HOT ROD CHARLIE REVVED UP FOR O’NEILL
BAFFERT: ARKANSAS DERBY ‘LOOKS GOOD’
KENTUCKY OAKS IS ON SOOTHSAY’S SLATE
SANTA ANITA MOURNS THE PASSING OF PRINCE PHILIP
O’NEILL AWAITS ROSARIO’S DECISION ON DERBY
Doug O’Neill has a Kentucky Derby itinerary all mapped out for Hot Rod Charlie, save for one detail: no jockey.
That will work itself after Joel Rosario, who rode Hot Rod Charlie to an impressive two-length victory in the Louisiana Derby on March 20, pilots San Vicente and Rebel winner Concert Tour for Bob Baffert in Saturday’s Arkansas Derby.
“If all goes well, our horse will breeze at Santa Anita every Saturday until the final one (on May 1),” said O’Neill, who steadfastly maintains an upbeat countenance. “He’s booked to fly to Kentucky the Sunday before (April 25).
“We have no jockey right now but Rosario is supposed to let us know after the Arkansas Derby.”
O’Neill will be seeking to capture the Run for the Roses for the third time, having won it in 2012 with I’ll Have Another and 2016 with Nyquist, both of whom were based at Santa Anita. Baffert has won the world’s most famous race six times and the Triple Crown twice, in 2015 with American Pharoah and in 2018 with Justify.
Both call Santa Anita home.
“I think it’s the weather,” O’Neill said when asked why horses based at The Great Race Place have had so much success at Churchill Downs. “Being able to train daily is huge, and you have to have a great team, too.
“But the weather here gives us a huge edge.”
Team O’Neill got a welcome taste of live action at Santa Anita last weekend when a limited number of fans were permitted to attend the races for the first time in more than a year, with the pandemic hopefully on the wane.
“It was great,” he said, “just the energy in the air. There’s nothing better than racing and winning when there’s good energy coming from the fans.
“It’s great to have people back, so let’s keep it going.”
BAFFERT SEEKS ‘RACING LUCK’ IN ARKANSAS DERBY
Bob Baffert will be rooting from afar when Concert Tour and Hozier run in Saturday’s Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park, their final major steppingstone to what the two-time Triple Crown winning trainer hopes will lead to the Kentucky Derby on May 1.
“They both shipped well, they trained well, everything looks good,” said Baffert, who also plans to have Santa Anita Derby runner-up Medina Spirit joining the aforementioned duo in the Hall of Fame trainer’s bid for a seventh win in the Run for the Roses.
“They’ll need some racing luck.”
Baffert also has Eclipse Award champion Female Sprinter of 2020 Gamine, easy winner of last Sunday’s Las Flores Stakes in her four-year-old debut, and Grade I Malibu winner Charlatan, ticketed for Churchill Downs on May 1, the former going in the Derby City Distaff and the latter in the Churchill Downs presented by Ford, both Grade I events at seven furlongs.
The field for the $1 million Arkansas Derby offering 170 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, 100 to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 to the third horse and 10 to the fourth: Super Stock, Ricardo Santana Jr., 12-1; Caddo River, Florent Geroux, 7-2; Hozier, Martin Garcia, 4-1; Get Her Number, Francisco Arrieta,12-1; Concert Tour, Joel Rosario, 3-5; and Last Samurai, Jon Court, 30-1.
KENTUCKY OAKS AWAITS SOOTHSAY
Maiden win in her debut, Grade II victory next out, Grade I next time?
Quite a lofty progression, yet that’s a possibility for Soothsay, a daughter of Distorted Humor who captured the Grade II Santa Anita Oaks at a mile and one-sixteenth last Saturday after coming from behind to break her maiden in a six-furlong sprint on Feb. 6.
Her next start could be in the prestigious Grade I Kentucky Oaks presented by Longines at 1 1/8 miles on April 30.
“She came out the race good, and the Kentucky Oaks would be a race we’re thinking about as long as she comes along strong enough,” Richard Mandella said.
Meanwhile, the Hall of Fame trainer has the Grade II Charles Whittingham Stakes on May 29 ticketed for turf marathon specialist United. Coincidentally, Mandella’s horses of mostly blueblood stock are bedded down in Barn 14, where the late, great Whittingham made his home away from home prior to his passing on April 20, 1999 at the age of 86.
Tizamagician, third in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 6, probably will seek his first stakes victory April 18 in the Grade III Tokyo City Cup, a mile-and-a-half dirt test in which the four-year-old Tiznow colt was third last Sept. 27, “but we’ll think about the Californian (on April 17),” Mandella added.
SANTA ANITA PARK MOURNS THE PASSING OF HRH PRINCE PHILIP
The success of the equestrian events of the Games of the XXIII Olympiad at Santa Anita Park was due to the passionate commitment and personal involvement of His Royal Highness Prince Philip.
In his role as the longest serving president of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), Prince Philip oversaw the transformation of the historic racetrack into a world-class venue to host the equestrian competition (with the exception of the eventing portion which was held at nearby Rancho Santa Fe).
It was a pleasure to host Prince Philip during the Olympic Games, to witness first-hand his dedication as a true horsemen and were honored that he called the Santa Anita Park facilities ‘absolutely first class.’ We join those around the world in mourning his loss and honoring his memory.
FINISH LINES: There were exactly 100 recorded workouts at Santa Anita this morning, including 14 on the training track. The fastest drill on the main track was by an unraced four-year-old son of American Pharoah named Happy Hepo who went five furlongs in a bullet 58 seconds flat from the gate for Bob Baffert. It was the quickest of 40 drills at the distance by more than three seconds, as the average time was 1:01.29 . . . David Peterson, 25-year-old son of the late Doug Peterson, who trained Seattle Slew in his four-year-old season in 1978, was the losing pitcher Wednesday in a rough outing against the National League East-leading Phillies, who defeated the New York Mets, 8-2. David, a 6-6 lefthander, gave up four runs in the first inning, six earned runs in four innings overall, seven hits, two walks and struck out five. He won his first Major League start 8-3 on July 28, 2020, against the Boston Red Sox . . . There were 59 recorded workouts at Santa Anita Thursday, one by Restrainedvengence, who went four furlongs in 48.40 for trainer Val Brinkerhoff in preparation for the April 24 San Francisco Mile. The versatile and sometimes recalcitrant six-year-old son of Hold Me Back was fourth in the Grade III, $250,000 turf race at Golden Gate Fields last year under Kent Desormeaux.
LATEST CONTENT FROM XBTV:
Restrainedvengence (Brinkerhoff) 4-8-21
Hot Rod Charlie (O’Neill) 4-3-21
Concert Tour (Baffert) 4-3-21
Maxim Rate (Callaghan) 4-3-21