ARCADIA, Calif. — Sending out two horses with different running styles, if Phil D’Amato had his druthers he’d hope for a win dead-heat in Saturday’s Grade III San Luis Rey Stakes.
Tied with Richard Baltas as the meet’s second-leading trainer with 21 victories but displaying a lofty 24 percent winning average, D’Amato has speedy Acclimate and stretch runner Say the Word in the 70th edition of the mile-and-a-half turf marathon.
“They shouldn’t get in each other’s way,” said D’Amato in recognizing their diverse tactics. “Both are doing very well.”
Acclimate, a seven-year-old California-bred son of the Unusual Heat stallion Acclamation, posted his last victory on Aug. 17, 2019, in the Grade II Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf.
Despite being bumped at the start, he was second after leading into the stretch in his most recent effort, the Grade II San Marcos Stakes at a grassy mile and a quarter on Feb. 6.
Overall, the bay gelding has a 6-3-3 record from 21 starts with earnings of $439,872.
Say the Word had a wide trip when 11th by only 5 ½ lengths in the Grade I Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational at Gulfstream Park last out on Jan. 23.
Prior to that he was a fast-closing third in the Grade II Hollywood Turf Cup last Nov. 27 and won the Grade I Northern Dancer at Woodbine on Oct. 18, 2020, coming from last and rallying from seventh entering the stretch in a field of eight.
Bred in Canada by Sam-Son Farm, the six-year-old gelded son of More Than Ready boasts a 5-2-5 record from 27 starts with earnings of $469,292.
The field for the San Luis Rey, which goes as race seven of nine with a 1 p.m. first post time:
1. Acclimate, Tyler Baze, 4-1
2. Masteroffoxhounds, Umberto Rispoli, 5-2
3. United, Flavien Prat, 6-5
4. Say the Word, Mike Smith, 5-2
5. Multiplier, Abel Cedillo, 20-1.
United blew out three furlongs Thursday in 37.20.
‘Chariman of the Board’ fancies Tin Man Series
Ward ‘n Jerry, an old war horse that has been with trainer Mike Puype so long he’s considered part of the family, seeks his second victory in Saturday’s “The Tin Man Turf Starter Distance Series.”
Ward ‘n Jerry won the second leg of the challenging marathon on Feb. 20, coming from well off the pace as usual to take the mile and a quarter turf event by a head as the 4-5 favorite under Flavien Prat who is back aboard Saturday.
The “Tin Man” series provides distance-progressive opportunity for older horses that have started for a claiming price of $40,000 or less dating back to 2019 to run in four races that began at a mile and one eighth on Jan. 18 and will conclude at a mile and three-quarters on April 24.
In addition to the winner’s share from this Saturday’s Tin Man, the winner will get a free berth into either the Grade II, $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes at 1 ¼ miles on turf May 29, or the Grade III, $100,000 San Juan Capistrano at 1 ¾ miles on turf June 19.
The series is named in honor of Ralph and Aury Todd’s homebred son of Affirmed, The Tin Man, who was foaled in 1998 and raced through age nine in 2007. Trained by Richard Mandella, The Tin Man was a multiple graded stakes winner and a two-time Grade I winner at age nine, after which he was retired with earnings of more than $3.6 million.
“Our hope is this distance series serves as a throwback to some of the legendary horses that have competed at Santa Anita and the races provide good betting opportunities,” said Santa Anita’s Director of Racing and Racing Secretary Chris Merz.
“This race came up a lot tougher than the last one,” said Puype, who has had California-bred Ward ‘n Jerry going on six years now for owners/breeders Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams, longtime successful supporters of racing in The Golden State.
“This is a very solid race for the purse level, no doubt ($47,000, plus up to $5,640 to Cal-bred winners),” Puype said. “You’ve got Oscar Dominquez and Red King (each a Grade II stakes winner) running for $47,000. Tartini’s not bad, either, so it’s no easy race by any stretch.
“But we’ve surely got a good chance. He’s got a great rider (Flavien Prat, who pilots the eight-year-old Lucky Pulpit gelding for the eighth time, winning twice); we’re ready to go.”
Ward ‘n Jerry has a 7-2-4 record from 27 starts with earnings of $434,419.
“I’ve had Ward ‘n Jerry since his two-year-old season (back in 2015),” Puype said. “He’s very nice to have around and it’s nice to have a horse for that many years. He’s been here longer than any of them. He’s kind of like the chairman of the board at the barn.”
Leg three of The Tin Man series, which goes as race five:
1. Lure Him In, Edwin Maldonado, 5-1
2. Red King, Umberto Rispoli, 5-2
3. Ward ‘n Jerry, Flavien Prat, 3-1
4. New Year, Tyler Baze, 50-1
5. Oscar Dominguez, Mario Gutierrez, 4-1
6. The Stiff, Alexis Centeno, 12-1
7. Tartini, Juan Hernandez, 4-1
8. Irish Heatwave, Abel Cedillo, 8-1
Baffert sops fine, ‘all in holding pattern’
No news is good news for Bob Baffert.
The two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer is loaded for bear as usual for the Triple Crown with undefeated Kentucky Derby favorite Life Is Good, dazzling Rebel Stakes winner Concert Tour, Life Is Good’s sparring partner Medina Spirit and impressive debut winner Triple Tap at the forefront while Spielberg and Hozier are waiting in the wings.
“They’re all doing fine,” the six-time Kentucky Derby winner said this morning.
“There’s nothing to report. They’re all in a holding pattern.”
Tick, tock, tick, tock . . .
FINISH LINES: In an effort to dance around intermittent rain early this week, trainer Val Brinkerhoff worked the majority of his 30 horses Monday, 21 to be exact, four on the training track. “That’s the most we ever breezed in one day,” said Val’s wife and valued assistant, Kelly. “It was pretty hectic.” . . . There were 84 recorded workouts this morning, eight on the training track . . . Only two victories separate the top five in the trainers’ race, Bob Baffert and Peter Miller tied for the lead with 22, Richard Baltas and Phil D’Amato next with 21 each and Doug O’Neill one back at 20 . . . Here’s news—Flavien Prat did not win a race on Sunday. Santa Anita’s runaway riding leader was blanked in six tries. He is named on six horses today including Jon White’s 4-5 morning line favorite Cargo in the first race and 7-5 morning line choice Conquest Cobra in the second. Should they win, look for a daily double payoff of less than double digits–$8 would be generous. Prat holds a commanding 59-45 lead through over runner-up Juan Hernandez . . .The California Horse Racing Board will conduct a teleconference meeting 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 23. No physical location will be provided. The public can participate via audio link on the CHRB website and those wishing to speak can dial 888 392-4564 and enter 6896291#. To discuss any item, press star 1 to enter the speakers’ queue. The agenda and package of materials are available on the CHRB website.
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Photo: Phil D’Amato, (Benoit)