DISTINCT SANTA ANITA FLAVOR IN ARKANSAS DERBY
ARCH PRINCE IN TOKYO CITY CUP FOR FIRST STAKES
BELLAFINA TO LEAVE APRIL 29 FOR KENTUCKY OAKS
ROSARIO, O’NEILL & HRONIS RACING LEAD WINTER MEET
POPULAR RETIRED JOCK BOBBY YNEZ DIES IN CAR CRASH
BAFFERT, MANDELLA SQUARE OFF IN ARKANSAS DERBY
Bob Baffert is in pursuit of his sixth Kentucky Derby victory. Richard Mandella is in pursuit of his first, having been blanked in six previous tries.
The two Hall of Fame trainers, based side-by-side in barns at Santa Anita, square off with the two favorites Saturday in the Grade I, $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park, Baffert sending out 8-5 Improbable and Mandella 2-1 Omaha Beach.
Seven riders formerly or currently based at Santa Anita are booked to ride in the Arkansas Derby, adding Southern California flavor. They are Tyler Baze, David Cohen, Jon Court, Stewart Elliott, Flavien Prat, Joel Rosario and Mike Smith.
A son of the Danzig stallion War Front, Omaha Beach already has won at Oaklawn, capturing the second division of the Rebel Stakes by a nose over champion Game Winner on March 16. The Arkansas Derby, to be decided at a mile and an eighth, offers 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 to the third-place finisher and 10 to the fourth.
Would already having a win over the track be an advantage for Santa Anita-based Omaha Beach? Not necessarily, says private clocker and bloodstock agent Gary Young.
“It’s more beneficial that he’s the best horse, I think,” Young said. “I like Improbable, but the way Omaha Beach has worked and galloped, I think he’s a real race horse.”
Four of the five leaders in Daily Racing Form’s Derby Watch are based at Santa Anita, and five of the last seven winners of the Run for the Roses were headquartered in Southern California: I’ll Have Another (2012), California Chrome (2014), American Pharoah (2015), Nyquist (2016) and Justify (2018).
American Pharoah and Justify were Triple Crown champions trained by Baffert.
Four of the above were based at Santa Anita, the exception being California Chrome, who called Los Alamitos home.
“It’s kind of ironic with everything that’s gone on at Santa Anita this winter that if me and a lot of other people had to name a Kentucky Derby winner on three notes, as they said on ‘Name That Tune,’ right now it would be the two Baffert horses (Roadster and Game Winner) and Omaha Beach,” Young said. “Improbable might even be the fourth horse.
“Nothing against horses that won the other preps, but I think the Kentucky Derby trophy’s coming back to California again this year.”
Fans at Santa Anita can watch and wager on the final major prep for the first jewel in the Triple Crown. The Arkansas Derby goes as the 11th of 12 races with a scheduled post time of 4:43 p.m. Pacific Time.
The field: Improbable, Jose Ortiz, 8-5; Six Shooter, David Cohen, 30-1;Omaha Beach, Mike Smith, 2-1; Tikhvin Flew, Tyler Baze, 30-1; Laughing Fox, Ricardo Santana Jr., 20-1; Gray Attempt, Stewart Elliott, 8-1; Galilean, Flavien Prat, 10-1; Country House, Joel Rosario, 12-1; One Flew South, Calvin Borel, 50-1; Jersey Agenda, Ramon Vazquez, 30-1; and Long Range Toddy, Jon Court, 5-1.
ARCH PRINCE SEEKS FIRST STAKES WIN IN TOKYO CITY CUP
E-Racing.Com already is in the black on a $32,000 claim made on Arch Prince last September, but trainer Brian Koriner hopes the Kentucky-bred son of Arch can add to that sum when he makes his stakes debut in Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Tokyo City Cup for older horses at a mile and a half on the main track.
“I think the distance might help him,” Koriner said. A five-year-old gelding, Arch Prince broke his maiden going a mile and an eighth on turf and is coming off six straight races at a mile on dirt. With a 4-2-2 record from 23 starts, he has earned $106,045.
Santa Anita features the 15th annual Tokyo City Cup celebration Sunday with a plethora of Japanese cultural events, performances and delicious cuisine.
The Tokyo City Cup, race six of eight with a 1 p.m. first post time: $2,000 supplemental nominee Campaign, Rafael Bejarano, 2-1; Acker, Victor Espinoza, 3-1; Full of Luck, Mario Gutierrez, 5-1; Arch Prince, Alonso Quinonez, 8-1; and Beach View, Flavien Prat, 7-5.
BELLAFINA LEAVES APRIL 29 FOR KENTUCKY OAKS
Bellafina, smashing 5 ¾-length winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks last Saturday, is on course for the Grade I Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 3.
“I think we’ll have her first breeze back a week from today (April 19),” said Simon Callaghan, who trains the bay daughter of Quality Road for Kaleem Shah. “She’ll just breeze twice before we go to Kentucky.
“She’s booked on an April 29 flight.”
ROSARIO, O’NEILL, HRONIS RACING LLC WINTER KINGS
With the Winter portion of Santa Anita’s 47-day meet concluded last Sunday, jockey Joel Rosario topped Flavien Prat by a 56-52 margin, and will be recipient of Santa Anita’s coveted Golden Whip Award.
Rosario, 34, capped his successful run with victory aboard the John Sadler-conditioned Gift Box in the 82nd running of the Grade I, $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap last Saturday. A native of the Dominican Republic, Rosario was also Santa Anita’s Winter Meet leader in 2011 and 2012.
Prat, a 24-year-old native of Melun, France, led all jockeys in the stakes-won department with 12 added money victories, four more than Rosario.
Doug O’Neill, 50 led all trainers with 29 wins, four more than Sadler, who had 25. O’Neill also led conditioners in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and thus collected his fourth training title.
Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer enjoyed another solid meet, as his stable registered seven stakes wins, including a victory in last Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Royal Heroine Stakes with Vasilika.
Hronis Racing, LLC totally dominated the owners’ division, both by races and money-won. With 18 wins at the meet, it finished 12 wins in front of both Reddam Racing, LLC and Nick Alexander. In the money-won category, Hronis Racing amassed $1,325,015 in earnings from 64 starters–double Speedway Stable LLC’s $642,245.
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FINISH LINES: Doug O’Neill won the training title at the Winter Meet portion of the campaign that runs through June 23 with 29 victories for his fourth overall at The Great Race Place. He gives full credit to his team, which also prepared a meet-high 185 starters, 52 more than runner-up Jerry Hollendorfer. “I’m grateful for every day out here, hope to be a force for good and keep it going,” O’Neill said . . . Trainer John Shirreffs has multiple Grade I winner Paradise Woods ticketed for the Grade II Santa Margarita Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on April 27 . . . Veteran trainer Ed Moger Jr. has horses entered in five of the eight races today at Golden Gate Fields . . . XBTV’s Zoe Cadmanwill be Tom Quigley‘s guest handicapper in the XBTV studios at 11:50 a.m. Saturday . . . Condolences to family and friends of popular retired jockey Bobby Ynez, 75, who succumbed to internal injuries this past Tuesday resulting from a head-on crash March 5 near San Diego. Ynez, who rode extensively for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Wheeler in the 1960s, worked for many years assisting in the Del Mar stable area. One of his biggest wins came in the 1961 Hollywood Futurity aboard the Wheeler-trained and C.V. Whitney-owned Rattle Dancer.