Santa Anita Stable Notes Friday, March 24, 2023
STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN
FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 2023
• GRADED WINNER ELM DRIVE RETURNS IN GRADE III DESERT STORMER
• HIGH-PRICED 2-YEAR-OLDS COMING TO SANTA ANITA FROM OBS SALE
• COAST-TO-COAST PICK 5 RETURNS SATURDAY
• FREE ADMISSION, PARKING, PROGRAMS & PP’S FOR MONDAY CARD
• FIRST POST TIME AT 1 P.M. ON SATURDAY, SUNDAY & MONDAY
GRADED WINNER ELM DRIVE RETURNS IN G3 DESERT STORMER
Graded stakes winner Elm Drive looms a major threat for trainer Phil D’Amato when she returns from a six-month layoff in Saturday’s Grade III Desert Stormer going six furlongs on the main track.
Installed as the 6-5 morning-line favorite for her comeback, Elm Drive has been sidelined since Sept. 24 when she finished sixth in the Weather Vane Stakes at Pimlico going six furlongs. The Weather Vane was the anchor leg of a two-race eastern excursion for Elm Drive that ended her 2022 campaign. Prior to the Weather Vane, she was sent to New York and transferred to trainer Michelle Nevin where she tried the Grade I Test at Saratoga on Aug. 6. She finished seventh.
Now back with D’Amato, Elm Drive has been preparing for her comeback since early December. On Monday, the 4-year-old Mohaymen filly had her final tune-up when working five furlongs in 1:00.40 under jockey Ramon Vazquez.
D’Amato noted Elm Drive has been pointed to this spot for about a month. In a field of six, she will break from post five with Vazquez aboard for the first time.
“She’s happy and fresh, and has had two nice drills over the track,” D’Amato noted. “Ramon breezed her last time and thought she was ready to go. She drew a nice outside post, which should help, and I’m sure he’ll have her out there in a nice forward position.”
Elm Drive made just four starts last year with her lone win coming in the Angels Flight Stakes here in May. Her biggest victory came as a 2-year-old in the Grade II Sorrento at Del Mar.
Despite the lengthy layoff and persistent rain this winter which has hindered many training schedules, D’Amato is expecting a strong effort from Elm Drive on Saturday.
“She’s had a lot of foundation,” D’Amato said of Elm Drive’s training. “We’ve had her back for a long time. The rain has only prevented us from running earlier.”
The Desert Stormer goes as the eighth race on Saturday with a scheduled post time of 4:37 p.m. The co-second choices at 3-1 are Stella Noir, who moves to dirt after 10 starts on turf for trainer Keith Desormeaux; and Dance to the Music, who lures the services of Santa Anita leading rider Juan Hernandez for her second start off a nearly six-month layoff. She is trained by Mark Glatt.
The field in post position order: Violent Runner, Edwin Maldonado (4-1); Half Past Twelve, Tiago Pereira (8-1); Dance to the Music, Juan Hernandez (4-1); Elm Drive, Ramon Vazquez (6-5); Stella Noir, Luis Contreras (3-1).
HIGH-PRICED 2-YEAR-OLDS COMING TO SANTA ANITA FROM OBS SALE
Santa Anita will soon be receiving some high-priced horseflesh following this week’s conclusion of the three-day OBS March Sale of 2-year-olds in Training in Ocala, Fla.
The sale-topper was a colt by Good Magic out of the winning Uncle Mo mare Hoppa, who commanded a final bid of $2 million on Tuesday. Agent Donato Lanni signed the ticket for the flashy bay on behalf of owner Amr Zedan. He will be sent to trainer Bob Baffert.
Baffert, who was on hand for the sale, was back at Santa Anita on Thursday.
“It was good to see some trainers from California there buying horses, that was important,” Baffert said. “I’m not sure how many horses in all will be coming back here, probably not as many as there were in years past, but it was crucial to see owners and trainers there buying horses.”
Also making a splash at the sale was Southern California-based owners Lee and Susan Searing, who race as C R K Stable. Bidding as Parks Investment, the Searing’s purchased three fillies for a total of $1.65 million. With trainer John Shirreffs at their side, the Searing’s priciest buy was a $950,000 daughter of Arrogate out of Heart of Paradise, who herself is a graded-stakes winner by More Than Ready.
