‘SPIRIT’ WORKS SUNDAY FOR RUNHAPPY SA DERBY
RESTRAINEDVENGENCE IS A CHAMP BY ANY NAME
ALTEA SEEKS HER FIRST U.S. STAKES WIN TODAY
SON OF DOUG, DAVID PETERSON MAKES ‘THE SHOW’
UCLA’S CRONIN HITS ‘SWEET 16’ AS HORSE OWNER
RUNHAPPY SANTA ANITA DERBY AWAITS MEDINA SPIRIT
Medina Spirit, twice runner-up to unbeaten stablemate Life Is Good, is scheduled to have his final major work Sunday for this Saturday’s Grade I Runhappy Santa Anita Derby which Bob Baffert has won a record nine times, starting with California-bred Cavonnier in 1996 and culminating to date with Roadster in 2019.
Even with the defection of early Kentucky Derby favorite Life Is Good due to a small chip in his left hind ankle, Baffert still has three other Triple Crown hopefuls, among them undefeated San Vicente Stakes and Rebel Stakes winner Concert Tour, who worked five furlongs this morning in 1:00.80 under Juan Ochoa for the Arkansas Derby on April 10.
“He went great; he looked fantastic,” the two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer said of the son of Street Sense owned and bred by Gary and Mary West.
“He couldn’t have looked any better. He just cruised around there in a minute and change.”
Runhappy Santa Anita Derby candidates working today included Dream Shake for Peter Eurton, five furlongs in 59.80, Roman Centurian, five furlongs in 1:00.40 for Simon Callaghan, and The Great One, six furlongs in 1:14.20 for Doug O’Neill.
The 68-year-old Baffert is closing in on fellow Hall of Fame member D. Wayne Lukas for the lead in Grade I wins from Jan. 1, 1976 through yesterday. The 85-year-old Lukas has 219 wins from 1,390 starts; Baffert is one back with 218 from 915 starts.
With 896 career wins at Santa Anita (not including Oak Tree), Baffert also is nearing the record for most races won at The Great Race Place, 21 behind the late Bobby Frankel’s 917.
The Runhappy Santa Anita Derby headlines six stakes this Saturday, four of them graded and two showcasing California-bred or sired runners.
In addition to the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby, they are the Grade II Santa Anita Oaks for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles; the Grade II Royal Heroine for fillies and mares four and up at one mile on turf; and the Grade III Providencia Stakes for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
Also, the two Golden State Series races, the $150,000 Echo Eddie Stakes for three year olds at 6 ½ furlongs and the $150,000 Evening Jewel Stakes for three-year-old fillies at 6 ½ furlongs.
Saturday’s local weather forecast calls for partly cloudy skies, zero percent chance of rain, and a high of 77 degrees.
VERSATILE RESTRAINEDVENGENCE READY FOR BEST
Restrainedvengence is an old warhorse whose ornery reputation precedes him.
Entered in Sunday’s $75,000 Santana Mile, he’s actually a pretty cool critter, but like a lot of humans, he has an aversion to visiting the doctor’s office. That’s when he can become irascible.
But on the race track, the six-year-old gelding based at Santa Anita is all business, have saddle, will travel is his creed.
A Kentucky-bred son of the Giant’s Causeway stallion Hold Me Back, Restrainedvengence has run 27 times, won eight, each with a different jockey at a different track, sprinting and routing and on different surfaces, dirt, turf and synthetic, to wit:
Sept. 30, 2017 at Santa Anita, broke his maiden at a mile on turf, Martin Pedroza up; April 6, 2018, won at 6 ½ furlongs on turf at Santa Anita under Rajiv Maragh; July 18, 2018, won the Oceanside at Del Mar, Evin Roman aboard; Sept. 2, 2019, won the Rolling Green at Golden Gate Fields at 1 1/16 miles on turf, Juan Hernandez in the saddle.
