Tuesday, November 29, 2011

So Brilliant gallops at Santa Anita for Bob Baffert

So Brilliant, winner of the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue on Thanksgiving Day at Hollywood Park, gets out for some morning exercise at Santa Anita.

One of trainer Bob Baffert’s more promising two-year-olds, So Brilliant was making only his second career start in the Hollywood Prevue after winning in his racing debut at Santa Anita on Oct. 22. The gray son of Medaglia d’Oro out of the Wekiva Springs mare Merry Me in Spring is owned by Arnold Zetcher, who has indicated that So Brilliant is likely headed for the Grade 1, $750,000 Cash Call Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 17.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ultimate Eagle caps a really good weekend at the track for Wright and Pender

 Ultimate Eagle wins Hollywood Derby

A day after winning the $250,000 Citation Handicap with favored Jeranimo on Saturday at Hollywood Park, owner B.J. Wright and trainer Mike Pender struck again in the $250,000 Hollywood Derby Sunday, when Ultimate Eagle, a 14-1 outsider, completed the 2011 Turf Festival with a wire-to-wire victory under jockey Martin Pedroza.

The win was the fourth in a row, all since he was switched from the synthetic track to grass, for the 3-year-old Mizzen Mast colt out of the Captain Bodgit mare Letithappencaptain and came six weeks after he had wired the field at 34-1 in the Grade II Oak Tree Derby at Santa Anita.

Pushing his earnings to $329,800 in six starts, Ultimate Eagle paid $31.40, $13 and $7.60. Finishing second was Imagining, making his first graded stakes start for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. Western Aristocrat ran third.

“It’s miraculous considering where this horse came from,” said Pender. “He had colic as a 2-year-old and was basically pronounced dead on the table. Somehow, by an act of God, he was brought back to life.

“Ultimately I would like to get him back on dirt. He trains so much better on dirt. He really hasn’t handled synthetic surfaces all that well. We’ll take it a day at a time from here.”

Owner B.J. Wright, who said Ultimate Eagle would have been their Triple Crown candidate this year if not for the colic, is also optimistic about Ultimate Eagle’s chances racing on dirt.

“He’ll run as good or better on the dirt,” said Wright. “We feel with his stride and the way he runs, he looks like he should be able to handle dirt equally with the turf, if not better.”

At this point, it looks like the sky’s the limit for the “miracle horse.”

To watch an interview with Wright following the race, click on the video below.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

First three Oak Tree Derby finishers meet again Sunday in Hollywood Derby

Ultimate Eagle wins Oak Tree Derby at Santa Anita

Ultimate Eagle, Venomous and Cozy Kitten will face off again in Sunday’s Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Hollywood Park. The race, which is the Grand Finale to Hollywood Park’s three-day Turf Festival, has drawn a field of 12 three-year-olds going a mile and one-quarter on the turf.

Ultimate Eagle finished a half-length ahead of a fast-closing Venomous in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby at Santa Anita on Oct. 15. Cozy Kitten finished another half-length back in third.

Ultimate Eagle, who is somewhat of a miracle horse, is trained by Mike Pender for owner B.J. Wright. A colt by Mizzen Mast out of the Captain Bodgit mare Letithappencaptain, Ultimate Eagle nearly died as a two-year-old due to colic.

“This is a good racehorse,” said owner B.J. Wright at Santa Anita. “He is back from the dead. He came within a hair of dying.”

Ultimate Eagle has made six career starts as a three-year-old, winning the last three after moving from the synthetic track to the turf, and amassing earnings of $179,800. The Oak Tree Derby was his graded stakes debut.

Venomous, an English-bred son of Red Ransom, was making his first start in the U.S. in the Oak Tree Derby. Trained by Leonard Powell for Magalen Bryant, he has won 3 of 13 and earned $218,711.

Cozy Kitten will be seeking his first graded stakes victory, for owner-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Wesley Ward. The Kitten’s Joy gelding is 2 for 9 with earnings of $144,464.

