- ONLY ONE HORSE CAN BEAT JUSTIFY– JUSTIFY
- MOONLESS SKY IS SET FOR FRAN’S VALENTINE
- ASA ESPINOZA ENJOYS HIS FIRST-EVER TRIPLE
TRIPLE CROWN AWAITS JUSTIFY, CLOCKER SAYS
Paraphrasing FDR, the only thing Justify has to fear is Justify himself.
Saturday’s Preakness Stakes and beyond that the Belmont Stakes on June 9 is Justify’s for the taking, in the mind and eyes of private Santa Anita-based clocker Andy Harrington.
“I can’t see him losing, honestly,” Harrington said of the undefeated Santa Anita Derby winner, who captured the Kentucky Derby by 2 ½ lengths on May 5.
“There are no new shooters in the Preakness, he drew perfect, he likes the track and one more noteworthy thing, among others, is that he runs really well through turns.
“That’s where he makes almost all his moves and that’s where he puts his competition away. Pimlico has notoriously tight turns and that will really suit his style. There’s not that much speed in the race, so that should also be in his favor, although he can sit off of it if need be.
“I just don’t see him losing. The only that’s going to beat Justify is Justify.”
Fair enough, but should the expected occur, can he go on and win the Belmont Stakes and become history’s 13th Triple Crown winner, and the second in four years for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, joining American Pharoah in 2015?
“He’ll win the Belmont if he gets there,” Harrington said. “Every time they throw another hurdle at him, he overcomes it, from seven furlongs to a mile to a mile and an eighth to a mile and a quarter, he handles it with consummate ease and confidence.
“It’s amazing. It’s like he doesn’t even know what he’s doing, he’s so good. Right now he’s a big kid who’s getting better, and he’ll get better in the Belmont. He’ll develop more. He carries an immense amount of weight and he’s held it well.
“It doesn’t seem like he’s done anything but move forward during his campaign, including in his gallops . . . I think he’ll win the Triple Crown.”
The 143rd Preakness at one and 3/16 miles at Pimlico with a 3:20 p.m. Pacific post time: Quip, Florent Geroux, 12-1; Lone Sailor, Irad Ortiz Jr., 15-1; Sporting Chance, Luis Contreras, 30-1; Diamond King, Javier Castellano, 30-1; Good Magic, Jose Ortiz Jr., 3-1; Tenfold, Ricardo Santana, 20-1; Justify, Mike Smith, 1-2; and Bravazo, Luis Saez, 20-1.
Fans can enjoy Preakness Day at Santa Anita, which offers live music, Michelada flavors, a Michelada Rumble in the Infield, a trackside beer festival, brunch in the FrontRunner, a two-day Preakness betting challenge, the Bud Light Lounge and the Family Fun Zone. Tickets can be purchased at www.santaanita.com/events. Must be 21 or older.
IT’S ALL IN THE PAPPAS FAMILY FOR MOONLESS SKY
Moonless Sky, promoted to first in last year’s Fran’s Valentine Stakes after a troubled trip, hopes to land in the winner’s circle again in Saturday’s edition of the $100,000 race at a mile on turf for California-bred or sired fillies and mares, three and older.
“She hasn’t run since January,” said Eddie Truman, who trains the five-year-old Bold Chieftain mare for Pappas Racing. “She just was tired, so we backed off on her a little bit. Ideally, we wanted to have a race about a month ago, but the timing didn’t work out with the weather and all, so we decided to go into this race cold and see what happens.”
Truman has had horses for Pappas Racing “off and on for several years. They’re friends of mine, and their whole family, about 40 people, will come out for Saturday’s race, the kids, the grandkids, everybody. They just love it.
“They’re from Oregon, and Nick (Pappas) actually lives out here in Upland. He has his factories out here near Victorville and in Roseburg, Oregon. They did the concrete sculpture work all around the edge of Sirona’s (Sports Bar at Santa Anita).”
The field for the Fran’s Valentine, race nine of 12 with a 12 noon first post time: Speakers, Drayden Van Dyke, 12-1; Halo Darlin, Stewart Elliott, 12-1; Cheekaboo, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; Coco Kisses, Gary Stevens, 30-1; Lynn’s Legacy, Kyle Frey, 15-1; Moonless Sky, Kent Desormeaux, 7-2; Desert Steel, Brice Blanc, 12-1; supplemental nominee Cordiality, Tyler Baze, 6-1; Shy Carmelita, Joe Talamo, 6-1; supplemental nominee How About Zero, Mario Gutierrez, 4-1; and Barbara Beatrice, Tiago Pereira, 5-1.
FINISH LINES: Congratulations to Asa Espinoza on posting his first-ever triple yesterday, winning with Princess Leia ($6.40) for Rafael Becerra in the fourth race, Mojgan ($29) for Richard Baltas in the sixth and Time and Chance ($15.60) for Bill Morey in the seventh. “It feels pretty good,” the 18-year-old nephew of Hall of Fame jockey Victor Espinoza said Friday morning at Clockers’ Corner. “My hard work is paying off. That was the first time I’ve won three in one day.” Asa, who has been riding since February, is fourth in Santa Anita’s Spring Meet standings with 12 wins through 19 racing days and the meet’s leading apprentice rider . . . Leading trainer Phil D’Amato has Bowies Hero (Corey Nakatani) and Hunt (Flavien Prat) set for the Grade I, Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Shoemaker Mile on Memorial Day, May 28, while Kenjisstorm is a possibility. Other likely starters include Colonist (Drayden Van Dyke) and Om (Joe Talamo). Om worked five furlongs this morning for Dan Hendricks in 1:01.20 with Talamo up . . . Trainer Michael McCarthy says “everything is in play” for Gold Cup at Santa Anita nominee City of Light, who is scheduled to breeze this weekend in advance of his next race. City of Light is a winner of four of seven starts, the last three in a row, including the Malibu and Triple Bend, both Grade I’s at seven furlongs, and the Grade II Oaklawn Handicap at a mile and an eighth . . . Team Hollendorfer is weighing its options with Instilled Regard, who is enjoying 30 days on a Kentucky farm after outrunning his odds as the longest shot at 85-1 in the Kentucky Derby, where he finished a troubled fourth behind Justify. Jerry Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward said Laz Barrera winner Kanthaka, meanwhile, is ticketed for Belmont Park and the June 9 Woody Stephens at seven furlongs, a distance at which the son of Jimmy Creed is unbeaten in three starts . . . There is a massive Single Ticket Pick Six Jackpot carryover today of $495,962 . . . Pro player Duke Matties and TVG host/analyst Mike Joyce will be Tom Quigley‘s guests, 10:50 a.m. Saturday and 11:20 a.m. Sunday, respectively, in the East Paddock Gardens.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Thursday, May 17)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||57||8||10||7||14%||44%||$436,298|