Santa Anita Stable Notes Friday, January 27, 2023
STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN FRIDAY, JAN. 27, 2023
• NEWGRANGE IS ‘UP TO THE CHALLENGE’ IN GRADE II SAN PASQUAL • JUSTIQUE GETS A SECOND 2-TURN TEST IN GRADE III LAS VIRGENES • FLIGHTLINE WINS HORSE OF THE YEAR AT ECLIPSE AWARDS • PLAYER-FRIENDLY ‘COAST TO COAST PICK 5’ RETURNS SATURDAY
NEWGRANGE IS ‘UP TO THE CHALLENGE’ IN GRADE II SAN PASQUAL
About this time a year ago, Newgrange was considered a leading contender for the Kentucky Derby after he won the Grade III Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park to move to 3-for-3 for Bob Baffert. Those Derby aspirations would prove premature, however. A month later, Newgrange ran poorly in the Grade II Rebel and went to the sidelines.
The second half of 2022 included a trip through the sales ring in Kentucky where he fetched $325,000, a transfer to trainer Phil D’Amato and three starts for his new connections that included a highly rated classified allowance win at Santa Anita in November. On Saturday, Newgrange makes his 4-year-old bow in the Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.
Newgrange, who is a perfect 2-for-2 at Santa Anita, is the 3-1 second choice on the San Pasqual morning line behind the Baffert-trained Hopper (5-2). He also will be ridden for the first time by Juan Hernandez, who has dominated proceedings at the Classic Meet.
“Juan breezed him and really liked him,” D’Amato said. “I think it should set him up nicely.”
While with D’Amato last year, Newgrange finished third in the Shared Belief at Del Mar in September before uncorking a 97 Beyer Speed Figure when going gate to wire in the aforementioned allowance win here at a mile last fall. In his final start of the year and only previous try at 1 1/8 miles, Newgrange checked in third behind Grade I winner Defunded in the Grade III Native Diver at Del Mar Nov. 27.
D’Amato said Newgrange has “really been working well” for his seasonal unveiling while noting the return to Santa Anita is another positive.
“It’s kind of been a learning experience for me to see what he’s best at style wise,” D’Amato said. “He had his most impressive win here numbers-wise against a salty group of seasoned veterans. I think he’s up to the challenge.”
While Newgrange is unbeaten at Santa Anita, he is unproven going a mile-and-an-eighth. D’Amato does not see the distance as a major concern. “I think it’s definitely within his reach,” he said. “He’s a horse that just needs to be up there rolling, sitting one or two and not far back. I think he’s going to be in a nice tactical spot tomorrow. We’ll see how far it takes him.”
By Violence out of the Empire Maker mare Bella Chianti, Newgrange is campaigned by David A. Bernsen and Little Red Feather. The San Pasqual goes as Saturday’s eighth race with a scheduled post time of 4:10 p.m.
The field in post position order: Hopper, Edwin Maldonado (5-2), Tripoli, Kazushi Kimura (4-1); Parnelli, Victor Espinoza (10-1); Perfect Flight, Joe Bravo (10-1); American Admiral, Ramon Vazquez (12-1); Newgrange, Juan Hernandez (3-1); Go On, Mario Gutierrez (20-1); Breakfast Ride, Luis Contreras (8-1).
JUSTIQUE GETS A SECOND 2-TURN TEST IN GRADE III LAS VIRGENES
In between a pair of scintillating wins sprinting last year, Justique got her one and only try around two turns in the Grade II Chandelier going 1 1/16 miles. She disappointed as the 3-2 favorite when a no-threat third.
In Saturday’s Grade III Las Virgenes going a mile, the daughter of Triple Crown winner Justify gets another crack around two bends for her 3-year-old bow. She is installed as the 9-5 second choice behind Grade I winner Faiza (8-5) on Jon White’s morning line.
Justique’s belated seasonal unveiling on Saturday comes 19 days after a brief illness forced her to be scratched from the Grade III Santa Ynez at seven furlongs, a race originally scheduled for New Year’s Day but postponed a week due to inclement weather. She recovered quickly from the setback and returned to the work tab five days later.
In a three-race campaign last year, Justique won her debut going 5 ½ furlongs at Del Mar in July. Then, after failing to deliver in the Chandelier, she bounced back to win the seven-furlong Desi Arnaz at Del Mar in November. Both of Justique’s victories came via furious last-to-first rallies under Hall of Famer Victor Espinoza, who will be aboard again on Saturday.
