Santa Anita Stable Notes Friday, April 7, 2023
STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN
FRIDAY, APRIL 7, 2023
Photo: Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire
- TRAINER FUJITA SAYS MANDARIN HERO ‘READY’ FOR GI SA DERBY - EMERGING PRINCESS BETTINA GETS DIRT TEST IN GI SA OAKS - ROUND 2: KANGAROO COURT, BUS BUZZ MEET AGAIN IN ECHO EDDIE - D’AMATO HOLDS A STRONG HAND IN GII CHARLES WHITTINGHAM - MANDATORY RAINBOW 6 PAYOUT THIS SATURDAY - ‘PETROS & MONEY’ RADIO REMOTE SET FOR FRIDAY
TRAINER FUJITA SAYS MANDARIN HERO ‘READY’ FOR GI SANTA ANITA DERBY
Whatever the outcome of Saturday’s GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby, trainer Terunobu Fujita will have already made history on two fronts when his colt Mandarin Hero breaks from the gate at approximately 2:43 p.m. PT.
Mandarin Hero will be the first horse from Japan to compete in the GI Santa Anita Derby, which was inaugurated in 1935. He will also be the first horse from Japan’s National Association of Racing (NAR) to ever compete in the U.S.
Fujita made the trip from his training base outside of Tokyo to Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday. He was at Santa Anita Friday morning to oversee his charge’s training, which included a once-around gallop on the main track.
“He’s ready,” Fujita said.
For handicappers, Mandarin Hero is the wild card in a competitive nine-horse field set for the Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles. The Japanese-bred son of Shanghai Bobby, who has raced exclusively at Oi Racecourse near Tokyo, won all four starts last year as a 2-year-old. In his one outing this season on Feb. 25, he was a fast-closing second to be beaten just a neck in the 1 1/8-mile stakes.
The results have certainly been encouraging. But the caveat to his form is Japan’s NAR circuit is considered in quality to be a cut below the more well-known Japan Racing Association.
Mandarin Hero arrived at Santa Anita last Friday. On Monday, he raised eyebrows among U.S.-based observers when he worked a half mile in a slow 53.60 seconds under jockey Kazushi Kimura.
Fujita, 46, said the slow-tempo work was by design.
“He did all his major work in Japan. We didn’t want to do too much,” Fujita said. “Just get him some good exercise.”
Mandarin Hero has broken slow in all his races and come running late. On Thursday, after a one-mile gallop, Mandarin Hero went to the starting gate for schooling under Kimura. He stood in the starting stall with an assistant starter, which they do not have in Japan, then popped the gate and streaked a quarter mile.
Fujita said Mandarin Hero seemed to display a new dimension in the move, which caught him somewhat by surprise. Fujita was very encouraged by the quickness Mandarin Hero showed out of the gate.
“He’s usually not that fast out of there. He was quick. Everyone did a really good job,” Fujita said.
Mandarin Hero, who is owned by Hiroaki Arai, will break from post eight in the Santa Anita Derby. He is 8-1 on Jon White’s morning line.
The Santa Anita Derby, which is one of six stakes on Saturday’s card, will be broadcast live by NBC and its Peacock streaming service starting at 1 p.m. Also on the broadcast is the GI Blue Grass from Keeneland.
The field in post position order: I Don’t Get It, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1; Dazzlemesilver, Kent Desormeaux (50-1); Geaux Rocket Ride, Flavien Prat (3-1); One in Vermillion, Hector Berrios (50-1); Practical Move, Ramon Vazquez (8-5); National Treasure, John Velazquez (3-1); Skinner, Victor Espinoza (4-1); Mandarin Hero, Kazushi Kimura (8-1); Low Expectations, Umberto Rispoli (30-1).
EMERGING PRINCESS BETTINA GETS DIRT TEST IN GII SANTA ANITA OAKS
Princess Bettina is bred for dirt. Yet she’s done her best running on turf. On Saturday, trainer Peter Eurton will give Princess Bettina another try on the main track in the GII Santa Anita Oaks.
By Will Take Charge out of the First Dude Mare Aiden’s Girl, Princess Bettina made her first two starts last year sprinting on dirt at Del Mar and was not competitive. She was subsequently switched to turf, where in her four tries going two turns she has two wins, including the March 18 China Doll here, and has never been worse than third.
