Stable Notes by Ed Golden for Friday, May 20, 2022
- SANTA ANITA GATES OPEN AT 7:15 A.M. SATURDAY
- STILLETO BOY TO BREEZE MONDAY FOR GOLD CUP
- MONSTER MEMORIAL DAY OFFERED AT SANTA ANITA
- MIZDIRECTION MARKS FIRST STAKES FOR BELLA D
- RISPOLI TO RIDE FULL TIME AGAIN AT SANTA ANITA
PREAKNESS PARTY STARTS EARLY AS BETTING BEGINS AT 7:15 A.M.
Fans can get an early start on their Preakness Stakes Day wagering at Santa Anita, as wagering will be available beginning at 7:15 a.m. in the Grandstand Paddock Room.
A total of 14 races will be offered via simulcast from Pimlico Race Course beginning at 7:30 PT. Post time for the 147th running of the Preakness, which has been carded as the 13th race, is set for 4:01 PT.
Although Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike has opted to skip the middle jewel in racing’s Triple Crown, interest remains high, with the Steve Asmussen-trained Epicenter, second in the Derby, looming large as the 6-5 morning line favorite among a field of nine at 1 3/16 miles.
In terms of media focus, legendary Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has commanded the spotlight all week as his brilliant filly Secret Oath, winner of the Kentucky Oaks, will be taking on the boys for the second time.
Lukas, who won his first Preakness in 1980 at the expense of Kentucky Derby-winning filly Genuine Risk, will be shooting for his seventh career win in the middle jewel, which would tie Bob Baffert’s all-time record. Listed at 9-2 on the morning line, Secret Oath will be ridden back by Luis Saez.
Two Santa Anita-based colts, Armagnac and Happy Jack, will hope to outrun their odds. Breaking from post position seven, Armagnac, who is trained by Tim Yakteen, comes off a scintillating allowance score here going a mile and one sixteenth on May 8, a race he took in gate to wire fashion by 4 ¼ lengths while earning a career-top 93 Beyer Speed Figure.
Trained by Doug O’Neill, Calumet Farm’s homebred Happy Jack was never a factor in the Derby, checking in 19 lengths behind Rich Strike while finishing 14th. Although it appears to be a daunting task, O’Neill will refit Happy Jack, who was third in both the Grade II San Felipe Stakes and Grade I Runhappy Santa Anita Derby, with blinkers in hopes he’ll improve in what will be his sixth career start.
“It’s a tough race, but it’s a good opportunity and we’ll see what happens,” O’Neill said. “We’re putting blinkers back on him.”
NBC Sports will televise the Preakness live and will provide 3 ½ hours of coverage, beginning at 1 o’clock PT.
The Preakness field from the rail out: Simplification, John Velazquez, 6-1; Creative Monster, Brian Hernandez Jr., 10-1; Fenwick, Florent Geroux, 50-1; Secret Oath, Luis Saez, 9-2; Early Voting, Jose Ortiz, 7-2; Happy Jack, Tyler Gaffalione, 30-1; Armagnac, Irad Ortiz Jr., 12-1; Epicenter, Joel Rosario, 6-5; and Skippylongstocking, Junior Alvarado, 20-1.
Santa Anita admission gates open early at 7:15 a.m. Saturday for betting on the Preakness Day undercard. First post time for Santa Anita’s live 10-race program is 1 p.m.
At 9 a.m., Santa Anita’s Infield Area will open with its Family Fun Zone, which includes Pony Rides, Inflatable Jumpers, Face Painting and more.
Also at 9 a.m., the FrontRunner Restaurant opens for Food Service & Simulcast Wagering.
STILLETO BOY EYES FIRST GRADE I WIN IN GOLD CUP
Stilleto Boy seeks his first Grade I victory and trainer Ed Moger Jr. his second in the $400,000 Hollywood Gold Cup for three-year-olds and up at a mile and a quarter on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30.
A four-year-old gelded son of Shackleford, Stilleto Boy is scheduled to work Monday for the Gold Cup, according to Ed, 66, who trains the chestnut for his younger brother, owner Steve.
Winner of the Grade II Californian in front-running fashion April 30, Stilleto Boy worked a half-mile in 50 seconds May 16 under leading jockey Juan Hernandez, who rides in the Gold Cup.
“He’s only won three races in his life, so a Grade I win would be significant for the horse as well me,” said Moger, whose only previous Grade I victory came when Stormy Lucy owned by his brother stunned 13 rivals at 65-1 in Del Mar’s 2015 Matriarch, getting up by a head under a classic ride by Kent Desormeaux.
“It was a perfect ride and we wouldn’t have won without a perfect ride like that,” Moger reflected. “He’s a great rider.”
As to strategy for the Gold Cup, Moger said Stilleto Boy is “a good horse. We’re not going to send him or anything. We’ll get him out there, get him into the race and play it by ear.