“She was a very good-looking filly, all rangy, great conformation,” Shirreffs said Friday. “She breezed really well at the show. Just a filly that presented herself realty well all the way around.”
The Searing’s also paid $375,000 for a filly by Union Rags out of the Malibu Moon mare Winding Way. She is a half sister to the Shirreffs-trained Skinner, who is pointed to the Grade I Runhappy Santa Anita Derby on April 8. The Searing’s third buy was a filly by Curlin out of the Cee’s Tizzy mare Tiz o’ Gold, who is a half sister to $2 million-earner Bravazo.
“I think Mr. Searing is always wanting to improve his broodmare band,” Shirreffs said of the focus on fillies.
As for Zedan’s sale topper, he was one of two colts at the under-tack show to breeze a furlong in 9.60 seconds, which was the fastest time recorded.
“His breeze was phenomenal,” Baffert said. “He handled it well, came out of it well and looked really healthy. That’s the key. It’s like the NFL Combine.”
Last year, Zedan also landed the sale topper at the OBS April Sale of 2-year-olds with a final bid of $2.3 million. That colt would be named Arabian Knight. He would go on to romp in his debut at Keeneland on Nov. 5 and then add a win in the Grade III Southwest at Oaklawn Park in his 3-year-old bow on Jan. 28. Arabian Knight, who was considered among the favorites for this year’s Kentucky Derby, was recently taken out of training with plans to return this summer.
You can expect more high-price purchases from Zedan moving forward. After landing the Good Magic colt in a bidding duel with Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, who was the reported underbidder, Zedan offered this warning to the competition:
“Our motto is we stop (bidding) when we own them,” he told Blood-Horse.
Shirreffs said the three Searing fillies are slated to arrive at Santa Anita “within the next week.” He expects they should be ready to race sooner than later.
“It looks like it. They have a great foundation having already worked a few times for the sale,” Shirreffs said. “Hopefully everything goes well and they come along.”
Baffert indicated it could be a bit longer before the sale topper makes the races. Good Magic’s first crop of 2-year-olds last year was not particularly precocious, but they have gone on to develop to the point where he now ranks second among the freshman sires of 2022. Only Bolt d’Oro rates higher.
“Some that we bought there we’ll back off a little, give them 30 days at the farm,” Baffert said. “Some we’ll go on with. But there were a few we think will be better as they get older. We’ll just them out here and see how they go.”
The first 2-year-old races of the year in Southern California are slated for the weekend of April 28-30 at Santa Anita.
COAST-TO-COAST PICK 5 RETURNS SATURDAY
The $1 Coast-to-Coast Pick 5 with player-friendly 15 percent takeout rate returns Sunday with races from Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park. The sequence kicks off at 1:07 p.m. PT with the eighth race from Gulfstream Park.
Gulfstream Park’s eighth race is a one-mile turf allowance for older fillies and mares. A field of 11 is entered. The sequence also includes the ninth and 10th races from Gulfstream, the third race from Santa Anita and concludes with the fourth race from Santa Anita at approximately 2:29 p.m.
Saturday’s Coast-to-Coast Pick 5 averages 9.4 starters per race before scratches. Last Sunday’s Coast-to-Coast Pick 5 returned a whopping $146,568.20 to one lucky winner.
FREE ADMISSION, PARKING, PROGRAMS, PPs FOR SPECIAL MONDAY CARD
With Friday’s card canceled due to 3.2 inches of rain this week, Santa Anita Park will offer fans and horsemen a special eight-race card on Monday. First post is set for 1 p.m.
Fans will be treated to free parking, free admission and a free racing program, as well $2 hot dogs, $3 beers and $5 margaritas. In addition, fans will receive free access to Daily Racing Form’s digital past performances.
Admission gates open at 11 a.m.
FINISH LINES: First post time on Saturday, Sunday and Monday is at 1 p.m…Both the main track and training track were open for full training on Friday…On Sunday April 9, Santa Anita will host the biggest Easter Egg hunt in the San Gabriel Valley in the Infield as part of the holiday celebration…There is a $205,612.04 Rainbow 6 carryover for Saturday’s card. The sequence starts with the fourth race at approximately 2:30 p.m.…The win rate for favorites has ticked up to 35.31 percent entering Saturday’s card…