“She is bred to like the dirt,” Eurton said Friday morning. “Yes, she has moved up well on the grass, but it was also going two turns. We’re thinking it’s the added distance that could be the key.”
As evidence of that theory, Eurton noted her only sub-par effort on turf came when sprinting on the hillside turf course here Jan. 8.
The Santa Anita Oaks is contested around two turns at 1 1/16 miles.
“She’s always worked well on dirt. That’s why we ran her on it twice,” Eurton said. “I’m surprised she didn’t run better. But sprints are so fast. Even when we sprinted her down the hill she didn’t run that well. That gives us more hope it’s the two turns.”
Princess Bettina will break from post seven in a nine-horse field. Jockey Frankie Dettori will be in the irons. Dettori rode Princess Bettina for the first time in the China Doll. He put his filly on the lead when the expected speed failed to materialize, nursed moderate fractions and they kicked clear late to win easily by 4 ¼ lengths.
Princess Bettina showed a new dimension that day. She had never had the early lead in any of her previous races. Eurton said her tactics on Saturday will be in Dettori’s hands.
“That’s up to Frankie,” he added. “When he took the lead the other day on her, that wasn’t the plan. But they gave it too him and he took it. We have a good draw on Saturday. We’ll see how it plays out, but we’re pretty excited about the whole thing.”
Princess Bettina is owned and campaigned by Donald R. Dizney. The Santa Anita Oaks goes as the 11th race on Saturday’s 12-race card. Post time is scheduled for 5:24 p.m. The field in post position order: Venganza, Mike Smith (12-1); Gila, Armando Aguilar (30-1); Clearly Unhinged, Juan Hernandez (4-1); Cliquish, Umberto Rispoli (20-1); Faiza, Flavien Prat (9-5); Window Shopping, Hector Berrios (4-1); Princess Bettina, Frankie Dettori (5-1); And Tell Me Nolies, Ramon Vazquez (4-1); Don’t Get Pickled, Geovanni Franco (30-1).
ROUND 2: KANGAROO COURT, BUS BUZZ MEET AGAIN IN SATURDAY’S ECHO EDDIE
California-breds Kangaroo Court and Bus Buzz own two of the highest Beyer Speed Figures recorded by a 3-year-old this year.
After putting on a show here March 4 when they clashed in a first-level allowance sprint for statebreds, they meet again on Saturday in the Echo Eddie Stakes for statebreds going 6 ½ furlongs.
Meeting at six furlongs in their first matchup, Kangaroo Court and Bus Buzz dueled from the start. Bus Buzz, ridden by Edwin Maldonado, led by a half-length after completing a sharp opening quarter mile in 21.60 seconds. He then had a head in front after a half mile completed in 44.0 seconds. Little continued to separate the pair when they reached the stretch.
With Kangaroo Court racing on the outside under Flavien Prat in the lane, he finally poked a head in front of his rival at the eighth pole and then edged clear to win by 1 ¾ lengths. The winning time was a swift 1:08.60, which earned Kangaroo Court a 95 Beyer.
By Dads Caps, Kangaroo Court is a gelding trained by Tim Yakteen and owned by George A. Sharp. He has since returned with three works and Yakteen couldn’t be happier.
“He’s doing great, feeling great,” Yakteen said Thursday. “We’re looking for another big effort from him.”
Bus Buzz is trained by Steve Knapp. A Stay Thirsty colt bred by co-owner Terry Lovinger, Bus Buzz was a smashing eight-length debut winner here going six furlongs on Feb. 4 prior to meeting Kangaroo Court. He has returned to work twice, including a five-furlong move in 1:00.60 March 26.
“He came out of that race really well, has worked really well and is doing fantastic going into this race,” Knapp said. “That was a really good matchup first time. They went fast and he outfinished us. I wish we were on the outside, but we weren’t. Tomorrow is a new day.”
For round two, Kangaroo Court and Bus Buzz will break side-by-side from posts two and three, respectively. Both trainers indicated you can again expect the sparks to fly early.
“Our horse is a natural speed horse,” Knapp said. “He’s going to go.”