Shirreffs doesn’t envision any change to Justique’s running style despite the stretch-out to a mile and what would presumably be a slightly slower pace than she has faced sprinting. Turf stakes winner Broadway Girls, an 8-1 long shot for Doug O’Neill, is the only confirmed frontrunner in the six-horse field.
“It’s hard to say about the pace, someone might want to go, but I don’t see her changing her position early in the race,” Shirreffs said.
Justique wrapped up her serious preparations for the Las Virgenes last Saturday when working five furlongs in 1:00.40.
Owned by C R K Stable, Justique was a $725,000 auction purchase as a yearling. Pedigree suggests a two-turn mile and farther should be well within her scope. Besides being by a Triple Crown winner, her dam, Grazie Mille, broke her maiden routing at Aqueduct for Chad Brown. Grazie Mille is by classic winner Bernardini, who prevailed in the 2006 Preakness Stakes.
The Las Virgenes goes as the second race on Saturday with a scheduled post time of 12:59 p.m. The field in post position order: Faiza, Ramon Vazquez (8-5); Sweet Trouble, Kent Desormeaux (12-1); Broadway Girls, Edwin Maldonado (8-1); Pride of the Nile, Juan Hernandez (3-1); Uncontrollable, Kazushi Kimura (8-1); Justique, Victor Espinoza (9-5).
FLIGHTLINE WINS HORSE OF THE YEAR AT 52nd ECLIPSE AWARDS
As expected, Flightline won both Horse of the Year and champion older dirt male at the 52nd annual Eclipse Awards on Thursday in Palm Beach, Fla.
In the top older dirt male category, Flightline collected 240 of a possible 246 first-place votes, which included two abstentions, to become the fourth champion trained by John Sadler. For Horse of the Year, Flightline received 239 votes to become the sixth Horse of the Year based in California since 2014.
In two seasons of racing, Flightline was a perfect 6-for-6 with his victories coming by a combined 71 lengths. In last year’s Horse of the Year campaign, Flightline won the Grade I Metropolitan Handicap by six lengths, Grade I Pacific Classic by 19 ¼ lengths and the Breeders’ Cup Classic by 8 ¼ lengths. The now 5-year-old son of Tapit was retired following the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He will stand this breeding season at Lane’s End Farm in central Kentucky for a fee of $200,000.
There were also three other Eclipse Award finalists with Santa Anita ties. Last year’s Grade I Santa Anita Derby winner, Taiba, finished second in the voting for champion 3-year-old male. Taiba received 66 first-place votes, which was well short of the 155 garnered by winner Epicenter.
Flavien Prat, who often rides at Santa Anita throughout the year, finished second in the race for outstanding jockey. He received 24 first-place votes, well short of the 218 votes collected by Irad Ortiz Jr., who earned his fourth Eclipse Award. Last year Ortiz set a new record for purse earnings by a jockey with $37,075,772.
PLAYER-FRIENDLY COAST TO COAST PICK 5 RETURNS SATURDAY
Saturday’s Coast to Coast Pick 5 features a heavy dose of stakes action from Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park.
The $1 minimum wager, which features a player-friendly 15 percent takeout, kicks off at approximately 1 p.m. with the Grade III Las Virgenes at Santa Anita. It continues with the 11th race at Gulfstream, the Grade III Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf, before returning to Santa Anita for the third race. The sequence concludes with races 12 and 13 at Gulfstream, which are the Grade I Pegasus World Cup Turf and Grade I Pegasus World Cup, respectively.
Last Sunday’s Coast to Coast Pick 5 returned $738.50 to 245 winning tickets.
Finish Lines: There is a $198,087 carryover for Friday’s Rainbow Pick 6. It is a 20-cent minimum wager…Santa Anita welcomes Bugler Jay Cohen back today after serving time on the Vet’s List…Through this past Sunday, favorites have won at 29.7 percent clip during the Classic Meet…Horseplayer David Nance will be Tom Quigley’s featured handicapping guest Saturday on the Santa Anita simulcast feed starting at 11:20...Every Friday during Santa Anita’s Classic Meet on-track patrons will receive free admission, free parking and drink specials that include $3 beers and $5 margaritas.