MENDEZ EYES FASIG-TIPTON JUVENILE JACKPOT
ACCLIMATE CAPS CAMPAIGN FOR PHIL D’AMATO
LEADING OWNER REDDAM ENJOYS GREAT MEET
TEAM MENDEZ SEEKS FASIG-TIPTON GOLD IN FINALE
Luis Mendez appears to hold a powerful hand in today’s $100,000 stakes for two-year-olds, the Fasig-Tipton Futurity for colts and the Fasig-Tipton Debutante for fillies, each at five furlongs on the main track.
Both races 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 this month on June 23, with an under-tack preview tomorrow, June 21.
Mendez’s juveniles were no secret and thus no bargain at the mutuel windows in their debuts, the colt Big City Lights winning by 12 ½ lengths as the 1-2 favorite at 4 ½ furlongs on May 2, and the filly Royal O’Haigain scoring by 5 ½ lengths as the 4-5 choice at the same distance on May 21.
Each had a rapid blowout Wednesday, Big City Lights going four furlongs in 46.80 handily from the gate and Royal O’Haigain three furlongs in a bullet 34.20.
“They went beautifully; I’m very happy the way they worked,” said the 36-year-old Mendez, now in his fourth year as a trainer.
“We always liked Big City Lights from the start, so the way he won was no surprise to us.” It was a former trainer, John Brocklebank, now a bloodstock agent, who purchased Big City Lights for owner Bill Peeples.
Bochombo, a Street Boss colt that broke his maiden by 2 ¼ lengths despite an eventful trip on May 23, also is entered in the Futurity. He worked three furlongs Wednesday in a bullet 34.20.
“There are some good colts in the Futurity, but I think the Debutante looks tougher,” said Mendez, who also has first-time starter Buehler’s Day Off in the Futurity, giving him three of the five entrants.
Mendez gives full credit to Brocklebank for a large part of his success, which first came to light when Dr. Schivel, a son of Violence, won the Grade I Del Mar Futurity last Sept. 7, the trainer’s first Grade I victory.
Dr. Schivel was transferred to trainer Mark Glatt’s barn after the Futurity and in his first start since, in Santa Anita’s fourth race Friday, overcame issues from the rail to win the six-furlong sprint by a neck in 1:09.46, paying a generous $4.40 as the favorite.
“I couldn’t have had this success without John,” continued Mendez, a hands-on horseman. “It’s hard to win here at Santa Anita, especially with older horses, but we’ve been lucky winning one or two.
“The horses John selected for clients makes my job much easier, but going to the sales helps a lot. We have a really good team that travels together and you get to know 100 percent about the horses that way.
“We load the horses ourselves on a trailer from Dixie Downs in Utah and go all the way to Ocala, Florida. That’s part of the routine we follow every year, preparing for the sales, getting to know the horses, making sure they’re sound, eating good, X-rays are clean, like every horseman does.
“When we go to previews and our horses work an eighth of a mile, they’re ready to go a half-mile. But now people at the sales are sharper, getting their own clocker, timing horses on the gallop out. Going to the sales is a lot of work, a lot of stress, but you get to know your horses to a point where you say, ‘OK, they’re ready.’
“That’s what we’ve been doing with John since I remember.”
Mendez was in born in Guanajuato in central Mexico, and came to the United States when he was 14.
“I’m a race rider, too, and that way I get to know my horses,” he said. “They don’t always need to work nine/four (09.80) or 10 flat (for an eighth of a mile), because working from the poles is a whole different story than breaking from the gate . . . time isn’t always important.
“When I’m on a horse I can feel when he takes hold of the bit, when he gets into a rhythm. It’s not all about the final time . . .
“It’s a process that can be complicated, but I love what I do.”
The field for the Futurity, race four: Street Art, Kent Desormeaux, 7-2; Bochombo, Abel Cedillo, 4-1; Big City Lights, Juan Hernandez, 2-5; Heaven Shines, Jose Valdivia Jr., 12-1; and Buehler’s Day Off, Edwin Maldonado, 15-1.
The field for the Debutante, race eight: Laurel Canyon, Flavien Prat, 5-2; At the Spa, Tyler Baze, 2-1; Munny Penny, Umberto Rispoli, 3-1; Loveherheart, Juan Hernandez, 6-1; and Royal O’Haigain, Alexis Centeno, 3-1.
