HOT ROD CHARLIE IS REVVING UP FOR LEWIS
DYNASTY OF HER OWN RETURNS FOR WONG
GRASS ISN’T GREENER FOR PUBILIUS SYRUS
CHARLATAN LEADS 152 SATURDAY WORKERS
DERBY FEVER COULD START IN LEWIS FOR TEAM O’NEILL
With a trio of promising three-year-olds in his extensive stable, Doug O’Neill is looking forward to the New Year, with a third Kentucky Derby victory high on his wish list.
The 52-year-old Michigan native lists Hot Rod Charlie, Wipe the Slate and Team Merchants among his well-regarded sophomores.
Hot Rod Charlie shocked the world finishing second at 94-1 by only three-quarters of length to probable 2020 two-year-old male Eclipse champion Essential Quality in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last Nov. 6.
Wearing blinkers for the first time, Wipe the Slate, a son of O’Neill’s 2016 Derby winner Nyquist, scored an impressive maiden win Dec. 26 at Santa Anita after finishing second in his debut to undefeated Sham Stakes winner Life Is Good at Del Mar last Nov. 22. Nyquist is America’s leading freshman sire who stands for $75,000 at Jonabell Farm in Kentucky.
O’Neill also won the 2012 Run for the Roses with I’ll Have Another.
“Hot Rod Charlie is doing great and we’re pointing him to the Bob Lewis,” said O’Neill, referring to the Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes at a mile and a sixteenth on Jan. 30.
Hot Rod Charlie worked five furlongs Saturday in a bullet 59.40, fastest of 64 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 1:01.99. Wipe the Slate went five furlongs in 1:01.20.
Named in memory of businessman and Thoroughbred owner Robert B. (Bob) Lewis, whose horses regularly ran at Santa Anita, and who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness with Silver Charm in 1997, the Lewis offers 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, four to the runner-up, two to the third-place finisher and one to the fourth. It was first run in 1935 as the Santa Catalina Stakes.
“Wipe the Slate is doing super but I’m not sure where he’s going to blend in after that win,” O’Neill said. “It’s been two weeks so we really haven’t pointed him to the next spot.
“Team Merchants had a little injury so he’s at the farm until he’s 100 percent,” O’Neill added, alluding to principal owner J. Paul Reddam’s Ocean Breeze Ranch in Bonsall. Reddam Racing owned a pair of O’Neill-trained Kentucky Derby winners, I’ll Have Another (2012) and Nyquist (2016). O’Neill and Reddam also teamed up to win the Lewis with Great Hunter in 2007 and I’ll Have Another in 2012.
Not surprisingly, O’Neill had 32 starters through the meet’s first nine days, six more than any other trainer. He was first in that category at Del Mar and generally is leader of the pack in Southern California.
“We’re just enjoying every day and hoping for even better days ahead,” O’Neill said. “We’re optimistic. I don’t know how smart it is (having the most starters), but you can’t make any money sitting horses in the barns, so if they’re doing well, we’ll let ’em compete.”
WONG HAS SHARP FILLY READY FOR KALOOKAN QUEEN
Dynasty of Her Own makes her Santa Anita debut and her first start in more than six months in Sunday’s $75,000 Kalookan Queen Stakes for fillies and mares four and up at 6 ½ furlongs on the main track.
Unraced since last July 5 when she was a distant fifth in the Grade III Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows, Dynasty of Her Own has two bullet works at Santa Anita among her recent breezes.
She has four wins from six starts, three at Golden Gate Fields including the restricted California Oaks at a mile and one-sixteenth last May 31. Her other victory came in a minor stakes at Sunland Park.
“The race came up tough but there’s a lot of speed in there and she’s training really well,” trainer Jonathan Wong said. “She drew a nice outside post so hopefully she’ll get a good trip and get first run on the closers.”
A four-year-old daughter of Shanghai Bobby, Eclipse Award champion two-year-old male of 2012, Dynasty of Her Own is owned by long-time successful California owners and breeders Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, for whom the 32-year-old Wong has “about 35 horses.”
