Santa Maria win would make Ce Ce a millionaire; Leading trainer D’Amato set for Honeymoon
ARCADIA, Calif.—Runhappy Santa Anita Derby winner Rock Your World worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 Friday in his penultimate major drill for the 153rd Belmont Stakes at a mile and a half on June 5.
“He went (five furlongs) in a minute and change, out (three-quarters) in (one) 13 and we’re very happy,” said John Sadler, trainer of the Candy Ride colt that was unbeaten until the May 1 Kentucky Derby, in which he finished 17th after being eliminated at the start when sandwiched between two horses from post position 15 in a field of 19.
Rock Your World was ridden in today’s breeze by exercise rider Geovanni Grant and went in company with Campaign, who was clocked in 1:01.40.
“His schedule calls for him to work one more time a week from today and ship to New York on Memorial Day weekend,” Sadler said of Rock Your World.
“The Kentucky Derby was over at the start for him,” Sadler rightfully reasoned in recounting the Run for the Roses debacle. “Hopefully we have a good chance to right the ship.”
Rock Your World led throughout the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby, winning by 4 ¼ lengths in his debut on the main track. His first two triumphs came on turf and was ridden by Umberto Rispoli in all three races, but in the Kentucky Derby, Joel Rosario was aboard, and he retains the mount in the Belmont.
Hot Rod Charlie in Belmont breeze Saturday
Hot Rod Charlie, third in both the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby and the Kentucky Derby, is scheduled to work at 7:45 a.m. Saturday in preparation for the Belmont Stakes on June 5.
Santa Anita’s runaway riding leader Flavien Prat, who rode Hot Rod Charlie in the Run for the Roses, also piloted Belmont Stakes-bound Rombauer to an upset victory in the Preakness, but remains on Hot Rod Charlie for the third jewel in the Triple Crown, Doug O’Neill said.
“Flavien will breeze ‘Chuck’ Saturday,” the two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer said. “If all goes well, the horse will work again the following Friday, then leave for New York a week before the race (on Saturday, May 29).”
Jockey, Breeze on hold for Rombauer
Michael McCarthy was contemplating his riding options in the Belmont Stakes for Preakness winner Rombauer, since Flavien Prat, who piloted the Twirling Candy colt to an impressive victory in the second jewel of the Triple Crown on May 15, will ride Hot Rod Charlie in the third and final jewel on June 5.
“Rombauer will work one time before the Belmont, but I don’t have a day (in mind),” McCarthy said Thursday by phone from New York, where recent clime has been intermittently inclement.
As to a jockey, with Prat committed to Hot Rod Charlie according to O’Neill, McCarthy said, “I don’t have a decision, don’t know what the situation is, don’t know what the status is yet.”
Post position draw for the Belmont is scheduled for Wednesday, June 2.
Hall of Fame Riders Dominate Grade II Sanat Maria
Five females were entered in Saturday’s Grade II Santa Maria Stakes, headed by two-time Grade I winner Ce Ce trained by newly-minted Preakness hero Michael McCarthy, and As Time Goes By, who dominated winning the Grade II Santa Margarita Stakes by 9 ¼ lengths for Bob Baffert.
A four-year-old daughter of 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah, As Time Goes By has won three of six starts by a combined margin of 22 ¼ lengths, an average of more than seven lengths a race.
Three of those entered will benefit from the experience and ability of Hall of Fame jockeys Kent Desormeaux, Victor Espinoza and Mike Smith.
Ce Ce (pronounced “see see”) posted mild back-to-back Grade I upsets last year in the Beholder Mile at Santa Anita and the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park, each time under Espinoza, who has been aboard in nine of her 11 races, winning five.
With the winner guaranteed $120,000 and an existing bankroll of $904,100, a victory by Ce Ce would make the five-year-old chestnut daughter of Elusive Quality a millionaire with earnings of $1,024,100 for owner/breeder Bo Hirsch.
The Santa Maria, race two of nine with a 1 p.m. first post time: This Tea, Kent Desormeaux, 20-1; Miss Stormy D, Juan Hernandez, 15-1; Ce Ce, Victor Espinoza, 6-5; and As Time Goes By, Mike Smith, 2-5. Last First Kiss was scratched.
