SA Derby Targeted For ‘Kingdom’, D’Amato Ponders Three For Santa Ana
ARCADIA, Calif.— Bob Hess Jr. plans to double-team front-running favorite Brickyard Ride in Sunday’s Sensational Star Stakes with recent $50,000 claim Big Fish and Riding With Dino, who is seeking his first stakes victory.
“Big Fish has been running in routes, but we’re hoping there’s a pace meltdown,” the trainer said in explaining the participation of Big Fish, who has never run in a turf sprint and whose last 12 races have been a mile or longer.
“That said, it looks like Brickyard Ride might get an easy lead. Dino’s in good form and tries real hard, is very consistent and doing well.”
A five-year-old son of Vronsky, the bay gelding has a 3-5-3 record from 12 starts and won an overnight turf sprint on a “good” course on Jan. 1, getting up by a nose under Flavien Prat, who is back aboard Sunday.
Hess, meanwhile, is enjoying a solid campaign. He saddled Scotland to win Friday’s first race for his eighth victory this meet, giving him a winning average of 20 percent.
The Sensational Star, one in the Golden State Series for California-bred or sired horses, is named for the durable gelding trained most of his career by Bill Spawr, compiling a record of 13 wins and 11 seconds from 39 starts, his last coming in his final race on Dec. 8, 1990, at Hollywood Park where he won by a nose under Frankie Dettori.
Brickyard Ride, the pace-setting gift that keeps on giving for owner/breeder Alfred Pais and trainer Craig Lewis, tries something new in Sunday’s Sensational Star.
It will mark the first time the son of Clubhouse Ride, still a full horse at age five, runs on Santa Anita’s popular downhill turf course at about 6 ½ furlongs, although way back when, almost a year and a half ago at Santa Anita, he did capture a turf sprint going 5 ½ furlongs on Oct. 24, 2020.
“He’s never run down the hill so it’s a new dimension and you never know what’s going to happen,” Lewis said of the ultra-quick chestnut, earner of $620,977 and winner of 10 of 20 career starts, mostly sprints, although he was an easy winner of the Tiznow Stakes at a mile last out on Feb. 21.
“He’s won on grass, but never been down the hill, so you don’t know until they do it, but we expect him to be leading again.”
Brickyard Ride has been in front at some point in all of his races save three, and he had excuses in two of those, his debut race on Aug. 16, 2019, when he was off slow and in tight, and on Dec. 12, 2020 when he experienced a rough trip early on.
“He’s doing very well and the timing of this race for him is very good,” Lewis said.
Brickyard Ride will be ridden for the sixth straight race by Juan Hernandez, Santa Anita’s second-leading jockey with 38 wins, 31 behind runaway leader Flavien Prat.
“Juan does fit him,” Lewis said. “He knows the horse and we’re glad to have him.”
The Sensational Star, race seven of eight with a 1 p.m. first post time:
1. Indian Peak, John Velazquez, 5-2
2. Brickyard Ride, Juan Hernandez, 8-5
3. Sacred Rider, Tyler Baze, 20-1
4. Jetovator, Edwin Maldonado, 6-1
5. Riding With Dino, Flavien Prat, 5-1
6. Big Fish, Mike Smith, 15-1
7. Whooping Jay, Mario Gutierrez, 15-1
8. Fashionably Fast, Abel Cedillo, 5-1
Santa Anita Derby Remains The Plan For Forbidden Kingdom
Richard Mandella is optimistic Forbidden Kingdom can still make the Grade I Runhappy Santa Anita Derby on April 5 after the son of 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah missed a scheduled work Friday due to a temperature.
“He has not had another temperature,” the Hall of Fame trainer reported Saturday morning. “It will be day by day; there’s no plan. We’ll take him one day at a time.”
“I’m hoping we can still make the Santa Anita Derby, but it will depend on him.
“So far, it looks good. I don’t think it’s a problem to miss the first work (since his last race, an impressive front-running victory in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes March 5), because we’ve got time for a couple more.
“Everything will have to go right, and so far, it is.”
D’Amato Mulls Three For Santa Ana
Santa Anita’s leading trainer Phil D’Amato was pondering his decision on which of his three nominees to next Saturday’s Grade III Santa Ana Stakes would run in the mile and a quarter turf race, Carpe Vinum, Excelerina and Tony Ann.
“I could run one, I could run all three,” D’Amato said. “It depends on their next works and the opposition.”
Carpe Vinum and Tony Ann would be seeking their first stakes victories, as would Excelerina, although the four-year-old Irish-bred filly has displayed stakes potential in her two U.S. starts, both impressive come-from-behind triumphs in overnight races at Santa Anita.
FINISH LINES: Due to an unforeseen conflict, John Velazquez is off his four mounts today at Santa Anita. The Hall of Fame jockey will instead be at Fair Grounds in New Orleans to pilot the Wesley Ward-trained Bound for Nowhere, the 8-5 morning line favorite in their ninth race . . . Millionaire gelding Restrainedvengence is scheduled to make his 2022 debut in the inaugural John Shear Mile on April 10, and trainer Val Brinkerhoff has several options he hopes will lead to another start in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, this year at Keeneland on Nov. 5. “We’re looking at the John Shear, then there are several ways we can go, including the San Francisco Mile, the Shoemaker Mile, the All-American at Golden Gate and the American Stakes, which he won here last year,” Brinkerhoff said. “I actually think the horse is doing better than he’s ever done right now.” The son of Hold Me Back was third at 40-1 in the Dirt Mile last year behind Life Is Good and Ginobili. Restrainedvengence breezed five furlongs this morning in 1:00.80. It was one of 170 recorded workouts Saturday, 42 on the training track.
Santa Anita Stable Notes by Ed Golden (Edited)
Photo: Big Fish with Juan Hernandez up wins the California Cup Derby Jan. 16, 2021. (Benoit)