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TEN TO TANGLE IN CONTENTIOUS SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, HISTORIC GRADE II TURF MARATHON THAT CLIMAXES SANTA ANITA’S SEASON ON SUNDAY
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 14, 2011) – A puzzlingly contentious 72nd running of the historic San Juan Capistrano Handicap, the Grade II, $150,000 marathon at 1 ¾ miles that is renowned as the longest turf stakes race in North America, closes Santa Anita’s 76th racing season on Sunday.
Haimish Hy, victorious in the Grade I Hollywood Derby last fall, is the 119-pound highweight among 10 entrants in the event whose past winners include such racing luminaries as Seabiscuit, Cougar II and John Henry.
There is no clear standout this year, however. This San Juan appears to be something of a proving ground. Haimish Hy, for example, looked formidable in the Hollywood Derby and rallied for third behind elite turf marathoners Champ Pegasus and Bourbon Bay in Santa Anita’s Grade II San Luis Obispo Stakes at 1 ½ miles on Feb. 19. But one month later, he failed to handle a sloppy main track as the 17-10 favorite in the Grade II San Luis Rey at the same distance.
Then there is Quindici Man, who flew home at 69-1odds to wind up third, one-half length behind victorious Game On Dude in the famed Santa Anita Handicap on March 5. But Quindici Man is 1-for-6 on turf, and his most recent victory came last Oct. 10 in the Bull Dog Stakes at the Fresno County Fair.
Trainer Craig Lewis isn’t certain if Quindici Man will be up to the task in terms of distance and racing surface. “He seemingly acts like he’ll do it,” Lewis told the Daily Racing Forum, “but it’s a long way to go and a different surface. It’s our best option. It’s an historic race, and a beautiful race to watch.”
The San Juan Capistrano will be contested as the final race on a closing day program of 10 races with first post at 12:30 p.m. Immediately after the last race, Santa Anita, in conjunction with the City of Hope, will present an “On Track to Beat Cancer” charity event that invites fans to join racing personages and celebrities in a quarter-mile walk down the track’s storied homestretch in the fight against women’s cancers.
Haimish Hy, trained by co-owner Art Sherman and to be ridden for the first time by Mike Smith, has won 3 of 5 starts over turf and 5 of 13 overall for earnings of $314,980. The Ecton Park colt has turned out to be quite a bargain by any measure. He was purchased at auction in 2008 for $10,000 by Sherman and partners Zvika Akin, Richard Franco and Sy Goldstein.
Quindici Man, who will carry 117 pounds including jockey Martin Pedroza, comes into the race with earnings of $483,316 from a 7-6-7 record in 32 career starts. The 5-year-old gray is owned by Six-S Racing Stable.
Second high weight in the field at 118 pounds is Robert and Betty Irvin’s Juniper Pass, who won the San Luis Rey by one-half length over Dahoud after it was taken off the turf and moved to the sloppy main track. It was the first stakes victory for the 4-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid who is trained by Ray Bell. Juniper Pass, who again will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, has won 3 of 11 starts and $194,380.
The only other entrant in this year’s San Juan Capistrano to have won a stakes race in this country is veteran campaigner Interpatation, a 9-year-old gelding who has raced 65 times while earning $1,212,684 from a 6-5-12 record.
Interpatation, however, has not reached the winner’s circle since scoring a stunning upset at odds of 43-1 in Belmont Park’s Grade I Turf Classic Invitational at 1 ½ miles on Oct. 3, 2009. Winless in 15 starts since then, he is the field’s lightweight at 111 pounds. Alex Jimenez will ride the venerable gelding now trained by Jeffrey Metz for Elliot Mavorah.
The complete field for the San Juan Capistrano Handicap, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Quindici Man, Martin Pedroza, 117; Haimish Hy, Mike Smith, 119; Dahoud, Joel Rosario, 115; Power Series, Joseph Talamo, 112; Interpatation, Alex Jimenez, 111; Imponente Purse, Chantal Sutherland, 116; Romp, Alonso Quinonez, 114; Celtic New Year, Victor Espinoza, 113; Falcon Rock, Brice Blanc, 114, and Juniper Pass, Rafael Bejarano, 118.