“In the Californian (which had a four-horse field), I told Juan to kind of hustle him into the race, and then just play it by ear.
“He got a pretty easy lead and that’s how it was, but I think his best races have been when he’s halfway close to the pace (although he did win twice wire-to-wire before the Californian).”
Humility aside, Ed gives “all of the credit” to Steve for buying Stilleto Boy with the highest bid of $420,000 last July at the Fasig-Tipton Selected Horses of Racing Age Sale.
Ed has a laudatory resume of his own, however, with more than 1,900 victories as a presence in both Northern and Southern California going on half a century. He began training in 1976.
Prior to his victory in the Californian, Stilleto Boy was third in three straight Grade I’s, the Santa Anita Handicap presented by Yaamava’ Resort & Casino, the Pegasus World Cup Invitational presented by 1/ST BET and the Runhappy Malibu Stakes.
Before those races, he was fifth in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic and second in the Grade I Awesome Again Stakes.
Overall, Stilleto Boy has a 3-3-6 record from 15 starts with earnings of $1,031,175.
BIG MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND STARTS MAY 28
Fans can avail themselves of fabulous racing and fun-filled festivities at Santa Anita Memorial Day weekend, traditionally one of the most anticipated on America’s Thoroughbred calendar.
The Gold Cup is one of three Grade I events on Memorial Day, the others being the $500,000 Shoemaker Mile on turf and the $400,000 Gamely Stakes for fillies and mares three and up at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
The Shoemaker is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race, providing the nominated winner automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland on Nov.5.
The monster Memorial Day weekend begins Saturday, May 28, with five state-bred stakes, followed by three graded stakes Sunday, May 29, the Grade III Daytona for four-year-olds and up at about 6 ½ furlongs on the hillside turf; the Grade II Triple Bend for four-year-olds and up at seven furlongs; and the Grade III Honeymoon for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
In addition to world class racing over the three-day holiday, Memorial Day is also Dollar Day, with $1 beers, sodas and $2 hot dogs offered all day. Additionally, Santa Anita’s Infield Carnival will return May 28, 29 and 30, with a Ferris Wheel, a super slide, fun house and much more.
Fans are encouraged to get their Santa Anita Memorial Day Weekend Infield Carnival tickets at santaanita.com/events.
MIZDIRECTION SUITS BELLA D’S STYLE
Bella D makes her stakes debut in Saturday’s $75,000 Mizdirection Stakes for older fillies and mares at about 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course, and Mike Puype is of the mind that she deserves the opportunity.
“She’s two for two down the hill and clearly likes the distance,” the trainer said of the five-year-old daughter of Decarchy bred in California by SLO Racing Stable.
Bella D has won her last two races down the hill, coming from behind as she has in most of her 16 races.
Thus, Puype thinks she would benefit from a pace duel.
“She’d need about three of them to tangle (on the lead) to give her a chance, I’d imagine,” he said. “Down the hill, you never know but it’s going to be a big step up in class.
“She hasn’t beaten the kind of fillies she’s going to be facing here, but the hill’s a good layout with her style of running.
“She’s got a good turn of foot, she’s got a good kick and I’m sure if she hits the board, it will help her value (as a broodmare) at some point.”
The field for the Mizdirection, race nine of 10 with 1 p.m. first post time: Stella Noir, Drayden Van Dyke, 6-1; Hear My Prayer, Juan Hernandez, 7-2; Bella D, Kyle Frey, 4-1; Leggs Galore, Ricardo Gonzalez, 8-5; Royal Address, Joe Bravo, 4-1; and Bye Bye Bertie, Victor Espinoza, 6-1.
FINISH LINES: Veteran agent Tony Matos reports he has taken the book of two-time Italian riding champion Umberto Rispoli who will ride at Santa Anita next Sunday and Monday, Memorial Day, before returning to Churchill Downs where he will fulfill pending engagements there, then head back to his former base at Santa Anita and ride again full time after June 5. Rispoli had sought greener pastures in Kentucky, where he was winless from 35 mounts at Keeneland and Churchill Downs at press time. Meanwhile, Matos will continue to represent jockey Edwin Maldonado . . . There were 92 recorded workouts Friday including a five-furlong move in 59 flat by Brickyard Ride, the lightning quick California-bred son of Clubhouse Ride that beat open stakes company in the Grade II Kona Gold April 30 for trainer Craig Lewis. Also working this morning was Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint champion Ce Ce, who went four furlongs in 48.20 for Michael McCarthy. On the training track, the Nick Alexander-owned and bred Becca Taylor, victor in the Irish O’Brien Stakes March 19 and winner of eight of nine career starts, breezed four furlongs in 48.80…Doug O’Neill, who is hoping his 30-1 longshot Happy Jack will blowout the Preakness tote board on Saturday, will blow out 56 candles this Tuesday.
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