MEDINA SPIRIT WORKS FOR KENTUCKY DERBY
ROYAL SHIP RETURNS TO DIRT IN CALIFORNIAN
SUPERSTITION VERY SHARP FOR MIZDIRECTION
WALLETS OPEN WIDE FOR TWO $100,000 CLAIMS
MEDINA SPIRIT ‘LOOKS GOOD’ IN DERBY BREEZE
Medina Spirit, a game second to undefeated Rock Your World in the Grade I Runhappy Santa Anita Derby on April 5, worked five furlongs this morning in a minute flat as Bob Baffert prepares the $35,000 bargain son of Protonico for the Kentucky Derby on May 1.
“He worked five eighths, galloped out strong and looked good,” said Baffert, who swept the Triple Crown with American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018 and seeks his seventh win in the Run for the Roses, which this year Baffert said “looks very wide open.”
Medina Spirit will leave for Kentucky “either Friday (April 23) or Sunday (April 25),” Baffert said. “I’m not sure yet.”
Meanwhile, a decision on Concert Tour’s participation in the Kentucky Derby remained on hold, even though the bay son of Street Sense is already in the Blue Grass State.
Concert Tour was a disappointing third as the 3-10 favorite in last Saturday’s Arkansas Derby, but whether he starts in the first leg of the Triple Crown remains undecided.
“Nothing yet,” said Baffert, who trains Concert Tour for owners/breeders Gary and Mary West. “I’ll be talking to Gary, but we wanted to give the horse a week and see what’s happening.
“He looks good but there’s no decision yet.”
ROYAL SHIP SEEKS SMOOTH SAILING IN CALIFORNIAN
Royal Ship has made nine of 11 career starts on turf, finishing an eventful fourth in the Grade III Native Diver Stakes last Nov. 21 at Del Mar, his lone race on dirt in the United States and only his second overall, having finished third in his debut race in his native Brazil on July 16, 2019.
But Richard Mandella feels the five-year-old Midshipman gelding deserves a chance in Saturday’s Grade II Californian Stakes for three-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on dirt.
“He’s always trained very well on dirt and I thought his race on dirt in the Native Diver was good other than he fell on his face leaving the gate,” Mandella said, muffling a laugh upon reflection.
“We’re going to try dirt again, mainly because we don’t have any other options (race-wise).”
Winner of five consecutive races in Brazil, each at odds-on before making his U.S. debut in the Grade II Del Mar Mile last Aug. 23, Royal Ship was a close fifth, beaten just a length, in the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf March 6 as a 25-1 outsider.
The Californian, race eight of nine with a 1 p.m. first post time: Growth Engine, Tyler Baze, 8-1; Magic On Tap, Umberto Rispoli, 5-2; Country Grammer, Abel Cedillo, 5-2; Royal Ship, Mike Smith, 4-1; and Independence Hall, Flavien Prat, 8-5.
MANDELLA HAS SUPERSTITION READY TO ROLL
Superstition, never worse than third in six straight turf sprints, the third a promotion from fourth via disqualification, seeks her second straight stakes win in Saturday’s $75,000 Mizdirection Stakes for fillies and mares four and up at six furlongs on grass.
A four-year-old daughter of 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, Superstition has a successful running style, usually in close attendance to the pace before wearing down rivals in the stretch. She has a 3-2-1 record in seven races,
“She’s hitting on all cylinders,” Richard Mandella said of Superstition, winner of the restricted Wishing Well by a length-and-a-half at nearly 5-1 odds on Feb. 15, and showing a bullet work March 22, a 46.20 clocking for four furlongs, fastest of 40 drills at the distance.
The Mizdirection is named for the gray daughter of Mizzen Mast that won 11 of 17 career races including the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita against males under Mike Smith in her final start on Nov. 2, 2013.
Trained by Mike Puype, she was out of the money only once, finishing fifth in the one-mile, Grade I Just A Game on a yielding turf course at Belmont Park June 8, 2013.
She was second four times and third once, earning $1,719,621 in her illustrious career.
The field for the Mizdirection, race five: Annangel, Abel Cedillo, 12-1; Superstition, Flavien Prat, 8-5; Constantia, Umberto Rispoli, 6-1; Biddy Duke, Alexis Centeno, 6-1; Leggs Galore, Ricardo Gonzalez, 9-5; and She’s So Special, Jose Valdivia Jr., 4-1.
