LEADING TRAINER D’AMATO GIRDS FOR BIG FINISH
RESTRAINEDVENGENCE SET TO MAKE THE GRADE
RICH FASIG-TIPTON RACES FEATURED ON SUNDAY
HOT ROD CHARLIE WORKS FOR PRAT AND O’NEILL
BUSY WEEKEND LOOMS FOR TOP TRAINER D’AMATO
Santa Anita’s leading trainer Phil D’Amato hopes to cap the final weekend of a glorious meet with a flourish when he sends out Leggs Galore in Sunday’s Grade III Wilshire Stakes for fillies and mares three and up at a mile on turf.
Should the four-year-old gray daughter of 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern win, it would give her four stakes victories at the meet, her only loss coming in the Mizdirection Stakes when she experienced a troubled trip.
“She’s training well, so hopefully it’s all systems go for Sunday,” said D’Amato, who holds a 48-43 lead over runner-up Peter Miller in the trainers’ standings, exceeding his expectations.
“I thought my stock would take a little longer to blossom,” he said, “but we struck early on and kept it rolling.
“It’s basically a credit to my owners and my team. We hope to keep things going like they’re going.”
Owned and bred by William Sims, Leggs Galore on May 9 won the Fran’s Valentine stretching out to a mile for the first time, leading throughout against California-breds.
She has won six of her last seven starts, including a string of five straight prior to her Mizdirection mishap.
Despite being five wins behind, with eight horses entered the final two days of the meet to D’Amato’s 13, Miller still holds a mathematical chance of capturing the title.
Miller has three horses entered today: 2-1 morning line favorite Texas Wedge and 5-1 chance Commander in the third race and 9-5 favorite None Above the Law in the ninth.
Sunday, Miller has five entered: 8-5 Paid Informant in the second, 4-5 Neptune’s Storm in the seventh, 5-2 Laurel Canyon in the eighth, 12-1 Querelle in the ninth and 3-1 Gypsy Blu in the 11th and final race.
D’Amato has eight entered today: Lips Like Sugar, 30-1 in the first; Tilted Towers, 8-1 in the third; Hollywoodhellraiser, 15-1 in the fifth; Ready Soul, 6-1 in the seventh; Palace Coup, 5-1 in the eighth; Cargo, 8-1 in the ninth; and Red King, 5-2, and Acclimate, 9-5, in the 11th.
D’Amato has five entered Sunday: Burgo Alley, 5-2 in the first; On Mars, 2-1 and Beguiled, 5-1, in the second; Leggs Galore, 3-1, in the sixth; and Big Clare, 5-1, in the 11th.
The Wilshire, race nine of 11 with a 1 p.m. first post time: Quiet Secretary, Jessica Pyfer, 8-1; Brooke, Umberto Rispoli, 5-1; Gidgetta, Mario Gutierrez,6-1; Querelle, Trevor McCarthy, 12-1; Warren’s Showtime, Juan Hernandez, 5-2; Leggs Galore, Ricardo Gonzalez, 3-1; Stela Star, Flavien Prat, 4-1; and Ippodemia’s Girl, Joe Bravo, 12-1.
RESTRAINEDVENGENCE AN ‘AMERICAN’ SUCCESS STORY
Restrainedvengence has been with the Brinkerhoffs so long he’s part of the family.
Although not worthy of Hall of Fame consideration, the old warhorse has more than earned his keep, with a bankroll of $708,182 in this his fifth year of racing, never running where he could be claimed and holding his own in graded stakes company.
He has eight wins, four seconds and three thirds in 30 starts but no graded victories. He has won on turf, dirt and synthetic, sprinting at 6 ½ furlongs and routing at a mile and an eighth, but his niche is going a mile on turf.
Perhaps his best performance was a second by a head in the Grade II City of Hope Mile at Santa Anita on Oct. 5, 2019, although his third in the Grade I Shoemaker Mile last out at Santa Anita on May 31 wasn’t too shabby.
Tomorrow, closing day at Santa Anita, the venerable cash cow for trainer Val Brinkerhoff, his wife and valued assistant, Kelly, who owns the six-year-old gelding along with Bobby Grayson Jr., seems ideally spotted to win the Grade III American Stakes for three-year-olds and up at a mile on turf.
