- TRAINER HAS GIANT EXPECTATIONS FOR PEGASUS
- UNION STRIKE SET TO MAKE GRASS DEBUT MONDAY
- MAJESTIC HEAT FINDS A NEW HOME ON MAIN TRACK
- SANTA ANITA FETES JOHN SHEAR ON 97TH BIRTHDAY
- BARRETTS SALE TO AIDE SAN LUIS REY FIRE VICTIMS
EURTON HAS GIANT EXPECTATIONS FOR $16 MILLION PEGASUS
When Giant Expectations is at his best, a giant performance results, to wit: victories in two Grade II stakes, the Pat O’Brien sprinting at seven furlongs and the San Antonio routing at a mile and one sixteenth.
Trainer Peter Eurton recognizes that the New York-bred son of Frost Giant will have to bring his ‘A’ game for the second running of world’s richest race, Gulfstream Park’s $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at a mile and an eighth on Jan. 27. Exline-Border Racing, LLC and Gatto Racing, owners of the five-year-old chestnut, have obtained an entry slot at a cost of $1 million to support their hopes.
Gary Stevens, who has ridden Giant Expectations in his last five starts, two of them victories, will be back aboard for the Pegasus.
“The horse will leave here Jan. 24, the Wednesday before the race,” said Eurton, headquartered at Santa Anita. “Hopefully, Champagne Room also will be on that plane, then take a van the rest of the way to Houston, for the ($400,000) Houston Ladies Classic (at Sam Houston Race Park on Jan. 29).”
Despite facing likely Horse of the Year Gun Runner and other heavyweights, Eurton is optimistic about Giant Expectation’s chances.
“He’s doing so well, but his next couple works are real important,” Eurton said. “If he shows the same energy he’s shown in his gallops, I feel confident he’s going to be the same horse, although you never know what you’re getting with him. It’s like a box of chocolates.
“He trained this way into the Pat O’Brien–awesome–and he trained this way into the San Antonio. For the Breeders’ Cup, he was OK, but he got away bad, and he needs a lot of gate schooling, which he’s already getting, so that when he does break, he gets away well.”
Great Expectations is scheduled to breeze a half mile Friday at 7:45 a.m.
RUIS HOPES GRASS IS GREENER FOR UNION STRIKE
Mick Ruis is looking forward to Union Strike’s grass debut in Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday feature, the Grade III, $100,000 Megahertz Stakes for fillies and mares, four and up, at one mile.
On dirt, the daughter of Union Rags won the Grade I Del Mar Debutante as a two-year-old and was second by a head in the Grade II Eight Belles as a three-year-old.
“She is also entered in the La Canada Stakes (Saturday at one mile on the main track),” Ruis said, “but I’ve always wanted to try her on turf.”
Agent Brice Blanc has booked himself to ride Union Strike for the fourth straight race in the Megahertz. He won the restricted Santa Paula Stakes aboard her last April 9.
MAJESTIC HEAT STAYS HOT WITH SWITCH TO DIRT
After making her first 14 career starts on turf, winning five, Majestic Heat has transferred her consistent form to dirt where she has won her last two races, both stakes, the Betty Grable for California-breds and in what was her first graded win, the Grade II Bayakoa versus open company, capturing them by a combined margin of nearly six lengths with powerful stretch runs.
The six-year-old Unusual Heat mare goes for the hat trick in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 La Canada Stakes for fillies and mares, four and up, at a flat mile on the main track.
“She seems to enjoy it,” trainer Richard Mandella said of the switch. “She always showed me that she would like the dirt, so we took a shot and it worked. We took another shot and it worked again.”
The field for the La Canada, race eight of nine: La Force, Drayden Van Dyke, 12-1; Majestic Heat, Mike Smith, 9-5; Mended, Ricardo Gonzalez, 4-1; Mopotism, Mario Gutierrez, 7-2; Union Strike, Corey Nakatani, 5-1; Resky Business, Evin Roman, 12-1; Shenandoah Queen, Flavien Prat, 10-1; and Sandy’s Surprise, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1.
SANTA ANITA HONORS SHEAR MONDAY FOR HIS 97TH BIRTHDAY
The Old Man and the Racetrack. The Gift that keeps on Giving. The Human version of Fine Wine. What more can you say about Santa Anita’s beloved Paddock Captain, John Shear, who is still active every race day at the Great Race Place while approaching his 97th, yes, 97th birthday?
Although he’ll officially spin life’s odometer on Wednesday, Jan. 17, Shear, who along with his wife, Diane, resides in Sierra Madre, will be feted in a Winner’s Circle ceremony between races this Monday, Martin Luther King Day.
A native of England who initially aspired to be a jockey, Shear gained national recognition for an act of heroism at the age of 90, when on March 12, 2011, he threw himself between an on-rushing loose horse and a five-year-old girl just outside Santa Anita’s Seabiscuit Walking Ring.
Employed at Santa Anita in various roles for nearly six decades, Shear remains an enthusiastic member of the track’s workforce and is quick to credit his work ethic as a major factor in his longevity.
“First of all, I love to be outside and I love to walk,” he said. “I do a lot of that here. I tell people, ‘What am I going to do staying at home?’ And I really mean that. I love coming to work, moving around, seeing all the people on the weekends and being with the horses. It keeps me young, and every now and then, I find something to bet on!”
And here’s hoping John Shear cashes many, many more winning tickets before he finally “cashes in” on what has been an extraordinary life.
BARRETTS JAN. 17 SALE TO AID FIRE VICTIMS
In support of industry efforts to provide recovery and relief to victims of the catastrophic San Luis Rey fire on Dec. 7, stallion seasons for 2018 and equine artwork and/or racing memorabilia will be auctioned at the 2018 Barretts Jan. 17 Mixed Sale, with 100 percent of the sales proceeds to be donated to the California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation (CTHF).
The sale will be held at Fairplex in Pomona starting at 11 a.m. Stallion seasons will be auctioned immediately following Hip 92, and the live art auction will follow Hip 202.
FINISH LINES: There is a Pick Six carryover today of $92,218 . . . This Monday is Dollar Day at Santa Anita as one dollar beers and sodas will be offered. First post time is 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m. . . . Revenue Virginius, 8-5 morning line choice in today’s fourth race, has been claimed six times from her last eight races . . .Storm total: Santa Anita received 2.6 inches of rain on Monday and Tuesday, with the main track closed for training both days.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, Jan. 7)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||37||5||2||3||14%||27%||$393,008|
|William E. Morey||6||3||0||1||50%||67%||$65,490|