- HARD NOT TO LOVE IS READY FOR SANTA MARIA
- GRADE II SANTA MARIA ADDS STATUS WITH CE CE
- HONOR A.P. TO BREEZE FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY
- SHOULD BE A QUICK HONEYMOON FOR PARKOUR
- HOLLYWOOD GOLD CUP SET FOR 82ND RUNNING JUNE 6
HARD NOT TO LOVE MATURES FOR SANTA MARIA
Beaten as the 3-5 favorite in the Grade I Beholder Mile on March 14, Hard Not to Love is out to make amends in Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes for fillies and mares, three and older, at 1 1/16 miles.
The four-year-old Hard Spun filly was second to burgeoning Ce Ce in the Beholder after setting the pace until approaching the stretch run, losing the lead past the quarter pole.
The one-eyed bay showed her readiness for the Santa Maria with a bullet five-furlong workout last Sunday in 58.80.
“She came out of the work really well,” trainer John Shirreff’s said. “We had a little (racing) delay here, but other than that, she’s been running on a pretty consistent basis.
“I think that has helped her mature. Last time she drew the one hole so I hope we get a better post position Sunday.”
She didn’t. She drew the rail again.
Hard Not to Love has been favored in four of her seven races, the last two at odds-on. She has won five, with one second and one third for earnings of $488,480.
The Santa Maria gained in prestige and anticipation when trainer Michael McCarthy and owner/breeder Bo Hirsch entered streaking Grade I winner Ce Ce, setting up a rematch between her and Hard Not to Love.
Ce Ce also was being considered for the Grade I, $600,000 Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park on June 13, but when all the i’s and t’s were dotted and crossed, they opted to remain at home.
Ce Ce, a four-year-old daughter of Elusive Quality, out of Hirsch’s Grade I winning Miss Houdini, captured the Beholder Mile before traveling to Arkansas where she edged Ollie’s Candy by a head in the Grade I Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park April 18.
Overall, Ce Ce has four wins from six starts with earnings of $726,600 and is three for four at Santa Anita. Victor Espinoza, who has ridden her in all six races, will be aboard again in the Santa Maria.
The Santa Maria, race seven of eight with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Hard Not to Love, Mike Smith, 9-5; Ce Ce, Victor Espinoza, 3-5; Fighting Mad, Abel Cedillo, 6-1; Horologist, Flavien Prat, 8-1; and Kaydetre, Brice Blanc, 20-1.
HONOR A.P. WORKS FOR GRADE I RUNHAPPY SANTA ANITA DERBY
Honor A.P., likely to have a rematch on June 6 with undefeated Authentic in the Grade I Runhappy Santa Anita Derby, is scheduled to work towards that goal early tomorrow morning.
The son of Honor Code was a willing second behind Authentic in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes March 7, beaten 2 ¼ lengths although less than fully cranked.
Mike Smith, who has ridden the ridgling in each of his three starts, is on record as saying Honor A.P. “had a foot injury so we were going into the San Felipe probably 75 to 80 percent, if that.”
John Shirreffs concurs.
“We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare,” the trainer said. “We got him fit enough to run, but not 100 percent.”
A field of five currently is in prospect for the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby: Authentic, Honor A.P., Peter Eurton trainee Shooters Shoot, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Anneau d’Or trained by Blaine Wright, and Rushie, a Florida-bred son of Liam’s Map conditioned by Michael McCarthy. Rushie, winner of two of four starts, was second by 10 ¼ lengths to undefeated Charlatan in a one-mile allowance race at Santa Anita on March 14.
The Runhappy Santa Anita Derby, to be decided at 1 1/8 miles, headlines a spectacular program of seven stakes on June 6, including the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup; the Grade II Santa Anita Oaks; the $150,000 Cinema Stakes; the $100,000 Fran’s Valentine Stakes; the $100,000 Crystal Water Stakes and the $75,000 Desert Code Stakes.
LOOKS LIKE A FAST HONEYMOON FOR PARKOUR
Parkour has not raced in more than two months but the speedy daughter of Carpe Diem has been working forwardly towards Saturday’s Grade III Honeymoon Stakes for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
On paper, she figures to be contesting the pace with Peter Miller’s fleet-footed Laura’s Light.
“She’s got a lot of speed and uses it,” trainer Richard Mandella said of Parkour, owned and bred by LNJ Foxwoods. “We have high hopes for her although she’s been a little rough around the edges; she’s got to get more professional. But she’s getting better as we go, I’d say.”
Meanwhile, Mandella termed the condition of United and Jolie Olimpica “very good” after their respective victories in the Charles Whittingham Stakes and the Monrovia Stakes on Memorial Day weekend.
Mandella has the Grade II Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on United’s agenda Aug. 22.
The $100,000 Honeymoon, race seven of nine with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Guitty, Brice Blanc, 8-1; K P Dreamin, Victor Espinoza, 12-1; Fashion Royalty, Jose Valdivia Jr., 30-1; Croughavouke, Umberto Rispoli, 8-1; Laura’s Light, Abel Cedillo, 5-2; Little Bird, Mario Gutierrez, 15-1; Red Lark, Drayden Van Dyke, 12-1; Parkour, Mike Smith, 7-2; and Stela Star, Flavien Prat, 2-1.
SANTA ANITA RESTORES THE HOLLYWOOD GOLD CUP NAME
Santa Anita Park will restore the name of the Hollywood Gold Cup to the prestigious race for older horses when it will be run for the 82nd time on June 6th. The race had been called the Gold Cup at Santa Anita since moving to the Arcadia track in 2014.
“The Hollywood Gold Cup is one of the most storied races in all of American racing and we are right to remember it,” said Aidan Butler, Executive Director of California Racing Operations for The Stronach Group. “Beginning when Seabiscuit won the inaugural in 1938, it has attracted some of the finest older horses in the world. Even though Hollywood Park doesn’t exist anymore, this race does, and it deserves to be linked to its grand past.”
The 2020 Hollywood Gold Cup is part of a blockbuster day of racing on June 6 at Santa Anita, headlined by the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby. The Gold Cup is contested at the classic American distance of 1 ¼-miles on the dirt for a purse of $300,000. Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Vino Rosso shipped in from New York to win last summer’s Gold Cup, a precursor to his win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic that cemented his Eclipse Award as the year’s top older horse.
FINISH LINES: What looked like a walk in the (Santa Anita) park to the jockey title for Flavien Prat last Sunday turned into a tightrope trek after Abel Cedillo won four races Monday, including the Gamely Stakes on Keeper Ofthe Stars, giving 31-year-old trainer Jonathan Wong his first Grade I triumph. Prat still holds a comfortable 62-51 lead at the meet that has 12 racing days remaining and concludes June 21, but prior to Cedillo’s Grand Slam, it was a seemingly insurmountable 60-44 . . .
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