D’Amato’s Irish-Bred Balnikhov Heads Monday’s Grassy Grade II, $200,000 Santa Anita Mathis Mile
__D’AMATO’S IRISH-BRED BALNIKHOV HEADS MONDAY’S GRASSY GRADE II, $200,000 SANTA ANITA MATHIS MILE __
EARLY POST AT 11 A.M., RACE IS ONE OF SIX GRADED STAKES ON OPENING DAY CARD
ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 21, 2022)—Pace will undoubtedly be a key factor in Monday’s Grade II, $200,000 Santa Anita Mathis Mile, as a field of seven sophomores duel on the turf in one of six graded stakes on Santa Anita’s Classic Meet opening day.
A dedicated deep closer, Phil D’Amato’s Irish-bred Balnikhov rallied from far off the pace to take the Grade III Bryan Station Stakes by a neck going one mile on turf at Keeneland Oct. 29. Ridden for the first time by Tyler Gaffalione, Balnikhov wheeled six-wide turning for home and weaved his way through traffic late to score impressively in a field of 12 sophomores over a firm turf.
Second going a mile on turf here in his U.S. debut in the ungraded Singletary Stakes six starts back on April 2, Balnikhov, who is three for four at one mile on grass, would obviously relish the prospect of a fast pace.
Owned by Little Red Feather Racing, Madaket Stables, LLC and Old Bone Racing, LLC, Balnikhov, who came to Southern California as a gelding after winning three of his first eight starts in France, is 14-5-3-2 overall with earnings of $398,343.
Unbeaten in two starts at a mile on turf, Richard Mandella’s Sumter, most recently third, beaten 2 ¼ lengths going five furlongs on turf in the ungraded Stormy Liberal Stakes Dec. 3 at Del Mar, has ample natural speed and solid credentials.
A close third three starts back going 1 1/16 miles on turf in Del Mar’s Grade III La Jolla Handicap Aug. 7, Sumter is a two one mile turf stakes winner at Santa Anita, having won both the April 2 Singletary and Feb. 19 Pasadena Stakes here.
A 3-year-old colt by top turf sire War Front, Sumter was bred in Kentucky by Bass Stables, LLC and is owned by Perry and Ramona Bass. Sumter, who is 9-3-2-2 overall, will be reunited with Mike Smith, who rode him to his Singletary victory and third place finish in the La Jolla Handicap.
THE GRADE II SANTA ANITA MATHIS MILE (TURF) WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST ORDER
Race 1 of 11 Post time is 11 a.m. PT
- Balnikhov—Tyler Gaffalione—122
- One More Bid—Ramon Vazquez—120
- I’m A Gambler—Flavien Prat—120
- Time to Party—Joe Bravo—120
- Agatino—Umberto Rispoli—120
- Handy Dandy—Joel Rosario—122
- Sumter—Mike Smith--122
Special early first post time on opening day, Monday, is at 11 a.m. with admission gates opening at 9 a.m. All attendees will receive Santa Anita’s traditional wall calendar free with paid admission.