Santa Anita Stable Notes Sunday, October 8, 2023
STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN
SUNDAY, OCT. 8, 2023
• JOCKEY FRESU CONTINUES ASCENT WITH 1ST U.S. GRADED WIN • MUTH, CHATALAS DOING WELL AFTER SATURDAY STAKES WINS • TOP 2-YEAR-OLD PRINCE OF MONACO WORKS FOR BAFFERT • CALIFORNIA-BREDS IN SPOTLIGHT NEXT WEEKEND AT SANTA ANITA • TRAINER JOSE VALDEZ WINS FOR FIRST TIME AT SANTA ANITA • SANTA ANITA HOSTS SPECIAL HOLIDAY PROGRAM MONDAY
JOCKEY FRESU CONTINUES ASCENT WITH 1ST U.S. GRADED STAKES WIN
Jockey Antonio Fresu, a 31-year-old native of the Italian island Sardinia, has won big races all around the world. Most notably, in 2021 he guided U.S.-based Zenden to victory in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen, a Group I at six furlongs on dirt.
On Saturday at Santa Anita, a little more than five months after arriving in the U.S., Fresu won his first graded stakes in North America with a strong pacesetting ride aboard Chatalas in the GII Chandelier Stakes for trainer Mark Glatt. As a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win & You’re In” event, Fresu will now get his first crack at a Breeders’ Cup victory in the $2 million Juvenile Fillies Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.
“You could see how happy I was right before the wire,” said Fresu, who gave a series of fist pumps at the finish. “I couldn’t hold the celebration. To win a graded stakes and have a chance at the Breeders’ Cup, it’s incredible.”
Fresu added he has always watched the Breeders’ Cup, wherever on the globe he has been located.
“We watched it all the time. Things like the Breeders’ Cup, Dubai World Cup, Royal Ascot, Kentucky Derby-- everyone around the world watches because it is so big. For me to be here and find a filly like this, it’s a blessing. It’s what I was dreaming of.”
Fresu arrived in the U.S. in April from Dubai, where he normally rides during the winter months. His first domestic win came with his fourth mount on April 29 aboard Trusty Rusty for trainer Doug O’Neill, who played a key role in getting Fresu to the U.S. In recent winters in Dubai, Fresu has been a frequent rider for O’Neill.
Fresu finished the Santa Anita Hollywood Meet, which ended June 18, with 13 wins from 86 mounts (15 percent). It was a solid start to Fresu’s U.S. stay, but things would get even better this summer at Del Mar. With agent Tom Knust booking mounts, Fresu finished second in the jockey’s standings eight behind Juan Hernandez with 31 wins from 173 mounts, an 18 percent strike rate.
Through the first five days of the Santa Anita Hollywood Meet, Fresu is again second in the jockey’s race with seven wins, two fewer than Hernandez.
“Tom Knust, my agent, has done a great job since I’ve come over here. He’s done his best to get me good mounts.Then it’s up to me to perform,” he said.
Fresu’s quick ascent in the Southern California jockey colony has led to a career choice. He will not return to Dubai this winter. Fresu is staying here.
“No, no, no, I’m staying here,” Fresu said. “I decided after Del Mar I will continue my career riding in the U.S.”
Fresu was married about a year ago. His wife Veronika, from Norway, has continued to work and reside in her home country. They’ve managed to see each other a few times this year with Veronika planning to return here at the end of October. But he’s not to stay, yet. That will have to come later.
“It’s been tough being new here and being alone,” Fresu said. “But I try to just focus on what I’m doing at the track.”
On Sunday, Fresu has rides in nine of 10 races at Santa Anita including the GIII Zuma Beach Stakes aboard Ngannou for trainer Michael McCarthy and Angiolleta for O’Neill in the GIII Surfer Girl Stakes.
“Things couldn’t have started any better at Santa Anita.”, said Fresu.
MUTH, CHATALAS DOING WELL AFTER SATURDAY GRADED STAKES WINS
Trainer Bob Baffert reported Muth and Wine Me Up, the one-two finishers in Saturday’s GI American Pharoah for 2-year-olds, were both doing well Sunday morning. The same was said by Mark Glatt of Chatalas, winner of Saturday’s GII Chandelier at 1 1/16 miles for 2-year-old fillies.
“She’s in good shape,” Glatt said. “Things worked out for her yesterday. We always thought she’d be better at two turns, but I don’t believe it until I see it. She proved what we thought.”
For Chatalas, a daughter of Gun Runner owned by Rancho Temescal Thoroughbred Partners and breeder Dan J. Agnew, it is now on to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.
Both Muth and Wine Me Up will both be pointed to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 1/16 miles, also on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.
“I don’t like to look too far ahead until I see them work back, but that’s the plan for now,” Baffert said.
In the American Pharoah, Wine Me Up – making just his second start and first around two turns— set the pace under Ramon Vazquez with Muth and jockey Juan Hernandez settling in a stalking position.
Wine Me Up took the lead into the stretch, but rolling to his outside came Muth, who seized the lead near the eighth pole and drew off to a 3 ¾-length victory as the 2-5 favorite.
Muth is a son of Good Magic campaigned by Zedan Racing. He was purchased for $2 million at this year’s OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training. Prior to the American Pharoah, Muth won his bow going five furlongs against maidens at Santa Anita June 18 then was second to stablemate Prince of Monaco in the GIII Best Pal going six furlongs at Del Mar Aug. 13.
Prince of Monaco would return to win the GI Del Mar Futurity a month later. The son of Speighstown, a $950,000 auction purchase as a yearling, is being trained up to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by Baffert. On Sunday, Prince of Monaco worked five furlongs in 59.60 seconds for an extensive ownership group that includes SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables and Stonestreet Stables.
CALIFORNIA-BREDS IN SPOTLIGHT NEXT WEEKEND AT SANTA ANITA
After a furious opening two weeks of the Santa Anita Autumn Meet, which included 16 stakes races, California-breds will get their turn in the spotlight next weekend at The Great Race Place.
The first two statebred stakes of the meet are on top with the California Distaff for fillies and mares on the downhill turf course on Saturday and the California Flag for 3-year-olds and up, also on the hillside turf course, on Sunday.
The California Flag is expected to include the popular Cal-bred Brickyard Ride. Trained by Craig Lewis, Brickyard Ride has won 13 times in 28 starts and has banked $865,477 for owner Alfred Pais. Brickyard Ride is a 6-year-old full horse by Clubhouse Ride.
With Santa Anita hosting a special holiday card on Monday, there will be no live racing this Friday. Saturday’s card featuring the California Distaff will be drawn on Wednesday.
FINISH LINES: Trainer Jose R. Valdez, a former assistant to Hector Palma, had his first Santa Anita winner on Saturday with first-time starter Magic Spoon in the fifth race for statebred maidens. Valdez also co-owns the Good Magic colt with BG Stables. Valdez, who saddled his first starter on Sept. 2 at Del Mar, has two wins in six starts… Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Challenge $1 Pick 6 from Keeneland and Santa Anita handled $226,669 and returned $342.08 for a winning ticket… On-track fans for Monday’s special holiday card will receive $1 beers and sodas and $2 hot dogs at select locations…Trainer Sean McCarthy will be host Tom Quigley’s handicapping guest Monday on the Santa Anita simulcast feed starting at 11:50 a.m. Pacific