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SHADOW OF ILLINOIS POISED TO MAKE 'ANITA HISTORY, 10-YEAR-OLD ON ROLL INTO FRIDAY'S SENSATIONAL STAR
ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 28, 2009) – As he marks his 10th birthday on Friday, racehorse centenarian Shadow of Illinois will be seeking a distinctive place in Santa Anita history while in search of his fourth straight victory in Santa Anita’s 13th running of the $100,000 Sensational Star Handicap for California-breds at 6 ½ furlongs over the track’s downhill turf course. The California-bred gelding by Illinois Storm will be facing seven competitors on New Year’s Day, all of whom are at least four years his junior.
He will attempt to become the first 10-year-old ever to win a stakes race at the iconic track that is currently celebrating its 75th anniversary. Putting the accomplishment in perspective, only five 9-year-olds have won Santa Anita stakes races: Kona Gold, the 2003 El Conejo Handicap; Softshoe Sure Shot, the 1995 San Carlos Handicap; Super Diamond, the 1989 San Antonio Handicap, Desert Chief III, the 1965 San Marcos Stakes, and Olhaverry, the 1948 San Pasqual Handicap. Legendary Seabiscuit was only 7 when he dramatically won the 1940 Santa Anita Handicap with his time to shine seemingly running out.
Owned by Jennifer Saavedra and trained by husband Anthony, Shadow of Illinois is a racing rarity who seems to have become more consistent with age. Don’t hold it against him that he finished sixth in the 2005 Sensational Star. He was a mere pup back then.
The gelded son of Illinois Storm, who broke his maiden at Sunland Park 41 races ago in March of 2003, not only has won his last three starts, but he has come within a nose and a half-length of winning seven in a row.
Alex Solis, aboard for the last seven that include a pair of seconds, has the return riding engagement atop the old-timer he first rode on May 17, 2003, in the second race of a career that has now generated a record of 10-9-3 in 40 starts for earnings of $497,665. Shadow of Illinois has won 5 of 14 starts over Santa Anita’s unique downhill turf course.
“Right now, he’s really a different horse,” noted the 45-year-old Solis. “He’s willing. He wants to win. Maybe he drank from the Fountain of Youth.”
Shadow of Illinois will be facing a couple of other streakers, both six years younger, in the Sensational Star: Live Sundays, who has won five in succession, the last two, incidentally, with Solis in the saddle, and Compari, a winner of three in a row.
Trained by Chuck Jenda for Hajji Farm, Live Sundays will be making his first start on grass while attempting to extend his victory streak. Joe Talamo takes over aboard the 4-year-old son of High Brite who has earned $150,976 from a 5-2-0 record in 9 starts.
The lightly-raced Compari has banked $212,640 for Harris Farms and partners from 3 wins in 4 starts. Garrett Gomez rides the 4-year-old Redattore offspring who took Hollywood Park’s $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes last April. Compari has won his only two outings on grass, but this will be his debut over the Santa Anita downhill layout.
A $32,000 claim by trainer Doug O’Neill on behalf of Westside Rentals.com and partners, Enriched proceeded to run second in Hollywood Park’s On Trust Handicap before leading into the stretch of last month’s Grade I Citation Handicap at 1 1/16 miles and settling for fifth. Michael Baze returns aboard this High Brite gelding who has posted a 4-3-2 mark in 12 races for earnings of $186,160.
The complete field for the Sensational Star, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Bestdressed, Joel Rosario, 117; Feisty Suances, David Flores, 116; Big Bad Leroybrown, Tyler Baze, 117; Mobilized, Rafael Bejarano, 112; Enriched, Michael Baze, 116; Compari, Garrett Gomez, 117; Shadow of Illinois, Alex Solis, 116, and Live Sundays, Joseph Talamo, 117.
Recent British import In the Slips is the 122-pound high weight and likely solid favorite among seven entrants in a supporting stakes feature, the $65,000 Blue Norther Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on turf.
Conditioned by Jeff Mullins for Michael House, the Kentucky-bred daughter of More Than Ready ran a strong second to The Mallet in her United States debut, the Grade III Miesque Stakes at Hollywood Park on Nov. 29. Gomez rides In the Slips.
The complete field for the Blue Norther Stakes, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Quadriga, Michael Baze, 116; Maralago, Martin Pedroza, 116; No More Travellin’, Mike Smith, 116; Jet Blue Girl, Solis, 116; Forbidden Paradise, Brice Blanc, 116; In the Slips, Gomez, 122, and Glory Pride, Talamo, 116.
The Sensational Star will be contested as the ninth race on a 10-race program with the Blue Norther going as the third. Special first post time on Friday is at 12 noon.