- TOP TRAINER D’AMATO MINDFUL OF MEMORIAL DAY
- VERSATILE BRICKYARD RIDE SET FOR TRIPLE BEND
- TIGRE DI SLUGO WORKS FOR THOR’S ECHO STAKES
- MONSTER MEMORIAL DAY ON TAP AT SANTA ANITA
D’AMATO POISED FOR MAJOR MEMORIAL DAY
Phil D’Amato led all trainers with 52 victories at Santa Anita’s 2020-21 meet and is in prime pouncing position to surpass that number at the current campaign that concludes on June 19.
The 46-year-old native of San Pedro, who served 10 years under the late Mike Mitchell before his death in April of 2015, had 44 wins though Friday with 12 racing days ahead.
He made 21 nominations to the holiday weekend’s stakes, eight in the Shoemaker Mile alone.
D’Amato is looking forward to major opportunities in two of the three Grade I headliners on Memorial Day, the $500,000 Shoemaker Mile and the $400,000 Gamely Stakes. The Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup also is in the Memorial Day spotlight, although D’Amato has no horse nominated.
D’Amato has three likely for the Shoemaker, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race providing the nominated winner automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland on Nov. 5. They are Grade I Kilroe Mile winner Count Again, streaking winner Hong Kong Harry and Masteroffoxhounds, a new arrival to his barn that was second in the Grade II Charles Whittingham Stakes on April 30.
Going Global and Going to Vegas will represent D’Amato in the Gamely.
Going Global comes off an impressive victory in the Grade II Royal Heroine at a mile on turf April 9, her first race in more than four months.
“She’s won at a mile and an eighth three times,” D’Amato said of the four-year-old Irish-bred filly, alluding to the Grade I Del Mar Oaks and the Honeymoon and Providencia, each a Grade III. “The Gamely should be well within her scope after her second race off a layoff. She should be ultra-sharp and ready to go.”
Flavien Prat has the mount.
“Going to Vegas is kind of a versatile filly,” D’Amato said. “She can kind of do a little bit of everything. Irad Ortiz (Jr.) is going to ride her.”
D’Amato readily credited his horses and his staff for contributing greatly to the barn’s success.
“I’ve got a good bunch of runners and they’re all firing,” he said, “It’s fun when that happens, and hopefully, we’ll keep it going. No doubt a big part of it is due to my staff. My assistants and exercise riders are all doing a tremendous job.
“You’re only as good as your help.”
BRICKYARD RIDE SEEKS FIFTH STRAIGHT IN TRIPLE BEND
Brickyard Ride, a versatile and valiant California-bred son of Clubhouse Ride, was nominated to four stakes on Memorial Day weekend but will remain in open company and run in the Grade II Triple Bend Stakes at seven furlongs next Sunday, trainer Craig Lewis said this morning.
A five-year-old full horse owned and bred by Alfred Pais, Brickyard Ride has four gears: fast, faster, fastest and adios, and has used them all winning 12 of 22 lifetime starts, the last four in a row, in a main track sprint against Cal-breds, a one-mile dirt race against Cal-breds, a downhill turf sprint against Cal-breds, and a Grade III stakes against open company in the Kona Gold.
Lewis rarely has instructions for the rider of Brickyard Ride, Juan Hernandez, other than, “Good luck.” Santa Anita’s top jock has ridden the chestnut in his last seven races, winning five.
“That’s pretty much it (in the way of pre-race advice),” the sometimes-succinct but erudite Lewis said. “He’s a tough horse around the barn who shows his tenacity on the track. We’ve had a nice run with him and he’s been very good to us.
“We have no nickname for him; simply call him ‘Brickyard’ and plan to keep him running as a full horse as long as he’s doing well, but you never know with horses. Anything can happen.
“We just hope he stays good and keeps delivering, but winning five in a row is no easy task. You can’t even do that with cheap horses. We’re asking a lot; hopefully he can deliver.”
THOR’S ECHO EASY CHOICE FOR TIGRE DI SLUGO
With Brickyard Ride committed to the Triple Bend Stakes, Mike Puype had an easy decision on Tigre Di Slugo’s next race: it’s next Saturday’s $100,000 Thor’s Echo Stakes for California-breds three and up at six furlongs.
In his first start in a year, Tigre Di Slugo (“a street-smart character,” freely translated from Dominican) is a seven-year-old gelded son of Smiling Tiger that closed well for second to long gone leader Brickyard Ride in the Grade III Kona Gold April 30.
Brickyard Ride already has three wins over Tigre Di Slugo.
“We’re running where Brickyard Ride ain’t,” Puype said tongue in cheek this morning after Tigre Di Slugo worked four furlongs in 48.80.
“If he’s going to another race, we’re going in the Thor’s Echo. If he goes to one, we go to the other one.
“Our horse should benefit from his last race and there wasn’t much pace for him, either. We’ll be giving it our best try.”
Kyle Frey, who rode Tigre Di Slugo for the first time in the Kona Gold, will be back aboard in the Thor’s Echo.
BIG MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND STARTS MAY 28
Fans can avail themselves of fabulous racing and fun-filled festivities at Santa Anita Memorial Day weekend, traditionally one of the most anticipated on America’s Thoroughbred calendar.
The Hollywood Gold Cup is one of three Grade I events on Memorial Day, the others being the $500,000 Shoemaker Mile on turf and the $400,000 Gamely Stakes for fillies and mares three and up at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
The Shoemaker is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race, providing the nominated winner automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland on Nov. 5.
The monster Memorial Day weekend begins Saturday, May 28, with five state-bred stakes, followed by three graded stakes Sunday, May 29, the Grade III Daytona for four-year-olds and up at about 6 ½ furlongs on the hillside turf; the Grade II Triple Bend for four-year-olds and up at seven furlongs; and the Grade III Honeymoon for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
In addition to world class racing over the three-day holiday, Santa Anita’s Infield Carnival returns with a Ferris Wheel, a giant slide, inflatable jumpers and much more.
Memorial Day is also Dollar Day, with $1 beers, sodas and $2 hot dogs offered all day. Additionally, Santa Anita’s Infield Carnival will return May 28, 29 and 30, with a Ferris Wheel, a super slide, fun house and much more.
Fans are encouraged to get their Santa Anita Memorial Day Weekend Infield Carnival tickets at santaanita.com/events.
FINISH LINES: Jockey Jessica Pyfer, who was kicked by first time starter Tricky Ricky prior to Friday’s fourth race, is off mounts today. She was examined at Arcadia Methodist Hospital, where x-rays proved negative… There were 155 recorded workouts Saturday including a four-furlong move in 49.60 flat by Hot Rod Charlie who is being pointed to the Grade II Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs on July 2 by Doug O’Neill . . . Horseplayer and equine scout Larry Zap will be host Tom Quigley‘s guest today, while horseplayer and owner Joseph Rosen will do honors Sunday, each day at 11:50 a.m. from the XBTV Studio.
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