SOLD IT EYES GRADE II SANTA YNEZ SUNDAY
D’AMATO COULD HAVE TWO IN SAN GABRIEL
BALTAS AND PRAT TEAM UP TO HIT TRIFECTA
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON IN TRAINING HORSES
SOLD IT LIKELY FOR SUNDAY’S SANTA YNEZ STAKES
Sold It, a gray daughter of multiple Grade I winner The Factor, is ticketed for this Sunday’s Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes for three-year-old fillies at seven furlongs.
Sold It broke her maiden in a turf sprint at Del Mar on Nov. 15, then weakened to fifth after prompting the pace going 1 1/16 miles in the Grade I Starlet won by Chasing Yesterday at Los Alamitos on Dec. 8.
“I thought she ran really well in the Starlet,” said Doug O’Neill, who trains the Kentucky-bred for Ciaran Dunne and Reddam Racing LLC.
“She’s doing great and we’re backing her up to seven eighths because that’s what’s on the calendar, so we’ll either lead her over for the Santa Ynez or continue to work her, but I think her best races will be at two turns.”
The Factor was a front-running gray son of War Front who captured the Grade I Malibu and the Grade I Pat O’Brien in 2011 when trained by Bob Baffert. Overall, the Kentucky-bred won six of 13 starts and earned $922,180.
Baffert has Mother Mother and Qahira nominated to the Santa Ynez, but is likely to enter only the former, who was third by a neck to stablemate Chasing Yesterday in the Starlet after setting the pace under Florent Geroux.
A daughter of the Baffert trained Pioneerof the Nile, Mother Mother won the restricted Rags to Riches going a flat mile at Churchill Downs on Oct. 28.
SAN GABRIEL COULD BE STEPPINGSTONE FOR D’AMATO DUO
Canadian invader Cleopatra’s Strike and horse for course Hunt could represent trainer Phil D’Amato in this Saturday’s Grade II San Gabriel Stakes for four-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
“We’re looking at this race as a possible stepping stone for both horses,” D’Amato said. “We’ll try to get a line on them for 2019.”
Cleopatra’s Strike is a six-year-old gelded son of Smart Strike who has made 18 of his 22 career starts at Woodbine. The chestnut bred in Ontario has never run in a stakes race.
The Irish-bred Hunt, on the other hand, has run in 14 straight stakes and in 16 stakes from 22 starts overall in America. A seven-year-old Dark Angel gelding, Hunt has won five of 11 starts on Santa Anita’s turf course, including the Grade I Shoemaker Mile May 28 of this year.
Also likely for the San Gabriel are Hollywood Turf Cup winner Chicago Style (Drayden Van Dyke) and Next Shares, winner of the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile (Joel Rosario).
BALTAS AND PRAT WIN THREE TOGETHER ON SUNDAY
Trainer Richard Baltas gave Flavien Prat a leg up on three winners Sunday, enabling the 28-year-old Frenchman to move past Joel Rosario in the jockey standings through four racing days, 6-5.
Prat won aboard Shadow Sphinx ($8) in the first, Lady Ninja ($6.80) in the third and English Dancer ($6.80) in the eighth. Prat also finished second on Baltas trainee Unicorn in the 10th race.
“We’ve been working very hard in the mornings with Richard to gain a position in his barn,” said Prat’s agent, Derek Lawson.
“Flavien was very impressed with the way she had trained,” Lawson said, speaking of English Dancer, a four-year-old English Channel filly, “so we were very confident about her. Flavien had worked her three weeks ago and absolutely loved the way she went.
“We consider the other two wins as gifts, but enjoyed them nonetheless. Riding for Richie Baltas is always a pleasure, because he’s constantly considering ways to improve his horses and continues to get better and better stock.”
Baltas has had three wins in one day before, but never four.
Something for the 57-year-old trainer to shoot for in the New Year.
FATHERS AT SANTA PROUD OF THEIR SONS
“Like father, like son,” the old saying goes, particularly in horse racing, where at Santa Anita, father Eric Kruljac and his 36-year-old son, Ian, train over the same terrain, paternal pride understandably evident in 65-year-old Eric after Ian sent out 33-1 California-bred Hot Autumn to run second in the Grade I La Brea Stakes on opening day.
“I bought her out of an auction at Barretts from a person who had about 20 horses in a dispersal sale, because he was getting out of the business,” Eric said. “I gave her to Ian to train for Clarke Cooper, and Ian owns 25 percent. I paid $11,000 for her when she was eight months old and $12,000 as a three-year-old in the dispersal sale.”
Ian’s greatest achievement to date is Finest City, 8-1 winner of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 5, 2016. The daughter of City Zip had a 5-6-4 record from 20 career starts, earning $1,266,394.
“What Ian accomplished with Finest City wasn’t a fluke,” Eric said. “Nor is Exuberance (who ran second to Dream Tree in the Grade II Las Virgenes Stakes last February). “We paid $75,000 for Exuberance,” Eric pointed out. “Ian’s done wonders with limited opportunities.
“He’s got a gift.”
Another proud father-son duo is 75-year-old trainer David Hofmans and his son, Grant, 43, formerly based in Southern California, where his dad, a native of Los Angeles, has been headquartered since 1974.
David’s major achievements include Alphabet Soup’s Breeders’ Cup Classic victory in 1996, Adoration’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff upset in 2003 and Desert Code’s 36-1 shocker in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Grant currently has eight head at the Highpointe Farm and Training Center in La Grange, Kentucky, built by the late Jack Van Berg.
And the beat goes on.
FINISH LINES: Much Better, an impressive debut winner as the 9-10 favorite at Del Mar Sept. 1 for Bob Baffert, worked five furlongs Monday in company for a possible start in this Saturday’s Grade III Sham Stakes. The son of Pioneerof the Nile was timed in 1:00.40 with Drayden Van Dyke aboard. In all, there were 185 recorded workouts Monday, 31 on the training track . . . First post time Tuesday, New Year’s Day, is 12 noon. It also is Dollar Day, with beer and soda on sale for a buck apiece, and hot dogs at $2.
For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
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