Looks like this year's running of the $1M Santa Anita Handicap (Grade 1) will be rather interesting! Not only is it getting high profile 'local' runners but also ones from Florida and a shipper from England on top of French-runner Zambezi Sun who was very rank (to say the least) in the San Luis Obispo on Feb 22nd.
This will be one to watch with all 14 slots likely to be occupied!
Asked right after the race how tough it was to rate Zambezi Sun in the San Luis Obispo, jockey Garrett Gomez was silent while displaying the palm of his left hand, which had a red line imprinted across it from clutching the rein.
Bobby Frankel is fine with having him run again
"There’s nothing wrong with him,” Frankel said of the French group I winner he trains for Juddmonte Farms. “He didn’t run hard; he’s OK. I just got him fit enough to run (in the Big ‘Cap).”
On Wednesday, Dansant, who has won five stakes in England in the last 18 months, left Great Britain for California.
The 5-year-old horse is the first international shipper for the Santa Anita Handicap since the English invader Jorrocks finished last of 12 behind winner Tiznow in 2001. Jorrocks stayed in California, but Dansant will return to England.
Dansant has won 2 of his last 3 starts, but trainer Gerard Butler knows he is taking a chance in the Santa Anita Handicap, which is run at 1 1/4 miles.
Some of the other runners of interest
As of Wednesday, 16 of the 26 nominated horses were considered candidates - Blue Exit, Champs Elysees, Colonel John, Court Vision [based in Florida], Cowboy Cal, Dansant, Einstein [also based in Florida], Magnum, Mast Track, Matto Mondo, Monba, Nownownow, Slew's Tiznow, Tiago, Victory Pete, and Zambezi Sun.
Mast Track, the winner of the 2008 Hollywood Gold Cup, and Nownownow, who won the San Fernando Stakes last month, may start in the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile on turf on March 7, their trainers said on Wednesday.
Frankel said he would make equipment changes to avoid a repeat [with Zambezi Sun being rank]. "He won't do it next time," Frankel said.
If the Big Cap draws more than the allotted 14 entrants, weight assignments, which will be released on Saturday, are the first tiebreaker.
DANSANT (Dansili [GB]), a five-time stakes winner on synthetic surfaces in England, will ship to Southern California for the March 7 Santa Anita H. (G1). Trainer Gerard Butler had been aiming for the $1 million affair, but he was concerned about whether his charge would be able to get into the field. According to a Monday report in Racing Post, Santa Anita officials telephoned Butler on Saturday night to assure him that Dansant would make the cut.
"Thankfully, Dansant is in the line-up at Santa Anita and it will be interesting to see how he fares after all the European success at the Breeders' Cup there last year," Butler told Racing Post. "It looks like it's going to be a full field in the race and he sets off for Ayr tomorrow (Tuesday). He will fly from Prestwick airport direct to California."
Last November, Dansant captured the 1 1/2-mile Wild Flower S. at Kempton for the second straight year. He then trimmed back to 1 1/4 miles in the December 20 Quebec S., where he rolled to a 2 1/2-length score in track-record time at Lingfield.
His five-year-old debut was delayed by adverse winter weather in England. After a few postponements and venue changes, Dansant finally reappeared in the Mill Wood Winter Open S. at Lingfield on February 10, just failing to catch the lone speed Suits Me (Bertolini) by a half-length after a tepid pace.
Informed, second in the San Pasqual Handicap on Jan. 10 and fourth in the San Antonio Handicap on Feb. 8, will make his next start in the $1 million Godolphin Mile in Dubai on March 28. O'Neill said he was told that Informed had been invited on Thursday morning.
Informed, 5, has yet to win a stakes in his 17-race career.
Sounds more like he's been invited as "cannon fodder" of sorts.
A very interesting undercard too for race 10 - the Santa Anita 'Big Cap' (although lets be honest, handicap weight assignments for that field in 2009 would be heartily mocked at back in the 1950's) with the Grade 1 $300k Santa Anita Oaks and its implications on the Kentucky Derby.
