- TAPWATER TACKLES SANTA BARBARA MARATHON
- PULPIT RIDER TRIES FRAN’S VALENTINE THIRD TIME
- RIDERS’ RACE A ROMP, TRAINERS’ IS CONTENTIOUS
MANDELLA TRIES LONGER ROUTE FOR TAPWATER
Tapwater tries to successfully negotiate the uncommon North American distance of a mile and a half in next Saturday’s Grade III Santa Barbara Stakes on turf.
Richard Mandella is optimistic the gray daughter of Tapit owned and bred by LNJ Foxwoods is up to the assignment in the daunting test for fillies and mares, three and older, even though she has never raced beyond a mile and one-sixteenth.
“You don’t know if you don’t try,” the Hall of Fame trainer said in typically understated fashion. “She has a good stalking style, so we’ll try it and see how it works.”
In her stakes debut on April 3, Tapwater rallied five-wide finishing fourth, beaten just 3 ¼ lengths against streaking graded stakes winner Charmaine’s Mia in the Grade II Royal Heroine at a mile on grass.
Overall, Tapwater has a 3-2-0 record from nine starts with earnings of $154,940.
PULPIT RIDER RETURNS TO FAVORITE DISTANCE
Mike Puype hopes the third time’s the charm for Pulpit Rider when the six-year-old mare runs in next Sunday’s $100,000 Fran’s Valentine Stakes.
The Fran’s Valentine, for fillies and mares four and up, is one in the Golden State Series for California-bred or sired runners, to be decided at a mile on turf.
Pulpit Rider, a bay daughter of Lucky Pulpit owned and bred by longtime successful proponents of racing in The Golden State Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams, is coming off a fifth-place finish in the Irish O’Brien Stakes at six furlongs on turf March 14.
“Mr. and Mrs. Williams are great to train for, that’s for sure,” Puype said.
A mile on turf is Pulpit Rider’s favored distance, having won four times in 11 tries, and she will be running in the Fran’s Valentine for the third straight year, although Puype admits her record at Santa Anita (one win in 12 tries) could be better.
“Santa Anita’s not her best track for winning, but she does like the mile,” Puype said of the durable bay who has a 6-1-4 record from 26 starts with earnings of $465,177.
She was third in the 2019 edition of the Fran’s Valentine and fourth last year.
Juan Hernandez has ridden Pulpit Rider in her last four races, winning the Solana Beach by a nose at Del Mar last August, but pilots Warren’s Showtime for Craig Lewis in the Fran’s Valentine. Puype has engaged Santa Anita’s leading rider Flavien Prat to ride Pulpit Rider.
FINISH LINES: While Flavien Prat is the runaway leader for Santa Anita riding honors, holding a commanding 95-56 advantage over runner-up Juan Hernandez, the trainers’ race has three vying for command led by Phil D’Amato (34), Bob Baffert (33) and Peter Miller (30). Doug O’Neill (26), Richard Baltas (23), John Sadler (23) and Mike Puype (21) follow the top trio, with Baffert a comfortable leader in purse earnings, $3,060,568 to D’Amato’s $2,315,662 . . .There were 146 recorded workouts at Santa Anita Saturday, among them a five-furlong drill in 1:02 for Mike Puype marathon turf specialist Ward ‘n Jerry, winner of two legs in Santa Anita Anita’s inaugural “The Tin Man Starter Allowance Series” on Feb. 20 and March 20…First post time for a nine-race card on Sunday is at 1 p.m. Tom Quigley’s pre-race handicapping seminar will begin at 11:50 a.m. and his special guest will be equine scout Larry Zap. Fans can view the seminar at santaaanita.com/live, or via the track’s simulcast network.