Mandella’s United takes on Brown’s Eastern invader Rockemperor in Saturday’s $200,000 Whittingham Stakes at 1 ¼ miles on turf
ARCADIA, Calif. –A bicoastal showdown looms on Saturday at Santa Anita, as Richard Mandella’s United and Chad Brown’s eastern-based Rockemperor head a field of seven 3-three-year-olds and up in the Grade II, $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes at a mile and one quarter on turf.
A recent victor over the course and distance on Feb. 1, United, a 5-year-old gelding by Giant’s Causeway, retains the services of leading rider Flavien Prat, while Rockemperor, who is based in New York, will be ridden for the first time by current national earnings leader and two-time Eclipse Award winner, Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Owner: LNJ Foxwoods
Trainer: Richard Mandella
Off as the 4-5 favorite, he proved gamest late in taking the Grade II San Marcos Stakes on Feb. 1 and has developed into one of the country’s top turf marathoners for Mandella since arriving from Woodbine prior to his first local start nine starts back in February, 2019. A tough luck second, beaten a neck two starts back in the mile and one half Grade II Hollywood Turf Cup at Del Mar Dec. 1, the best race on his form came three starts back when he was second, beaten a head by eventual Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf here on Nov. 2. A recently minted millionaire with earnings of $1,013,549, United has a win, a second and a third from three tries at 1 ¼ miles on turf and is 12-4-3-1 overall.
Owner: B G Stables
Trainer: Jeff Mullins
A close second three starts back here in the Grade II Mathis Brothers Mile on Dec. 28, Irish-bred Originaire ran the best race of his 16-race career on Feb. 29, rallying from far back to win a second condition allowance by 5 ¼ lengths at a mile and one eighth on turf while earning a lofty 100 Beyer Speed figure. A fast finishing second, beaten a neck in the Grade II Del Mar Derby at 1 1/8 miles on turf seven starts back on Sept. 1, 2019, Originaire is a sharp horse trying a mile and one quarter for the first time. Favored in his last two starts at the allowance level, he’ll be ridden for the fourth consecutive time by Umberto Rispoli.
Owner: Madaket Stables, LLC, Michael Dubb, Wonder Stables, Michael Kisber & Bethlehem Stables, LLC
Trainer: Chad Brown
A 4-year-old Irish-bred colt with a late running style, he’ll be making his Southern California debut in what will be his second start of the year. An impressive third in his U.S. debut three starts back, the Grade I, 1 ¼ miles turf Belmont Derby on July 6, 2019, he was most recently a non-threatening third in a Grade II stakes going 1 1/8 miles on turf at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans March 21. With a recent race under his belt and Irad Ortiz, Jr., engaged, Rockemperor should be sitting on a big effort and would obviously be flattered by a fast pace as he stretches out a furlong.
The Grade II Charles Whittingham
Race 8, Approximate post time 4 p.m. PT (7 p.m. ET)
1. Desert Stone, J: Abel Cedillo (126)
2. Bold Endeavor, J: Mike Smith (122)
3. Synthesis, J: Geovanni Franco (122)
4. United, J: Flavien Prat (126)
5. Originaire, J: Umberto Rispoli (122)
6. Rockemperor, J: Irad Ortiz, Jr. (122)
First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. There is currently no public admittance at Santa Anita and fans are encouraged to wager via 1stBet.com or through Xpressbet.com. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
Photo: LNJ Foxwoods’ tenacious colt, United. Credit: Benoit Photos