Dicey Mo Chara closes out 2022 with a win in the G2 San Gabriel (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)
Santa Anita Press Box
ARCADIA, Ky.— Hard-knocking Dicey Mo Chara returns to Santa Anita and heads a field of eight older horses going a marathon mile and one half on turf in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 San Luis Rey Stakes, a race in which the 5-year-old English-bred gelding finished a close second a year ago.
Owned by Santa Anita’s Classic Meet leaders Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal, Dicey Mo Chara was most recently a troubled fourth, beaten 1 ½ lengths, in the Grade III San Francisco Mile on April 29 over the Golden Gate Fields turf.
Trained by Leonard Powell, Dicey Mo Chara will be reunited with Juan Hernandez, who was aboard two starts back in Grade II Charles Whittingham, a race in which Dicey Mo Chara went to the front going a mile and one quarter on turf and was pressed and passed around the far turn by George Papaprodromou’s Opry but battled back gamely on the inside to gain the advantage turning for home. Although he shook off Opry, the early battle took its toll and Dicey Mo Chara was thus unable to hold off the late charge of the Michael McCarthy-trained Offlee Naughty, who rolled late to win by one length.
With the exception of Opry, it would appear this Saturday’s San Luis Rey is a race devoid of additional early foot, making it likely Dicey Mo Chara could employ similar front-running tactics as the pair each stretch out a quarter of a mile.
With his most recent win coming four starts back in the Grade II San Gabriel here on Dec. 26, Dicey Mo Chara is 10-2-3-1 over the Santa Anita lawn and he’s 20-4-5-3 overall with earnings of $485,777.
With his late run flattered by a front-end skirmish around the far turn, Michael McCarthy’s Offlee Naughty came flying under John Velazquez in the Whittingham, winning by one length and posting a career-high 97 Beyer Speed Figure. With Velazquez back in New York full-time, Umberto Rispoli will try to time it right on Saturday.
A 5-year-old full horse by the Tapit stallion Flashback, Offlee Naughty is on a roll, having crushed a second-level allowance field going a mile and one quarter on synthetic Tapeta two starts back on Dec. 11, winning by 5 ¾ lengths. Fourth, beaten five lengths in last year’s San Luis Rey, Offlee Naughty, who is owned by James and Donna Daniell, has two wins and a third-place finish from five tries over the Santa Anita turf.
With an overall mark of 16-4-1-1, Offlee Naughty has earnings of $310,645.
Ridden in the Whittingham Stakes by the recently departed Frankie Dettori, Opry has proven to be a tremendous claim for his owners, David Bernsen, LLC, Rockingham Ranch, Mark Gorman, and Andrew Schwindt. Haltered out of a third-place effort by Papaprodromou for $25,000 four starts back on Nov. 24, Opry, a 7-year-old gelding by Declaration of War, then stepped up to a second condition allowance going 1 1/18 miles here on Jan. 8, winning by a neck at 18-1 with Joe Bravo up.
Subsequently third, beaten three-quarters of a length going a mile and one-quarter on turf in the Grade III San Marco Feb. 5 with Dettori, Opry, who challenged Dicey Mo Chara aggressively, actually made the lead a quarter mile from home in the Whittingham but had to settle for third money as he was beaten 1 ¾ lengths by Offlee Naughty.
A Kentucky-bred originally based in New York and Florida, Opry was a Grade III winner in his second career start at age two at Saratoga in August of 2018. With an overall mark of 21-4-4-7, Opry seeks his second graded stakes win on Saturday with earnings of $345,280.
Richard Mandella’s Brazilian-bred Planetario, idle since running an even fifth in his U.S. debut, a classified allowance at a mile and one-eighth on turf here on June 18, 2022, was a two-time Group I winner in Brazil at age three who could make his presence felt with Hector Berrios aboard.
A 5-year-old full horse owned by his breeder, Stud Red Rafa, Planetario came to Mandella with five wins from eight starts in Brazil.
THE GRADE III SAN LUIS REY WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 9 of 9 Approximate post time 5 p.m. PT
- Explain This Audit – Ramon Vazquez – 120
- Planetario – Hector Berrios – 124
- Dicey Mo Chara – Juan Hernandez – 124
- Offlee Naughty – Umberto Rispoli – 124
- Rimprotector – Kyle Frey – 120
- Agatino – Antonio Fresu – 120
- Midcourt – Geovanni Franco – 124
- Opry – Mike Smith – 124
First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 1 p.m. with admission gates opening at 11 a.m.