Shanghai Bobby won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita in 2012 when trained by Todd Pletcher and last year stood at Arrow Stud in Japan for a private fee.
Wong, a native of San Francisco, made his bones in the Bay Area, but now has an expansive stable that includes some 15 head at Santa Anita, 40 at Golden Gate and others at Turf Paradise, about 75-80 overall.
The field for the Kalookan Queen, race eight of nine with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Amuse, Drayden Van Dyke, 5-2; Biddy Duke, Umberto Rispoli, 7-2; Qahira, Joel Rosario, 2-1; Acting Out, Abel Cedillo, 5-1; Dynasty of Her Own, Ricky Gonzalez, 12-1; and Mo See Cal, Flavien Prat, 7-2.
PUBILIUS SYRUS A ‘MASCULINE ZENYATTA’ ON DIRT
Pubilius Syrus made his first 18 starts on grass but has turned into a masculine Zenyatta since being transferred to dirt in his last four races, winning each in dramatic last-to-first fashion, although not at the stakes level of the legendary mare.
The bay son of Candy Ride, still a full horse at age six, did it again Friday at Santa Anita, winning a starter optional race at one mile by three-quarters of a length under leading rider Juan Hernandez, coming from seventh and last, 8 ½ lengths behind, at the half-mile marker.
Pubilius Syrus is named for a Latin writer (85-43 BC), best known for his sententiae (proverbs). He was a Syrian who was brought as a slave to Roman Italy, but by his wit and talent, Syrus won the favor of his master, who granted him manumission and educated him.
The name is pronounced PUB (as in bub)-ilius SEAR-us, not poob, as in puberty.
“He was the only stakes winner in the race; he has won a stakes on grass, so it has nothing to do with dirt,” pointed out Vladimir Cerin, who trains the Kentucky-bred for long-time clients David and Holly Wilson.
This is the second go-round for Pubilius Cyrus and Cerin. He lost him to trainer Mark Glatt in a $12,500 claiming race last Oct. 9, but took him back for $25,000 on Nov. 14.
“Something went wrong and it took him a while to recover from it, and I didn’t think anybody would claim him when I dropped him,” said Cerin, a 66-year-old native of Zagreb, Croatia, who has had a consistently successful career since taking out his trainer’s license in 1981.
He came to Southern California in 1974, earned a graduate degree in kinesiology, the science of movement, from UCLA and worked in that field for several years with professional athletes, including tennis star Tracy Austin and basketball stars Bill Walton, Jamaal Wilkes and Kiki Vandeweghe.
Cerin won his first Breeders Cup race in 2008 with Albertus Maximus in the Dirt Mile and over the past 25 years his stable has banked more than $1 million 22 times.
“He acts like a gelding,” Cerin said in explaining Pubilius Syrus’ demeanor. “He’s just happy to be around. He’s not studdish, he’s not difficult. He’s more like a pet. He gets along with my dog (Delilah).”
Overall, Pubilius Syrus has a 7-1-1 record from 22 starts with a bankroll of $239,027, of which $25,200 was earned yesterday.
David Wilson is a widely successful auto magnate, one of his dealerships being Toyota of Orange. “He and Holly have been very loyal,” Cerin acknowledged. “I couldn’t have stayed in busines without them.”
Asked if he would keep Pubilius Syrus out of claiming races in the future, Cerin was pragmatic, asking, “Why? He is six. We can play a little poker here and there, right?
“I just want to keep him where he can win.”
FINISH LINES: Charlatan was one of seven workers for Bob Baffert this morning, the Grade I Malibu Stakes winner going four furlongs in 49.80. Multiple graded stakes winner Acclimate, nominated to next Saturday’s $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic presented by City National Bank, went five furlongs for Phil D’Amato in 1:01.80, breezing. The Turf Classic is one of five stakes next Saturday showcasing California-breds, the others being the $200,000 Leigh Ann Howard California Cup Oaks; the $200,000 California Cup Derby; the $150,000 Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint; and the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint presented by John Deere, the quintet offering a total of $900,000 in purse money. In all there were 152 recorded workouts, 14 on the training track…First post time today is at 12 noon and at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.
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