Santa Anita Stable Notes Sunday, January 28, 2024
STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN __SUNDAY, JANUARY 28, 2024 __
- NEWGRANGE DOING WELL, EYES DUBAI AFTER GII SAN PASQUAL WIN - NYSOS AMONG GIII ROBERT LEWIS NOMINEES WORKING SUNDAY - GI WINNER SLOW DOWN ANDY ON THE COMEBACK TRAIL FOR O’NEILL - TRAINERS BALTAS, GARCIA GET OFF THE MARK AT CLASSIC MEET
NEWGRANGE DOING WELL, EYES DUBAI AFTER GII SAN PASQUAL WIN Newgrange was doing well the morning after successfully defending his title in Saturday’s GII San Pasqual Stakes and becoming racing’s newest millionaire.
“He came out of the race in great shape,” said winning trainer Phil D’Amato, who collected his fifth stakes win at the Classic Meet to lead all trainers.
Ridden for the first time Saturday by Hall of Famer Victor Espinoza, Newgrange broke on top and was never headed to score by a length as the 2-1 second choice. Newgate, the 8-5 favorite for Bob Baffert, stalked Newgrange throughout the 1 1/8-mile dirt test but could not get to the winner. He checked in second, three-quarters of a length ahead of 11-1 longshot Mixto for trainer Doug O’Neill.
D’Amato offered praise to both his horse and rider for the performance. Espinoza rationed Newgrange through fractions of 23.27, 47.55 and 1:12.10 before crossing the wire in 1:49.26. The effort earned a 97 Beyer Speed Figure, according to Daily Racing Form’s Brad Free.
“They controlled the pace and didn’t look back,” D’Amato said. “You have to give Victor credit for getting good position, setting the right pace and having enough left.”
For 51-year-old Espinoza, who swept the 2015 Triple Crown with American Pharoah, the win was the 3,509th of his career. It was just his second graded stakes win since 2022. Last year, Espinoza’s lone graded-stakes tally came in the GII John Henry Turf Championship at Santa Anita with Balladeer for trainer George Papaprodromou.
As for Newgrange, a trip to the Middle East could be in the near future. D’Amato said it’s possible they take a shot in the GI, $12 million Dubai World Cup at 1 ¼ miles on March 30 at Meydan Racecourse.
“Judging by what the owners were saying yesterday, I think that’s what they are leaning towards,” D’Amato said. “But it’s still a long way between now and the end of March.”
Newgrange is a 5-year-old Violence full horse owned by David Bernsen, Little Red Feather Racing and Rockingham Ranch. With the fifth graded stakes win of his career, he upped his record to 7-0-4 in 13 starts with $1,007,634 in earnings.
NYSOS AMONG GIII ROBERT B. LEWIS NOMINEES WORKING SUNDAY Unbeaten Nysos and two other 3-year-olds nominated to this Saturday’s GIII Robert B. Lewis Stakes worked Sunday at Santa Anita. The one-mile Lewis is part of a series of dirt stakes for 3-year-olds leading to the GI Santa Anita Derby April 6.
Nysos, whose two wins have come by a combined 19 ¼ lengths, drilled five furlongs in 59.60 seconds for trainer Bob Baffert. It was the seventh-fastest of 64 moves at the distance.
By Nyquist, Nysos won his debut by 10 ½ lengths when going six furlongs at Del Mar Oct. 21. He returned in the GIII Bob Hope going seven furlongs at Del Mar and won by 8 ¾ lengths on Nov. 19. The Lewis would his first time going two turns.
Owned by Baoma Corp., Nysos was a $550,000 auction purchase as a 2-year-old. He has worked seven times since Dec. 10 for his potential sophomore bow.
Other Lewis nominees to work Sunday were Stronghold and American Hope, both for trainer Phil D’Amato. It is unlikely either runs in the Lewis, D’Amato said Sunday morning.
Stronghold was a well-beaten second to Nysos in the Bob Hope and most recently was beaten a half-length in the GII Los Alamitos Futurity Dec. 16 by Wynstock, another Lewis nominee for Baffert.
A homebred by Ghostzapper for Eric and Sharon Waller, Stronghold drilled five furlongs in a quick 59.20. It was the third-fastest work at the distance Sunday.
American Hope has run exclusively on turf through his first three starts. Most recently, the American Pharoah homebred for Gary and Mary West finished off the board in the one-mile Eddie Logan Stakes on turf here Dec. 29.
American Hope worked five furlongs in 59.60 seconds.
The Lewis is one of four graded stakes set for Saturday at Santa Anita. Entries will be accepted on Wednesday. The supporting stakes Saturday are the GII Santa Monica for fillies and mares at seven furlongs on dirt, GIII Thunder Road for older horses at a mile on turf and GIII Megahertz for older fillies and mares at a mile on turf.
GI WINNER SLOW DOWN ANDY ON THE COMEBACK TRAIL FOR O’NEILL Slow Down Andy, sidelined since winning the GI Awesome Again here Sept. 30, had his third work on the comeback trail Sunday for trainer Doug O’Neill. The 5-year-old Nyquist colt drilled four furlongs in 48.20 seconds.
Slow Down Andy returned to the work tab Jan. 14. He missed the final three months of 2023, including a planned start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic here Nov. 4, due to filling in an ankle that developed after the Awesome Again.
“He’s doing well,” O’Neill said. “He didn’t need any surgery. He was just jarred up after his win and needed some time. His recovery went as smooth as you could hope.”
A homebred for Reddam Racing, Slow Down Andy has a record of 5-4-3 in 14 starts with $1,276,600 in earnings. As a 2-year-old, he won the GII Los Alamitos Futurity. As a 3-year-old he won both the GIII Sunland Derby and GII Del Mar Derby on turf. Last year, he hit the board in both the GII San Diego Handicap and GI Pacific Classic prior to his Awesome Again victory.
O’Neill expects Slow Down Andy will return to the races later this winter or an early spring.
“No potential race for him at this point, but I would say he’s probably 60 days away,” he added.
FINISH LINES: Trainers Richard Baltas and Antonio Garcia each won their first races at the Classic Meet Sunday. Baltas owned the exacta in the nightcap with winning favorite Flavius ($5) and runner-up Hurricane Cloud. Garcia won the fifth race with Curlin’s Kaos ($6.40)…Jockey Luis Contreras got his first win of the Classic Meet with Bella Vienna ($9) in Saturday’s fourth race for trainer Brian Koriner…Jockey Alexis Espinoza arrived at Santa Anita two weeks ago from Peru, where he rode professionally for seven years. The 25-year-old is represented by agent Joe Griffin…Saturday’s $1 Pick Six returned $3,756.30 for 17 winning tickets…Sunday’s $1 Coast-to-Coast Pick 5 starts at 1:33 PT with the third race from Santa Anita… Early nominations to the 2024 Triple Crown close Monday…Live racing returns to Santa Anita Friday. First post is 12:30 p.m. PT…Every Friday during the Classic Meet on-track fans receive free parking and admission plus $3 beers and $5 margaritas.