- PARADISE WOODS SET FOR SANTA MONICA SHOWDOWN
- ITSINTHEPOST IS READY FOR MARATHON SAN LUIS REY
- MOREY OUT TO GET THE BREAD WITH RYE ON SATURDAY
- ROSARIO ON INSTILLED REGARD IN SANTA ANITA DERBY
PARADISE WOODS ‘IN GOOD SHAPE’ FOR SANTA MONICA
Richard Mandella is quietly excited to have Paradise Woods race-ready for Saturday’s Grade II Santa Monica Stakes for fillies and mares, four and up, at seven furlongs.
The daughter of Union Rags was a game second to champion Unique Bella in the Grade I La Brea at seven furlongs last Dec. 26, but a hiccup here and there has delayed her comeback until tomorrow.
“We’re in good shape,” the Hall of Fame trainer said Friday morning with the rain abated and the sun breaking through at Clockers’ Corner. “There are some runners in the race, but we’ll leave the strategy up to Flavien (Prat) and see what he wants to do.
“I’m happy to have her back, and I don’t think the distance is an issue for her, although she didn’t run well in Kentucky on a sloppy track (in last May’s Kentucky Oaks at a mile and an eighth), but this track will probably be pretty good by tomorrow, so it’s not a concern.”
John Sadler, meanwhile, is delighted to have the apparent speed of the race, Selcourt, with the outside draw in the field of five. The daughter of Tiz Wonderful won her last two starts virtually wire to wire and looks like the one to catch Saturday.
“We got a really good draw, finally, so we’re pretty excited about that,” Sadler said. “She’s doing great although she is stepping up in class from a Grade III (Las Flores Stakes) to a Grade II, and Paradise Woods is a very good filly, as is (Bill) Spawr’s mare (Skye Diamonds).
“It’s a small field but an exciting race. I think Paradise Woods can be in front if they want her there. Each horse has its regular jockey, so they know what to do.”
The field for the Santa Monica, race five of 10 with a 12 noon first post time: Marley’s Freedom, Drayden Van Dyke, 6-1; Just a Little Hope, Evin Roman, 15-1; Paradise Woods, Flavien Prat, 1-1; Skye Diamonds, Tiago Pereira, 5-2; and Selcourt, Tyler Baze, 5-2.
ITSINTHEPOST COULD BECOME MILLIONAIRE SATURDAY
The consistent Itsinthepost seeks his second straight win in Saturday’s San Luis Rey Stakes, a mile and a half turf marathon for four year olds and up.
Favored in six of his last eight races, Itsinthepost is Jon White’s 6-5 morning line choice on Saturday. The six-year-old French-bred trained by Jeff Mullins for Jed Cohen’s Red Baron’s Barn has won on firm and yielding courses and is two for three going a mile and a half.
“I just hope it stays on the grass and it’s not too wet,” Mullins said. “He’s a game horse.”
Itsinthepost won the Grade II San Marcos last out on Feb. 3 by a nose under regular rider Tyler Baze, who has ridden the son of American Post in 24 of his 27 U.S. starts, the last 17 in a row, winning seven.
Overall, the bay gelding has an 8-7-5 record from 32 starts, with earnings of $975,712. A win (worth $120,000) or a second ($40,000) would put him in the millionaire status.
The field for the San Luis Rey, which goes as race nine: Rye, Joe Talamo, 8-1; Itsinthepost, Tyler Baze, 6-5; Play Hard to Get, Rajiv Maragh, 15-1; Saltini, Stewart Elliott, 10-1; Oscar Dominguez, Geovanni Franco, 20-1; Aquaphobia, Corey Nakatani, 10-1; Responsibleforlove, Drayden Van Dyke, 12-1; Colonist, Flavien Prat, 10-1; Hayabusa One, Victor Espinoza, 5-2; and Frank Conversation, Mario Gutierrez, 12-1.
MOREY HOPES PATIENCE PAYS OFF IN SAN LUIS REY
Rye will make his first start in two months Saturday in the San Luis Rey Stakes following an exercise in patience by trainer Bill Morey.
“I’ve just been waiting for the right spot,” Morey said Friday morning in explaining the absence by the five-year-old California-bred son of English Channel, who has won eight of his 16 career starts.
Like the majority of those in the San Luis Rey, Rye has never raced at a mile and a half, but he did win an overnight route at a mile and three-eighths on Dec. 2, 2016, at Del Mar.
“That was one of his best races,” Morey pointed out, “but it wasn’t against this kind of company. He took to the distance, so we wanted to try him again at a long distance. He drew the rail, but at a mile and a half, the riders will have plenty of time to sort themselves out, pick a spot, and wait.”
Claimed for $20,000 on Feb. 28, 2016 at Golden Gate Fields, Rye since has won seven races including the Turf Classic against California-breds on Jan. 27. A full horse, the chestnut who made his first start against $12,500 maidens at Golden Gate on Jan. 7, 2016 seeks his first graded stakes win in the San Luis Rey.
ROSARIO TO RIDE INSTILLED REGARD IN SANTA ANITA DERBY
Jerry Hollendorfer said Friday morning he has engaged Joel Rosario to ride Lecomte winner Instilled Regard in the Santa Anita Derby on April 7. Instilled Regard was ridden by Javier Castellano on Feb. 17 in the Risen Star, where he finished fourth.
Meanwhile, Mick Ruis, owner/trainer of Bolt d’Oro, has nominated the colt to the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 7 as an option to the Santa Anita Derby. Ruis said he will have a string of horses in Kentucky for the Keeneland meet which starts on April 6.
Violent Ridge, impressive overnight winner at one mile on March 11, also is being considered for the Santa Anita Derby, trainer Hector Palma said.
The $1 million, Grade I Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles awards 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 for third and 10 for fourth.
FINISH LINES: Richard Baltas, delighted to have run one-two with Madam Dancealot and Midnight Crossing in last Sunday’s Grade II Santa Ana Stakes, has the Grade I, $300,000 Gamely Stakes on May 28 as a long range goal for Madam Dancealot. Through 48 racing days, Baltas had started more horses than any other trainer, 147, winning 22. Doug O’Neill was a distant second with 122 starters . . . Geovanni Franco has been suspended three days (March 29, 30 and 31) for causing interference heading into the Club House turn on Black Site in last Sunday’s fourth race, resulting in a disqualification of his mount from second to fourth.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Thursday, March 19)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||135||29||16||11||21%||41%||$1,782,947|
|William E. Morey||32||10||2||9||31%||66%||$412,683|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||44||9||5||8||20%||50%||$315,739|