d love to win this for Mr. Reddam. You couldn’t ask for a better owner.”
The Santa Barbara, race six of nine: Estrechada, Stewart Elliott; Places des Vosges, Corey Nakatani; Dressed to a T, Flavien Prat; Hiking, Brice Blanc; Responsibleforlove, Kent Desormeaux; Betty Draper, Santiago Gonzalez; Mrs. Norris, Victor Espinoza; Evo Campo, Rafael Bejarano; and Laseen, Mike Smith.
FINISH LINES: Recently minted Hall of Famer Victor Espinoza will be acknowledged on post parade for today’s first race, as he rides Liam the Charmer for trainer Michael McCarthy . . . San Vicente Stakes winner Iliad, who had been ticketed for the Preakness Stakes on May 20 after finishing fifth by two lengths as the 3-1 favorite in the Santa Anita Derby on April 8, is sidelined with an injury to his left front ankle. “He yanked an ankle and we sent him to the farm for rehab,” said Leandro Mora, assistant to Doug O’Neill who trains the son of Ghostzapper for Kaleem Shah. “He’s officially out of competition for the next two or three races coming up. He’s back at Santa Anita now and we’ll look to the future. The injury does not require surgery, just time.” . . . Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint champion Finest City worked four furlongs Friday in 48.20 for Ian Kruljac who plans to enter the Pennsylvania-bred daughter of City Zip in two Grade I races worth $300,000 each at Churchill Downs next weekend, the La Troienne Stakes at 1 1/16 miles next Friday and the Humana Distaff at seven furlongs the following day, May 6. Finest City leaves for Kentucky on Wednesday, May 3 . . . Santa Anita Oaks runner-up Abel Tasman, pointing to the Kentucky Oaks, worked seven furlongs for Bob Baffert Friday in 1:25.60 . . . Announcer Alan Buchdahl and professional horse player Duke Matties will be Tom Quigley‘s guests, Saturday and Sunday, respectively, 11:50 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Every Saturday and Sunday at Santa Anita, fans can enjoy Family Fun Zone, featuring an Infield full of activities. A special $40 online only discount package includes food for four, two racing programs, two unlimited jumper wristbands, two pony ride vouchers, two face painting vouchers and eight carnival game vouchers. The package can be purchased online at santaanita.com/events . . .