MANDELLA EYES MEMORIAL DAY TO REMEMBER
O’NEILL HAS A LIVE TRIO IN GRADE III DAYTONA
PRAT’S ‘PICK SIX’ WAS MORE THAN JUST WINNING
SHOE MILE HEADS 2020 BC CHALLENGE SERIES
SHOOTERS SHOOT SANTA ANITA DERBY HOPEFUL
MANDELLA GIRDS FOR BIG HOLIDAY WEEKEND
Richard Mandella has horses entered in four stakes this Memorial Day weekend and hopes to celebrate the holiday in style.
On Saturday, the Hall of Fame trainer has United in the Grade II Charles Whittingham Stakes, and on Monday, Memorial Day, Voodoo Song for the Grade I Shoemaker Mile, Siberian Iris in the Grade I Gamely Stakes and Jolie Olimpica in the Grade II Monrovia Stakes.
United and Jolie Olimpica loom heavy favorites.
Jolie Olimpica, a four-year-old Brazilian-bred filly, won all three races in her native country by a combined margin of 13 ½ lengths
She captured the Grade III Las Cienegas at 5 ½ furlongs on turf in her U.S. debut Jan. 11 before running second by a half-length after leading until the shadow of the wire in the Grade II Buena Vista Stakes at a mile on grass Feb. 22.
The Monrovia, at 5 ½ furlongs on turf, will mark her first start in three months, and Mandella is confident that down the road the chestnut miss owned by Fox Hills Farms will have success going two turns.
“She will, eventually,” he said. “With all the rest she’s had, for the Monrovia I went back to how I trained her when she first came here.”
All her recent works have been above average, topped by a bullet 1:12.20 for six furlongs on April 23.
United will be making his first start since returning from Dubai, where he missed the March 28 Sheema Classic
“He’s doing very well,” Mandella said of the Giant’s Causeway gelding who at 51-1 came within a head of upsetting Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita last Nov. 2.
Mandella shrugged off thoughts of undue pressure he might experience by sending out strong favorites. “Pressure,” he said, “is being 51-1 and wondering how to put food on the table.”
Siberian Iris will be making her first start in four months, since finishing third in the Grade III Astra Stakes at a mile and one half on turf.
“I’d rather the race be further, but this is what it is,” Mandella said of the mile and an eighth Gamely.
Voodoo Song will represent Mandella and owner Barry Schwartz in the Shoemaker. The six-year-old English Channel horse has not raced since March 21 when he had an eventful trip finishing sixth in the Grade III San Simeon Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs over a good turf course.
The Shoemaker is the first Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In’ Challenge Race in the United States this year. It entitles the nominated winner automatic entry into the 2020 TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland on Nov. 7.
The Whittingham, race eight of nine with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Desert Stone, Abel Cedillo, 8-1; Multiplier, Drayden Van Dyke, 10-1; Bold Endeavor, Mike Smith, 20-1; Synthesis, Geovanni Franco, 30-1; United, Flavien Prat, 6-5; Originaire, Umberto Rispoli, 5-2; and Rockemperor, Irad Ortiz Jr, 5-2.
O’NEILL HAS THREE FOR THE DAYTONA MONEY
For a consistent Grade I winner with six wins, seven seconds, six thirds from 28 starts and earnings of more than three-quarters of a million dollars, Cistron has a lot of non-believers among bettors.
He has been favored only twice in those 28 races, although he could be the betting choice in Saturday’s contentious Daytona Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs on turf.
However, that’s not stopping Doug O’Neill from triple-teaming Cistron, a son of The Factor who won the Grade II Kona Gold, was second by a head in the Grade II Triple Bend, and won the Grade I Bing Crosby and the Grade III San Simeon in his last four starts.
John Sadler trains Cistron for principal clients Kosta and Peter Hronis. A full horse at age six, primarily a sprinter, Cistron is adept on turf and dirt as victories in graded stakes on both surfaces attest.
O’Neill had six of the 17 horses nominated to the Grade III, $100,000 Daytona for four-year-olds and up. He entered French-bred Murad Khan, Grade II Woodford winner Stubbins and Wildman Jack, the latter recently back from Dubai where he set a track record of 1:07.60 going six furlongs on a good turf course in the Grade I Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint on March 7.
“Having three in the same race is the result of not running for a couple months,” O’Neill explained. “I have a lot of fresh horses ready to go and we’re blessed in the turf sprint category right now, so we’re excited.
“Wildman Jack won by nearly five lengths on the Meydan track in Dubai, so that was incredible. He really flourished over there and he continues to do well. He’s got a great post and new jockey in Hall of Famer Mike Smith. It’s a tough race but he’s got a big chance.
“If Stubbins had a clearer trip in the Breeders’ Cup and the race had been 5 ½ (furlongs) instead of five, he might have got all the money that day (instead of rallying from 10th entering the stretch and finishing fourth, beaten only three lengths). Credit to the McShanes (owner McShane Racing, LLC) for giving him time off.”
Stubbins, a four-year-old Morning Line colt, has not run since the Breeders’ Cup last Nov. 2 but has been working forwardly. He shows a bullet five furlong move in 1:02.20 at San Luis Rey on April 28.
