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FORT HASTINGS SHORTENS UP IN SEARCH OF UNIFORMITY WIN SUNDAY
ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 20, 2011) – Irish-bred Fort Hastings, who has scored victories sprinting on turf in France, Switzerland and Germany, turns back in distance on Sunday when facing eight other 3-year-olds in the $65,000 Uniformity Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs over Santa Anita’s hillside turf course.
Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer for Michael Lynch, the bay ridgling made his U.S. debut on July 20 in Del Mar’s one-mile Oceanside Stakes and returned 2 ½ weeks later in the Grade II La Jolla Handicap at 1 1/16 miles. Well-supported in both stakes at 5-1, Fort Hastings had trouble in both while finishing seventh and sixth, respectively.
Hollendorfer, who has engaged Brice Blanc to ride, expects Fort Hastings will fancy Santa Anita’s downhill course. His three victories as a 2-year-old in Europe came in his first three starts. He next ran a creditable third in a Group III stakes at Baden-Baden, Germany, while going seven furlongs. His last three starts at one mile or more have not been nearly as productive.
With earnings of $225,520 from six wins in 14 starts, Luckarack, the 122-pound high weight, is the most accomplished runner in the field. The California-bred, trained by Doug O’Neill, was claimed in August for $62,500 by the partnership of W.C. Racing, Westside Rentals.com and Sarno.
Luckarack promptly won the six-furlong Jim Kostoff Stakes at Fairplex Park by 4 ½ lengths before faltering when a well-beaten fourth in the Pomona Derby at 1 1/16 miles. His best work has been done while sprinting. This will be his first start over Santa Anita’s hillside layout. Alonso Quinonez has the mount.
Zayat Stables’ Sinai also will be making his first start over the course. The Bob Baffert-trainee closed well when second at 6 ½ furlongs in his last start, an allowance event over Del Mar’s Polytrack on Aug. 27.
The gray colt’s only previous turf exposure resulted in a fourth-place finish in Hollywood Park’s Harry Henson Stakes at six furlongs last April. Rafael Bejarano, aboard for Sinai’s two wins in nine starts, will be back in the irons on Sunday.
Commander, a game fourth in last month’s Group III British Columbia Derby, ships in from Canada, along with jockey Mario Gutierrez, to try his hand in the Uniformity. Trained by Troy Taylor for Glen Todd and Patrick Kinsella, Commander will be sprinting for the first time in a 12-race career that has produced two victories.
Irish Art shortens up for trainer Carla Gaines following a half-length loss to Mega Heat when a solid second in a one-mile allowance event on turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 1. Joel Rosario has the call aboard Warren Williamson’s son of Artie Schiller whose four-race career includes a pair of seconds.
The complete field for the Uniformity Stakes, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Irish Art, Joel Rosario, 117; Lion Hall, Mike Smith, 119; Luckarack, Alonso Quinonez, 122; Robbie’s War, Victor Espinoza, 117; Shred the Secrets, Patrick Valenzuela, 117; Fort Hastings, Brice Blanc, 119; Sinai, Rafael Bejarano, 119; Every Ego, no rider, 115, and Commander, Mario Gutierrez, 119.
The Uniformity will be contested as the eighth race on a nine-race card with first post at 1 p.m.