- RANSOM THE MOON HAS WEATHERED THE STORM
- ACCELERATE POINTS TO BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC
- JURY STILL OUT ON BREEDERS’ CUP FOR VASILIKA
- SMILING TIGRESS BERNSTEIN’S HORSE FOR COURSE
- $1 MILLION RAINBOW PICK SIX JACKPOT AGAIN TODAY
D’AMATO HOPES PATIENCE PAYS WITH RANSOM THE MOON
Multiple Grade I winner Ransom the Moon was scheduled to run in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel on Sept. 22, but Hurricane Florence washed out those plans.
Now the six-year-old Malibu Moon horse trained by Phil D’Amato is pointing to this Saturday’s Grade I Santa Anita Sprint Championship for three-year-olds and up at six furlongs.
“He was supposed to run at Laurel but they canceled the races that weekend because of the hurricane, so we elected to stay here and run in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship,” D’Amato said.
Ransom the Moon has a 6-7-1 record from 24 starts with earnings of $848,829. The Santa Anita Sprint Championship not only is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, giving the winner a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint Nov. 3, it carries $300,000 in purse money with $180,000 going to the winner. Should Ransom the Moon win, he would thus become a millionaire.
“He’ll probably breeze on Monday because rain is forecast for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday so I don’t expect there will be much training,” D’Amato said.
Also likely for the Sprint Championship are Roy H, Paco Lopez, and Horse Greedy, Stewart Elliott, with Edwards Going Left as a possibility. Edwards Going Left worked five furlongs Sunday in a bullet 58.80, fastest of 105 drills at the distance.
ACCELERATE ‘LOOKS GOOD’ AFTER AWESOME AGAIN TRIUMPH
Accelerate, who enhanced his status for Horse of the Year honors with an authoritative 2 ¼ length triumph as the 3-10 favorite in Saturday’s Awesome Again Stakes, came out of the race fine and it’s on to the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 3 for trainer John Sadler and owner Hronis Racing.
“At first blush he looks really good,” Sadler said Sunday morning. “We’re thrilled with his performance, he’s staying in rhythm and running good. We’re on schedule.”
Sadler’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile favorite, Catalina Cruiser, meanwhile, worked five furlongs Sunday in 59.80 under assistant trainer and former jockey Juan Leyva.
“He went beautiful,” Sadler said. “He looked super.”
HOLLENDORFER MULLING BREEDERS’ CUP FOR VASILIKA
Despite winning her seventh straight race and her most impressive and important since being claimed for $40,000 last Feb. 11, Jerry Hollendorfer had no firm decision Sunday morning on whether Vasilika would be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf Nov. 3.
“It’s $100,000 (to nominate), but that covers your entry fee and everything, so we have to do a lot of homework on that race for her, because most of the horses coming in are European used to going that distance (1 3/8 miles),” Hollendorfer said, less than 24 hours after Vasilika had won the “Win and You’re In” Rodeo Drive Stakes by a half-length under a heady ride by Flavien Prat.
“I hesitate to run our horse if it was a soft turf course, and it might likely be soft (at Churchill Downs in early November).”
OLD TRAINERS NEVER DIE, THEY JUST TRAIN AWAY
Smiling Tigress lit up the tote board with a $54.60 mutuel after winning Saturday’s eighth race by a half length under Tyler Baze for trainer David Bernstein.
It was a feel good story all around.
The three-year-old California-bred daughter of the late Smiling Tiger was coming off four straight races in which she was beaten a combined 32 lengths. Bernstein removed the blinkers for the optional claiming race for fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs.
That helped, but it wasn’t crucial, said the 78-year-old Bernstein, who conditioned 1994 champion older male The Wicked North.
“She didn’t need the blinkers: she loves this track,” Bernstein said. “Her races here are all good. Her only bad races are at Del Mar, which she despises. She works good there, but she won’t run.”
Baze has ridden Smiling Tigeress in 11 of her last 12 races. He has been aboard in all three of her career victories, each at Santa Anita where she also has two seconds and a third.
“He really likes her,” said Bernstein. “He loves to work her because she’s so easy. He works her frequently and he loves to ride her.”
