- THREE-YEAR-OLD STARS IN SAN FELIPE SPOTLIGHT
- GIANT EXPECTATIONS IS LIKELY FOR THE BIG ‘CAP
- BOWIES HERO FACES CHAMPION WORLD APPROVAL
- CITY OF LIGHT FAVORED IN GRADE I TRIPLE BEND
- BAFFERT’S JUSTIFY TO FACE WINNERS ON SUNDAY
- SUNDAY FIRST POST TIME OF 11:30 A.M. LAUNCHES
- ORTUZAR HOSTS SPANISH-SPEAKING RADIO SHOW
McKINZIE, BOLT D’ORO HEAD SAN FELIPE LINEUP
The countdown is on for the most eagerly anticipated three-year-old race on the West Coast to date this year when undefeated McKinzie and runner-up for an Eclipse Award as outstanding two-year-old male of 2017 Bolt d’Oro face off in Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes, a steppingstone to the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 7.
It will mark the belated three-year-old debut of Bolt d’Oro, the top-ranked sophomore in the latest National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) poll. The son of Medaglia d’Oro moved ahead of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic, who held the top spot for the first five weeks of the poll before finishing third in last Saturday’s Fountain of Youth Stakes.
“I’m super-excited,” said Bolt d’Oro’s owner/trainer Mick Ruis of the Grade II, $400,000 San Felipe, worth 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner and 20 to the runner-up.
“I want a good race out of him, but not a super race, because our goal here is the Santa Anita Derby and from there, if all goes well, the Kentucky Derby (on May 5). That said, I think he has enough talent to win (the San Felipe).
“This is like when we were going from his maiden win to the Grade I Del Mar Futurity, when I said he was only 80 percent, and people were laughing, but he was able to win then.
“We said he was cranked all the way for the FrontRunner and we saw what he did there (win by 7 ¾ lengths). I feel going into the San Felipe he’s at the same point he was before the Futurity. We hope to come out of this race well and move on to the Santa Anita Derby.
“Are we going to hold back? You can’t hold back an athlete. You have to let him run, see what he does, hope for the best and see how he comes back after the race.”
Drawing the inside post in a field of eight was not a major concern, if at all, for Ruis.
“I think it’s a blessing,” he said. “You’re not going to have to gun for a good position. Lombo, one of the fastest horses in the race, is in the second hole, so that gives us a gap between one and three (Ayacara). I like the one hole. It’s going to give Javier (Castellano) a lot of options.”
The field for the San Felipe, race six on a blockbuster 11-race card that starts at 12 noon: Bolt d’Oro, Javier Castellano, 2-1; Lombo, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Ayacara, Kent Desormeaux, 8-1; McKinzie, Mike Smith, 8-5; Aquila, Martin Pedroza, 15-1; Calexman, Alonso Quinonez, 30-1; Peace, Drayden Van Dyke, 15-1; and Kanthaka, Flavien Prat, 4-1.
BIG DECISION FOR GIANT EXPECTATIONS
Peter Eurton has entered Giant Expectations in two Grade I stakes on Saturday’s highly appealing card, the Triple Bend at seven furlongs and the Santa Anita Handicap presented by San Manuel Casino at a mile and a quarter.
Whither thou goest, Peter?
“I can’t really say (which race the five-year-old New York-bred will run in),” Eurton said Thursday morning. “We’ll all get together, the owners and Corey (Nakatani) and make a decision by probably tomorrow.
“Either race is interesting,” said Eurton, a native of nearby Alhambra. “He’s won going seven eighths and there are a couple good horses in there. But being from California, winning the Big ‘Cap would mean a lot to me, too.”
The field for the Big ‘Cap, race 10: Top of the Game, Kent Desormeaux, 10-1; Prime Attraction, Tiago Pereira, 8-1; Curlin Road, Tyler Baze, 12-1; Giant Expectations, Corey Nakatani, 5-1; Hoppertunity, Flavien Prat, 7-2; Fear the Cowboy, Javier Castellano, 3-1; Accelerate, Victor Espinoza, 5-2; and Mubtaahij, Mike Smith, 4-1.
Saturday’s Late Pick 4 pool will be guaranteed at $1 million.
Santa Anita offers free gym bags to all THOROUGHBREDS members Saturday with paid admission while supplies last. Fans can also enjoy a beer and cider trackside festival; wine tasting in the Chandelier Room; a $500,000 guaranteed Late Pick four pool; and a rhythm and brews reggae festival.
First post time is 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.
CONSISTENT BOWIES HERO READY FOR WORLD APPROVAL
Phil D’Amato sends out consistent Bowies Hero against champion World Approval and six other heavyweights in Saturday’s Grade I, $400,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on grass, and the trainer likes his chances based on how the four-year-old Artie Schiller colt is training.
“The great thing about my horse,” the trainer said, “is he’s in a really good grove right now. He tries hard but he’s very tactical and you can place him anywhere you want right now.
“It looks like there are a couple speed horses in the race and we’ll probably be stalking them and leave the rest up to Corey (Nakatani).”
Bowies Hero hasn’t been worse than fifth in his last nine races, including a win in the Grade II Mathis Brothers Mile. He has a 5-1-2 record from 12 starts with earnings of $401,325.