Some will recall that another big filly who crushed her competition and was said to he Kentucky Derby bound won this race with ease four years ago - Sweet Catomine
$300,000 Santa Anita Oaks (Grade 1)
Saturday March 7, 2009
Santa Anita Race 7; off at 3:07 p.m. PST
Distance/surface: 1 1/16 Miles / Pro-Ride
PP. Horse, Jockey 1. Stardom Bound (KY), Mike E. Smith
2. Burg Berg(KY), Tyler Baze
3. Miss Silver Brook (KY), Alex O. Solis
4. Hooh Why (FL), Robby Albarado
5. Stormy Slew (KY), John R. Velazquez
6. Nan (KY), Corey S. Nakatani 7. Will O Way (KY), Russell A. Baze
8. Beltene (CA), Joel Rosario
9. Third Dawn (KY), Rafael Bejarano
10. Acronym (KY), David R. Flores
All carry 122 pounds.
Note Russ Baze has been lured down to So. Cal for this race - he rarely will do so unless he's on a serious mount. 'Will O Way' was last seen (with Baze up) taking the $100,000 California Oaks at Golden Gate Fields Jan. 31st
Mike might not have Tiago or another mount in the Big Cap but the ride on Stardom Bound puts him in a good position to walk home with a nice pay day
Another very good race to watch at Santa Anita on Saturday will be the 50th running of the Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf
The Juddmonte Farms 5-yr old mare Ventura (15 8-5-1) is taking on the boys again for the 3rd time in her career. Twice she won back in England doing so and last time she finished a solid 2nd in Canada in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile Stakes.
Needless to say the Bobby Frankel trained, Garrett Gomez ridden gal has no fear against this field however she is carrying the 2nd highest handicap in the field Gomex has remarked "I have no worries" and has been rather smitten with her as he's been her exclusive rider since she's come to the US. "She's really gotten stronger and more athletic," Gomez said. "She's got such a great turn of foot. I fell in love with her when she first got here."
$300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap (G1)
Saturday March 7, 2009
Hopefully Julien will be on his "A game" tomorrow and able to fly from Gulfstream to Santa Anita: Per the DRF March 6th
Julien Leparoux took off his mounts Friday due to illness. He was scheduled to fly to California on Friday evening to ride Einstein in Saturday's Santa Anita Handicap. Leparoux took over sole possession of the lead in the jockey standings [at Gulfstream Park] after guiding first-time starter Hold My Calls to victory for trainer Eddie Kenneally in Thursday's nightcap.
Pletcher would like to see Cowboy Cal near the front and cooperating with jockey John Velazquez.
"The biggest challenge is how well he can settle and relax," Pletcher said. "We feel he settles better when he has a horse to track."
Then, Pletcher needs Cowboy Cal to finish his job.
"Johnny said that when he makes the lead, he turns off," Pletcher said. "He thinks that the race is over. He'll do that and start fighting again when the other horses come up."
To win the Big Cap, Cowboy Cal must catch Matto Mondo and then hold off Colonel John, winner of the 2008 Santa Anita Derby and Travers Stakes; Magnum, winner of the San Antonio Handicap on Feb. 8; Einstein, who won the Clark Handicap in November; the Bobby Frankel-trained pair of Zambezi Sun and Champs Elysees; and Court Vision and Blue Exit.
A lot of "if's" in this race - from Colonel John having not started since Dec 26 to Matto Mondo having never raced at that distance, yet being pure speed. It again should be a very interesting race to watch!
Last edited by Glimmerglass; Mar. 7, 2009 at 07:51 AM.
Stardom Bound won the Santa Anita Oaks, but I cannot say she looked like some mega powerhouse over the gals like Sweetcatomine did when she took the Oaks. We'll see how the Santa Anita Derby field shapes up but unless this was her bounce I don't expect her to rout the SAD and that puts a lot of doubt into going the Kentucky Derby path over Oaks.
Glimmerglass, what happened to Blue Exit? We were at the race, track side, but didn't know anything had gone wrong, just couldn't figure where he finished. He was my husband's pick. He looked so intense and unstoppable in the paddock, whereas Einstein looked almost lethargic. A guy next to us muttered, "I came here to bet Einstein but I'm switching to number 7."