But wait; there’s more. On Nov. 27, 2019, he won the Zia Championship in New Mexico at 1 1/8 miles on dirt with Tyler Baze up; March 15, 2020, a restricted stake at Sunland Park ridden by Francisco Arrieta; May 25, 2020, the All American by a head on Golden Gate’s synthetic Tapeta course with Kent Desormeaux in the saddle; and Sept. 19 last year a $200,000 stake at Albuquerque with Ruben Fuentes in the irons.
He also has three seconds and a third, good for earnings of $626,222.
Since November 2018 Restrainedvengence has made two roundtrips to Zia Park (4,000 miles), four to Golden Gate (3,000 miles), one to Emerald Downs (2,280 miles) one to Sunland Park (1,580 miles) and one to Albuquerque (1,540 miles), totaling more than 13,000 via horse trailer, not by air.
In short, he is an Iron Horse.
“Not only that, he’s been ridden by 15 different jockeys and raced on three different surfaces,” said Val Brinkerhoff, who trains Restrainedvengence for his wife and assistant, Kelly, and Bobby Grayson Jr.
“Probably his very best race was one he lost, the Grade II City of Hope on Oct. 19, 2019, when he got beat a head at odds of nearly 44-1.
“The Santana Mile is a pretty tough field for $75,000, but I think he’ll run better on this track than he ever has.
“He can get pretty cantankerous but he hasn’t been that way for 2 ½ years. The only time I have trouble is when they try and take blood from him and screw things up.
“If they just go in and get it, he’s fine, but if they (take their time). . . he knows they’re scared of him. He’s not stupid.”
Asked if the horse had a nickname because of his lengthy four-syllable moniker (the second ‘a’ in vengeance had to be omitted to comply with The Jockey Club’s regulation of only 18 characters in a name), Brinkerhoff was quick to respond with a name of his own.
“He’s a champion in my barn,” Val said.
The Santana Mile, race eight of nine with a 1 p.m. first post time: Mastering, Juan Hernandez, 2-1; Major Cabbie, Abel Cedillo, 6-1; Fashionably Fast, Tiago Pereira, 5-2; Growth Engine, Flavien Prat, 3-1; Ax Man, Edwin Maldonado, 5-1; and Restrainedvengence, Tyler Baze, 8-1.
ALTEA TRIES, TRIES AGAIN IN SANTA ANA STAKES
Altea, a French-bred mare diligently trying to overcome a case of seconditis, seeks her first United States stakes victory today in the Santa Ana Stakes.
A six-year-old daughter of the Pivotal stallion Siyouni, Altea broke her maiden in France going on four years ago, July 18, 2017. Her lone win in the U.S. came in an allowance race at Aqueduct on Nov. 16, 2019.
In addition to those two triumphs, the bay mare has eight seconds and five thirds from 25 starts, nickel and diming her way to earnings of $303,164.
In 20 U.S. races, 15 have been stakes, 10 of them graded.
“She tries hard,” said Michael McCarthy, who trains Altea for MyRacehorse, which in an agreement with Spendthrift Farm has acquired the lease-to-race rights for two-time Eclipse Award champion Monomoy Girl during her 2021 racing campaign.
The Santa Ana will be Altea’s first race at a mile and a quarter. She gained third last out in the Grade III Astra at a mile and a half in only her second race at Santa Anita.
Prior to that she was trained by Chad Brown on the East Coast, hitting all the major stops including Tampa Bay Downs, Churchill Downs, Belmont Park, Saratoga, Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park, the Fair Grounds, Keeneland and Monmouth Park.
The Santa Ana, which goes as race nine of nine: Mucho Unusual, Flavien Prat, 8-5; Silberpfeil, Tyler Baze, 30-1; Going to Vegas, Umberto Rispoli, 7-2; Tapwater, Mike Smith, 4-1; Red Lark, Ruben Gonzalez, 5-1; Neige Blanche, Juan Hernandez, 8-1; Altea, Abel Cedillo, 8-1; and Colonial Creed, Mario Gutierrez, 12-1.
