ARCADIA, Calif. – Richard Mandella’s classy United heads Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes at Santa Anita as he seeks back to back wins in the race named for the legendary Bald Eagle, who 22 years after his passing, ranks third on Santa Anita’s all-time list of stakes winning trainers with 869 added money victories.
The Whittingham, for three year olds and up at a mile and one quarter on turf, has attracted a field of four, with the David Hofmans-trained Award Winner and Phil D’Amato’s Red King looming as solid contenders.
Owned by LNJ Foxwoods, United, a 6-year-old gelding by Giant’s Causeway, made his first start of the year on March 20 and proved he’s certainly not lost a step. Attentive to the pace, he took charge turning for home and prevailed by three quarters of a length over next-out winner Say the Word in the Grade III San Luis Rey Stakes at a mile and one half on turf.
A close second in the 2019 Whittingham and a nose winner of last year’s renewal, United is no doubt being pointed to a third engagement in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf in November at Del Mar—a race in which he was a close second to eventual Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar here at Santa Anita in 2019.
A winner of five races, four of them graded stakes, from 10 tries over the local turf, United is 18-8-4-1 overall with earnings of $1,513,549. With leading man Flavien Prat set to ride him for the 13th consecutive time, United will no doubt be a short price to win on Saturday.
Bred in Kentucky by Mrs. Jerry Amerman and owned by Amerman Racing, LLC, Award Winner, a 5-year-old gelding by Ghostzapper, has found a new lease on his racing career since debuting for Hofmans three starts back on Jan. 8. Second in a pair of second condition allowance races at one mile on grass on Jan. 8 and Feb. 13, Award Winner unfurled what appeared to be the best race of his career on March 27.
Off at 7-2 going a mile and one quarter on turf, Award Winner made every pole a winning one in taking a second condition allowance by 2 ½ lengths while earning a career-best 95 Beyer Speed figure under Juan Hernandez, who rides back on Saturday.
A close second in a Grade III turf stakes at 1 1/8 miles 10 starts back on July 6, 2019 at Delaware Park, Award Winner will be bidding for his first graded stakes win in what will be his third attempt. With an overall mark of 16-3-4-1, he has earnings of $208,474.
A winner of the Grade III San Juan Capistrano Stakes and the Grade II Del Mar Handicap in June and August of last year, Red King has solid credentials and will try to make amends for a close third place finish as the 6-5 favorite behind talented California-bred Ward ‘n Jerry in a mile and one-half turf starter allowance on March 20.
Owned by Little Red Feather Racing, Gordon Jacobsen and Philip Belmonte, Red King, a 7-year-old full horse by English Channel, was claimed for $35,000 15 starts back on Feb. 8, 2019. With regular rider Umberto Rispoli engaged, Red King would benefit from a lively early pace. Out of the A.P. Indy mare Youre Speeding, Red King is 31-7-4-8, with earnings of $447,755.
Grade III Charles Whittingham
Race 7 of 9, Approximate post time 4 p.m. PT
1. Acclimate—Ricardo Gonzalez—122
2. Award Winner—Juan Hernandez—122
3. Red King—Umberto Rispoli—124
4. United—Flavien Prat–124
First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 1 p.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
Santa Anita Press Release
Photo: United, (Benoit)