Smiling Tigress rallied wide from seventh to win, “and when those three horses were ding-donging out front going 21 and change and 44 and change, I thought, ‘How sweet it is. There’s no way they’re going to finish.’
“Down the lane I thought she was going to be at least third, then second, then she’s going to win. We were hollering like crazy. She tries hard and loves this track.”
Otherwise, it was business as usual Sunday morning for Bernstein, whose barn consists of only four horses.
“That’s what happens when you get old,” he lamented. “Nobody wants you.”
Save for Santa Anita and Smiling Tigress.
SANTA ANITA GUARANTEES $1 MILLION RAINBOW PICK SIX JACKPOT POOL TODAY
As there was Saturday, there is another $1 million guaranteed Jackpot pool in Sunday’s 20 cent Rainbow Pick Six at Santa Anita. On opening day, Friday, one lucky ticket came within one length of hitting a $250,000 Jackpot in the ninth and final race, so the prospect of a life-changing score is very much a reality heading into Sunday’s nine-race matinee.
Sunday’s Rainbow Six begins with race four, with an approximate post time of 2:05 p.m.
The Grade I, $300,000 Zenyatta Stakes has been carded as Sunday’s fifth, and with Bob Baffert’s Abel Tasman installed as the heavy 2-5 morning line favorite, a good many punters may opt to approach the “six” as a Pick 5 in order to spread deeper in all other races.
Heading into Sunday, average field size in the 20 cent Rainbow Pick Six stands at eight runners per race.
The 20 cent Rainbow Pick Six, which has proven to be a tremendous success at Gulfstream Park, was initiated with the onset of Santa Anita’s 22-day Autumn Meet yesterday and has proven very successful through two days. Saturday’s total Rainbow Pick Six handle was $251,385, which resulted in 12 winning tickets worth $11,189. Yesterday’s Rainbow handle of $82,392 resulted in six winning tickets, each worth $7,336.
For additional information, please visit www.santaanita.com, or call (626) 574-RACE.
FINISH LINES: Bob Baffert said West Coast got what he needed from his second-place finish behind Accelerate in the Awesome Again and it’s on to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, while unbeaten Game Winner gave a “workmanlike performance” winning the American Pharoah by 4 ½ lengths, putting him in prime pouncing position for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Nov. 3. It was the first race for champion West Coast since last March 31, when he was second in the Dubai World Cup . . . Trainer Simon Callaghan reported that Bellafina, 6 ½-length winner of Saturday’s Chandelier Stakes as the 9-10 favorite, came out of her race “really good,” as did runner-up Vibrance and runner-up Paved in the Rodeo Drive for Michael McCarthy. “I’m really proud of both of them,” the trainer said . . . Fashion Business, 2-1 morning line favorite for today’s John Henry Turf Championship, was scratched due to a “minor setback,” trainer Phil D’Amato said. His next race is yet “to be determined.” . . . With rain in the forecast, there were 228 recorded works at Santa Anita Sunday including 24 on the training track . . . Drayden Van Dyke has been suspended Oct. 6, 7 and 8 for causing interference aboard Captivate in Friday’s eighth race, resulting in a disqualification from first to second. Ruben Fuentes has been suspended the same three days for causing interference to Gray Admiral in Friday’s first race, resulting in a DQ from first to fourth on the 40-1 outsider . . . Tyler Trifecta: three Tylers are named to ride at Santa Anita today–Baze, Conner and Gaffalione . . . In addition to retired Hall of Fame jockeys Eddie Delahoussaye, Julie Krone, Laffit Pincay, Jr., and Don Pierce, there were several retired NFL players in the Santa Anita Winner’s Circle yesterday, including the “The Nigerian Nightmare,” Christian Okoye, who played college football at nearby Azusa Pacific University and is a member of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Hall of Fame . . . Yes, that was former Chicago Bulls rebounding king Dennis Rodman in Santa Anita’s Winner’s Circle after Calumet Farm’s Flying Scotsman won Saturday’s fourth race by a nose under Tyler Conner for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. “He knows us from when we raced in Chicago,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. No sign of Kim Jong-un.