- BIG FISH WORKS FOR BIG MONEY IN TURF CLASSIC
- STREAKING STRAIGHT UP G IS SET FOR CAL DERBY
- CURATOLO POSTS FIRST VICTORY AT SANTA ANITA
POSITIVITY EXCITES O’NEILL FOR VALPREDO SPRINT
Santa Anita will shine the spotlight on California-breds this Saturday with five lucrative stakes for horses bred in the Golden State offering purse money of $900,000.
They are the $150,000 Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint, the $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic presented by City National Bank, the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint presented by John Deere for older fillies and mares, the $200,000 California Derby and the $200,000 Leigh Ann Howard California Cup Oaks.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” said Doug O’Neill, who won two races Saturday and has promising $50,000 claim Positivity set for the Sprint.
A four-year-old gelded son of Paynter out of the City Zip dam Sam’s Sunny City bred by Allen Farm LLC, Positivity won in his third start after being claimed and was beaten a nose next out in the $100,000 Cary Grant Stakes at Del Mar on Nov. 21.
Positivity has a 4-2-0 record from 12 starts with earnings of $239,292.
“You get to run against state-breds and it’s an incredible day of racing,” O’Neill continued.
“There’s nothing better from a trainer’s standpoint than having horses worthy of races like these, so we’re grateful, excited and optimistic that Positivity can bring us home some Cal-bred hardware.”
BIG FISH DRILLS FOR UNUSUAL HEAT TURF CLASSIC
Big Fish, a stretch-running son of Mr. Big owned by trainer David Hofman’s long-time client Legacy Ranch, breezed this morning for Saturday’s $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic presented by City National Bank at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
“He worked in 1:01,” said native Los Angelino Hofmans, who turns 79 on Jan. 27 and two of whose most notable victories in 48 years of training worthy of Hall of Fame consideration came with Touch Gold and Alphabet Soup.
It was Touch Gold who denied Silver Charm the Triple Crown in 1997 by winning the Belmont Stakes and it was Alphabet Soup who posted a $41.70 upset of Cigar in the 1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“He’s coming up to the race great,” Hofmans said of Big Fish, who was bred by George Krikorian. “Let’s hope the race sets up for him and we’ll go from there.”
Umberto Rispoli, who has ridden the four-year-old gelding in four of his 12 races, breaking his maiden aboard him in 2020 at Del Mar, will be back in the irons for the Turf Classic.
STRAIGHT UP G SHARP FOR CAL CUP DERBY
Straight Up G seeks his third straight victory and his second straight stakes in Saturday’s $200,000 California Cup Derby.
Owned and bred by syndicated sports radio talk show host Jim Rome and his wife, Janet, who campaign as Jungle Racing LLC, Straight Up G won the one-mile King Glorious Stakes by 3 ½ lengths going a flat mile last out on Dec. 12 at Los Alamitos while earning a 75 Beyer Speed Figure.
“He worked yesterday (five furlongs in 1:00.20) and he’s doing fine,” said trainer Richard Baltas. Ricardo Gonzalez, aboard for the colt’s two victories, will be back astride in the Derby.
FINISH LINES: Ryan Curatolo, a native of Marseille, France who has enjoyed success riding in America, Japan, Macau, South Korea and Singapore, scored his first victory at Santa Anita Saturday piloting Barrister the Bold to a half-length triumph at 17-1 for George Papaprodromou, who trains the six-year-old gelding for Rockingham Ranch. Barrister the Bold set a new course record of 1:00.97 for 5 ½ furlongs on turf. Curatolo’s career developed in the U.S. from the age of 18 when with trainer Patrick Biancone as his mentor, he was the leading apprentice in New York, which earned him an Eclipse Award nomination. Curatolo turns 30 on April 12 . . .Morning Line Maker Jon White reports yesterday’s Grade II Santa Ynez winner, Under the Stars, earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure, as did 12 length maiden special weight winner Adare Manor on Friday… In a Winner’s Circle ceremony after today’s fourth race, Santa Anita will honor the late trainer Eduardo Inda who passed away on Dec. 22 following a lengthy illness at age 78. . . Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner Ce Ce, possible for the Grade II Santa Monica Stakes on Feb. 5, worked five furlongs yesterday for Michael McCarthy in 1:00.60 . . . Santa Anita will be dark for live racing Monday through Thursday, with live racing resuming 12:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14. There will be holiday racing on Monday, Jan. 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, featuring the Grade III Astra Stakes for older fillies and mares at a mile and a half on the hillside turf course. There will also be One Dollar Beers and Sodas, as well Two Dollar Hot Dogs on MLK Day.
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Santa Anita Press Release
Photo: Positivity (Benoit Photo)