From the inside out, the field for the 70th running of the Hollywood Derby: Cloud Man, Mike Smith rides, 122 pounds; Imagining, Javier Castellano, 122; Slumber Garrett Gomez, 122; Western Aristocrat, Corey Nakatani, 122; Casino Host, Joe Talamo, 122; Venomous, Joel Rosario, 122; Surrey Star, Chantal Sutherland, 122; El Pocho, Hector Berrios, 122; Irish Art, Rafael Bejarano, 122; Cozy Kitten, Alonso Quinonez, 122; Ultimate Eagle, Martin Pedroza, 122 and Willcox Inn, Robby Albarado, 122.

The Hollywood Derby will run as the ninth race Sunday, with a post time of 4:37 p.m. The ten-race program also includes the Grade 3 Generous Stakes for two-year-olds at one mile on the turf.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Saturday’s Hollywood Park feature honors the great Citation

Citation wins the 1951 Hollywood Gold Cup.

Saturday’s Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park is named for Thoroughbred racing’s first millionaire horse and the eighth Triple Crown champion. Citation, whose name has become synonymous with greatness, was owned and bred by Calumet Farm in Kentucky and trained by Hall of Famers Ben Jones and son Jimmy Jones. Citation earned $1,085,760 in a 45-race career that spanned 1947 to 1951.

On July 14, 1951, Citation won the Hollywood Gold Cup – the race that pushed his career earnings past $1 million and signaled the end of his racing career. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in 1959 and died in 1970 at the age of 25.

Saturday is the second day of Hollywood Park’s Turf Festival and marks the 34th running of the Citation, a Grade 2 event for three-year-olds and up at a mile and one-sixteenth on the turf.

A field of nine will go postward in the Citation, including Oak Tree Mile winner Jeranimo. Trained by Mike Pender for B.J. Wright, Jeranimo was seventh of 13 in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.

Video: Jeranimo wins Oak Tree Mile.

Bob Black Jack, winner of the 2010 San Carlos Handicap, will make his turf debut for owners Jeff Harmon and Tim Kasparoff and trainer Jim Kasparoff. Bob Black Jack was second in his comeback in the California Cup Sprint Oct. 29 – his first start since February, 2010.

Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally will try for his third Citation victory with Buenos Dias, a 6-year-old Irish-bred son of Peintre Celebre. Buenos Dias has lost 10 in a row since winning an optional claimer over the Hollywood Park turf June 10, 2010. Owned by Charles Cella, the bay has won three of 29 and earned $306,253.

McAnally’s previous wins in this race were with Pewter Grey (second division-1983) and Brave Act (1999).

From the inside out, the field for the 34th running of the Citation Handicap: Calimonco, Mike Smith rides, 116 pounds; Jeranino, Garrett Gomez, 122; Buenos Dias, Brice Blanc, 113; Leroy’s Dynameaux, Rafael Bejarano, 114; War Element, Joel Rosario, 113; Make Music for Me, Chantal Sutherland, 114; Bob Black Jack, Joe Talamo, 118; Assessment, Daniel Vergara, 115 and John Johny Jak, Victor Espinoza, 118.

The Citation will run as the ninth race Saturday with a post time of 4:37 p.m. Also on Saturday’s 10-race program is the Grade 3 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes for three-year-olds and up at six furlongs.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hollywood Park kicks off Turf Festival on Friday

 Your Special Day, entered in Friday's Miesque Stakes, gallops at Santa Anita Tuesday morning.

Hollywood Park celebrates its annual Turf Festival this weekend, featuring six graded stakes races on the grass over the three days, with purses totaling more than $1-million.

On Friday, fillies and mares are the stars in the $250,000 Matriarch and the $100,000 Miesque Stakes.