The Echo Eddie goes as Saturday’s seventh race, one race after the GI Santa Anita Derby. Scheduled post time is 3:20. The field in post position order: Barely Functional, Mario Gutierrez (20-1); Kangaroo Court, Flavien Prat (6-5); Bus Buzz, Edwin Maldonado (5-2); Clovisconnection, Kevin Radke (6-1); Left Hand Man, Kazushi Kimura (4-1); Austonian, SCRATCHED; Clouseau, Geovanni Franco (6-1); Good N Thirsty, Armando Aguilar (30-1).
D'AMATO HOLDS A STRONG HAND IN SATURDAY’S GII CHARLES WHITTINGHAM Santa Anita leading trainer Phil D’Amato has three of the seven horses entered in Saturday’s Grade II Charles Whittingham at 1 ¼ miles on turf. The trio is comprised by the top two choices on the morning line, Gold Phoenix (2-1) and Masteroffoxhounds (5-2); plus Midnight Jostar, the 4-1 co-third choice.
Both Gold Phoenix and Masteroffoxhounds exit the GI Frank E. Kilroe Mile here March 4. Gold Phoenix, who was making his first start since running 10th in the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland, rallied from off the pace to get up by a neck at a juicy 10-1. Masteroffoxhounds displayed his usual speed up near the pace but faltered late to finish sixth beaten 4 ¼ lengths.
D’Amato said he was somewhat surprised Gold Phoenix was able to get to the wire in time in the Kilroe under Kazushi Kimura, who rides again on Saturday. It was largely designed to serve as a prep for the longer Whittingham.
“Yes, I guess I was a little surprised. But he had been training well and the race set up for him,” D’Amato noted with regards to the lively pace in the Kilroe. “But I think a mile-and-a-quarter is best for him.”
D’Amato also likes the added ground of the Whittingham for Masteroffoxhounds, who does his best work on or near the lead.
“He’s a horse that’s best at these extended distances,” D’Amato said. “At a mile, he’s a cut below the best. But this is where he fits among the top horses here.”
Masteroffoxhounds was ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the Kilroe but will have Umberto Rispoli in the irons Saturday. Rispoli previously rode Masteroffoxhounds to a second -place finish by a neck in the 1 ¼-mile GIII San Marcos here Feb. 5.
The Charles Whittingham goes as the fifth race on Saturday’s 12-race card. Post time is scheduled for 2:02 p.m. The field in post position order: Opry, Frankie Dettori (4-1); Dicey Mo Chara, Juan Hernandez (5-1); Midnight Jostar, Kent Desormeaux (4-1); Offlee Naughty, John Velazquez (12-1); Oncoming, Hector Berrios (20-1); Masteroffoxhounds, Umberto Rispoli (5-2); Gold Phoenix, Kazushi Kimura (2-1).
MANDATORY RAINBOW 6 PAYOUT ON SATURDAY There will be a mandatory payout in Saturday’s Santa Anita’s 20 cent Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot, with the likelihood of a $3 million-plus pool on Runhappy Santa Anita Derby Day. The sequence starts with the seventh race, the Echo Eddie Stakes, at approximately 3:20 p.m. PT.
Saturday’s Rainbow Six begins with race seven and has an average field size of 10 starters per race before scratches. Entering Friday’s card there is a $362,840.63 carryover in the jackpot pool.
First post for Saturday’s 12-race card is at 12 noon. Admission gates at 10 a.m.
FINISH LINES: The top rated “Petros & Money Show” will do a live remote broadcast from Santa Anita on Friday… Santa Anita Simulcast host Michelle Yu has been confirmed as one of several guests…Also on Friday, on-track patrons will receive free admission and parking, $3 beers and $5 margaritas…Private clocker and bloodstock agent Gary Young will be Tom Quigley’s handicapping guest Saturday on the Santa Anita simulcast feed starting at 10:50 a.m…The Santa Anita Classic Meet ends on Sunday. Racing will resume with the Hollywood Meet beginning on April 21…Early arriving fans on Saturday are advised Baldwin Ave. will be closed between the 210 Freeway and Huntington Drive from approximately 7:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. to accommodate the Santa Anita Derby Day 5K…On Sunday, the Santa Anita Infield will play host the largest Easter Egg hunt in the San Gabriel Valley as part of the holiday celebration.