‘HOT ROD’ IS ON TRACK FOR KENTUCKY DERBY
ROYAL SHIP EYES SMOOTH SAILING SATURDAY
LEGGS GALORE TREDS PERFECTLY ON GRASS
VERSATILE CISTRON BREEZES FOR KONA GOLD
HOT ROD IN SHARP WORK FOR KENTUCKY DERBY
Louisiana Derby winner Hot Rod Charlie worked five furlongs in company with stablemate Hammering Lemon Saturday, after which Doug O’Neill had high praise for the son of Oxbow as he prepares for the Kentucky Derby on May 1.
“He worked really, really well,” said O’Neill, in pursuit of his third win in the Run for the Roses, having won it in 2012 with I’ll Have Another and 2016 with Nyquist.
“I think the clockers gave him 1:01 and two, breezing (the actual time was 1:01.20, breezing),” said O’Neill, who had Flavien Prat aboard.
“Charlie had company with a horse named Hammering Lemon (clocked in 1:01.60) who broke off in front of him. They both finished up good but Charlie was the better of the two.
“Knock on wood we’re heading the right way.”
Bob Baffert, seeking his seventh win the Kentucky Derby, plans to work Runhappy Santa Anita Derby runner-up Medina Spirit “next weekend.”
MANDELLA SEEKS SMOOTH SAILING IN CALIFORNIAN
Royal Ship makes his second start on dirt in the United States Saturday in the Grade II Californian Stakes for three-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles.
He lost all chance in his first outing on the main track at Del Mar when he stumbled and was bumped at the break in the Grade III Native Diver Stakes last Nov. 21, finishing last of four.
Richard Mandella expects better luck in the Californian.
“He fell down out of the gate that day,” the Hall of Fame trainer said, speaking of the Native Diver.
Nine of the Brazilian-bred gelding’s 11 career races have been on turf. Overall, he has won five races, all consecutively in his native country, but has yet to win in four starts in the U.S.
Mandella once again will have Mike Smith aboard the son of Midshipman. The Hall of Fame jockey has ridden the five-year-old in each of his four races in the United States, three on turf including the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile on March 6 in which he was fifth but beaten only a length in a wide trip.
LEGGS GALORE FINDS A HOME IN TURF SPRINTS
Leggs Galore has become a win machine since she began racing on turf last Aug.7, reeling off five consecutive turf sprint victories, including the Sunshine Millions Turf Sprint and the Irish O’Brien in her last two outings.
Next Saturday, the four-year-old California-bred gray tries to make it six straight when she runs in the $75,000 Mizdirection Stakes for fillies and mares four and up at six furlongs on turf.
“Her success turf sprinting is probably due to a combination of racing on grass and gaining confidence against Cal-breds, and now hopefully against open company,” said Phil D’Amato, who trains the daughter of 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern for owner/breeder William Sims.
Ricardo Gonzalez, who has ridden Leggs Galore in her last four races, all victories of course, retains the mount.
D’Amato currently is tied with Bob Baffert for Santa Anita’s training lead, each with 29 victories although D’Amato has had 120 starters to Baffert’s 96.
FINISH LINES: Cistron, who won the Kona Gold Stakes in 2019, worked five furlongs this morning in 1:00.20 for next Sunday’s renewal. “He’s doing well,” said John Sadler, who trains the consistent bay for principal clients Kosta and Peter Hronis. Still a full horse at age seven, Cistron has raced 30 times, winning six, three on turf and three on dirt, earning $768,719 . . . Independence Hall, fourth in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 6, worked five furlongs in 59.80 for Michael McCarthy, who also breezed stakes winners Ce Ce, Smooth Like Strait and Speech, each going five furlongs in 1:01.20, 1:01.20 again and 1:00.40, respectively. McCarthy’s senior stakes winner, the remarkable 10-year-old Ohio, who captured the Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile Handicap at Turf Paradise on March 12 for the third straight year, breezed four furlongs in 48.60. In all there were 168 recorded workouts Saturday, 26 on the training track.
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