Santa Anita Stable Notes Saturday, June 17, 2023
STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN
SATURDAY, JUNE 17, 2023
- • NEIGE BLANCHE SEEKS POSSIBLY PERFECT REPEAT OFF LAYOFF - • DEFUNDED, SPIRIT OF MAKENA RETURN TO THE WORK TAB - • KID CORLEONE EYES STAKES AFTER SCINTILLATING COMEBACK - • $1 MILLION SINGLE TICKET RAINBOW 6 PAYOUT POSSIBLE SATURDAY - • MANDATORY RAINBOW 6 PAYOUT ON TAP FOR SUNDAY - • 12-RACE CARD SET FOR SUNDAY WITH 12 P.M. FIRST POST
NEIGE BLANCHE SEEKS POSSIBLY PERFECT REPEAT OFF LAYOFF
Multiple graded-stakes winner Neige Blanche, sidelined for more than eight months, returns Sunday seeking to defend her title in the $100,000 Possibly Perfect Stakes for fillies and mares going 1 ¼ miles on turf.
Trained by Leonard Powell, Neige Blanche has not started since an off-the-board finish in last October’s GI Rodeo Drive at Santa Anita. She is the 9-5 co-second choice on the morning line for her comeback. Queen Ofthe Temple, winner of the April 30 Santa Barbara here going 1 ¼ miles, is the 8-5 favorite for trainer Dan Blacker,
Neige Blanche’s lengthy layoff is largely attributed to her being sold at last year’s Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, Powell said. She was purchased for $485,000 by Narvick International, which was already a co-owner in the mare.
“One of the partners bought out another partner,” Powell said Saturday morning. “Once she was in Kentucky, we decided to go ahead and send her to the farm for some time off.”
Powell added a title defense in the Possibly Perfect has been the target for Neige Blanche since she returned to serious training earlier this spring. Last year, the 6-year-old French-bred mare by Anodin went gate to wire when winning the Possibly Perfect by a length under Juan Hernandez.
“Obviously she won this race last year and with the schedule she was on, the race fit well,” Powell noted. “A mile-and-a-quarter is what she likes.”
On Sunday, Neige Blanche will be ridden for the first time by Diego Herrera. Hernandez, Santa Anita’s leading rider, will be aboard Buzz of New York for trainer Phil D’Amato. Buzz of New York is also 9-5 on the morning line.
Neige Blanche has a record of 9-0-4 in 21 starts with $547,512 in earnings. She has worked four times for her comeback.
“She’s had some good gallops as well,” Powell said. “Her weight is on par with last year when she won. I’m very confident she’s fit.”
Queen Ofthe Temple earned her first stakes win in the Santa Barbara when prevailing by a head under Joe Bravo after pressing the pace. The 5-year-old Temple City mare had finished second or third in three straight stakes before the breakthrough victory.
“She always tries hard and has really come into her own,” Blacker said Saturday. “I think the key in the Santa Barbara was Joe Bravo. He rode her to perfection. She has kind of a grinding running style and need to be up into the race.”
Blacker expects a similar trip to the Santa Barbara on Sunday.
“It’s a quarter mile shorter I think Leonard’s filly (Neige Blanche), coming off a layoff, is going to be fresh and probably will be trying for the lead,” Blacker added. “We’ll leave it up to Joe. But we’re going to put her in the race. How close she is to the pace is up to him.”
The Possibly Perfect goes as the first race on Sunday’s 12-race closing day card at Santa Anita. Also on the program is the GIII San Juan Capistrano at about 1 ¾ miles on turf. The field for the Possibly Perfect in post position order: Zeyaraat, Geovanni Franco (15-1); Queen Ofthe Temple, Joe Bravo (8-5); Buzz of New York, Juan Hernandez (9-5); Neige Blanche, Diego Herrera (9-5); Australia Mia, Umberto Rispoli (8-1).
DEFUNDED, SPIRIT OF MAKENA BACK ON THE TAB FOLLOWING STAKES WINS
A trio of recent stakes winners—Defunded, Spirit of Makena and The Chosen Vron—returned to the work tab Saturday at Santa Anita. In addition to Defunded, trainer Bob Baffert also worked unbeaten 3-year-old Arabian Knight, who drilled six furlongs for the first time since being freshened.
