Hall of Famer Ron McAnally To Present John Henry Trophy
ARCADIA, Calif.— Phil D’Amato’s Gold Phoenix bids for his second consecutive graded stakes win as he heads Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 John Henry Turf Championship at Santa Anita. A 4-year-old Irish-bred gelding fresh off victory going 1 3/8 miles on turf in the Grade II Del Mar Handicap Sept. 3, Gold Phoenix is the 126-pound high weight and he will be ridden for the first time by Juan Hernandez.
Named for the legendary Hall of Fame gelding who was the recipient of the love and admiration of the racing world as a champion on both turf and dirt at Santa Anita, the John Henry has attracted a field of six 3-year-olds and up.
Versatile in terms of pace, Gold Phoenix, a first-out maiden winner going seven furlongs on synthetic in Ireland on Feb. 21, 2021, has enjoyed an outstanding year with D’Amato. Dating back to his U.S. debut on Jan. 17, Gold Phoenix is 7-2-3-2 this year, which includes a close third going a mile and one quarter on turf in the Grade II Charles Whittingham Stakes four starts back on April 30.
Ridden by eastern-based Flavien Prat in the Del Mar Handicap, Gold Phoenix was next to last in a field of 11 early, rallied six-deep turning for home and was up to win by a head in a thriller.
Owned by Little Red Feather Racing, Sterling Stables, LLC and Marsha Naify, Gold Phoenix has a win, three seconds and one third place finish from five tries over the Santa Anita turf.
Third, beaten a half-length by Gold Phoenix in the Del Mar Handicap, trainer Leonard Powell’s Dicey Mo Chara, who was ridden by eastern-based John Velazquez, will be handled for the first time by Ryan Curatolo. Graded stakes placed, Dicey Mo Chara, a 4-year-old English-bred gelding owned by Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal, is in search of his first stakes win.
Fifth, beaten 3 ¼ lengths in the Del Mar Handicap, D’Amato’s classy Masteroffoxhounds will be reunited with Umberto Rispoli, who last rode him to a close third place finish over the course nine starts back in the Grade III San Luis Rey Stakes on March 20, 2021.
A 5-year-old horse by War Front, Masteroffoxhounds, who is owned by Rockingham Ranch, is winless in five starts this year with two seconds and a third-place finish.
History will be revisited following the John Henry on Saturday, as the winning trophy will be presented by John’s Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, who guided the son of Ole Bob Bowers through two Horse of the Year campaigns at ages four and nine, seven overall Eclipse Awards, two Santa Anita Handicap Victories in 1981 and 82 and who smiled all the way to the bank upon John Henry’s retirement at age nine in 1984 as racing’s all-time leading money earner with more than $6.5 million.
THE JOHN HENRY TURF CHAMPIONSHIP WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 3 of 10 – Approximate post time 1:30 p.m. PT
- Gold Phoenix—Juan Hernandez—126
- Breakpoint—Tyler Baze—124
- Dicey Mo Chara—Ryan Curatolo—122
- Masteroffoxhounds—Umberto Rispoli—122
- Tropical Terror—Mike Smith—122
- Cash Equity—Hector Berrios–122
First post time for a 10-race card that will include five other stakes on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m.
Santa Anita Press Release
Photo: Golden Phoenix wins the Del Mar Handicap (Benoit Photo)
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