Stable Notes by Ed Golden for Sunday, May 1, 2022
- O’NEILL EYES 3RD DERBY WIN WITH HAPPY JACK
- POWELL SETTLES ON KEYFLOWER IN WILSHIRE
- D’AMATO EYES SENORITA FOR ISLAND OF LOVE
- HERNANDEZ TRIPLES, SIX BACK OF PRAT
- BAZE THIRD IN RIDER STANDINGS WITH HAT TRICK
- STILLETO BOY EARNS 108 BEYER IN CALIFORNIAN WIN
- FLIGHTLINE HAS ‘EASY’ BREEZE FOR MET MILE
- CURATOLO GETS 200TH NORTH AMERICAN WIN
HAPPY JACK HOPES TO ‘SHOCK THE WORLD’ IN DERBY
Happy Jack will be a deserving longshot in this Saturday’s 148th Kentucky Derby, but that hasn’t dashed the optimism of trainer Doug O’Neill in pursuit of his third victory in the Run for the Roses, having won in 2012 with I’ll Have Another and 2016 with Nyquist, both for principal owner Reddam Racing.
“It’s a wide-open race,” O’Neill said by phone from Kentucky Sunday morning, “and we’re happy to have Rafael Bejarano riding him. We all know how great he is from his days dominating in Southern California, and he’s a legend in Kentucky as well.”
Third by 12 ¼ lengths in the Grade I Runhappy Santa Anita Derby April 9 behind Taiba and Messier, Happy Jack is owned and was bred by Calumet Farm, which won the Kentucky Derby a record eight times in the 1940s and 1950s when legendary trainers Ben A. Jones and his son H.A. (Jimmy) Jones developed Calumet’s famed devil’s red and blue silks into a dynasty.
“Bejarano worked Happy Jack yesterday (one mile in 1:39.60 at Keeneland) and they got along super,” O’Neill said. “We’re going to be an outsider, but I think the horse has the stamina and ability to step up and shock the world.”
KEYFLOWER SET FOR SUNDAY’S WILSHIRE STAKES
Leonard Powell had Keyflower and Bye Bye Bertie entered in Sunday’s Grade III Wilshire Stakes for fillies and mares three and older at a mile on turf, but will only run only Keyflower, as Bye Bye Bertie was scratched and ran fourth in Saturday’s Grade II Santa Margarita Stakes.
“If Keyflower gets a good setup, we should be in good shape,” the trainer said.
Nine of Keyflower’s 11 races have been on turf, all three of her most recent starts in the United States where she had an eventful trip last out in the Grade III Santa Ana on March 26.
“She was too far back and then couldn’t get through,” Powell said of the four-year-old French-bred daughter of Kheleyf. “Hopefully, today she’ll be just behind the leaders like she was when she won here on Feb. 19.
“But she should be competitive in this race. She just needs to relax.”
The field for the 61st Wilshire, race nine of nine with a 1 p.m. first post time: Amy C, Ryan Curatolo, 6-1; Javanica, Joe Bravo, 7-2; Canoodling, Juan Hernandez, 9-2; Quiet Secretary, Tyler Baze, 20-1; Keyflower, Abel Cedillo, 6-1; Stella Noir, Drayden Van Dyke, 15-1; Eddie’s New Dream, Mario Gutierrez, 6-1; Miss Dracarys, Mike Smith, 5-1; and England’s Rose, Victor Espinoza, 6-1.
D’AMATO SEEKS CLEAN TRIP IN SENORITA STAKES
Santa Anita’s leading trainer Phil D’Amato hopes to embellish his enviable record next Saturday when he runs Island of Love in the Grade III Senorita Stakes for three-year-old fillies at a mile on turf.
A member of D’Amato’s potent “Irish Army,” the Irish-bred daughter of Kodiac won her first two races in Italy in September of 2021, but had eventful trips as the favorite in her two starts in the United States, getting knocked around at the break when finishing second in the Lady of Shamrock Jan. 30, and bumped in the China Doll March 6 when running fourth.
She was favored each time under recently departed Santa Anita riding leader Flavien Prat, presently pursuing greener pastures back east. Runner-up Juan Hernandez, steadily chipping away at Prat’s six-win advantage, gets the call in the Senorita.
“Island of Love always runs a good race, but has never had a completely clean trip,” D’Amato said. ‘We’re looking for a clean trip this time. The distance should be right.”
While Island of Love will be making her first start in two months, the bay filly hasn’t missed a beat working steadily on Santa Anita’s training track, which is D’Amato’s wont.
FINISH LINES: Santa Anita’s presumptive Winter/Spring Meet leading rider Juan Hernandez tripled on Saturday, giving him 66 for the meet, six shy of Flavien Prat, who has shifted his base of operations to Kentucky and then New York. Hernandez had two stakes wins, with Brickyard Ride in the Grade III Kona Gold and Stilleto Boy in the Grade II Californian…Trained by Ed Moger, Stilleto Boy, who is likely to renew acquaintances with Express Train in the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup here on May 30, earned a career-top 108 Beyer Speed Figure in winning the Californian 2 ¼ lengths…Tyler Baze, who swept the early Double, got his third win of the day yesterday aboard Argentine-bred Blue Stripe in the Grade II Santa Margarita, putting him in third place in the standings with 34 wins…Grade I Malibu Stakes winner Flightline breezed five furlongs this morning in 1:01.20 for the Met Mile at Belmont Park on June 11. “It was a nice, easy work,” said trainer John Sadler, who had assistant trainer Juan Leyva aboard as usual. It was the fourth drill for Flightline since missing the Grade II San Carlos Stakes March 5 with a strained right hock. In all there were 214 recorded workouts recorded Sunday, 56 on the training track . . . Congratulations are assuredly in order for affable and industrious Brice Blanc on winning Saturday’s Grade III San Francisco Mile at Golden Gate Fields by a half-length aboard English-bred Evening Sun for trainer Jeff Mullins and owners Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal. It was only the third win this year from 46 mounts for Blanc, 49, a native of France who rode his first winner at Santa Anita on Feb. 5, 1995 on 19-1 shot Gulf Tide. Sidelined with injuries most of last year following a spill at Del Mar in August of 2020, Blanc credits his parents, Ellene and Francois, for their encouragement in pursuit of his career, along with trainer Ben Cecil and the late Rodney Rash, who gave him his first job, while also expressing gratitude to late trainers Charlie Whittingham, Jack Van Berg and Walter Greenman . . . Congrats as well to French native Ryan Curatolo, who won his 200th North American race yesterday aboard the Richard Baltas-trained Gallovie in race three…Live race resumes with first post time for a nine-race card on Kentucky Oaks Day Friday, at 1 p.m. Admission gates will open early on Friday and on Derby Day Saturday, at 7:15 a.m