- ELLIOTT REMEMBERS 2004 BELMONT STAKES
- TOP MLB PROSPECT TIED TO SEATTLE SLEW
- BIG MACHER IN GOOD SPOT FOR HIS RETURN
- D’AMATO EYES GOLD AT END OF THE RAINBOW
BIG BELMONT PRESENTS BIG ADJUSTMENTS
With no Triple Crown on the line this year, interest in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes understandably has been greater in the past, but the race remains unique in that it’s likely the only time in their careers three-year-olds will be running a mile and a half on the main track.
Further in its specificity is Belmont Park’s main track circumference of a mile and a half, meaning horses will traverse the oval one time around from start to the finish line, at times presenting unprecedented challenges for both steed and rider.
“Most jockeys know it’s a much bigger track,” said Stewart Elliott, who had his Triple Crown hopes dashed aboard 3-10 favorite Smarty Jones when the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner finished a length.behind victorious 36-1 shot Birdstone in 2004.
Smarty Jones was the first undefeated winner of the Kentucky Derby since Seattle Slew in 1977. The Belmont was his only loss in nine career races.
“Horses a lot of times are creatures of habit, and when they get to a certain place on a track, like the turn, they sometimes think it’s time to start going, whereas at Belmont, it’s not,” Elliott said.
“The only difference in the Belmont is that it’s a mile and a half track, and riding in the race, it always seems like you’re getting closer to the wire, but you’re further than you think.
“With Smarty Jones, he was too sharp (in the Belmont). He never settled in the race. He had horses coming at him, but I knew on the first turn the way he was running it was never going to work going a mile and a half.”
The field for the 149th Belmont, with an approximate post time of 3:37 p.m. Pacific: Twisted Tom, Javier Castellano, 20-1; Tapwrit, Jose Ortiz, 6-1; Gormley, Victor Espinoza, 8-1; J Boys Echo, Robby Albarado, 15-1; Hollywood Handsome, Florent Geroux, 30-1; Lookin At Lee, Irad Ortiz Jr., 5-1; Irish War Cry, Rajiv Maragh, 7-2; Senior Investment, Channing Hill, 12-1; Meantime, Mike Smith, 15-1; Multiplier, Joel Rosario, 15-1; Epicharis, Christophe Lemaire, 4-1; and Patch, John Velazquez, 12-1.
Tomorrow, fans can watch and wager on the Belmont Stakes, the final jewel in the Triple Crown, in Santa Anita’s posh Chandelier Room, featuring a catered menu from one of LA’s hottest chefs, complimentary Tequila tasting, live music from the Ryan Cross Trio with a special guest artist, a racing program, tip sheet, and classic Thoroughbred racing for $85. For more information, visit santaanita.com/events
TOP MLB PROSPECT DAVID PETERSON TIED TO GREAT SEATTLE SLEW
With tomorrow marking the 40th anniversary of the great Seattle Slew’s Triple Crown triumph, “Slew” may soon be working his way into the biography of one of America’s top collegiate baseball prospects, David Peterson.
A 21-year-old junior at the University of Oregon, Peterson, who stands 6′ 6″ and weighs 235 pounds, is a fire-balling left hander who’s been labeled the nation’s most prolific strikeout pitcher. His connection to Seattle Slew? His late father, Doug Peterson, trained Slew during his Eclipse Champion four-year-old campaign, sending him out to win five of his seven starts, including the Grade I Marlboro Cup and Grade I Woodward Stakes.
David Peterson, who was living with his father and was nine years old at the time of Doug’s death in November, 2004, subsequently moved to Denver, where he was raised by his grandmother.
With a fastball that’s been clocked at 93 miles an hour, David holds the University of Oregon single game strikeout record, as he fanned 20 batters in recording a four-hit, 2-0 shutout versus Arizona State this past May 1.
Projected as a top 20 pick in the upcoming MLB draft, three clubs, the Florida Marlins, Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees, have reportedly expressed keen interest in Peterson, who will likely soon be asked about his very real connection to one of Horse Racing’s all-time greats.
BIG MACHER RETURNS AFTER 18 MONTHS
Big Macher, the horse that put Richard Baltas “on the map,” returns Sunday and the trainer is excited to have him back.
The seven-year-old California-bred gelding, claimed out of his first race for $20,000 on July 17, 2013, makes his first start in more than a year and half when he runs in the $100,000 Thor’s Echo Handicap for California-bred or sired horses three and up at six furlongs.
