O’NEILL PROUD OF ‘CHARLIE’S’ GAME BELMONT
JERSEY JOE SOON TO BECOME KALIFORNIA KID
FASHIONABLY FAST RETURNS IN THOR’S ECHO
GOLD AT END OF TODAY’S RAINBOW PICK SIX
TVG PACIFIC CLASSIC COULD BE NEXT FOR HOT ROD CHARLIE
Doug O’Neill couldn’t have been more gratified with Hot Rod Charlie if he had won the Belmont Stakes instead of running a gallant second to champion Essential Quality in the third jewel of racing’s Triple Crown Saturday.
“We’re super proud of him,” O’Neill said by phone Sunday morning while waiting to board a plane bringing him home to California where he and Hot Rod Charlie are based at Santa Anita. “He looks fantastic this morning.”
That’s a mouthful, considering Hot Rod Charlie and Flavien Prat set quarter mile and half mile “swift splits” of 22.78 and 46.49, uncharacteristically fast fractions for the distance of a mile and a half.
Yet while on the rail with favored Essential Quality outside him, the son of Oxbow soldiered on until deep stretch before yielding by a length and a quarter in what the Equibase chart called a “gutsy effort.”
“The horse will fly back (to California) Tuesday, but we have no immediate plans for his next race,” O’Neill said. “We couldn’t have asked for him to come out of it any better.
“He ate up everything, his legs were cold, he has good energy, he’s sound. The manner in which he came out of it gives us many options; we’ll put our heads together and play it by ear.”
Although his plans are indefinite, O’Neill acknowledged the Grade I TVG Pacific Classic, for three-year-olds and up at a mile and one quarter on Aug. 21 is under strong consideration.
“As a three-year-old, we’d get a big break in the weights and a few of our owners live down there,” he said.
JERSEY JOE BRAVO JOINS SOUTHERN CAL CIRCUIT
Joe Bravo, a native of Long Branch, N.J. and a leading rider in the Garden State for two decades, will soon join the Southern California jockey colony on a regular basis under the direction of agent Matt Nakatani, who also represents Mario Gutierrez.
The son and grandson of jockeys, 49-year-old “Jersey Joe” Bravo began his career at Calder Race Course in late 1988 and has won nearly 5,500 races, capturing nine riding titles at The Meadowlands and 13 at Monmouth Park.
“With the ‘no whip rule’ in effect in New Jersey right now, I knew he wasn’t going to ride there,” said 29-year-old Nakatani, who has been an agent for five years, three with Gutierrez. Matt is the son of retired riding great Corey Nakatani.
“Joe and I spoke, he reached out to a couple people here, and the rest is history. It kind of all fell into place.
“I was looking for someone who would pair well with Mario and find a guy like my dad who rides three, four, five a day and stakes horses, and I think Joe is at that stage in his career.
“Everything is going well. Mario is happy to have Joe on the team. He’ll be here closing weekend (June 19 & 20), ride a few, head back to New Jersey where he might ride a few stakes back east, then come out here full time starting at Del Mar (July 16).”
CAL-BRED FASHIONABLY FAST SET FOR THOR’S ECHO
Fashionably Fast, a hard-hitting California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit, seeks the sixth stakes win in a 23-race career this Saturday in the $100,000 Thor’s Echo Stakes at six furlongs.
The Thor’s Echo for four-year-olds and up is one in the Golden State Series for horses bred or sired in California.
“He worked this morning (four furlongs in 47.80) and as long as everything goes well, the game plan is to run,” said Dean Pederson, who trains Fashionably Fast for John Harris, his breeder and owner along with Per Antonsen and John Nicoletti.
A six-year-old chestnut gelding, Fashionably Fast has compiled an 8-4-5 record from 22 starts, earning $590,661.
“He’s paid the way for himself and about five others in the shed row,” said Pederson, who will give jockey Tiago Pereira a leg up on Fashionably Fast for the 23rd time in 24 races.
“At this point in the ball game, there’s not a lot that goes into the thought process with this horse,” Pederson said. “We just try to have him ready to go, and when he leaves the gate, he takes care of the rest.
“He’s had some time between races (Fashionably Fast was third in an overnight race in his most recent start on April 24), because these horses run hard and let’s face it, at his age he’s starting to get a little mileage on him.
“Not that he’s been over-raced by any means, but he’s getting a little older and sometimes it takes a little more time to bounce back. This time he’ll have seven weeks between races and in the past, he’s always run well with that kind of spacing.”
Fashionably Fast worked five furlongs May 30 in a bullet 59.20. “He went well; he had some company in front of him,” Pederson said. “It was a breeze to let him know it was time to go back to work.”
MANDATORY RAINBOW PICK 6 PAYOUT TODAY
Santa Anita will offer a mandatory payout in its popular 20 cent Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot today. Track officials project the total pool could approach $3 million.
First post time Sunday is 1 p.m. The Rainbow Six starts in race four which has an approximate post time of 2:30 p.m. PT.
Although there is still no walk-up admission, Santa Anita is now open to the public on a limited basis visiting santaanita.com.
FINISH LINES: “Miracle” horse Catemaco breezed four furlongs Sunday in 49.80 for breeder/trainer Kristin Mulhall. In all there were 175 recorded workouts this morning, 31 on the training track . . . Santa Anita will be dark for live racing Monday through Thursday. Live racing resumes 1 p.m. Friday, June 11…Morning Line Maker Jon White reports Venetian Harbor earned a 96 Beyer Speed figure in winning Saturday’s Grade II Monrovia Stakes by 3 ½ lengths…Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie, one-two finishers in the Belmont, posted respective Beyer’s of 109 and 108. Essential Quality’s 109 is the best Belmont Beyer since Empire Maker’s 110 in 2003.
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