TEAM PRAT GLAD RACING IS ‘UNITED’ AGAIN
‘CLUBHOUSE’ RIDES IN SATURDAY’S STAKES
MALDONADO JOINS TOP AGENT TONY MATOS
PRAT SEEKS TO REMAIN IN FRONT AT SANTA ANITA
Flavien Prat is looking forward to continuing his winning ways as Santa Anita resumes its Winter/Spring Meet today.
The reigning Kentucky Derby winner led all jockeys with 45 victories before the Wuhan virus forced a halt to proceedings following March 22.
“He’s very happy that he can continue on with his career,” agent Derek Lawson said of the 27-year-old Frenchman, who was promoted to first place in the 2019 Run for the Roses following the controversial disqualification of Maximum Security, who crossed the wire in front.
“Racing is for everyone,” Lawson continued, “all the riders, the trainers, the owners. They can now return to a semblance of normal life with the horses back running and competing.”
Among those Team Prat has on its calendar this meet is marathon turf stalwart United, pointing to the Grade II, $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes at a mile and a quarter on grass May 23.
A gelded son of Giant’s Causeway trained by Richard Mandella for LNJ Foxwoods, United was second by three quarters of a length in the 2019 Whittingham and second by a head at 51-1 to Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf.
United captured the Grade II San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 1 before an unfulfilled trip to Dubai on World Cup day March 28 when the entire program was cancelled due to the Wuhan virus.
United was scheduled to run in the $6 million Dubai Sheema Classic at 1 ½ miles on the grass.
CLUBHOUSE RIDE PROGENY EYE GOLD AND GLORY
Warren’s Showtime and Club Aspen, stakes-winning progeny of the budding California stallion Clubhouse Ride, could add to their impressive resumes on Saturday.
Warren’s Showtime, a chestnut daughter of Clubhouse Ride bred by Benjamin Warren who is the owner along with his wife, Sally, seeks her third straight stakes victory in the $150,000 Evening Jewel Stakes at six furlongs for three-year-old fillies bred in California.
Club Aspen, a son of Clubhouse Ride who won the $100,000 King Glorious Stakes at Los Alamitos last Dec. 19, goes in the $150,000 Echo Eddie Stakes for three-year-old Cal-breds, also at six furlongs.
Trained by Craig Lewis, each horse is returning to the main track and shortening up in distance after coming off a turf race.
“It’s not an ideal situation,” said Lewis, who trained Clubhouse Ride to win The Californian Stakes twice, once at Hollywood Park and once at Santa Anita. “They’re better around two turns but the money is there. They’re both nice horses and we’ve got to get started somewhere.”
Each horse will be piloted Jorge Velez, who has a monopoly on them, having ridden Cub Aspen in all nine of his starts, winning two, and Warren’s Showtime in all seven of her races, winning four.
Club Aspen is owned by Craig’s older brother, Larry, for whom the 1995 Santa Anita Derby winner Larry the Legend is named.
Clubhouse Ride stands for $3,500 at Legacy Ranch. “The biggest bargain in America,” said Lewis, who proudly points out of the son of Candy Ride ran 43 times while campaigning for six seasons from 2010 to 2015.
Lewis, a native of Los Angeles who celebrated his 73rd birthday on May 1, has learned to roll with punches in a career that began in 1978. To him, the current pandemic is just another bump in the road.
“It’s all about adapting,” he said. ‘That’s how you survive.”
The Echo Eddie, race six on a 10-race card with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Stir the Pot, 20-1, Edwin Maldonado; Rookie Mistake, 8-1, Mario Gutierrez; Audace, 15-1, Abel Cedillo; Summer Fire, 8-1, Mike Smith; Club Aspen, 4-1, Jorge Velez; Project Leader, 30-1, Edgar Payeras; Bettor Trip Nick, 3-1, Umberto Rispoli; Big Sweep, 5-2, Flavien Prat; and Phantom Boss, 4-1, Drayden Van Dyke.
The Evening Jewel, race eight: Smiling Shirlee, 10-1, Mike Smith; Bella Vita, 6-1, Umberto Rispoli; Been Studying Her, 7-2, Flavien Prat; Dim Lights, 15-1, Assael Espinoza; Bulletproof One, 5-2, Abel Cedillo; Speedy Gigi, 12-1, Edwin Maldonado; Warrior’s Moon, 12-1, Drayden Van Dyke; Florentine Diamond, 20-1, Tiago Pereira; Warren’s Showtime, 3-1, Jorge Velez; and Homehome, 15-1, Mario Gutierrez.
In all, there were 105 horses entered for Saturday’s program, an average more than 10 per race.
FINISH LINES: Tony Matos now represents Edwin Maldonado in addition to J.C. Diaz Jr. The veteran agent has mentored a Who’s Who of jockeys in a resplendent career that has reaped six Kentucky Derby victories, with Angel Cordero Jr. twice (Cannonade in 1974 and Bold Forbes 1976); Laffit Pincay Jr. (Swale 1984): Kent Desormeaux twice (Real Quiet 1998 and Fusaichi Pegasus, 2000); and Victor Espinoza (War Emblem 2002). All four riders are in the Hall of Fame, as are two other former Matos clients, Garrett Gomez and Gary Stevens. “I’m happy to be working with Edwin,” Matos said…Notable works this morning: John Sadler’s Higher Power, prepping for the Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita June 6, went five furlongs in 1:01.40…Bob Baffert’s multiple Grade I winner McKinzie went five furlongs in 1:00.40 and Richard Mandella’s United, prepping for the Grade II Charles Whittingham Stakes on May 23, went seven furlongs in 1:26.60…The USAF Thunderbirds, America’s Ambassadors in Blue, will be doing several flyovers this afternoon in a salute to Southern California Covid-19 first responders and it is expected the six Falcon F-16C/D fighter jets will be clearly visible, at approximately 1:35 p.m., at The Great Race Place.
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