“He’s very sound right now, so we’ll see,” Baltas said Friday morning, five days after
the bay son of Beau Genius worked five furlongs from the gate in a minute flat under Rafael Bejarano, who rides him in the Thor’s Echo.
“He had some inflammation in a suspensory,” Baltas said in explaining the reason for the extended time off. “I thought he was only going to have four months on the farm, but he had eight, so that accounted for a good portion of his absence.
“I don’t know if I have him fully cranked, but this is a good spot to bring him back,” said Baltas, tied for second in the trainers’ standings with 18 wins. “His works have been good, not spectacular, but he’s very sound, which I love, and he’s matured, and as horses mature, they get smarter. He’s not jumping around so much as he did before.
“He’s not acting like a little high school kid anymore. Hopefully, he breaks good from the gate. I’ve been schooling him and we got a good draw.”
The Thor’s Echo, race three of 10: Gold Rush Dancer, Flavien Prat, 4-1; He Will, Evin Roman, 5-2; K Thirty Eight, Tiago Pereira, 8-1; Big Macher, Rafael Bejarano, 8-5; and Got Even, Martin Pedroza, 5-2.
TRAINER SEES GOLD AT END OF THE RAINBOW
Fashion Business seeks his first U.S. victory in Saturday’s $75,000 Rainbow Stakes for three-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on turf. The gelded son of Frankel was eighth after a slow start in the Singletary Stakes at a mile on grass May 6, then rallied three wide to finish third in an overnight turf race at 1 1/8 miles on May 18.
“I like this distance; I think the further the better with him,” said Phil D’Amato, who trains the gelding for Little Red Feather Racing. “We were very unlucky in his first race. His second race, he got checked also, so hopefully we’re looking for a clean trip Saturday and I think he’s good enough to be right there.”
The Rainbow, race eight of 11 with a 12 noon first post time: Monster Man, Santiago Gonzalez, 6-1; Conquest Fahrenheit, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 8-5; Kings River King, Israel Ocampo, 30-1; Most Determined, Edwin Maldonado, 20-1; Fashion Business, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; Comma Sister, Tiago Pereira, 30-1; Perfect Come Back, Evin Roman, 20-1; Grecian Fire, Joe Talamo, 15-1; Sharp Samurai, Gary Stevens, 6-1; Bird Is the Word, Kent Desormeaux, 3-1; and longshot hunch play Rainbow Squall, Martin Pedroza, 30-1.
FINISH LINES: John Sadler reports champion Stellar Wind came out of last Saturday’s exciting neck victory over Vale Dori in the Grade I Beholder Mile “better than ever” and is being pointed to the Grade I Clement Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar July 30. “The Beholder was a good race,” the trainer said. “The fans like that.” Finest City, third by five lengths in the Beholder, came out of the race in good order but trainer Ian Kruljac said he has “no plans yet” for her next race . . . With 21 wins, Evin Roman is six behind leader Flavien Prat in Santa Anita’s standings, but if the 19-year-old apprentice keeps riding and winning in bunches, he has a chance to move forward. Agent Tony Matos has him named to ride in 24 races over the next three days, seven today, 10 of 11 Saturday, and seven more on Sunday . . . Bob Baffert had Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Drefong work five furlongs Friday in 1:01.20 for the Grade I Bing Crosby at Del Mar July 29 . . . The Winners Foundation will host a retirement party for former Executive Director Bob Fletcher this Tuesday, June 13, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Santa Anita. The facility is located off Gate 7 on Baldwin Ave. Fletcher served faithfully for 14 years with the non-profit organization, whose primary purpose is to assist men and women adversely affected by substance abuse, compulsive gambling or mental health issues. Any employee or family member of the California Thoroughbred community is eligible to seek assistance and help free of charge . . . Tomorrow, fans are invited to experience the 10th annual “Santa Anita Uncorked” at The Great Race Place. In addition to wine tasting, a souvenir wine glass, cuisine sampling, an art show featuring a silent auction and a day at the races, the Santa Anita Uncorked package includes parking, admission, racing program and a Club House seat all for just $60. Tickets are available from wineofthemonthclub.com or santaanita.com, and the Santa Anita ticket office.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, June 4)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||51||9||8||9||18%||51%||$555,304|