- UNUSUAL HEAT TURF CLASSIC IS IDEAL FOR HE WILL
- HOT O’NEILL EYES A SPRINT UPSET WITH B SQUARED
- BARBARA BEATRICE SEEKS SUNSHINE MILLIONS GOLD
- FLEET SIR VALENTINE MAKES DEBUT FOR BALTAS
- SKYE DIAMONDS CALIFORNIA OLDER FEMALE CHAMP
RICH TURF CLASSIC CONDITIONS SUIT HE WILL
He Will descends from two straight graded stakes to meet Cal-breds in Saturday’s $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic presented by City National Bank, and Team Hollendorfer expects a solid performance from the six-year-old Cyclotron horse.
“This is an easier spot than the graded stakes, for sure,” said Dan Ward, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. “I don’t think you can be last turning for home and pass the whole field like he does at Del Mar. It’s a different turf; it’s a different course.
“He’ll probably be placed a little closer early on Saturday.”
He Will drew the one hole in the race for four-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles, but Ward doesn’t expect that to pose a problem,
“He’s won twice from the one post,” Ward pointed out, “and the rider (Rafael Bejarano) has won twice on him, so we’re in good shape. We just need a little bit of luck.”
The field: He Will, Rafael Bejarano, 2-1; Accountability, Drayden Van Dyke, 20-1; Summersimage, Alonso Quinonez, 15-1; Camino Del Paraiso, Flavien Prat, 5-1; Brandothebartender, Brice Blanc, 15-1; Rye, Kent Desormeaux, 3-1; The Big Train, Corey Nakatani, 15-1; Smokey Image, Tyler Baze, 3-1; and Tule Fog, Santiago Gonzalez, 12-1.
Supporting the Unusual Heat Turf Classic will be the $150,000 guaranteed Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint for fillies and mares, four and up at about 6 ½ furlongs on the hillside course; the $150,000 guaranteed Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint for four-year-olds and up at six furlongs; and the $100,000 guaranteed California Cup Turf Sprint Stakes for three-year-olds at about 6 ½ furlongs.
The card also includes these races restricted to Cal-breds: a $70,000 first-condition allowance for four-year-olds and up at about 6 ½ furlongs on the hillside turf course; a $65,000 maiden special weight race for three-year-olds at a mile on turf; a $65,000 maiden special weight race for three-year-old fillies at 5 ½ furlongs; a $35,000 purse maiden claimer ($50,000 claiming price) for three-year-olds at 6 ½ furlongs; and a $30,000 purse claimer ($16,000 claiming price) for four-year-olds and up.
The California Thoroughbred Breeders Association (CTBA) will award $200 cash to the groom who prepares the best turned out horse in each of the four stakes races.
First post time Saturday is 11:45 a.m. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.
O’NEILL HOPES TO STAY HOT IN SPRINT WITH B SQUARED
Doug O’Neill, tied for second with a bullet in Santa Anita’s trainers’ standings, sends out $3,000 supplemental nominee B Squared in Saturday’s $150,000 Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint. The four-year-old Square Eddie colt owned and bred by Reddam Racing LLC will be an outsider, but the owner and trainer have been known to light up the tote board in the past.
I’ll Have Another ($88.60 winner of the 2012 Robert B. Lewis) comes readily to mind.
“We’re excited,” said O’Neill, who won Thursday’s eighth race with 6-1 shot Midnight Swinger to give him seven wins at the Winter Meet, two behind leader Peter Miller. “The Reddams write out big checks and we’re very grateful for that. We think we have a good chance in there. Longshots win every day.
“He’s run well before at one turn (second by a nose in the $200,000 Echo Eddie at 6 ½ furlongs last April), so we’re optimistic. There’s a lot of speed in the race and we’re a closer.”
Ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint when bumped early, B Squared sandwiched that race with two grass starts, winning the California Flag Handicap at 7-1 last Oct. 21 and finishing fifth in the Grade II Mathis Brothers Mile last out, Dec. 26.
The Sprint field, race four of 10: Edwards Going Left, Tyler Baze, 5-2; B Squared, Mario Gutierrez, 8-1; Masochistic, Drayden Van Dyke, 4-5; Solid Wager, Victor Espinoza, 10-1; Tough Sunday, Joe Talamo, 7-2; and Country Road, Kyle Frey, 30-1.
BARBARA BEATRICE RETURNS TO HILL SATURDAY
Barbara Beatrice returns to a venue over which she has won in Saturday’s $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint for fillies and mares at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf.
The six-year-old gray daughter of Grazen owned in part and trained by Phil D’Amato was second in the restricted Betty Grable at seven furlongs on Del Mar’s main track last Nov. 12. Prior to that race, she won the California Cup Distaff Handicap down the hill at Santa Anita last Oct. 14.