The Frank E. Kilroe Mile: Free Rose, Kent Desormeaux, 20-1; Bowies Hero, Corey Nakatani, 6-1; Next Shares, Rajiv Maragh, 8-1; Syntax, Geovanni Franco, 15-1; World Approval, Flavien Prat, 4-5; What a View, Tyler Baze, 15-1; Om, Mike Smith, 5-1; and Channel Maker, Javier Castellano, 5-1.
TRIPLE BEND COMES UP TOUGH DESPITE DEFECTIONS
Despite the defections of champion Roy H and Grade I winner Ransom the Moon from Saturday’s Grade I, $400,000 Triple Bend Stakes, trainer Michael McCarthy has the utmost respect for his rivals in the seven furlong event.
“It’s a Grade I and everybody in there’s got a legitimate shot at winning,” said McCarthy, trainer of City of Light, who will be favored in the on the strength of his two-length triumph in the Grade I Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs last Dec. 26.
“We think if we run our same race right back we’ll be awfully tough,” McCarthy said.
The Triple Bend, race four of 11: Edwards Going Left, Tyler Baze, 5-2; Horse Greedy, 20-1, Stewart Elliott; Giant Expectations, 3-1, Corey Nakatani; Bobby Abu Dhabi, 8-1, Victor Espinoza; City of Light,, Drayden Van Dyke, 9-5; and Captain Scotty, Javier Castellano, 3-1.
BAFFERT’S DERBY HOPEFUL JUSTIFY TO FACE WINNERS SUNDAY AT ONE MILE
Bob Baffert’s freakish first-time maiden winner Justify, who crushed four rivals by 9 ½ lengths going seven furlongs here on Feb. 18, has been entered in Sunday’s fifth race, a first condition allowance for three-year-olds at one mile.
Ridden in his debut by Drayden Van Dyke, he’ll get the services of Mike Smith on Sunday as Baffert plots a route to the Run for the Roses May 5. Justify, a physical specimen by any accounting, drew the far outside in a field of eight and will no doubt be a short-priced favorite.
Owned by WinStar Farm, LLC, China Horse Club, LLC and SF Racing, LLC, Justify has already attracted significant Kentucky Derby future book action in Nevada, with one property offering him at 16-1. A Kentucky-bred colt by Scat Daddy out of the Ghostzapper mare, Stage Magic, Justify has dazzled morning onlookers since the maiden win.
Baffert has worked the $500,000 Keeneland September yearling twice since his first-out score, five furlongs in 1:01.40 on Feb. 26 and another five this past Monday in 1:00.80, which ranked 31st of 114 drills at the distance.
Although plans beyond Sunday are undetermined, it is hoped that Justify would stay home and run in the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 7.
NEW ‘SUNDAY BRUNCH’ FIRST POST TIME OF 11:30 A.M.
Beginning with the start of Daylight Saving Time this Sunday, Santa Anita will adopt a new “Sunday Brunch” first post time of 11:30 a.m. which will continue on all Sundays through closing day of its current Winter/Spring Meet on June 24.
Effective Thursday, March 15, first post time on all other racing days except Sundays and Triple Crown Saturdays will be 12 noon.
Current post times will remain the same prior to Daylight Savings on March 11, with weekday starts at 1 p.m. and weekend first post time at 12:30 p.m.
Santa Anita’s present 104-day Winter/Spring Meeting operates on a Thursday through Sunday basis, with few exceptions.
SPANISH-SPEAKING RACING RADIO SHOW STARTS SUNDAY
Santa Anita’s popular Hispanic Racing Ambassador, George Ortuzar, will host LA’s first-ever Spanish speaking horseracing show beginning this Sunday, March 11, on ESPN Radio KWKW, AM 1330, from 7 to 8 a.m. Titled “La Mejor Apuesta” (The Best Bet), the show will concentrate on racing here in Southern California and around the country.
Ortuzar, who is known to thousands of Southland racing fans via his television work at the now-shuttered Hollywood Park, is also well known to many thousands of Hispanic viewers courtesy of his high energy automotive infomercials that have appeared in several markets over the past 20 years. A former jockey agent, Ortuzar currently serves as a valued member of Santa Anita’s marketing efforts in both English and Spanish.
A passionate racing fan, “George O” brings enthusiasm and energy to his audience and he’ll be joined on-air each Saturday by Venezuelan handicapper, “Omega.”
With “La Mejor Apuesta” airing on America’s largest Spanish speaking radio station, KWKW, it will no doubt reach a wide and varied audience each week and it will also be available worldwide via the internet on radiodeportes.com.
FINISH LINES: Ron Ellis is back on the training beat after serving a 60-day suspension. “I did a lot of stuff I hadn’t done in 30 years,” Ellis said of his extended ban, “but it’s good to be back.” . . . Chris Littlemore, 2018 NHC champion, and Steve Byk, host of At The Races Radio Show, will be Tom Quigley‘s guests, 10:50 a.m. Saturday and 10:20 a.m. Sunday, respectively, in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Trainer David Bernstein, is down to only six horses, but one is a noteworthy two-year-old gray filly from the first crop of the stretch-running turf sprint specialist Lakerville, who stands at Harris Farms in Coalinga. “Her name is Hoop Dreams and she is the first baby from Ruff Path,” said Bernstein, who trains the filly for long-time owners Sandy Weinstein and Gaylord Ailshie.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, March 4)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||118||22||13||11||19%||39%||$1,295,948|
|William E. Morey||29||10||2||8||34%||69%||$403,203|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||34||7||3||6||21%||47%||$260,829|