- MAJESTIC QUALITY EYES SUMMERTIME OAKS UPSET
- TEAM O’NEILL SEEKS TURNAROUND FOR MOPOTISM
- EURTON HOPES HONEYMOON IS OVER FOR FAVORITE
- BAFFERT, SMITH BELMONT BOOM BOOSTS SA FIGURES
- SANTA ANITA JOCKEYS’ RACE GOING DOWN TO WIRE
- TWO FATHER’S DAY SPECIALS SUNDAY AT SANTA ANITA
KEITH DESORMEAUX SEEKS ‘MAJESTIC’ UPSET
John Keith Desormeaux, whose victories with outsiders are a matter of record, hopes to add to his longshot resume with maiden winner Majestic Quality in Saturday’s Grade II Summertime Oaks at a mile and a sixteenth.
A bay daughter of Quality Road, Majestic Quality came out of an eventful fifth-place finish in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks on April 8 to win by nearly seven lengths on May 21.
Desormeaux knows she has her work cut out for her Saturday.
“I couldn’t be asking for her to be doing any better,” the trainer said. “I could ask for it to be a little easier field, though. The race came up kind of tough, but we’re in Southern California and it’s supposed to be that way. After all, it is a Grade II.
“But she’s coming into it in great shape and she got a big Beyer (91) in her last race.
“As long as my bad-riding brother (a kindly knock at his kin, Hall of Fame jockey Kent) can give her a good trip, we’ll be all right.”
MOPOTISM HAPPY TO BE HOME FOR GRADE II OAKS
Team O’Neill expects improvement from Mopotism Saturday when the daughter of Uncle Mo trained by Doug O’Neill for Reddam Racing runs in the Grade II Summertime Oaks.
The bay filly was in tight early when finishing 10th by nearly 20 lengths to Abel Tasman in the Kentucky Oaks on a sloppy Churchill Downs track May 5.
“The track that day was not made for every horse, certainly not for her,” reasoned O’Neill assistant Leandro Mora. “She didn’t enjoy it, but she’s very happy here, training beautifully, and I expect good things from her.”
The Oaks, race nine of 10: Goseecal, Martin Pedroza, 30-1; Spooky Woods, Flavien Prat, 15-1; It Tiz Well, Mike Smith, 7-2; Sheza Chattykat, Corey Nakatani, 15-1; Selcourt, Tyler Baze, 6-1; Faypien, Rafael Bejarano, 7-2; Majestic Quality, Kent Desormeaux, 5-1; Noted and Quoted, Martin Garcia, 3-1; and Mopotism, Mario Gutierrez, 6-1.
PACIFIC WIND TACKLES SIRCAT SALLY AT LONGER DISTANCE
Unbeaten Sircat Sally is the 3-5 morning line favorite to win her seventh consecutive race Saturday in the Grade II, $200,000 Honeymoon Stakes for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
The California-bred daughter of Surf Cat has won all her races by daylight margins, an average of just over eight lengths per start.
But Peter Eurton, who sends out lightly raced stretch runner Pacific Wind, says the chestnut daughter of Curlin should fancy the added distance after finishing third by a length and a quarter behind Sircat Sally in the one mile Senorita Stakes last out.
“The distance shouldn’t be an issue with her at all, if we can beat the champ,” the trainer said. “But our filly’s doing really well; I think we’ll hopefully give her everything she can handle.”
The field for the Honeymoon, race six of 10: Zaffinah, Flavien Prat, 6-1; Pacific Wind, Jamie Theriot, 9-2; Tap It All, Mario Gutierrez, 12-1; Sircat Sally, Mike Smith, 3-5; Beau Recall, Joe Talamo, 4-1; and La Force, Rafael Bejarano, 12-1.
BELMONT NUMBERS UP IN ARCADIA AS SMITH, BAFFERT DOMINATE BIG APPLE
Despite the fact this past Saturday’s Belmont Stakes lacked a Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes winner, business was brisk in Arcadia, as Santa Anita’s handle and attendance numbers were up significantly over 2016.
Saturday’s on-track attendance of 18,043 was up five percent over last year’s 17,189. Saturday’s on-track handle of $2.7 million was up 11 percent over last year’s $2.4 million and Saturday’s total handle of $17.2 million marked a 15 percent increase over the $15 million wagered a year ago.
Although the Belmont Stakes itself lacked a real “local hook,” aside from the presence of Santa Anita Derby winner and eventual fifth-place finisher Gormley, the Belmont undercard was heavily populated by Santa Anita-based horses, trainers and jockeys as graphically evidenced by Mike Smith’s phenomenal five-win day, four of them in combination with Bob Baffert.
