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DRYSDALE BEGINS WEEKEND QUEST TO REPEAT PAIR OF GRADE II VICTORIES WITH VAMO A GALUPIAR IN SATURDAY’S GRADE II SANTA BARBARA HANDICAP
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 18, 2012) – Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale, who on March 25 saddled winners of a pair of Grade II, $150,000 turf stakes, appears well-positioned to mirror that accomplishment this weekend when Santa Anita concludes its 75th winter/spring racing season.
On Saturday, Drysdale will send out 120-pound high-weight and likely favorite Vamo a Galupiar among seven older fillies and mares in the 64th running of the Grade II, $150,000 Santa Barbara Handicap at 1 ¼ miles on turf. The Chilean-bred will attempt to repeat her success as the 7-1 upsetter in the Santa Ana Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on March 25.
And on Sunday’s closing day, the 64-year-old trainer will be represented by 122-pound high-weight and all but certain favorite Bourbon Bay in the $73rd running of the Grade II, $150,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap at 1 ¾ miles on turf, the historic event Bourbon Bay won in 2010 and targeted on March 25 with his narrow victory in the San Luis Rey Stakes at 1 ½ miles.
In addition to the Santa Barbara Handicap, the season’s penultimate 10-race program on Saturday includes the Grade III, $100,000 San Simeon Handicap at 6 ½ furlongs over Santa Anita’s hillside turf course with the eight entrants headed by California Flag. The 8-year-old California-bred, trained by Brian Koriner for Hi Card Ranch, has participated in the last four runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint while capturing the 2009 competition at Santa Anita. Saturday is Fan Appreciation Day at Santa Anita with first post at 12:30 p.m. The Santa Barbara will go as the ninth race with the San Simeon carded as the fifth.
A lightly-raced 5-year-old, who won 3 of her first 4 starts in Chile, Vamo a Galupiar – which means “Let’s Go Gallop” -- was making her fourth U.S. start for Drysdale in the Santa Ana. It was her first trip beyond one mile in this country and she staged a torrid finish under Mike Smith to defeat Wild Mia by one-half length in 1:48 4/5 over a course rendered “good” by heavy rain.
“At one stage in the stretch, I wasn’t sure she was to going to get there,” said Drysdale after watching Vamo a Galupiar rally from ninth in the field of 10. “But she dug in,” Drysdale continued, “and proved her worth. Mr. Evans (owner Robert S. Evans) has been very patient. When they come from South America, you have to give them lots of time, and he was willing to do that. This is the reward.”
With her second victory in her fourth stateside start, the daughter of Proud Citizen boosted her career earnings to $190,512 and atoned for a sixth-place finish in her previous start. She was beaten by 1 ¾ lengths as the 3-1 favorite in the Grade II Buena Vista Handicap at one mile on Feb. 20. “She was a victim of circumstances that time,” noted Drysdale. “She comes from out of it so sometimes you get trapped when that happens, and that’s exactly what happened.” Hall of Famer Smith retains the mount.
Vamo a Galupiar’s competition in the Santa Barbara includes Cambina, the second high weight at 119 pounds who is winless in five starts since dead-heating with Nereid for victory in Hollywood Park’s Grade I American Oaks last July. Cambina, sent off at odds of 7-2, finished 2 ½ lengths behind Vamo a Galupiar when sixth in the Santa Ana. Rafael Bejarano rides the 4-year-old filly trained by Jeff Bonde for a partnership. The Irish-bred has posted an overall record of 6-1-2 in 17 starts for earnings of $393,426.
French-bred 4-year-old filly Camelia Rose, who was bet down to 17-10 favoritism in the Santa Ana, gained the lead at the head of the lane that day only to drop back to fifth when crossing the finish line. It was the second U.S. start for the bay filly owned by J. Paul Reddam, and trainer Simon Callaghan expects she will be a fitter filly with the Santa Ana under her belt. Leading rider Joel Rosario again handles the French import who showed great promise in her U.S. debut on March 1. Her career record stands at 2-3-0 in 10 races for income of $105,948. Camelia Rose has been assigned 116 pounds.
The complete field for the Santa Barbara Handicap, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Hard Seven, Edwin Maldonado, 115; Cambina, Rafael Bejarano, 119; Glowing Spirit, Victor Espinoza, 112; Capital Plan, Brice Blanc, 114; Vamo a Galupiar, Mike Smith, 120; Bauble Queen, Joseph Talamo, 118, and Camelia Rose, Joel Rosario, 116.
Assigned 121 pounds for the 45th running of the San Simeon Handicap, California Flag will be making his first start since a troubled 12th place finish among 14 runners in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint over five furlongs on Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.
“The horse is doing well,” reported Koriner. “Everything is coming together. The horse is great now. He trains great every day. We’ve always enjoyed having him around the barn. He’s a happy boy.”
The venerable gray gelding will be reunited with jockey Joe Talamo on Saturday. Talamo was in the saddle when California Flag won the Breeders’ Cup event over Santa Anita’s hillside course. He was also aboard the Avenue of Flags’ offspring for his two wins in the Grade III Morvich Handicap over the course. California Flag has taken 4 of 6 starts over the unique downhill layout. His career earnings are $1,228,825 from 10 wins in 25 starts.
California Flag will be confronted by Compari, who simply adores the Santa Anita turf whether running long or short. Evidence is his 6 for 8 record over the surface. Third behind Willyconker in the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Stakes at one mile in his last start on March 3, Compari will be handled by Bejarano. Trained by Marty Jones, the 6-year-old son of Redattore has posted an 8-1-2 record in 15 lifetime stars for owners and breeders Harris Farms, John Nicoletti and Donald Valpredo.
The complete field for the San Simeon Handicap, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Supreme Summit, David Flores, 116; Gallant Son, Leslie Mawing, 116; Victory Pete, Chantal Sutherland, 116; Sayif, Jose Valdivia Jr., 114; Compari, Bejarano, 119; California Flag, Talamo, 121; Irish Art, Rosario, 116, and Ain’t No Other, Smith, 116.