BAFFERT JUVENILES EARN TRIP TO BREEDERS’ CUP
ZENYATTA STAKES APT STORY LINE FOR SHIRREFFS
OMAHA BEACH SURFACES IN SPRINT THIS SATURDAY
SANTA ANITA PRESENTS SEVEN STAKES ON WEEKEND
BLINKERS HELPED EIGHT RINGS STAY FOCUSED
Bob Baffert was in a familiar place Friday, his home-away-from-home, Santa Anita Park, specifically the Winner’s Circle.
The two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer sent out Bast to win the Chandelier Stakes by a neck after a captivating stretch duel with 11-1 Comical, then 90 minutes later watched Eight Rings pummel eight foes with a front-running, six-length romp in the American Pharoah Stakes.
Each event was a Grade I, Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race, giving the winner a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 1 and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 2, respectively, which will be run at Santa Anita for a record 10th time.
John Velazquez rode both horses for Baffert, breaking a tie with fellow Hall of Fame member Jerry Bailey for most graded stakes victories by winning the Chandelier. It was No. 661 for Johnny V. as he is known to intimates in the racing world.
Eight Rings, who lost all chance in the Del Mar Futurity when Drayden Van Dyke was unseated in a bumping incident shortly after the start, wore blinkers in the American Pharoah.
“I think they helped a lot,” Baffert said Saturday morning at a bustling Clockers’ Corner, adding that both youngsters came out of their races in good order, and it’s on to the Breeders’ Cup with Velazquez retaining the mounts.
“The blinkers kept Eight Rings a little more focused,” Baffert added. “Bask was blowing after the race and really needed it. She had to work hard, but Eight Rings looked really good.”
PARADISE WOODS DOING WELL FOR ZENYATTA STAKES
The story line would be ideal should John Shirreffs win Sunday’s Grade II Zenyatta Stakes with Paradise Woods, since he was trainer of the mythical mare Zenyatta who captivated fans with her stirring last-to-first victories, 20 in 21 career races, including a jaw-dropper against males in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita in 2009.
The Zenyatta Stakes is a $200,000 Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race giving the winner a fees-paid berth to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Longines Distaff on Nov. 2.
“Paradise Woods is doing well,” Shirreffs said. “She’s had nice works (five furlongs Monday in a bullet 59.60, fastest of 58 drills at the distance, and seven furlongs the previous Monday in 1:26.20).”
Shirreffs will of course have everlasting memories of his all-time great female warrior, but based upon a recent visit, those feelings apparently are not reciprocal.
“The last time I saw Zenyatta was at the September sale early this month and she was doing great,” Shirreffs said. “She’s in foal to Candy Ride (at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky).”
Asked if Zenyatta remembered him, Shirreffs’ response was quick and succinct. “No,” he said. “She’s forgotten about me. Out of sight, out of mind, as they say.”
The field for the Zenyatta, race five of eight: Secret Spice, Flavien Prat, 8-5; Mongolian Humor, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 12-1; Paradise Woods, Abel Cedillo, 5-2; Ollie’s Candy, Kent Desormeaux, 9-5; La Force, Drayden Van Dyke, 5-1; and Kaydetre, Martin Garcia, 20-1
ZENYATTA STAKES TO BE SHOWN LIVE ON FOX SPORTS SUNDAY
Sunday’s Zenyatta Stakes will be shown live on Fox Sports as a part of its “America’s Day at the Races” show, which airs from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. PT.
A Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race qualifier to the $2 million Distaff, to be contested Nov. 2 at Santa Anita, the Zenyatta will be run at approximately 3:05 p.m.
Michelle Yu will provide on-site analysis and reporting and the broadcast will also feature live coverage of several stakes from Belmont Park, including the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Grade I Vosburgh Stakes, in addition to closing-day Fall Meet coverage from Churchill Downs.
COUNTDOWN ON FOR OMAHA BEACH IN SA SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIP
Following his bullet four furlong workout Friday in 46.80, trainer Richard Mandella reported Omaha Beach in fine fettle this morning as the countdown began in earnest for his eagerly anticipated return to the races this Saturday in the Grade I, Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Santa Anita Sprint Championship at six furlongs.
Regular rider Mike Smith will again be aboard the three-year-old son of War Front, who at press time had three others committed to face him: California Street, no rider; Flagstaff, Victor Espinoza; and Shancelot, no rider.
FINISH LINES: Today’s Late Pick 4 pool will be guaranteed at $500,000 . . . Santa Anita has seven stakes on tap next weekend, headed by Saturday’s Santa Anita Sprint Championship and the Grade II City of Hope Mile on grass, which could lure a crack lineup headed by Bolo and Ohio. Also Saturday are the Grade III LA Woman Stakes with Anonymity, Lady Ninja, Pretty Greeley, Selcourt and Show It N Moe probable; and the $70,000 Swingtime Stakes for fillies and mares three and up at a mile on turf. Achira, Great Return, La Sardane, Meal Ticket, Super Patriot and Toinette are scheduled to run. Sunday’s stakes are the $100,000 Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Speakeasy Stakes for two-year-olds at five furlongs on turf, expected to attract Alfie Solomons (Victor Espinoza) and Ginobili (Drayden Van Dyke); the $100,000 Surfer Girl; and the $100,000 Zuma Beach . . . McKinzie, Jon White‘s 4-5 morning line favorite for today’s Awesome Again Stakes, has been favored in his last six races and 10 of 12 in his career, five times at odds-on . . . Mario Gutierrez will serve a three day suspension (Oct. 4, 5, 6) meted out during the Del Mar meet, agent Matt Nakatani said . . . Respected workout analyst Andy Harrington will be Tom Quigley‘s guest handicapper 11:20 a.m. Sunday in the XBTV studios.
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