A field of eight two-year-old fillies is assembled for the Grade 3 Miesque at one mile, including several out-of-state shippers. Shippers have been dominant in recent years in the Miesque, including wins by The Mallet (2009), Habaya (2008), Sea Chanter (2007), Valbenny (2006) and Louvain and Paddy’s Daisy (2004).

Assateague, a daughter of Stormy Atlantic and the Dixieland Band mare Amelia, arrived at Hollywood Park from Keeneland, where she was an easy maiden winner on Oct. 26. She is trained by Michael Matz for owner-breeders Helen Alexander, Dorothy Matz and Helen Groves.

More Than Love, coming off a one-length maiden victory Oct. 9 at Belmont Park, ships in for trainer John Terranova II. By More Than Ready out of the Zafonic mare I’m in Love, More Than Love is 1-for-2 for owner Newton Anner Stud.

An Irish-bred daughter of Trans Island and the Shareef Dancer mare Athlumney Dancer, Island Paradise makes her grass debut in the Miesque. She is trained by Charles Hills and has a record of 1-for-2 over synthetic surfaces in England.

Starship Flare, who arrives from Florida after finishing sixth of 10 in her first start on turf in a starter allowance Oct. 24, has two wins from four career starts. By Stevie Wonderboy out of the Crafty Prospector mare Go to the Ink, Starship Flare is trained by Kristin Mulhall.

Among the local runners in the Miesque is Your Special Day, who stretches out over a new surface after going 2-for-2 on the Santa Anita main track last month. The daughter of Kafwain and the General Meeting mare Young Ladies Day has earned $29,400 for trainer Jim Cassidy, who also owns her in partnership.

From the inside out, the field for the Miesque Stakes: Island Paradise, Joel Rosario rides, 116 pounds; Your Special Day, Mike Smith, 116; Starship Flare, Victor Espinoza, 116; Regal Betty, Joe Talamo, 118; Katie’s Ten, Alonso Quinonez, 114; Assateague, Julien Leparoux, 116; More Than Love, Ramon Dominguez, 118 and Raesunbridledfaith, Martin Garcia, 116.

The Miesque is the fifth race on Friday’s card, with a post time of 2:34 p.m.

The Grade 1 Matriarch for fillies and mares three years old and up at one mile, features a contentious field of nine.

Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, a two-time winner of the Matriarch with Auspiciante (1986) and Tout Charmant (2000), will send out the much improved All Star Heart.

A Canadian bred daughter of Arch and the Ascot Knight mare Gift of the Heart, the 4-year-old filly has won five of eight since coming to California late last year and joining the McAnally barn.

Owned by Gerald L. Gibbs, All Star Heart has won two in a row and earned her most significant victory when capturing the Grade II Las Palmas – at the Matriarch distance – Nov. 6 at Santa Anita.

Gypsy’s Warning will try to become only the second repeat winner of the Matriarch since Flawlessly won three in succession (1991-1993) for Harbor View Farm, trainer Charlie Whittingham and jockey Chris McCarron.

Gypsy’s Warning is trained by Graham Motion for Flaxman Holdings Ltd. and will be aiming for her first win since taking the Matriarch by 1 ¼ lengths in 2010. She is one of a trio Motion is scheduled to run in the Matriarch, including Unbridled Humor and Summer Soiree.

From inside out, the field for the Matriarch: Unbridled Humor, Ramon Dominguez rides, 123 pounds; Summer Soiree, Gabriel Saez, 123; Quiet Oasis, Luis Medina, 123; Madera Castana, Hector Berrios, 123; Gypsy’s Warning, Joel Rosario; 123; All Star Heart, Brice Blanc, 123; Star Billing, Victor Espinoza, Never Retreat, Julien Leparoux, 123 and Up In Time, Martin Garcia, 120.

The Matriarch goes as the ninth race at 4:37 p.m.

Other Festival events on the weekend include the $250,000 Citation Handicap and $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Stakes (Saturday) and the $100,000 Generous Stakes and $250,000 Hollywood Derby (Sunday). For more information, visit Hollywood Park's website.