- BATTLE OF MIDWAY ON IMPROVE FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY
- FOUR O’NEILL THREE-YEAR-OLDS WORK TOWARDS DERBY
- IRISH SURF RETURNS FOR THE MARATHON TOKYO CITY CUP
- ARABIAN-BRED HORSES IN THE SPOTLIGHT ON SATURDAY
- VETERAN DISTINCTIV PASSION FINDS A NEW HOME AT SEVEN
VERSATILE BATTLE OF MIDWAY SET FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY
Battle of Midway, winner of two of his three races including his first at a route March 9 when the bay son of Smart Strike scored by a neck at 1 1/16 miles, looms a major player in the $1 million, Grade I Santa Anita Derby at a mile and an eighth a week from Saturday, April 8.
“It’s a wide open race with Mastery out and Battalion Runner entered in Saturday’s Florida Derby,” said Dan Ward, assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains Battle of Midway, owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms, which also campaigns two-time champion filly Songbird.
“Battle of Midway could stalk or he could be on the pace,” Ward said, “and he is a horse that still has room for improvement.”
Battle of Midway and It Tiz Well, a contender for the Grade I, $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks on April 8, are scheduled to work Saturday.
Hollendorfer, meanwhile, is closing in on Peter Miller for the training lead, trailing by only two, 31-29, with seven racing days until the Winter Meet ends April 9. Flavien Prat, who missed time while in Dubai to ride Hoppertunity in the World Cup, is so far holding off a surging Tyler Baze in the jockeys’ race, 52-46.
FOUR O’NEILL SOPHS DRILL FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY
Team O’Neill had a busy morning Friday as four of its Santa Anita Derby candidates including possible favorite Iliad worked for the West Coast’s major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby on May 6.
San Vicente Stakes winner Iliad, runner-up to Mastery in the San Felipe Stakes, worked six furlongs in company, getting a time of 1:13.80 under Flavien Prat. Workmate Hoffenheim was clocked in 1:14.
Cal Cup Derby winner So Conflated, working with Dog Gone Lenny, went six furlongs in 1:15.20 with Saul Arias in the saddle. Dog Gone Lenny was given 1:15.40. Milton Freewater also went six furlongs in 1:15.40 under Tiago Pereira, while Cecil B. DeMille winner Term of Art breezed five furlongs in 1:03.40 under Tyler Baze.
In all, O’Neill had 38 of the 150 recorded breezes on Santa Anita’s main track Friday.
Probable for the Santa Anita Derby: American Anthem, no rider; Battle of Midway, Corey Nakatani; Gormley, Victor Espinoza; Iliad, Flavien Prat; Kimbear, Joe Talamo; Midnight Pleasure, no rider; Milton Freewater, Tiago Pereira; Reach the World, no rider; So Conflated, Mario Gutierrez; Term of Art, Tyler Baze; and West Coast, no rider. Kimbear works at 6:30 Saturday morning with Talamo up for trainer Eric Kruljac.
MARATHONER IRISH SURF RETURNS IN TOKYO CITY CUP
It was a long time between drinks, as the saying goes, for Irish Surf.
The seven-year-old full horse finished sixth in an overnight race at 1 1/8 miles on turf March 9, his first race in more than two years, closer to 27 months to be more precise.
Next up is Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Tokyo City Cup at a mile and a half on dirt. If the bay son of Giant’s Causeway wins, it won’t be the first time he’s done so at that distance. He won the Grade III Cougar II Handicap going a mile and a half at Del Mar on July 25, 2014.
“He had a stall incident that caused us to lay him up,” said trainer Dan Hendricks in explaining the lengthy absence. “Then he came back training at the farm and had a little issue there, so it cost him a lot of time.
“He showed he can get the distance, and it’s only because it’s so hard to find races at a mile and a half that we’re running back this quickly, or else I might have done something differently, but I just don’t have many options with this horse.”
The field for the Tokyo City Cup, race eight of nine: Beach View, Stewart Elliott, 5-1; Infobedad, Tyler Baze, 5-1; Hi Happy, Tiago Pereira, 5-2; Irish Surf, Flavien Prat, 12-1; Big John B, Rafael Bejarano, 8-5; and Hard Aces, Santiago Gonzalez, 7-2.
In conjunction with the Tokyo City Cup, Sunday is Japan Family Day at Santa Anita, featuring events and demonstrations, a springtime festival with something for everyone. Visit tokyocitycup.com for more information.
ARABIAN-BREDS IN HH SHEIKA FATIMA BINT MUBARAK DARLEY AWARD STAKES
A field of 12 Arabian-bred horses is entered Saturday’s Grade I, $100,000 HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Darley Award Stakes at Santa Anita. For older horses, the race will be contested at a mile and a sixteenth over Santa Anita’s main track and has been carded as the 11th and final race.
In addition to top flight Arabian-bred racing, the Sheikh Mansoor Racing Festival and Santa Anita Park will collectively donate $150,000 to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund (PDJF), an increase of $100,000 from a year ago. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith and a group of local riders will accept the check on behalf of the PDJF in a Winner’s Circle ceremony between the fourth and fifth races.