D’AMATO WINS SANTA ANITA TRAINING TITLE
Phil D’Amato won two races Saturday, capped by Acclimate’s front-running victory in the Grade III San Juan Capistrano Stakes, to clinch training honors at the meet.
With the campaign ending today, D’Amato leads runners-up Peter Miller and Bob Baffert, 50-43.
Baffert leads in purse earnings with $3,914,192 to D’Amato’s $3,215,514, while Doug O’Neill was the Racing Department’s dream, sending out the most starters, 267, with Miller second at 244.
Despite winning two races Saturday, Juan Hernandez finished light years behind riding champion Flavien Prat, who leads going into Sunday’s finale, 122 to 89. The Frenchman’s purse earnings total $7,011,749.
Of the seven-year-old Acclimate’s 3 ¾-length romp in the grassy mile and three-quarters of the San Juan, D’Amato said: “I’m elated. He’s been through the highs and lows and he’s bounced back.
“He’s just an old warrior and he gave it his all. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. It means everything; it’s a credit to my staff, my exercise riders, my assistants and definitely the owners and especially Ricky (jockey Ricardo Gonzalez).
“Acclimate gave an ‘A’ performance in the San Juan and I’ll target him for the Del Mar Handicap (Grade II, $300,000, 1 3/8 miles on Aug. 21).
“He’s been lightly raced (25 starts). We gave him a short break and he’s come back better than ever.”
TEAM REDDAM LEADING OWNER AT SANTA ANITA
- Paul Reddam expressed gratitude to his team on being Santa Anita’s leading owner this meet in both victories and purse earnings with 19 and $1,161,446, respectively.
Hronis Racing was second in wins with 15, followed by owner/breeder Nick Alexander with 14.
“We’ve been very fortunate with the group we have working behind us at our ranch, Ocean Breeze (in Bonsall, CA), and our trainers, Doug O’Neill, Ben Cecil and Ed Freeman, have all done a great job,” Reddam said. “We’ve had a great meet.
“The crew at Ocean Breeze does a great job breaking (two-year-olds) and we just let them be the horse they want to be. We don’t rush them; we wait on them, and whatever the horse tells us to do, that’s what we do.”
Reddam and O’Neill have captured the Kentucky Derby twice, with I’ll Have Another in 2012 and Nyquist in 2016.
FINISH LINES: There were 152 recorded workouts this morning, including a three-furlong breeze by Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile winner Hit the Road in 38 seconds flat for Dan Blacker, and a four-furlong move in 48.60 for Bob Baffert trainee As Time Goes By, winner of the Santa Margarita and the Santa Maria, both Grade II stakes . . . David Peterson, son of the late trainer Doug Peterson, pitched 4 2/3 innings and struck out six in the Mets’ 5-1 victory Saturday over the Washington Nationals in the first game of a day-night doubleheader, throwing a season-high 94 pitches but falling short of qualifying for the win. However, the 6-6 lefthander did get his first Major League hit with a leadoff double in the fifth inning and scored New York’s first run after he was hit by a pitch. “I feel like a full baseball player today,” Peterson said.
LATEST CONTENT FROM XBTV:
Preview of the Fasig Tipton Futurity Stakes
Preview of the Grade III American Stakes
Preview of the Fasig Tipton Debutante Stakes
Preview of the Grade III Wilshire Stakes
Closing Remarks (Gaines) 6-20-21
Parsimony (O’Neill) 6-19-21
Tizamagician (Mandella) 6-19-21
Hot Rod Charlie (O’Neill) 6-19-21
St Helena (Puype) 6-19-21
Rushie (McCarthy) 6-18-21
Cajun Treasure (Mullins) 6-18-18
Flightline (Sadler) 6-17-21
Warren’s Showtime (Lewis) 6-17-21
Desmond Doss ( Miyadi) 6-17-21
United (Mandella) 6-16-21
Charmaine’s Mia (D’Amato) 6-16-21
Collusion Illusion (Glatt) 6-14-21
Closing Remarks (Gaines) 6-14-21
Count Again (D’Amato) 6-14-21
Gamine (Baffert) 6-14-21
Edgeway (Sadler) 6-14-21