Cezanne Looms Large in Saturday’s Palos Verdes Stakes

January 27, 2022

ARCADIA, Calif.–A rousing 9 ¾ length winner of a Grade III stakes when last seen on April 18, 5-year-old Cezanne marks his return to action as he heads a field of six older horses going six furlongs in Saturday’s Grade III, $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita.

With recency in his corner, Holly and David Wilson’s Arham, who seeks his third consecutive win in what will be initial stakes assignment, also rates a solid chance in what will be the 70th renewal of the Palos Verdes.

With Flavien Prat opting to stick with Cezanne, Essential Wager, also a winner of his last two starts, will be handled for the first time by Abel Cedillo.

A winner of three out of his four starts, the Bob Baffert-trained Cezanne earned a 106 Beyer Speed Figure going 6 ½ furlongs in the Grade III Kona Gold Stakes April 18, which followed a 101 Beyer while running fourth two starts back in the ungraded Shared Belief Stakes Aug. 1.

Owned by Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor, Cezanne, a 5-year-old horse by Curlin out of the Bernardini mare Achieving, has earnings of $123,000 and will be ridden for the fifth consecutive time by Prat.

Trained by Vladimir Cerin, Arham, who was conditioned by Todd Pletcher while based on the east coast through his first six starts, seeks to remain unbeaten through three starts with Cerin.  Off as the 2-1 favorite in his Southern California debut, a one mile allowance on Nov. 13 at Del Mar, Arham pressed the pace throughout and battled to a gutty neck victory, earning a 91 Beyer.

Off at 7-2 here in a six furlong second condition allowance Dec. 31, Arham again pressed the pace and went on to a solid 1 ¼ length tally when ridden again by Juan Hernandez who will be aboard on Saturday.  A 5-year-old horse by Union Rags out of the Smart Strike mare Sanaaya, Arham is 8-3-2-1 overall with earnings of $159.060.

Essential Wager, the “other Baffert” in the Palos Verdes, has done little wrong, finishing second in his seven furlong debut here on Oct. 15 and winning his last two starts as the post time favorite.  Owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, Essential Wager earned a career-best 99 Beyer in his most recent assignment, a six furlong first condition allowance Dec. 11 at Los Alamitos.

A $300,000 2-year-old in training sale purchase in April, 2020, Essential Wager, a 4-year-old colt by Honor Code out of the Officer mare Mr Hall’s Opus, is on the improve for Baffert and rates a big chance in what will be his fourth career start.

THE GRADE III PALOS VERDES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER

Race 8 of 9  Approximate post time 4 p.m. PT

  1. Dark Vader–Mike Smith–120
  2. Essential Wager–Abel Cedillo–120
  3. Cezanne–Flavien Prat–122
  4. Shooters Shoot–Victor Espinoza–120
  5. Team Merchants–Mario Gutierrez–122
  6. Arham–Juan Hernandez–120

The Palos Verdes is one of three graded stakes on Saturday, with first post time at 12:30 p.m.  Admission gates will open at 10:30 a.m.

Santa Anita Press Release

Photo: Cezanne (Benoit Photo)

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