“He’s come back really well, so we’re excited about him and looking forward to a great second half of the year,” O’Neill said.
Murah Khan is a seven-year-old gelding by Raven’s Pass out of the Sadler’s Wells dam Lady Elgar. “He’s our seasoned veteran,” O’Neill said. “He’s long in the tooth but he’s back with Abel Cedillo who’s won on him before. He should be running down the lane.
“I think we’ve got three live chances.”
The Daytona, race five: Sparky Ville, Geovanni Franco 20-1; Stubbins, Umberto Rispoli, 3-1; Murad Khan, Abel Cedillo, 10-1; Blameitonthelaw, Drayden Van Dyke,20-1; Cistron, Victor Espinoza, 5-2; Wildman Jack, Mike Smith, 2-1; and Texas Wedge, Flavien Prat, 3-1.
PRAT ENJOYS RIDING AND WINNING SIX ON CARD
Team Prat is still basking in the glory of its six-win day at Santa Anita last Sunday, when Flavien Prat became only the 12th rider to accomplish the feat since The Great Race Place opened on Christmas Day, 1934.
“It was a lot of fun to start riding again and the big day made it more special,” said Derek Lawson, agent for the 27-year-old Frenchman.
Prat’s richest victory came in the Grade III Desert Stormer Stakes aboard the Simon Callaghan-trained odds-on favorite Bellafina, now being pointed to the 6 ½ furlong, Grade II, $200,000 Great Lady M Stakes at Los Alamitos on July 4.
“Flavien is a top rider and good person,” Callaghan said. “He deserves all his success. Winning six on a card is very rare.”
SHOE MILE LEADS 2020 BREEDERS’ CUP CHALLENGE SERIES
As Santa Anita Park has resumed live racing at its current meeting, the Shoemaker Mile (G1) on Monday, May 25 (Memorial Day), will be the first race of the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series in the U.S.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge, now in its 14th year, is an international series of stakes races whose winners receives automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held this year on Nov. 6-7 at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky.
The $300,000 Shoemaker Mile, a 1-mile race on turf for 3-year-olds and up, will provide the winner with a free berth into the $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), also a 1-mile race on turf.
The Shoemaker Mile will be televised live on TVG and NBCSN, with NBCSN coverage starting Monday at 6 p.m. ET.
As part of the enhanced benefits to horsemen competing in the series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees and guarantee a starting position in a corresponding Championships race for winners of all Challenge races. The Challenge winner must already be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program or it must be nominated by the Championships’ pre-entry deadline of October 26 to receive the rewards.
In addition, Breeders’ Cup will provide a $40,000 travel stipend to the connections of all Championship starters from outside of North America, and a $10,000 travel allowance for starters within North America that are stabled outside of Kentucky.
“We congratulate Santa Anita on their return to racing and are excited that they will launch our first domestic Challenge Series race of year on Memorial Day with the Shoemaker Mile,” said Dora Delgado, Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Officer. “With more racetracks opening over the next few weeks and setting their stakes schedules, we look forward to announcing our complete calendar of ‘Win and You’re In’ races for the summer and fall.”
Breeders’ Cup, in conjunction with NBC Sports, also will be announcing its 2020 schedule of live racing broadcasts for the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In – Presented by America’s Best Racing,” in the coming weeks.
There have been five international 2020 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races thus far.
In December of last year, Haras Phillipson’s 3-year-old homebred Nao Da Mais (BRZ) won the Gran Premio International Carlos Pellegrini (G1) at San Isidro Racecourse in Argentina, earning the winner an automatic berth into the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).
The next two qualifiers came from South Africa. On Jan. 11 at Kenilworth Racecourse, Kantor, Blank, Sarkis & Yutar’s 4-year-old gelding Vardy (SAF) won the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate (G1) and earned the first automatic berth into the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile this year. Earlier on the program, 4-year-old filly Queen Supreme (IRE), owned by Mauritzfontein (Pty) Ltd., Mrs. M F de Kock and partners, won the Cartier Paddock Stakes (G1), and gained a free berth into the $2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).
On Feb. 23, Capital System’s 6-year-old Mozu Ascot won the February Stakes (G1) at Tokyo Racecourse and became the first horse this year to qualify for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Last Sunday, Silk Racing’s 5-year-old mare Almond Eye (JPN) won the Victoria Mile (G1) at Tokyo Racecourse and earned an automatic berth into the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
FINISH LINES: Peter Eurton is considering the June 6 Santa Anita Derby for Shooters Shoot, who won his last two starts including an allowance race by a neck at Oaklawn Park April 11 but was scratched from the first division of the Arkansas Derby due to a fever. “He’s training well so we’re considering the race,” the trainer said. “He’s scheduled to work tomorrow.” Shooters Shoot, a son of Competitive Edge, was second in a maiden race at Santa Anita on Feb. 16 to the undefeated Charlatan, front-running winner of the first division of the Arkansas Derby for Bob Baffert. As for two-year-old champion male of 2019 Storm the Court, Eurton also has him scheduled to breeze tomorrow “but we have no race in mind right now. We’ve given him a little freshening and he’ll probably run at Del Mar, but we have lots of options.”
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