Smith, already considered one of the game’s all-time greats, won with all five of his first stakes engagements, resulting in an afternoon that is perhaps unprecedented in the annals of American racing. All of Smith’s Belmont Park winners were aboard Santa Anita-based horses:
–Race 2, $150,000 Easy Goer Stakes, WEST COAST, trained by Bob Baffert
–Race 4, Grade I, $700,000 Acorn, ABEL TASMAN, trained by Bob Baffert
–Race 5, Grade I, $750,000 Ogden Phipps, SONGBIRD, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer
–Race 7, Grade II, $500,000 Woody Stephens, AMERICAN ANTHEM, trained by Bob Baffert
–Race 9, Grade I, $1.2 million Metropolitan Handicap, MOR SPIRIT, trained by Bob Baffert
Not surprisingly, “Big Money” Mike Smith is America’s leading money winning jockey entering this week, with North American purse earnings of $13.1 million. What makes the money-won total even more remarkable is that Smith, through this past Sunday, had only ridden 127 North American races in 2017, winning 34, for an enviable win percentage of 27.
In the national trainers’ standings, Baffert’s $12.3 million ranks second only to Todd Pletcher’s earnings of $12.9 million.
TIGHT RACE FOR JOCKEY TITLE WITH EIGHT DAYS LEFT
With eight racing days remaining in the Spring portion of Santa Anita’s current meet, there is a three-way battle for the jockey title, Flavien Prat leading runners-up Joe Talamo and Rafael Bejarano, 31-29. Seven-pound apprentice rider Evin Roman has picked up ground late to rank behind the top three with 24 victories.
In the trainers’ race, Peter Miller holds a 27-23 lead over Richard Baltas, with Phil D’Amato third at 19. D’Amato leads in purse money earned, however, with $1,191.520, nearly $73,000 more than Baltas.
Among trainers with at least eight wins, Bob Baffert has the highest percentage, 31, and also has cracked the million dollar mark with $1,098,490.
Among the top 29 jockeys, Prat has the leading win percentage with 24, but trails Bejarano in purse money, $1,669,435 to $1,590,443.
SANTA ANITA OFFERS SPECIALS ON FATHER’S DAY
This Sunday, June 18, is Father’s Day, and Santa Anita is offering two unique and fun experiences from which dads can choose. The ‘Drams for Dads’ whiskey tasting and brunch in the historic Directors’ Room at Santa Anita includes brunch from 1 -3 p.m., a complimentary glass of champagne or beer on arrival, Woodford Reserve tasting session, commemorative tasting glass, Club House admission, racing program and a meet ‘n’ greet session with a professional handicapper. For tickets, visit: http://www.santaanita.com/events/drams-for-dads/.
And, for dads who just want to show up in shorts, sit outside and enjoy a delicious barbeque, Santa Anita will offer the Father’s Day Trackside Package. Each ticket includes a BBQ plate, one craft beer or wine, Club House admission, racing program and tip sheet and seating alongside the home stretch. For tickets, visit: http://www.santaanita.com/events/47675/.
FINISH LINES: B. Wayne Hughes, master of Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky, was on hand at Clockers’ Corner Friday after reviewing some two-year-olds, and reported that four-time Eclipse Award champion Beholder doing well as she awaits motherhood at his facility. “She’s in foal to Uncle Mo and in a paddock with other mares that are all pregnant and happy,” Hughes said . . . Bal a Bali, who earned a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Mile by winning the Grade I Shoemaker Mile on June 3, “is enjoying some swimming for a little bit and will point to the Del Mar Mile (July 20),” Richard Mandella said . . . American Gal, runner-up in the Grade I Starlet, worked five furlongs Friday in a bullet 59.20 for Simon Callaghan. The trainer said it was a “great work” but added he had “no definite plans yet” for her next race . . . Jorge Roman, father of hot-riding apprentice Evin Roman, was on hand Friday for the first time at Santa Anita with friend Victor Pagan from Puerto Rico to see his son ride over Father’s Day weekend . . . There is a Pick Six carryover today of $99,008 . . . “The Next Chapter for Caracortado” by Natalie Voss is recommended reading on today’s Paulick Report. Visit the following link: https://www.paulickreport.com/features/lost-and-found/lost-found-presented-horseware-next-chapter-caracortado/ . . . Jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. is suspended four days, June 17, 18, 23 and 24, for causing interference in the stretch on Conquest Farenheit in last Saturday’s Rainbow Stakes.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, June 11)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||62||10||9||11||16%||48%||$626,464|
|Hector O. Palma||39||7||7||5||18%||49%||$281,176|