D’Amato succeeds with ‘Luck of the Irish’
Phil D’Amato calls on two members of his potent Irish Army in Saturday’s Grade III Honeymoon Stakes for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/8-miles on turf.
They are Going Global, unbeaten in her three United States races–all stakes–and Majestic Steps, a creditable fifth at 34-1 despite an eventful trip in the Grade III Senorita Stakes on May 1.
Both fillies were bred in Ireland.
“Going Global has successfully advanced as distances have increased, while Majestic Steps has run well despite eventful trips,” said D’Amato, leading Santa Anita’s trainers in victories with 39 and second in purse earnings with $2,565,142.
Majestic Steps steadied in the one-mile Senorita, and D’Amato feels the Honeymoon’s additional furlong will be beneficial. “I think the extra distance will give her a chance to shake things up,” he said.
The chestnut filly owned by Michael House also gets a new rider in Victor Espinoza, not necessarily a mainstay with D’Amato.
“I’ve used Victor off and on over the years and we’ve won some stakes together, so we go back,” D’Amato said. “I don’t use him much but I respect him as a Hall of Fame rider so I thought it was worth taking a shot with him in the stakes.”
As for Prat, who has ridden Going Global in each of her three U.S. victories, D’Amato’s praise was spot-on, stating:
“He’s done a tremendous job with Going Global and this is one of his best years as a rider. We’re lucky to have him.”
The Honeymoon, race seven of nine:
1. Majestic Steps, Victor Espinoza, 30-1
2. Quattroelle, Tyler Baze, 5-1
3. Golden, Umberto Rispoli, 8-1
4. Midnight Diva, Abel Cedillo, 12-1
5. Pizzazz, Mike Smith, 8-1
6. Going Global, Flavien Prat, 6-5
7. Madone, Juan Hernandez, 9-5.
FINISH LINES: With a four-win Sunday increasing her victories to 30 this meet, apprentice Jessica Pyfer moved into sixth in the jockey standings, two behind Tyler Baze . . . Diego Herrera makes his Santa Anita debut in today’s eighth race on first-time starter Princess Synsky, a 12-1 morning line chance trained by Hector Palma. Agent Vince DeGregoryrepresents the 17-year-old apprentice who benefits from a seven-pound weight allowance . . . There were 93 recorded workouts at Santa Anita Friday, among them a seven-furlong drill in 1:26 for Grade II Californian winner Royal Ship and a five-furlong breeze by Angels Flight runner-up Missy P. both for Richard Mandella. United continued his steady work pattern Wednesday for the Grade II Charles Whittingham Stakes on May 29, going seven furlongs in 1:25.40 for Mandella, who on Tuesday sent Angels Flight winner Astute four furlongs in 47.40 for Belmont Park’s Grade I, $500,000 Acorn Stakes for three-year-old fillies at a mile on June 5. On Thursday, Mandella breezed eight horses, including arresting Argentine invader Scotish Star, who went four furlongs in 37.20 as she prepares for her U.S. debut. She won her only two starts in her native country by seven lengths on each occasion, has not raced since last Oct. 20, but has been firing bullets for her return . . . Abi Gezunt, a three-year-old colt owned and bred by Dr. Frank Lewkowitz and his wife, Karen, in Maryland, makes his debut at 4-1 on the morning line in today’s first race for trainer Eric Kruljac. Freely translated from the Jewish/English lexicon, abi gezunt means, “As long as you’re healthy (you can be happy),” so should the owners be miffed if the horse loses, an appropriate placating response from Kruljac would be, “abi gezunt!”…Handicapping Host Tom Quigley will have a pair of special guests on his pre-race seminar over the weekend. On Saturday, handicapper Steve Pollack will be on-hand and on Sunday, Santa Anita’s Hispanic Racing Ambassador, George Ortuzar will share his handicapping thoughts. Start time both days is at 11:50 a.m. PT, at santaanita.com/live.
Santa Anita Park Stable Notes by Ed Golden
Photo: Rock Your World (Benoit)