Santa Anita Stable Notes By Ed Golden Friday, September 30, 2022
__STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN FRIDAY, SEPT. 30, 2022 __
• D’AMATO HAS 3 FOR THE MONEY IN JOHN HENRY • SMITH, ROYAL SHIP SAIL ON IN AWESOME AGAIN • POWELL READY FOR JOHN HENRY AND EDDIE D. • UNDEFEATED FLIGHTLINE BREEZES SATURDAY • CHRIS MERZ ENCOURAGED BY SUNDAY’S ENTRIES
BUSY BEGINNING FOR TOP TRAINER D’AMATO
Phil D’Amato has 10 horses entered on Saturday’s lucrative 10-race program, and if he triumphs at his current frequency, he’ll have to double-time it to pose for winner’s circle pictures.
The 46-year-old trainer, fresh from tying Bob Baffert for Del Mar’s training title with 19 victories each, and coming off a rousing 52-win campaign at Santa Anita in 2020-21, has three horses entered in the Grade II John Henry Turf Championship, a race he won in 2014 with Bright Spot and in 2019 with Cleopatra’s Strike.
They are Gold Phoenix, Masteroffoxhounds and Cash Equity, each with imposing credentials good enough to capture the 1 ¼-mile marathon.
“I think Masteroffoxhounds has tactical speed, and should probably be sitting one-two, and the others should come from behind, so I’m going to leave it up to the jockeys to figure it out,” D’Amato said.
The Irish-bred Gold Phoenix rallied from 10th to win the Grade II Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles by a head on Sept. 3. Masteroffoxhounds set the pace in that race before flattening out to finish fifth, while Cash Equity will be making his first start in more than two months after an eventful eighth in the Grade II Eddie Read on July 31.
“This is his first time as a gelding,” D’Amato said of Cash Equity, a four-year-old gray French-bred seeking his first stakes win in the United States. “We took our time with him.”
Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally will present a trophy to the winning connections of the John Henry Turf Championship, named in honor of the legendary gelding.
Now 90, McAnally conditioned John Henry in the late 1970’s and early 1980s, when he won two Horse of the Year titles, in 1981 and 1984.
The John Henry, will be run as race three: Gold Phoenix, Juan Hernandez, 2-1; Breakpoint, Tyler Baze, 9-2; Dicey Mo Chara, Ryan Curatolo, 3-1; Masteroffoxhounds, Umberto Rispoli, 5-2; Tropical Terror, Mike Smith, 20-1; and Cash Equity, Hector Berrios, 4-1.
First post time Saturday is 12:30 p.m.
SMITH, ROYAL SHIP REUNITED IN AWESOME AGAIN
Mike Smith has bonded with Royal Ship ever since the Brazilian-bred son of Midshipman came to the United States, having ridden him in each of his 13 starts here, winning three.
The Hall of Fame jockey hopes to enhance that mark when he rides the six-year-old bay gelding trained by Richard Mandella in Saturday’s Grade I Awesome Stakes for three-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles. The $300,000 Awesome Again is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race giving the nominated winner automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland Nov. 5.
“The horse is doing great and Smith certainly suits him,” said Mandella, who has won the Awesome Again four times, with Soul of The Matter (1995), Pleasantly Perfect (2002 and 2003) and Rock Hard Ten (2005).
The Awesome Again goes as race eight of 10: Azul Coast, Hector Berrios, 20-1; Royal Ship, Mike Smith, 3-1; High Connection, Abel Cedillo, 12-1; Country Grammer, Juan Hernandez, 8-5; Tripoli, Ramon Vazquez, 8-1; Defunded, Edwin Maldonado, 6-1; Express Train, Victor Espinoza, 7-2; and Slow Down Andy, Mario Gutierrez, 12-1.
POWELL EYES LONG AND SHORT OF TWO STAKES
Based on his closing rally in the Grade II Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf Sept. 3 in which he was second by a half-length, Leonard Powell is hoping for a similar stretch kick from Dicey Mo Chara in the John Henry Turf Championship at 1 ¼ miles on Saturday. “We’re just hoping for a good trip,” said the trainer, who has engaged Ryan Curatolo to ride the four-old English-bred gelding for the first time competitively.
“He’s worked him, so he knows him,” the 46-year-old Frenchman said of the 30-year-old Curatolo, a fellow countryman.
Powell also has Air Force Red set for Saturday’s Grade II Eddie D. Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs on the downhill turf course.