OWNERS OPEN WALLETS FOR $100,000 CLAIMS
Two of California’s most successful owners each wrote checks for $100,000 this past Sunday as they claimed a pair of horses out of the third race. Sunday’s third was a maiden special for three year olds at six furlongs with an uncommonly high claiming price that ranged from $80,000 to $100,000.
David and Holly Wilson, longtime patrons of trainer Vladimir Cerin, took Barraza, the 7-10 favorite that won by 5 ½ lengths, while Kosta and Peter Hronis, principal owners with John Sadler, paid $100,000 for Doncic, a son of Cairo Prince who was the runner-up and 3-1 second choice.
The Hronis brothers have been leading owners at Santa Anita in money won four times, topping $1 million the last three years in a row, reaping $3,670,469 during that span.
Both bred in Kentucky, Barraza was making his third start for Bob Baffert while Doncic had his debut for trainer Andrew Lerner.
Since the start of the current meet that began last Dec. 26, there have been 143 claimed horses through April 11, ranging from the bargain basement price of $10,000 to $100,000.
But there was only one previous claim for $100,000 this meet. That occurred on Jan. 10 when Doug O’Neill haltered Magical Thought for $100,000 for himself and Jeanie Buss’s Purple Rein Racing. Peter Miller had trained the horse for Slam Dunk Racing.
FINISH LINES: Trivia question: who rode Ghostzapper in his first race? . . . Grade I Malibu winner Charlatan, prepping for the Grade I, $500,000 Churchill Downs at seven furlongs May 1, worked six furlongs at Santa Anita Monday in a bullet 1:12 flat for Bob Baffert. The same day, multiple graded turf stakes winner United, on target for the Grade II Charles Whittingham Stakes at 1 ¼ miles on the grass May 29, went four furlongs in 47.60 for Richard Mandella . . . There were 124 recorded workouts Friday, including two by Michael McCarthy stakes winners Rombauer (four furlongs in 48.20) and Smooth Like Strait (five furlongs in 1:00.40) . . . Nick Alexander, longtime successful owner/breeder in California who names many of his horses for former sports stars, dignitaries and celebrities, has four horses entered Saturday, Lovesick Blues and Pappy Boyington in the second race and Joe Don Looney and Gabby Hayes in the third, all trained by Steve Miyadi. Looney was a running back in the NFL playing with the New York Giants, Baltimore Colts, Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins and New Orleans Saints after his college days at TCU. He died at age 45 in 1988. George Francis Hayes was the comedic sidekick in more than 40 films, appearing with Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd), Wild Bill Elliott and John Wayne. Hayes died on Feb. 9, 1969 at the age of 83 in Burbank . . . Wayne Barnett, who rides Jon White‘s 30-1 morning line outsider My Girl Pearl for trainer Steve Knapp in Saturday’s ninth race, has been based at Hazel Park, Mountaineer, Finger Lakes and Hawthorne in an extensive career that began as a teenager when apprenticing for Hall of Fame legend Angel Cordero Jr. A native of Inkster, Michigan, Barnett turns 56 on April 27. “He’s been working horses for me and other trainers, and he can ride,” Knapp said . . . Congratulations to David Peterson on his first victory of the year Wednesday, the 25-year-old, 6-6 lefthander pitching the Mets to a 5-1 decision over the Phillies. Son of the late trainer Doug Peterson, who conditioned the first undefeated Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew in his four-year-old season in 1978, David allowed two hits, one earned run, struck out 10 and walked none in six innings against the Phillies, who started the season 5-0 but are now in one of their infamous freefall funks, having lost six of their last seven games.. . . Trivia answer: Jose Valdivia Jr., for the late Bobby Frankel, Nov. 16, 2002 at Hollywood Park. A Stronach Farms homebred, Ghostzapper won by nine lengths covering 6 ½ furlongs in a blistering 1:12.60... Racing resumes on Saturday with first post time for a nine race card at 1 pm. Fans can join host Tom Quigley and his special guest Jack Carava, agent for Tyler Baze, beginning at 11:50 am at Santaanita.com/live.
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