- MIDNIGHT STORM CAN WEATHER PACE BATTLE
- TRUMAN HOPES ‘SKY’S’ NOT THE LIMIT ON SUNDAY
- ROMAN, BELVOIR ARE A PERFECT WINNING TEAM
MIDNIGHT STORM ‘CAN RATE’ FOR RICH GOLD CUP
Midnight Storm’s forte is speed, and on paper, it appears there will be plenty in the Grade I, $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita a week from Saturday, May 27.
But that is not a major concern for Phil D’Amato, who trains the son of Pioneerof the Nile for Alex Venneri Racing, Inc. and Little Red Feather Racing.
“He can rate; he’s done it in the past,” said D’Amato, who will give Flavien Prat a leg up in competition for the first time on the six-year-old full horse in the mile and a quarter race.
“Flavien breezed him the other day sitting off horses, and just by design got him to relax real nice. When he asked him on the gallop out, he had a ton of horse. He’s versatile and I think we’ll be forwardly placed and let those guys figure it out.”
TRUMAN SWEET ON MOONLESS SKY FOR FRAN’S VALENTINE
Eddie Truman takes a dip in the deep end of the pool Sunday when he sends out Moonless Sky in the $125,000 Fran’s Valentine Stakes for California-bred or sired fillies and mares, three and up, at one mile on turf.
Moonless Sky is two for two at a mile on Santa Anita’s turf course for Truman since she arrived from Florida early this year. The four-year-old Bold Chieftain filly owned by Pappas Racing will be running in her first stakes.
“This is like a quantum leap up,” said the 70-year-old trainer, nearing a half-century in the business and who has four wins and two thirds from just nine starts at the current meet.
“We’d prefer to go in a Cal-bred first allowance, and then the open allowance before running in a race like this, but the next stake that suits her won’t be until Del Mar in August, and we prefer not to wait that long.
“She loves this course and she’s run good at the distance, so we’re going to take a shot and see what happens.”
The field for the Fran’s Valentine, race nine of nine with a 1 p.m. first post time: Pacific Heat, Flavien Prat, 9-5; Roo’s Valentine, Martin Pedroza, 7-2; Shehastheritestuff, Gary Stevens, 8-1; Smoove It, Mario Gutierrez, 5-1; Ticaboo, Tyler Baze, 12-1; Top Notch, Martin Garcia; Moonless Sky, Kent Desormeaux, 8-1; and Cheekaboo, Mike Smith, 3-1.
Top Notch and Desert Steel were scratched.
FINISH LINES: Seven-pound apprentice rider Evin Roman has nine wins with a “bullet” through 20 days in the Spring segment of Santa Anita’s current meet. Five of those victories have come in five rides for trainer Vann Belvoir, including 10-1 shot Love Winning in Friday’s fourth race. Roman, a native of Puerto Rico represented by agent Tony Matos, is named on five horses today, including two for Belvoir, 5-1 morning line chance Dahlia Azul in the fourth race and 7-2 chance Red Carpet Cat in the sixth . . . Santa Anita Derby winner Gormley worked four furlongs Saturday on the main track in 50 flat for John Shirreffs. “It was his first work since the Kentucky Derby (May 6), just a little leg-stretcher,” said Shirreffs, who had “no definite plans” for the Gormley’s next race . . . Last year’s Grade I Gamely winner Illuminant, nominated to both next Saturday’s Gamely at 1 1/8 miles on turf and the Grade II Monrovia at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf, worked four furlongs for Michael McCarthy in 47.60 . . . Graded stakes-placed maiden Sonneteer worked four furlongs for Keith Desormeaux in 50.40. On the training track, San Clemente Handicap winner Mokat worked six furlongs for the Gamely in a bullet 59.40 with Rafael Bejarano up for Richard Baltas, while Grade I Del Mar Debutante winner Union Strike worked four furlongs under Brice Blanc for part owner and trainer Mick Ruis. In all, there were 176 recorded works Saturday, 28 on the training track . . . Deadlocks remain in the battle for leading jockey and trainer, Bejarano and Flavien Prat knotted at 18 wins apiece and Richard Baltas and Peter Miller tied at 15 wins each . . . According to crack Santa Anita statistician Jason Hom, favorites this meet are winning at a higher rate than the national average of about 33 percent, at 37.50 (66 of 176) overall and at the identical clip on both dirt (42 of 112) and turf (24 of 64). Bridge jumpers are enjoying a near-perfect meet with 49 out of 50 odds-on favorites finishing in the money (98 percent) . . . Jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. has withdrawn his appeal of a suspension issued last Nov. 12 and will serve seven days, May 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and June 1 and 2 . . . In addition to having Sunday’s sixth race named in his honor, longtime exercise rider and Jockeys’ Room valet Bobby Markus, who passed away earlier this week at age 77, will be feted prior to tomorrow’s races at 11 a.m., with a memorial gathering in front of the John Henry statue in the Paddock Gardens.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Friday, May 19)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||44||7||6||8||16%||48%||$388,348|
|Doug F. O’Neill||41||7||10||7||17%||59%||$318,983|