A four-year-old Air Force Blue colt, Air Force Red is shortening up from the Grade II Del Mar Mile in which he led before being caught in the stretch. The bay ridgling has two allowance wins over Santa Anita’s downhill course, however.
“He won on the course and at the distance before, so we’re hoping for a very good effort,” Powell noted.
The Eddie D. is race number seven: Lane Way, Mike Smith, 4-1; Air Force Red, Victor Espinoza, 5-1; Goliad, Juan Hernandez, 8-1; Gregorian Chant, Umberto Rispoli, 5-2; Coulthard, Ramon Vazquez, 6-1; Barristan The Bold, Edwin Maldonado, 30-1; Whatmakesammyrun, Joe Bravo, 8-1; Dubai Key, Hector Berrios, 6-1; and Tango Tango Tango, Kyle Frey, 8-1.
UNBEATEN FLIGHTLINE TO BREEZE SATURDAY MORNING
In what will be his second recorded breeze since winning the $1 million Pacific Classic by 19 ¼ lengths Sept. 3, tomorrow at 6:30 a.m. undefeated Flightline will continue his march to the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, according to trainer John Sadler.
“We won’t decide upon the distance until Saturday morning,” he said in a text message late Thursday morning.
Under Sadler assistant trainer and former jockey Juan Leyva, Flightline, who earned a stratospheric Beyer Speed Figure of 126 in the Pacific Classic, breezed a half mile this past Saturday in 48.40 seconds, a move Sadler termed “very nice.”
Unbeaten in five starts by a combined 62 ¾ lengths, Flightline, a $1 million purchase, has been described by part-owner Kosta Hronis as “America’s horse.” The likely favorite in the Classic at Keeneland Nov. 5, Flightline’s future at stud is undetermined, as his connections have not yet announced if he’ll race at age five or be retired at year’s end to a career at stud at Lane’s End Farm in Lexington.
Owned by California-based Hronis Racing, LLC, Siena Farm, LLC, Summer Wind Equine, LLC, West Point Thoroughbreds and Woodford Racing, LLC, Flightline, a four-year-old Tapit colt out of the Indian Charlie mare Feathered, has run twice at Santa Anita, his most recent appearance an 11 ½ length romp in the Grade I Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs Dec. 26.
RACING SECRETARY MERZ ENCOURAGED BY SUNDAY’S ENTRIES
With 83 horses entered on Sunday’s 10-race program, Santa Anita Director of Racing and Racing Secretary Chris Merz expressed optimism following yesterday’s post position draw for Sunday’s card, which includes four stakes.
“We’re very encouraged with the way Sunday’s card came together,” said Merz. “As expected, turf racing is robust and we anticipate the main track races will start picking up steam as this 18-day meet goes on. Our Stakes Coordinator, James Kasparoff has done a fantastic job putting these stakes together.”
Merz noted that he’s hopeful participation will be strong heading into week two, with Friday’s entries scheduled for Sunday morning.
“It’s great to have everyone back in the fold and again, we’re encouraged with Sunday’s participation from horsemen. Our office will continue to strive to provide high quality cards for our fans and bettors.”
FINISH LINES: Trainer Phil D’Amato on Taltariate, an Accelerate colt that won a $35,000 maiden claiming race at Gulfstream June 25 and makes his stakes debut in Sunday’s Speakeasy Stakes for two-year-olds at five furlongs on turf: “He won on the synthetic pretty nice and we bought him privately after that race.” The Speakeasy is the fifth race: Mas Rapido, Edwin Maldonado; Straighten Up, Mike Smith; Ah Jeez, Abel Cedillo; Arman, Ramon Vazquez; Helladic, Tyler Baze; Flame Rider, Umberto Rispoli; Taltariate, Ricardo Gonzalez; Wound Up, Mario Gutierrez; and Speed Boat Beach, Juan Hernandez . . . Addressing his success at Del Mar, D’Amato said: “Everything went well and hopefully we’ll continue it at Santa Anita.” . . . Santa Anita track announcer Frank Mirahmadi is host Tom Quigley’s seminar guest at 11:50 a.m. today; racing analyst Jeff Siegel is Saturday’s guest at 11:20 a.m., and Toby Turrell, clocker and owner of The Yellow Sheet, will do honors Sunday also at 11:50 a.m. . . . There were 116 recorded workouts at Santa Anita Friday, 38 on the training track.