- FAVORED UNIQUE BELLA IS READY FOR BEHOLDER
- KORINER HAS TWO FOR THE MONEY IN SNOW CHIEF
- EVIN ROMAN IS SET TO RESUME RIDING ON JUNE 14
UNIQUE BELLA ODDS-ON AGAIN FOR GRADE I BEHOLDER
Unique Bella, the latest in a seemingly endless line of stalwarts from the barn of Jerry Hollendorfer, will be favored for the 10th time in 11 career races Saturday in the Beholder Mile.
Santa Anita linemaker Jon White has the striking four-year-old gray daughter of Tapit listed at 3-5 against five rivals in the Grade I event, but those odds could drop even further by post time for the ninth of 10 races, which is set to go at approximately 4:30 p.m.
Unique Bella has been the odds-on choice in seven of her races. The only time she was not favored was in the Santa Ynez Stakes on Jan. 8, 2017, when she was second choice at even money, winning by 7 ½ lengths.
She was favored at 20 cents on the dollar last out in the Grade I Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park April 13 but bobbled at the start and could not overcome that mishap, finishing second under Mike Smith, who has been aboard in all her races.
“It was one of those things,” said Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward on a glorious sun-filled Friday morning at Santa Anita. “She’s ready. She got a good post (six), has a good record on this track (six wins and a second in seven starts) and a good, versatile running style.
“She’s won a Grade I coming from fifth (the La Brea at seven furlongs last Dec. 26) and she’s won wire-to-wire, so we look for a big race. It’s good competition, but we’re confident.”
The Beholder field: $8,000 supplemental nominee Munny Spunt, Kyle Frey, 30-1; Mopotism, Geovanni Franco, 15-1; La Force, Drayden Van Dyke, 20-1; Paradise Woods, Flavien Prat, 2-1; Vale Dori, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; and Unique Bella, Mike Smith, 3-5.
In an uncharacteristic move for Bob Baffert, the Triple Crown-winning trainer had Vale Dori blow out three furlongs Friday morning in a bullet 35.80, fastest of 19 drills at the distance, but he said after the drill, “It was just to open her lungs up. As of now, she’s running.”
KORINER’S PAIR IN SNOW CHIEF POSSESS AMPLE SPEED
Best-case scenario for Brian Koriner in Saturday’s $200,000 Snow Chief Stakes might be a dead heat for his two runners, Take the One O One and Waya Ed. Both possess speed, but whether they can carry it a mile and an eighth on turf remains to be seen.
“I just hope one of them can relax and do the right thing,” said Koriner, who trains each for the Jay Em Ess Stable. “I think going that far on the grass, Take the One O One will relax. I don’t think he’ll run away.
“Waya Ed, I’m not so sure. He has natural speed and ran pretty aggressively last time (third in a mile overnight race on turf, leading until late) . . . We’ll take our best shots.”
The Snow Chief, for Golden State Series eligible or sired three-year-olds, run as race seven: Take the One O One, Joe Talamo; Hardboot, Drayden Van Dyke; Waya Ed, Tiago Pereira; Continental Divide, Victor Espinoza; Hit the Seam, Geovanni Franco; Pyscho Dar, Ruben Fuentes; and Huddle, Rafael Bejarano.
ROMAN RETURNS ON JUNE 14, BUSINESS BRISK FOR STEVENS
Evin Roman, Eclipse Award winner as outstanding apprentice jockey of 2017, has been cleared to resume riding on June 14, according to agent Tony Matos.
Roman, with five Southern California riding titles on his resume at the age of 20, suffered a fractured toe on his left foot in a training mishap April 24, but Dr. James Tibone gave the native of Puerto Rico a green light after examining him on Wednesday.
“He will start working horses on June 7 and ride (competitively) on June 14,” said Matos, also representing 55-year-young Gary Stevens, whose business at Santa Anita has been brisk after wintering successfully in Arkansas and Kentucky.
Two of Stevens’ three wins since his return have come in stakes, and he is named on six horses Sunday, including Barleysugar in the $75,000 Possibly Perfect Stakes and Coco Kisses in the $200,000 Melair Stakes.
On June 8, a day before the Belmont Stakes, Stevens rides impressive maiden winner Mae Never No for Wesley Ward in the Tremont Stakes at Belmont and has been engaged to ride Paved for Michael McCarthy in the Grade II Honeymoon Stakes at Santa Anita June 9.
Paved, a three-year-old filly who defeated males in the El Camino Real Derby, works tomorrow at Santa Anita with Stevens up.
FINISH LINES: Laz Barrera Stakes winner Kanthaka will work at Santa Anita Monday and leave Tuesday for the Woody Stephens at Belmont Park on June 9. Jerry Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward will accompany the son of Jimmy Creed to New York as he seeks to remain unbeaten in four starts at seven furlongs . . . Best of luck to Santa Anita Timer, Dane Nelson, as his son, Dane Jr., travels to Cal State Fullerton Saturday night for a CIF, Southern Section, Division 4 Championship baseball game. A starting first baseman for Brad Blackmore’s Rio Hondo League Champion Monrovia Wildcats, Nelson has been a key contributor during Monrovia High’s playoff run. Game time versus La Quinta High is 7 p.m. . . . A benefit dinner and silent auction will be held Monday, June 4, at Griff’s Valley View RV Park Shelter 2 in Altoona, Iowa, for jockey Marlon St. Julien, 46, who was involved in a serious spill at Prairie Meadows on May 19. Contact the ITBOA or HBPA to donate items. To reach Marlon St. Julien, please send correspondence to him in care of the Prairie Meadows Racing Office, 1 Prairie Meadows Drive, Altoona, IA 50009. Checks may be made out to the Racetrack Chaplaincy.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Monday, May 28)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||86||15||12||13||17%||47%||$773,378|