A STRATEGY CHANGE FOR THE GREAT ONE
CHAMPION GAMINE RETURNS IN LAS FLORES
HOT ROD, CONCERT TOUR WORK FOR ROSES
O’NEILL ‘OPTIMISTIC’ ABOUT RUNHAPPY SA DERBY
Trainer Doug O’Neill plans to change tactics for The Great One in today’s Grade I Runhappy Santa Anita Derby.
The son of 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist was fifth, beaten almost nine lengths, by second-place finisher Medina Spirit in the San Felipe Stakes on March 6, never getting to the front after breaking in and bumping in the 1 1/16-mile race.
Medina Spirit was the 5-2 morning line favorite in the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby.
“We’re just going to be forwardly placed,” said O’Neill who won the Santa Anita Derby back-to-back with eventual Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another in 2012 and Goldencents in 2013.
“The last time we kind of took him back a little bit. Today we’re going to send him away from there, be forwardly placed, and we’re optimistic.”
The West Coast’s major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby on May 1 lost one starter when trainer Simon Callaghan, dissatisfied with Roman Centurian’s training yesterday, scratched the son of Empire Maker, who was second by a neck to Medina Spirit in the Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Jan. 30.
Roman Centurian drew the rail for the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby and was 8-1 on the morning line.
The Runhappy Santa Anita Derby is race eight of 12. It will be broadcast live on NBCSN, with approximate post time 4:15 p.m. Pacific.
GAMINE SHORT PRICE AGAIN IN 4-YEAR-OLD DEBUT
Gamine, Eclipse Award winner as champion female sprinter
of 2020, was supplemented for $2,000 to Sunday’s Grade III Las Flores Stakes and it appears to be a rock-solid investment.
A $1.8 million daughter of Into Mischief trained by Bob Baffert for Michael Petersen, Gamine will be making her first start since clinching the crown with a 6 ¼-length romp in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint last Nov. 7 at Keeneland.
That race was at seven furlongs. The Las Flores, which Baffert has captured four times, will be decided at six.
Gamine has crossed the wire first in five of her six races, finishing third in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks last Sept. 4 and disqualified from purse money after hitting the wire in front by a neck in an overnight race at Oaklawn Park last May 20.
She has been favored in every race, five times at odds-on,
and at 10 cents on the dollar in her debut race at Santa Anita March 7, 2020, which is what she’s likely to be tomorrow against three rivals, among them stablemate Qahira.
With earnings of $883,000, Gamine’s connections have the Breeders’ Cup this November at Del Mar as their long rang objective.
The 68th running of the Las Flores goes as race two of nine with a 1 p.m. first post time.
The field: Gamine, John Velazquez, 1-9; Qahira, Flavien Prat, 5-1; Hang a Star, Abel Cedillo, 8-1; and Biddy Duke, Umberto Rispoli, 12-1.
FINISH LINES: Prepping for the Kentucky Derby on May 1, Louisiana Derby winner Hot Rod Charlie worked four furlongs this morning in 49.40 under Santa Anita’s leading rider Flavien Prat while Derby-bound Rebel winner Concert Tour went six furlongs in a bullet 1:12.80 for Bob Baffert. “He went the last eighth in 11 and change,” trainer Doug O’Neill said of Hot Rod Charlie. “I’m very happy.” O’Neill had a busy morning. Of the 145 recorded workouts including 25 on the training track, 21 were for runners conditioned by O’Neill. Baffert also sent Rebel runner-up Hozier four furlongs in a bullet 46.60 as the son of Pioneerof the Nile prepares for next Saturday’s Arkansas Derby. It was the fastest of 67 drills at the distance and almost three seconds quicker than the average time of 49.26. Dan Blacker breezed Grade I Kilroe Mile winner Hit the Road four furlongs on the training track in 48.20 . . . Baffert, who with 218 career Grade I wins, is now just one away from all-time leader D. Wayne Lukas at 219, has moved into first in Santa Anita’s contentious trainers’ race, 27-26, over Phil D’Amato. Peter Miller (25), Richard Baltas and O’Neill (23 each) are next in line. Prat continues to dominate the jockeys’ race, holding a commanding 76-50 lead over runner-up Juan Hernandez.
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Preview of the Grade I Runhappy Santa Anita Derby
Preview of the Grade II Royal Heroine Stakes
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