- KANTHAKA SEEKS KONA GOLD GOLD SATURDAY
- BAFFERT GOES WITH THE FLO WITH ROADSTER
- GIFT BOX TO BREEZE FOR GRADE I GOLD CUP
KANTHAKA DRAWS OUTSIDE FOR GRADE II KONA GOLD
Kanthaka, third in the March 30 San Carlos Stakes at seven furlongs after breaking from the rail, makes a relatively quick turnaround Saturday for the Kona Gold Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs, drawing the outside, but Jerry Hollendorfer seemed more concerned about pace than post.
“We’re happy with the post; we just have to see if the race sets up,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “He can sit a little closer if he has to.”
A four-year-old chestnut son of Jimmy Creed owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, Kanthaka has been out of the money only once in seven starts at Santa Anita, that a troubled eighth in the Grade I Malibu Stakes last Dec. 26. He was installed the 2-1 second choice on Jon White’s morning line for the Grade II Kona Gold.
In other Kona Gold news:
Well-traveled All Out Blitz seems poised to make his presence felt in the race after winning a restricted stakes at Sunland Park on March 24.
A son of Concord Point, All Out Blitz has raced at Santa Anita, Del Mar, Los Alamitos, Zia Park and Oaklawn Park, in addition to Sunland, winning four of 14 starts overall.
“This horse is getting better,” said Simon Callaghan, who trains the four-year-old colt for owner/breeder Kaleem Shah. “He’s made good progression each time in his last few runs and I think he’s got a chance.”
After racing 19 times in 24 career starts on turf, the last 12 in a row, Cistron returns in the Kona Gold on the main track where he has one win in five outings.
“He won a stake at three on the dirt,” pointed out John Sadler, trainer of the five-year-old son of The Factor for principal clients Kosta and Peter Hronis, who supplemented the full horse to the Kona Gold for $4,000.
“He’s been on the grass kind of ever since, but we thought we’d try him back on the dirt. He’s doing real well, he’s a good horse, so we’ll see how it goes.”
The Kona Gold, race five with a 1 p.m. first post time: $4,000 supplemental nominee Dr. Dorr, Joe Talamo, 9-5; $4,000 supplemental nominee Cistron, Victor Espinoza, 5-2; All Out Blitz, Tyler Baze, 4-1; Zatter, Drayden Van Dyke, 10-1; and Kanthaka, Flavien Prat, 2-1.
BAFFERT GOES WITH FLO (GEROUX) FOR KENTUCKY DERBY
Anyone who’s been in racing for any length of time understands that loyalty is not always the game’s highest priority.
So when Mike Smith opted to ride Arkansas Derby winner Omaha Beach for Richard Mandella in the 145th Kentucky Derby on May 4 rather Santa Anita Derby winner Roadster trained by Bob Baffert, for whom he captured the Triple Crown aboard Justify last year, jaws weren’t exactly dropping to their chins.
Baffert recognizes it’s business, not personal, and the two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer (also American Pharoah in 2015) wasted little time in going to plan b and engaging Florent Geroux to ride Roadster in the Run for the Roses, joining two other Baffert contenders, champion Game Winner and Arkansas Derby runner-up Improbable.
“Every summer when I go to Kentucky, he helps me out and breezes a lot of horses for me,” Baffert said of the 32-year-old Frenchman. “We’ve won races together. When he comes out here, I put him on horses.
“I have a good relationship with the guy . . . He knows Churchill really well. I wanted to go with somebody who’s very familiar with Churchill Downs, and after discussing it with the owners (Speedway Stable), we were all in agreement about Flo.”
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FINISH LINES: Prepping for the Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, Santa Anita Handicap winner Gift Box will work at 6:30 Saturday morning for John Sadler under assistant trainer Juan Leyva . . . Big ‘Cap runner-up McKinzie worked five furlongs for Bob Baffert Friday in a bullet 1:00 flat with Joe Talamo up for the Grade II Alysheba at Churchill Downs May 3 . . .With owner Kaleem Shah looking on, Santa Anita Oaks winner Bellafina breezed four furlongs in 48 seconds for the Kentucky Oaks on May 3. “Really good,” trainer Simon Callaghan said of the drill under regular rider Flavien Prat. The filly will have one more breeze here before flying to Kentucky on April 29 . . . John Shirreffs has multiple Grade I winner Paradise Woods set to work tomorrow for the Grade II Santa Margarita Stakes the following Saturday, April 27 . . . Jerry Hollendorfer has Instagrand ticketed for the Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs May 4, while plans for California-bred Galilean are undecided . . . Santa Anita offers one of four Easter Sunday Brunch packages on santaanita.com, while kids at The Great Race Place Sunday can enjoy a fun-filled afternoon hunting 33,000 eggs in the Infield during the races . . . Dan Blacker will be but one of several trainers looking for fresh, young stock at next week’s spring Ocala Breeders’ Sales event in Florida . . . Workout analyst and publisher of Winner’s Card Toby Turrell will be Tom Quigley‘s guest handicapper Saturday, 11:50 a.m., in the XBTV studios.