“He came out of the Shoemaker really well, ate everything up, breezed four furlongs in 48 flat last Friday and galloped out nice,” said Brinkerhoff, himself a former jockey who turns 65 on Oct. 19. “He’s ready to fire one of his better races, hopefully.
“I thought he ran well in the Shoemaker, but it was a tough spot. He had an accident at the barn that caused me to scratch him a race before the Shoemaker, and that set him back, but I think we’ve got him as good as we can get him right now.
“This is his best shot to win a graded race, but he’s been right there in other graded stakes. Whatever you ask him to do, he tries to do it for you.”
Brinkerhoff, an angular version of John Wayne, cowboy hat and all, but without the swagger, is a hands-on horseman from dawn till dusk. He is the patriarch of a cohesive Mormon family that grew even closer 16 years ago after his two younger brothers, Brad, 45, and Todd, 42, died from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, a progressive neurological disease that controls voluntary muscle movement, informally known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
At 5-10 and 118 pounds when he rode at bush tracks in Montana and his home state of Utah at outposts with far flung names like Beaver, Richfield, Marysvale, Kanab, Parowan, Ferron, Payson and Panguitch, Val started riding when he was 14 in Fillmore, Utah, population circa 2,500.
Restrainedvengence, a Kentucky-bred son of the Giant’s Causeway stallion Hold Me Back out of Cupids Revenge, thus his name, has been with Brinkerhoff since he was a yearling.
“I bought him at the Keeneland September sale, had him from day one, broke him and everything,” Brinkerfhoff said.
“He was a nice-looking colt when I saw him at the sale, although not fashionably bred, but they kept bidding on him and I think we gave $65,000 for him. The bloodstock agent came running over all excited and said, ‘Congratulations! You just bought the most expensive Hold Me Back ever sold!’
“It was pretty funny, but it turned out to be true. I’ve never had much trouble with the horse, although he’s a little bit below the best horses in the country.
“But he’s paid his way and I’m sure thankful to have him.”
The American Stakes is race seven: Tiz Plus, Trevor McCarthy, 15-1; Restrainedvengence, Tyler Baze, 5-2; Neptune’s Storm, Flavien Prat, 4-5; Border Town, Mike Smith, 5-1; Majestic Eagle, Mario Gutierrez, 5-1; and Sash, Juan Hernandez, 12-1.
FASIG-TIPTON STAKES SHOWCASED ON SUNDAY
Two closing-day juvenile stakes, the Fasig-Tipton Debutante and the Fasig-Tipton Futurity, offer purses of $100,000 each, up from the initial amount of $75,000.
Both races to be run Sunday will be contested at five furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track and serve as a prelude to Fasig-Tipton’s two-year-old in training sale at Santa Anita.
The only North American two-year-old sale to be held on dirt in the month of June, the Fasig-Tipton sale will be conducted on June 23, with an under-tack preview on Monday, June 21.
“We boosted the purses on both races to $100,000 because we want to continue to provide tangible incentives for those owners and horsemen that are investing in our future,” said Chris Merz, Santa Anita Director of Racing and Racing Secretary.
“We’ll have all of these sales horses on the grounds during our final week of the meet and this is going to attract a great deal of interest.
“It’s important for everyone to know they can attend the sale, inspect the horses and have opportunities to race not only at Santa Anita in the fall, but at Los Alamitos and Del Mar as well.”
FINISH LINES: Hot Rod Charlie, gallant runner-up to champion Essential Quality in the Belmont Stakes, third in the Kentucky Derby and winner of the Louisiana Derby, worked four furlongs solo this morning in 48.20 under Flavien Prat for Doug O’Neill. “He looked great, galloped out strong and Flavien was very happy,” said O’Neill, still pondering the son of Oxbow‘s next race . . . On the training track, Going Global, winner of four stakes this meet, went four furlongs in 50 seconds flat for Phil D’Amato. There were 152 recorded workouts Saturday, 27 on the training track . . . Peter Eurton isn’t the meet’s leading trainer, but he is Mr. Consistency with a stat line of 18 wins, 17 seconds, 17 thirds and a winning average of 17 percent…With COVID restrictions eased, there is walk-up admission closing weekend.
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