“We pointed to this race after the Betty Grable,” D’Amato said. “She loves the hill and gets Cal-bred company and the spot looks right.”
The field: Barbara Beatrice, Tiago Pereira, 3-1; Cuddle Alert, Tyler Baze, 8-1; Miss Sunset, Flavien Prat, 9-5; Starlite Style, Rafael Bejarano, 20-1; How Unusual, Corey Nakatani, 4-1; How About Zero, Mario Gutierrez, 4-1; Run for Retts, Evin Roman, 15-1; and Late ‘n Left, Stewart Elliott, 12-1.
SUNRISE JOURNEY ONE TO CATCH IN CAL CUP TURF SPRINT
Sunrise Journey makes his first start for Richard Baltas in Saturday’s $100,000 California Cup Turf Sprint Stakes for three-year-olds at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf, and the trainer is looking forward to seeing how he fares, since it will be the first start for the Heat Shield colt since last Sept. 1.
“I’ve had him for a while,” Baltas said. “He’s been ready to run, and he’s got a lot of speed. Having drawn on the outside (13 of 13), I think he’ll probably be up close, if not on the lead. I just don’t know if he can go 6 ½ or not.”
The field for the Turf Sprint, race six: Raven Creek, Tyler Baze, 6-1; Heck Yeah, Drayden Van Dyke, 7-2; Hardboot, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Vutzak, Stewart Elliott, 30-1; Night At the Opera, Joe Talamo, 20-1; Psycho Dar, Evin Roman, 15-1; Cono, Flavien Prat, 5-1; Campaigner, Tiago Pereira, 12-1; Continental Divide, Victor Espinoza, 10-1; Sunrise Journey, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Ministersdontparty, Mario Gutierrez, 30-1; Bookies Luck, Kent Desormeaux, 4-1; and Sir Valentine, 12-1.
CTBA CHAMP SKYE DIAMONDS IN SHARP BREEZE FOR LAS FLORES
Skye Diamonds, claimed for $40,000 on Aug. 27, 2016, and winner of two graded stakes plus a fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint since, has been named California Older Female Champion by a majority membership of the California Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (CTBA).
A daughter of First Dude trained by Bill Spawr for owners Jon Lindo, Tom Acker, Bloom Racing and Allen Racing, Skye Diamonds worked five furlongs at 7:15 Friday morning on the training track in 1:01.80 under regular rider Tiago Pereira for her 2018 debut in the Grade III Las Flores Stakes at six furlongs on Feb. 18.
“Do you want to sit down? She went the last quarter in 22 and four,” said an enthusiastic Spawr. “She went the last three-eighths in 34 and three from the three-eighths pole to the wire, but the last quarter was unbelievable, 22 and four.
“She’s back where she used to be. We’re very excited about her. Her body and her weight look marvelous right now. We’re looking forward to a good campaign with no bad luck. We just want to keep her sound and happy, and she’ll make us happy.”
FINISH LINES: Bolt d’Oro is scheduled to have his first work Saturday morning since finishing a troubled third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last Nov. 4. The $630,000 son of Medaglia d’Oro will breeze three furlongs at 7:45 under Corey Nakatani and gallop out five furlongs, said owner/trainer Mick Ruis, who has targeted the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe Stakes on March 10 as a starting point on the Triple Crown trail . . . Don’t forget, PARLAY WAGERING will return Thursday, Feb. 1 . . . There is a Pick Six carryover today of $31,714 and a Single Ticket Pick Six Jackpot carryover of $21,597. . . Through 17 racing days, newly minted Eclipse Award champion Evin Roman leads the jockey race with 17 wins, three in front of Rafael Bejarano. Peter Miller leads a band of eight among trainers with nine victories. Doug O’Neill, Jerry Hollendorfer, Bob Baffert and Richard Baltas are deadlocked with seven each, while Bill Morey and Vladimir Cerin have six each . . . Mike Ferrozzo, 2017 NHC Tour Champion, and Santa Anita morning line oddsmaker Jon White, will be Tom Quigley‘s guests this weekend in the East Paddock Gardens, 10:35 a.m. Saturday and 11:20 a.m. Sunday . . . What What What, a four-year-old filly by Archarcharch entered in Sunday’s eighth race by O’Neill, has raced at seven different tracks in four different states in her last nine races . . . He’s aptly named: Although he ranks 10th in the current standings with six wins from just 33 mounts, BIG MONEY Mike Smith is the meet’s leader where it counts, at the bank, as his mounts have earned $758,338.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Thursday, Jan. 25)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||60||10||5||5||17%||33%||$611,518|
|William E. Morey||11||6||0||2||55%||73%||$163,923|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||18||4||0||4||22%||44%||$134,745|