- LOCAL HORSEMEN FANCY JUSTIFY IN BELMONT
- CASSIDY, MAY GIRL READY FOR A HONEYMOON
- DRAFT PICK TAKES ON TOUGHER IN AFFIRMED
- LITTLE MUNCHKIN WAS BIG FAN OF SANTA ANITA
- ROMAN FEELS GREAT, RETURNS NEXT THURSDAY
COMMON SENSE, LOYALTY FAVOR JUSTIFY
Whether it’s practicality, knowledge, common sense or loyalty, Justify was a near-unanimous choice Thursday in a random sampling of Santa Anita-based trainers to win the 150th Belmont Stakes Saturday and become history’s 13th Triple Crown winner.
Trainers from A (Paul Aguirre) to Z (Howard Zucker) all were on board with Justify, undefeated winner of the Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and 4-5 morning line favorite to conquer nine rivals in the mile-and-a-half Belmont.
Aguirre, Richard Baltas, Ray Bell, David Bernstein, Jeff Bonde, Jack Carava, James Cassidy, Matt Chew, Phil D’Amato, Caesar Dominguez, Paddy Gallagher, Mark Glatt, Jorge Gutierrez, David Hofmans, Jerry Hollendorfer, Steven Knapp, Brian Koriner, Eric Kruljac, Andrew Lerner, Jeff Metz, Hector Palma, Dean Pederson, Jorge Periban, Gary Sherlock, Gary Stute, Eddie Truman, Kathy Walsh, Tim Yakteen and Zucker all were in support of Justify.
About the only dissenter was Dan Hendricks, who opted for Bill Mott trainee Hofburg.
NBC-TV’s national telecast will air from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. Pacific Time, with scheduled post time for the Belmont at 3:46 p.m.
Fans are invited to enjoy festivities at Santa Anita on Belmont Stakes Day and partake in Chandelier Room tequila tasting, a Nineties by Nature 90’s concert in the Infield, a trackside package that includes the Family Fun Zone, and a $500,000 Late Pick Four pool guarantee. Visit santaanita.com/events for more information.
First post time is 12 noon. Admission gates open at 7:15 a.m.
CASSIDY ROLLS THE DICE WITH MAY GIRL IN HONEYMOON
Jim Cassidy is hopeful May Girl moves forward from her first U.S. start when she runs in Saturday’s Grade II Honeymoon Stakes for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
The English-bred daughter of Mayson owned by Cassidy’s principal client, Deron Pearson, prompted the pace before finishing sixth by nearly five lengths in the Grade III Senorita Stakes on May 5. It was her first race in seven months.
“She probably needed the race,” Cassidy allowed, “and I want to see if she’ll get the trip at a mile and an eighth. She’s been a sprinter most of her life, but she’s got some pedigree that shows she might be able to stretch out.”
The Honeymoon, race eight of 11: May Girl, Tyler Conner, 20-1; Finess Bere, Tyler Baze, 12-1 Animosity, Geovanni Franco, 6-1; Ms Peintour, Stewart Elliott, 4-1; Fatale Bere, Alonso Quinonez, 5-2; Miss Sienna, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; Movie Moment, Joe Talamo, 10-1; and Paved, Gary Stevens, 3-1.
DRAFT PICK MOVES UP IN GRADE III AFFIRMED
Draft Pick steps up from an impressive maiden allowance win on May 12 to Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Affirmed Stakes for three-year-olds at a mile and a sixteenth.
Peter Eurton hopes the son of Candy Ride, owned by C R K Stable, is up to the task.
“We’ll find out if we beat much, but we got a big number in the race,” the trainer said of the 5 ½-length victory that earned an 83 Beyer and a 108 on Equibase.
“I’m pleased that he can run that fast, but obviously we’ve got to beat Solomini, Lombo and others on Sunday. The maiden win was a good start, and we’ve got Los Alamitos to look forward to after the Affirmed, because he runs so well there (two strong thirds at a flat mile).”
‘WIZARD OF OZ’ MUNCHKIN HAD SANTA ANITA CONNECTION
With the Associated Press reporting the recent passing of 99-year-old Jerry Maren, the last surviving “Munchkin” from 1939’s film classic “The Wizard of Oz,” memories of Maren’s frequent visits to Santa Anita as a pitchman for Oscar Mayer hotdogs were evoked.
Although his role in “The Wizard of Oz” forever cemented his celebrity, Maren’s 70-year career in show business covered multiple roles and appearances, including that of Oscar Mayer’s “Little Oscar,” which Maren relished and fit to a tee throughout the 1960s.
Along with his Oscar Mayer “Weinermobile,” Maren’s presence at The Great Race Place was impossible to miss and Maren was always readily accessible both to the public and media, including Gil Stratton, who often interviewed him on his wildly popular 30-minute television show, “The Santa Anita Feature Race,” which aired Saturdays at 4 p.m. on KNXT, Channel 2 in Los Angeles.
Upbeat and always quick with a disarming smile, Maren, at 4-foot, 3 inches, loved playing the horses and was popular with the local riding colony, which included the likes of Bill Shoemaker, Johnny Longden, Milo Valenzuela, Donald Pierce, Jerry Lambert, Manny Ycaza and many others.
Born Gerald Marenghi in Boston on Jan. 24, 1919, Maren passed away May 24 in a nursing home in San Diego.
FINISH LINES: Evin Roman said he felt great after working three horses Thursday morning at Santa Anita, where he plans to resume riding next Thursday, June 14. The Eclipse Award winner as outstanding apprentice of 2017 suffered a fractured left toe in a training mishap April 24 . . . Bill Spawr had fond recollections of 25-year-old stallion Northern Afleet, who was euthanized June 1 at Taylor Made Stallions in Kentucky. Northern Afleet sired the California-bred gelding Amazombie, Eclipse Award champion sprinter and Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner in 2011, trained by Spawr. “I had three Northern Afleets at Hollywood years back and ran them all in different races the same week,” Spawr remembered Thursday morning at Santa Anita. “They all won. Amazombie was one of them. Northern Afleet started off as an underrated sire, then all of a sudden he became pretty good.” . . . Multiple graded stakes winner Fault “is comfortable” after undergoing surgery last Monday, June 4, for a condylar fracture of her left hind leg suffered in a training mishap the previous day. “The prognosis for her recovery is 100 percent,” trainer Phil D’Amato said . . . Alonso Quinonez has been suspended June 10, 14 and 15 for careless riding on Proper Drink in last Saturday’s fifth race, resulting in a disqualification from fourth to fifth.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, June 3)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||98||17||16||15||17%||49%||$1,022,600|