- D’AMATO IS IN THE HUNT FOR AMERICAN VICTORY
- FOUR IN PURSUIT OF SANTA ANITA JOCKEY TITLE
- ARROGATE WORKS FOR THE SAN DIEGO HANDICAP
- IT WAS BUSINESS AS USUAL FOR ESPINOZA SUNDAY
LONGER RACES IN THE HUNT FOR D’AMATO RUNNER
Hunt, an Irish-bred son of Dark Angel, makes his first start in seven months Tuesday in the Grade III American Stakes for three-year-olds and up at a mile on turf.
Trained by Phil D’Amato for Michael House, the five-year-old gray gelding last raced Nov.26, finishing fourth by a length and a half in the Grade II Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar.
“He’s come back better than ever, I think,” D’Amato said of Hunt, winner of five races from 20 starts, good for earnings of $246,419. “We’ll see how he does. Last year at Del Mar I campaigned him in sprints and five furlongs was a little too short for him.
“We’re trying a mile this year. He ran really well in the Seabiscuit (at a mile and one sixteenth) and if he fares well Tuesday, maybe we’ll run him in the Eddie Read (Grade II, $250,000 at 1 1/8 miles on turf July 22).”
The field for the $100,000 American, race six of 10 with a first post time of 1 p.m.: Hunt, Mike Smith, 6-1; Smokey Image, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Kenjisstorm, Flavien Prat, 12-1; Om, Gary Stevens, 5-2; Alert Bay, Tyler Baze, 3-1; Patentar, Martin Pedroza, 20-1; Si Sage, Rafael Bejarano, 10-1; Flamboyant, Brice Blanc, 6-1; and Pee Wee Reese, Joe Talamo, 4-1.
Santa Anita races through Tuesday, July 4, when the Spring portion of the current meet ends. Both tomorrow and Tuesday are DOLLAR DAYS, with beer, hot dogs and soda on sale for a buck apiece.
FOUR IN THE CHASE FOR LEADING RIDER
Winning the Santa Anita riding title for the Spring portion of the current meet that ends Tuesday will give the victor much deserved bragging rights, but that might not evolve until the final race is run three days hence.
The four front runners each won a race Saturday, leaving the margins between them in tact, to wit: Flavien Prat 37, Evin Roman 36, Joe Talamo 33 and Rafael Bejarano 32.
“It would mean a lot to win it, absolutely,” said the 27-year-old Talamo, who captured Saturday’s final race by a length on 5-1 shot Mucho Chrome for trainer Alfredo Marquez.
“It’s obviously tough with everybody riding live horses and trying real hard, but that said, the prestige of being the leading rider at Santa Anita is huge.”
ARROGATE WORKS FOR SAN DIEGO HANDICAP
Reigning Thoroughbred king Arrogate worked six furlongs in 1:12.60 after the 7:45 renovation break Sunday morning for the Grade II San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 22.
Jockey Martin Garcia was aboard for the drill, which was watched with more than passing interest by the gray colt’s regular rider, Mike Smith.
“He went nice,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “He went around there and worked like he did last week (four furlongs in a bullet 46.80). He just cruised around there. I think we ship that weekend (of July 15 for Del Mar).
“He’ll probably work here before he goes down there. I don’t want to work him down there. Right now, all systems are go.”
ESPINOZA TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
After riding Liam the Charmer to an eighth-place finish in the United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J. Saturday, Victor Espinoza left the East Coast on a 9 p.m. (Eastern time) redeye, arrived at LAX 12:30 this morning (Pacific), and was at Santa Anita in time to work Stellar Wind five furlongs in 1:01.60 soon after sunup at 6:45.
Thus, the 45-year-old native of Mexico, recently voted into the Hall of Fame, still has his priorities in order which is riding and winning races. He is looking forward to just that at Del Mar when the seaside track opens July 19, but first he will take some time to freshen up.
“After the meet ends here Tuesday, I’ll spend a week in Mexico at Tulum, near Cancun,” Espinoza said. “Then I plan to start winning races at Del Mar.”
As for Stellar Wind, who edged Vale Dori by a neck in a thrilling edition of the Beholder Mile on June 3, she is preparing for the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar on July 30.
“She went great this morning,” Espinoza said of the 2015 three-year-old filly champion trained by John Sadler for Kosta and Peter Hronis. “John wanted me to go in 1:01. It was just a little maintenance drill, nothing crazy. She still has a couple more works before the big race.
“She’s good. She only does what she has to do.”
FINISH LINES: Richard Mandella reports Santa Anita Oaks winner Paradise Woods “doing real well” as she points to the Grade III, $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 27 . . . Shoemaker Mile winner Bal a Bali worked four furlongs for Mandella Sunday in 52.60 . . . Affirmed Stakes winner Battle of Midway worked four furlongs under Flavien Prat in 49.60 for a likely start in the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on July 30. “The track was a little slow this morning, but he went great,” said trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who also sent unbeaten Sircat Sally five furlongs in 1:01. Hollendorfer announced that two-time champion Songbird, winner of the Ogden Phipps in her four-year-old debut, will make her next start in the Grade II Delaware Handicap on July 15 . . . Peter Miller is not only No. 1 among trainers with 32 victories, he is the leader in drawing the rail today. Miller has six horses entered in five races, three of them in the No. 1 post position, all with the meet’s second-leading rider aboard, apprentice Evin Roman . . . There is a single ticket Pick Six Jackpot carryover into Sunday of $350,962.93.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Saturday, July 1)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||76||10||11||14||13%||46%||$659,619|
|Trainer||Sts||1st||2nd||3rd||Win%||In $ %||Money Won|
|Hector O. Palma||46||7||8||6||15%||46%||$291,376|