LATE TRAINER PETERSON’S SON MAKES THE NEW YORK METS
Well worth reading is a tell-all account of David Peterson’s arduous path to becoming a starting pitcher with the New York Mets, written by Anthony DiComo at MLB.com.
David is the son of the late Doug Peterson, trainer of the first undefeated Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew in his four-year-old season. David was nine years of age and living with his father when he passed away on Nov. 21, 2004 due to an accidental overdose stemming from a medical error.
A left hander who does not have overpowering “stuff” but who relies on changing speeds and locating the baseball while trying to stay in advantageous counts, resembles his father as he stands six feet, four inches tall and weighs in at 240 pounds.
A dominant force on the mound at the University of Oregon prior to signing with the Mets, David attended Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, CO, and was raised following his father’s death by his paternal grandmother.
David, who was by his father’s side at Santa Anita, Del Mar and Hollywood Park, made his Major League debut with the Mets last summer and in DiComo’s story, expresses interest in future Thoroughbred ownership.
Here is the link to DiComo’s story: https://www.mlb.com/news/david-peterson-s-path-to-mets
UCLA’S CRONIN EYES FINAL FOUR AS HORSE OWNER
In a story written by Pat Forde and filed yesterday at SI NCAAB, UCLA basketball coach Mick Cronin details his relationship with his father Hep Cronin, who was also a renowned high school basketball coach in Cronin’s hometown of Cincinnati.
With the Bruins in the Sweet 16 and focused on number 2-seed Alabama on Sunday, Cronin reveals his deep affinity for horse racing and the role the Sport of Kings has played in cementing strong family ties to the present day.
In addition to winning more than 400 games and never having a losing season as a high school hoops coach, Hep Cronin also worked as a scout for the Atlanta Braves. As such, he encouraged then-manager Bobby Cox to draft a kid out of Florida named Chipper Jones. The Braves did, with their first pick in 1990 and a brilliant Hall of Fame career followed.
Quoting from Forde’s story, Mick Cronin related: “I probably could read the Racing Form before I could read my homework. My mom would say, ‘Don’t take him to the track,’ then walk away. My dad would hand me the Form and say, ‘We’ve got a problem in the early Daily Double.'”
Currently the part-owner of two horses, Brilliant Cut and Awesome Drive, both of whom are stabled at Santa Anita and trained by Doug O’Neill, Cronin races under the stable name of Boom Racing.
Here is the link to Pat Forde’s story: https://www.si.com/college/2021/03/26/mick-cronin-ucla-sweet-16-hep-cronin
FINISH LINES: Displaying the timing of an impeccably-tuned Swiss watch, Flavien Prat won four races Friday to increase his lead over runner-up Juan Hernandez to 24 at 72-48 . . . Congrats to Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux and his agent the second time around Tony Matos on scoring a double yesterday . . . Santa Anita’s leading trainer with 26 wins, Phil D’Amato sends out a first-time starter he owns, bred and trains in today’s third race, a three-year-old California-bred son of Grazen named Whatdidido, but it’s not a first. “I’ve run a lot of horses out of that mare (Showtime Apollo),” D’Amato said. “Master Ryan‘s out of that mare; he’s won a couple races, and a stakes filly, Barbara Beatrice (winner of the 2017 California Distaff Handicap) is out of that mare as is Tony Blackjack. She’s been a productive mare for me but I’ve owned and trained all of them.” . . . That loud splash reverberating after Friday’s first race at Santa Anita was produced by a bridge jumper who made an out-of-state wager of more than $100,000 to place on Beyond Brilliant. Favored at 10 cents on the dollar (1-9 on the tote board), the three-year-old daughter of Twirling Candy ridden by Umberto Rispoli for trainer John Shirreffs finished third in a field of four, beaten a neck for second and 2 ½ lengths for first. As a result, there were highly unconventional mutuel payoffs. Victorious Cherubic Factor, off at nearly 7-1 under Mario Gutierrez, paid $15.80 to win and $22.40 to place, while runner-up Bench, the longest shot in the race at a dime short of 25-1, returned $40.40 to show . . .
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