“Santa Anita Park is delighted to once again partner with the Sheikh Mansoor Racing Festival in making this donation to such a worthy cause,” said Keith Brackpool, Chairman, Santa Anita Park. “This race is a welcome addition to our racing presentation and helps expose our sport to a diverse international audience. Along with that, we’re very pleased to be able to substantially increase our donation to benefit permanently injured jockeys nationwide.”
With Victor Espinoza, who became the first Triple Crown-winning jockey in 37 years when he guided Bob Baffert’s American Pharoah to victory in the 2015 Belmont Stakes, engaged to ride probable favorite Paddys Day, Santa Anita regulars Chantal Sutherland, Edwin Maldonado, Rosie Higgins, Chad Lindsay, Gallyn Mitchell and Brayan Pena are also committed to participate with $100,000 on the line. For more info on the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Darley Award Stakes, visit santaanita.com.
Note: Saturday’s Pick Six and Late Pick Four will culminate with race 10. The 11th race offers win, place, show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta and late daily double wagering.
MEGA-RICH ARROGATE DUE HOME AT SANTA ANITA SATURDAY
Horse of the World Arrogate, due to return Saturday to his Santa Anita home at trainer Bob Baffert’s barn after his remarkable triumph in last Saturday’s $10 million Dubai World Cup, now is North America’s first $17 million horse, nearly $3 million more in earnings than recently retired California Chrome.
Regarded by some as the best race horse since Secretariat, in his last four starts Arrogate has won the $1 million Travers Stakes, the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, the $12 million Pegasus World Cup, and the $10 million Dubai World Cup.
Not too shabby for a horse that won his first race at Santa Anita last June 5.
FINISH LINES: Multiple graded stakes winner Distinctiv Passion, winner of 10 of 25 career races and seven of 12 at Santa Anita, was claimed from trainer Jeff Bonde for $62,500 by Eddie Truman from Thursday’s third race which he won by 2 ½ lengths in typical front-running fashion, paying $4 as the favorite under Edwin Maldonado. Distinctiv Passion, a seven-year-old full horse bred in Florida and sired by With Distinction out of the West by West mare Dance Forthe Green, has earned $544,255. “Truman out shook Kristin Mulhall for the horse, and our barn’s all sad,” Bonde said. “We’ve had him since he was a yearling. It was like losing one of your family.” . . . Trainer Cliff Sise Jr. has Prospect Park ticketed for the Grade II, $200,000 Californian Stakes on April 22 . . . Kenny Black plans to enter California-bred Grade I winner What a View in the Grade I Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland April 14, while Acceptance goes in the Grade III Thunder Road at a mile on Santa Anita’s turf April 29. What a View worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s training track Friday in a bullet 1:01 . . . Agent J.R. Pegram has Santa Anita’s third-leading jockey Kent Desormeaux booked to ride at the Fair Grounds Saturday, Vexacious for Neil Drysdale in the Fair Grounds Oaks and Sorry Erik for Keith Desormeaux in the Louisiana Derby . . . Santa Anita’s single ticket Pick Six Jackpot mushroomed ever larger at a massive carryover of $515,717.47 into Friday’s program . . . Champion Stellar Wind worked seven furlongs in company Friday in 1:27 under Jose Contreras for the Grade I Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park April 14. Stablemate Pappou was clocked in 1:29 . . . Jockey Rito Almanza has been suspended three days (April 9, 14 and 15) for causing interference on Passed by Paul in Sunday’s ninth race, resulting in a disqualification from first to second . . . The BBQ masters of Southern California return for the sixth annual Winner’s Circle BBQ championship at Santa Anita tomorrow, April 1. The kickoff event to a season of challenges across the Golden State this year is sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society. Enjoy delicious BBQ and help choose a new “People’s Champion” at the infield event. For more info, visit santaanita.com/events/world-bbq-championship/ . . . Also tomorrow, fans in attendance at Santa Anita sporting their finest garb will have a chance to take home prizes worth thousands of dollars in the second annual Fashion & Hat Contest presented by the HH Sheikh Mansoor Arabian Racing Festival. The contest will be comprised of two different categories: Overall Fashion & Best Hat. Ten finalists from each category will be chosen by a panel of celebrity and LA-based fashion industry judges. Prizes include, in each category, airfare and hotel accommodations for the winner and a guest to the World Arabian Horse Racing Conference in Marrakesh, including tickets to the event May 2-8, and exquisite jewelry offerings from Falamank by Tarfa Itani, all courtesy of the Arabian Racing Festival. Sign-ups will be taken Saturday on-track only at the event location just west of the Winner’s Circle on the trackside apron. Sign-ups will be taken from 10:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. Judging will begin at 1:30 p.m. All entered contestants must be 18 or older and present during judging to be considered. For more information, visit: santaanita.com/events . . . The California Horse Racing Board will conduct its regular monthly meeting Thursday, April 6, 10:30 a.m. at Golden Gate Fields. The public is encouraged to attend. An audio-only webcast of the meeting can be heard through a link on the CHRB website (webcast). The meeting agenda and supporting package of materials also are available.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Thursday, March 30)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||108||21||11||12||19%||41%||$929,426|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||46||10||5||6||22%||46%||$533,305|
|James M. Cassidy||49||8||9||3||16%||41%||$442,861|