Defunded, winner of the GI Hollywood Gold Cup May 29, worked four furlongs in 49.40 seconds. His front-running, one-length win the Hollywood Gold Cup was the second Grade I score of his career. The 5-year-old Dialed In gelding has banked $1,588,100 with a record of 17-7-4-2 for owners Michael Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman.
Arabian Knight, off since winning the GIII Southwest at Oaklawn Park Jan. 28, drilled six furlongs in 1:12.00. It was his fourth work on the comeback trail.
Spirit of Makena, winner of the GII Triple Bend on May 27, worked four furlongs in 47.20 seconds for trainer George Papaprodromou. The 5-year-old Ghostzapper horse is a perfect three for three this year. Owned and bred by Bruce Chandler, he won an allowance here Feb. 1 followed by wins in the GIII San Carlos March 11 and GII Triple Bend most recently on May 27.
Top California-bred The Chosen Vron returned to the tab with a four-furlong work in 48.00 seconds for trainer Eric Kruljac. He most recently won the Thor’s Echo here on May 28 to run his record to 12-1-2 in 16 starts with $792,678 in earnings.
Also working Saturday was GI Santa Anita Handicap winner Stilleto Boy. The 5-year-old gelding went five furlongs in 1:01.00 for trainer Ed Moger Jr. and owner Steve Moger.
Graded-stakes winners Balnikhov and Gold Phoenix also returned to the tab for trainer Phil D’Amato after both finished off the board in the GI Shoemaker Mile here May 29. Gold Phoenix, who was seventh in the Shoemaker, worked four furlongs ion 48.00 seconds. Balnikhov, eighth in the Shoemaker, went the same distance in 48.60 seconds.
In all, there were a combined 109 timed workouts on the main track and training track Saturday.
KID CORLEONE EYES RETURN TO STAKES AFTER SCINTILLATING COMEBACK
Kid Corleone looks to be a serious player the second half of the year for trainer Doug O’Neill after a sparkling win in his seasonal bow Friday at Santa Anita.
Sent off the 2-1 second choice in a six-furlong allowance on dirt, Kid Corleone dueled through a sharp opening half mile in 44.44 seconds and kept right on going under Santa Anita leading rider Juan Hernandez to win by 1 ½ lengths. The winning time was a swift 1:08.85, which earned a 95 Beyer Speed Figure.
A 4-year-old Shackleford colt, Kid Corleone was making his first start since finishing sixth in last year’s GII Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 1. He has now won three of six starts with $139,400 in earnings for owners Roadrunner racing and Barbara Evenson.
O’Neill reported all was well with Kid Corleone the day after his return.
“All is good. We’re very happy with his comeback,” the trainer said via text message. “There are lots of options ahead for him, but nothing specific in mind yet.”
Checking in last behind Kid Corleone was GI winner American Theorem, who was making his first start since running eighth in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint Nov. 5 at Keeneland. American Theorem stalked the pace before flattening out in the stretch. He would finish 6 ¾ lengths behind the winner as the even money favorite.
Trainer George Papaprodomou indicated American Theorem would likely need a race following his break and that certainly appeared to be the case on Friday.
“He’s fine,” Papaprodromou said. “They went fast and he needed one.”
FINISH LINES: Santa Anita leading rider Juan Hernandez won three races Friday to extend his insurmountable lead in the jockey’s standings 38-24 over Ramon Vazquez…Santa Anita guarantees a $1 million payout Saturday in the Rainbow 6 Jackpot if there is a Single Ticket winner…On Sunday, closing day of the Hollywood Meet, there will be a mandatory payout of the Rainbow 6 Jackpot. The carryover pool entering Saturday’s card stands at $235,131…Entering Saturday, Phil D’Amato (15) leads Doug O’Neill (14) by one win in the Hollywood Meet trainer’s standings…Special Father’s Day early post for Sunday’s 12-race card is 12 noon.… The father and son team of Dennis O’Neill and Shane O’Neill will be host Tom Quigley’s handicapping guests Sunday on the Santa Anita simulcast feed starting at 10:50 a.m…The Santa Anita Infield will host a Family Fun Zone this Saturday and Sunday. Attractions include inflatable jumpers, arts and crafts, face painting, pony rides, carnival games and more.