Gold Phoenix Goes for 11th Stakes in Whittingham

April 6, 2023

Gold Phoenix winning the Frank E. Kilroe. (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Race Named For Legendary ‘Bald Eagle’ Who Saddled 203 Santa Anita Stakes Winners 

Santa Anita Press Box

ARCADIA, Calif.— Santa Anita’s leading trainer with 30 wins at entry time Wednesday, Phil D’Amato would dearly love to notch his 11th stakes win in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes as his Irish-bred Gold Phoenix seeks his second consecutive graded stakes win of the current Classic Meet. With Japanese native Kazushi Kimura set to ride him back, Gold Phoenix heads a field of seven older horses at a mile and one quarter on turf.

The Whittingham is named for the legendary late HOF trainer, affectionately known as “The Bald Eagle,” who ranks second among all trainers with 203 Santa Anita stakes wins, which included a record 14 tallies in what was Santa Anita’s signature turf stakes—the San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap at a mile and three quarters with a hillside start.

In what appeared to be his best race to date, 5-year-old gelding Gold Phoenix burst through at the rail late under Kimura to win the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile by a neck on March 4, earning a 98 Beyer Speed Figure.

Three for 10 with D’Amato stateside, Gold Phoenix, although winless in two tries at a mile and one quarter on turf, was a close third on both occasions, beaten 1 ¾ lengths seven starts back in last year’s Whittingham and more recently, when beaten a neck three races back in the Grade II John Henry Turf Championship here on Oct. 1.’

Owned by Little Red Feather Racing, Sterling Stables, LLC and Marsha Naify, Gold Phoenix stalked the early pace in last year’s Whittingham and will likely do the same on Saturday. Off at 10-1 in the Kilroe Mile, he’ll be a considerably shorter price in the Whittingham as he seeks to improve upon an overall race record of 11-4-3-3 and earnings of $675,257.

Dicey Mo Chara winning the San Gabriel. (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Idle since a troubled sixth, beaten 1 ¾ lengths in going a mile and one quarter on turf in the Grade III San Marcos Feb. 5, English-bred Dicey Mo Chara would benefit from a lively pace with Juan Hernandez riding back. A half-length winner of the Grade II San Gabriel at a mile one eighth on turf Dec. 26, Dicey Mo Chara lacked room late in the 10-horse San Marcos and rates a huge look for owners Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal.

A classy 5-year-old gelding trained by Leonard Powell, Dicey Mo Chara, who has been graded stakes placed on three occasions, seeks his second graded stakes win on Saturday. With an overall mark of 18-4-4-3, he has earnings of $430,777.

In a very evenly matched lineup, D’Amato’s Masteroffoxhounds, sixth, beaten 4 ¼ lengths by his stablemate Gold Phoenix in the Kilroe Mile, was second, beaten a neck two starts back in the San Marcos appears better suited going a mile and one quarter.

Owned by Gary Hartunian’s Rockingham Ranch, Masteroffoxhounds, a 6-year-old full horse by War Front, has two wins and three seconds from six tries at the Whittingham distance. A close second in last year’s renewal, Masteroffoxhounds also seeks his second graded stakes victory.

With an overall mark of 23-4-4-5, Masteroffoxhounds has earnings of $590,542 and will be reunited with Umberto Rispoli, who last rode him two starts back in the San Marcos.

Claimed for $25,000 three starts back on Nov. 24 at Del Mar, trainer George Papaprodromou’s Opry comes off a fast closing third in the San Marcos, a race in which he was beaten three quarters of a length when ridden for the first time by Frankie Dettori, who rides him back on Saturday.

Owned by David Bernsen, LLC, Mark Gorman and Andrew Schwindt, Opry, a 7-year-old gelding by Declaration of War, was a Grade III winner on grass in New York at age two and will be seeking his second graded stakes victory nearly five years later on Saturday in his third start for Papaprodromou.

First post time for a 12-race card that will include five other stakes on Saturday is at 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.

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