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QUICK CASABLANCA LOOMS COMPLETE STANDOUT IN SUNDAY’S GRADE II SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO STAKES AT 1 ¾ MILES ON TURF; MCANALLY & TALAMO TEAM AGAIN WITH CHILEAN-BRED GRASS SPECIALIST
75th RUNNING OF HISTORIC SAN JUAN ANCHORS 10-RACE CARD ON CLOSING DAY AT SANTA ANITA
ARCADIA, Calif. (June 26, 2014)—An imposing physical specimen, trainer Ron McAnally’s Quick Casablanca heads a field of nine older horses in Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Juan Capistrano Stakes at the marathon distance of 1 ¾ miles on turf.
A Group I winner at 1 5/16 miles on dirt in Chile, Quick Casablanca was an impressive head winner of the Grade III, 1 1/8 miles turf Last Tycoon Stakes on April 25—his first start for McAnally. Although he rallied boldly in the Grade II, 1 ¼ miles turf Charles Whittingham Stakes on May 24, he was out-finished late by Neil Drysdale’s Fire With Fire.
“I was further back than I wanted to be today,” said Talamo, who was 11 lengths off the lead after a half mile. “We got squeezed at the start and it was hard to catch them. I thought the added distance would help us today, but that’s horse racing.”
Although Quick Casablanca, a 6-year-old horse by the Smart Strike stallion Until Sundown, would appreciate a fast pace, he has demonstrated that he can sit closer and still be effective. Owned by Pablo Gomez, Quick Casablanca is 18-4-6-5, with earnings of $572,580.
McAnally, who won the San Juan in 1980 with the great John Henry, with Amerique in 1998 and last year with Interaction, seeks his fourth win in the race that originated in 1935.
Although winless in his last eight starts, Irish Surf has kept good company and comes off a close fourth place finish in the Whittingham, in which he was beaten 2 ¾ lengths. Trained by Dan Hendricks, the 4-year-old colt by Giant’s Causeway will be ridden back by Elvis Trujillo.
Bred in Kentucky by Gainesway Thoroughbred, Ltd., he’s owned by Gainesway Stable and Thor-Bred Bred Stable, LLC. The San Juan Capistrano will be Irish Surf’s sixth graded stakes engagement and his 18th overall start. He has two wins, a second and four thirds, good for earnings of $153,660.
A winner of his last three races on turf at distances of a mile and a sixteenth and twice at one mile at Golden Gate Fields, Black Spirit ships south for trainer William Morey Jr., and figures to be forwardly placed early on. A 7-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by Black Minnaloushe, Black Spirit was a Group III winner in England at 1 3/8 miles on turf on Sept. 22, 2012, and he won a minor stakes nine days prior to that at 1 5/16 miles—ready indicators that he could be dangerous in the marathon San Juan. Owned by former Santa Anita President Ron Charles and Samuel Gordon, Black Spirit is 36-7-2-3 overall, with earnings of $320,977.
Big Kick comes off a highly rated gate to wire allowance win at a mile and a quarter on turf June 13 and looms a live longshot with Victor Espinoza. Trained by Mike Machowsky, the 5-year-old Ontario-Canadian-bred gelding will be ridden back by Victor Espinoza. He’s owned by Ernest Marchosky, Ken Shaw, Kate Walters and Lo Hi Stable and has four wins from 18 starts.
A Group II winner in Peru, Argentine-bred Dr Action could make no impact from off the pace in the Grade II Whittingham on May 24 and will hope to improve in his third stateside start.
Howard and Janet Siegel’s American Act is winless in his last 15 starts, but was a close third in a mile and a quarter turf allowance two starts back on April 20 and could likely be on the early lead. Trained by Jack Carava, both of his career wins have come sprinting, most recently in the six furlong Harry Henson on April 26, 2012 at Hollywood Park.
The complete field for the San Juan Capistrano Stakes, to be run as the eighth race on a 10-race card Sunday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Bailoutbobby, Mike Smith, 119; Lideris, Juan Enriquez, 124; Irish Surf, Elvis Trujillo, 119; Dr Action, Martin Pedroza, 121; Big Kick, Victor Espinoza, 119; American Act, Martin Garcia, 119; Black Spirit, Kent Desormeaux, 119; Quick Casablanca, Joe Talamo, 119, and Starspangled Heat, Corey Nakatani, 119.
Sunday is closing day of Santa Anita’s 2014 Spring Meet and there will be mandatory payouts in all exotic wagers, including the Pick Six and the Pick Five. First post time on Sunday is at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m.