G3 Californian: Judge Miller Takes Next Step

April 18, 2024

Judge Miller blazing to an 11-length win to score an allowance at Santa Anita (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

GI SA Derby Winner Stronghold Set To Work This Weekend

+ Coast-To-Coast Pick 5 Returns Saturday At 2:20 P.M. Pt
+ 5 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Races Go This Fall At Santa Anita 

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Stable Notes By Victor Ryan

ARCADIA, Calif.— With a classic-winning sire and a multiple Grade I-winning dam, Judge Miller was cut out to be “any kind,” as the old racetrack phraseology goes. On Saturday at Santa Anita, the 4-year-old colt will make his highly anticipated stakes debut in the GIII, $100,000 Californian Stakes at 1 1/8 on dirt. He is the 4-5 favorite on Jon White’s morning line.

Judge Miller served notice Feb. 24 at Santa Anita when airing by 11 lengths in a one-mile allowance/optional claimer for trainer Mark Glatt. The effort earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure, which according to Daily Racing Form is tied for the highest recorded by any horse this year at distances up to a mile.

The Californian will be just the fourth start for Judge Miller. His belated debut didn’t come until Nov. 19 at Del Mar when he finished second as the favorite in a six-furlong maiden heat. Five weeks later, he graduated going seven furlongs on opening day of the Santa Anita Classic Meet on Dec. 26.

“He’s been training really well since his last race. Hopefully he’ll continue to improve,” Glatt said Thursday morning. “He’s a lightly raced older horse now, and obviously he’s taking a step up here. We’ll find out if he can pass the test.”

Judge Miller is by 2007 Preakness Stakes winner Curlin out of Cavorting, who won 8-of-13 starts and banked more than $2 million in three seasons on the track. Cavorting previously produced Judge Miller’s full sister, Clairiere, a foal of 2018 who herself won multiple Grade Is and earned more than $3.2 million.

Owner Muir Hut Stable purchased Judge Miller for $550,000 as a yearling at the 2021 Keeneland September sale. Glatt had hopes to debut the well-pedigreed chestnut last summer at Del Mar, but a foot abscess delayed those plans.

Since his blowout allowance win, Judge Miller has worked five times including a pair of six-furlong drills. He’ll get the furthest distance test of his young career Saturday. Glatt feels he’s ready.

“I really don’t think distance is going to be a problem for him, other than a lack of seasoning. I’m really not concerned about it,” Glatt said.

Judge Miller will be ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith for the first time in the Californian. They will break from post two.

The Californian goes as the seventh race on a 10-race card Saturday. Post time is approximately 4 p.m. PT. 

The Californian Field

Santa Anita Derby Winner Stronghold Set To Work This Weekend

Stronghold prevails by a neck in a thrilling edition of the GI, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby. (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)
Stronghold prevails by a neck in a thrilling edition of the GI, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Stronghold, winner of the GI Santa Anita Derby April 6, was out for a routine gallop on the main track at about 6:40 a.m. Thursday morning. Trainer Phil D’Amato reported the Kentucky Derby-bound colt will return to the work tab either Saturday or Sunday at Santa Anita.

Stronghold collected his second-consecutive graded stakes win when taking the 87th Santa Anita Derby by a neck under Antonio Fresu. Previously, the Ghostzapper colt won the GIII Sunland Derby in New Mexico in February. Those victories earned Stronghold a ticket to the 150th Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs.

For D’Amato and Fresu, Stronghold’s triumph earlier this month was their first-ever win in the Santa Anita Derby. This will also be their first-time competing in the Kentucky Derby.

The same milestones go for Stronghold’s owners-breeders, Eric M. Waller and Sharon Waller. The longtime stakeholders produced Stronghold from their Jimmy Creed mare Spectator, who herself was a graded stake-winning homebred for the Wallers.

Horses competing in the Kentucky Derby are required to be at Churchill Downs a week from Saturday, April 27. It remains to be determined if Stronghold will have a second work at Santa Anita next week before shipping to Kentucky. D’Amato said it would depend on the weather forecast in Louisville whether Stronghold works here or after he arrives at Churchill Downs.

$1 Coast-To-Coast Pick 5 Returns Saturday At 2:20 P.M.

After a week off, the $1 Coast-to-Coast Pick 5 featuring races from Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park returns Saturday starting at 2:20 p.m. PT.

 The sequence kicks off with the ninth race from Gulfstream, an allowance/optional claimer at one mile on turf. Ipanema Princess is the lukewarm 9-2 favorite for trainer Patrick Biancone in a field of 10. Gulfstream’s 10th and 11th races are also part of the puzzle. The 10th is an allowance/optional claimer at seven furlongs on dirt. In a field of 10, Great Navigator is the 7-2 morning line favorite for trainer Eddie Owens Jr. The 11thrace is a $35,000 maiden-claimer at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Corrin Peak is the 9-5 favorite for trainer Nolan Ramsey in a field of 11.

Santa Anita joins the fray with its fourth and sixth races, which are both for statebred maidens at six furlongs on turf. A field of 10 is set to go in each.

The Coast-to-Coast Pick 5 features a player-friendly 15 percent takeout rate. It is offered every Saturday and Sunday through the end of the Santa Anita Hollywood Meet June 16.

5 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Races Go This Fall At Santa Anita

Santa Anita will host five automatic qualifiers for the Breeders’ Cup during its Autumn Meet later this year.

Earlier this week, Breeders’ Cup unveiled its “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series,” which will include 82 races from 12 countries in the leadup to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Del Mar on Nov. 1-2.  The winners of these races receive an automatic berth to their corresponding Breeders’ Cup race with all fees paid.

The five “Win and You’re In’” qualifiers from Santa Anita will be held over two consecutive Saturdays beginning Sept. 28. Set for Sept. 28 is the City of Hope Mile, a qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and the inaugural $1 million California Crown. The California Crown is for older horses at 1 1/8 miles on dirt. It will serve as an automatic qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

On Oct. 5, the American Pharoah, Rodeo Drive and Chandelier Stakes will all provide automatic Breeders’ Cup berths. The American Pharoah winners earns a berth to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the Chandelier winner qualifies for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and Rodeo Drive winner gets a bid for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

The American Pharoah will be broadcast nationally on NBC and streamed on Peacock.

FINISH LINES____________________

It’s a double dose of stakes action Sunday with the GII Santa Maria for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on dirt and the Siren Lure Stakes for older horses on the hillside turf course. Entries for both will be taken on Thursday…

Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, 93, will have his second starter of the year and first at Santa Anita Friday with homebred The Giants Candy. By Twirling Candy out of McAnally’s graded-stakes winner Charm the Giant, The Giants Candy broke his maiden in a 1,000-yard maiden race at Los Alamitos Feb. 10. The 6-year-old gelding (5-1) is entered in a $25,000 non-winners of two at six furlongs on turf, which goes as the third race at approximately 2 p.m. McAnallya three-time Eclipse Award winner as North America’s outstanding trainer, was inducted in the Racing Hall of Fame in 1990. He has 2,592 career wins and more than $126.3 million in earnings…

Jockey Ricardo Ramirez is now represented by agent Marcus Semona

Every Friday during the Hollywood Meet, on-track patrons will receive free parking and admission plus $3 beers and $5 margaritas. First post is 1 p.m. with admission gate opening at 11 a.m. 

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