I’m a Gambler Shortens up for Glatt in G2 Eddie D

September 28, 2023

Mark Glatt will try I’m a Gambler over the hillside turf course (Benoit Photo)

Santa Anita Stable Notes by Victor Ryan

ARCADIA, Calif.— I’m a Gambler was a multiple stakes winner in England and Ireland. Since joining Mark Glatt’s barn last year, he’s been close in three stateside stakes tries, all going a mile on turf. Glatt thinks a move to the hillside turf course in Saturday’s GII Eddie D could provide a breakthrough.

“I think the hillside course will fit him like a glove,” Glatt said Thursday.

I’m a Gambler is the 6-1 co-third choice on the morning line behind Bran (5-2) for John Sadler and Lane Way for Richard Mandella. I’m a Gambler returned from a nearly six-month layoff July 23 in the one-mile Wickerr Stakes at Del Mar and was third, beaten just a length by winner Du Jour. In the subsequent GII Del Mar Mile on Sept. 2, also won by Du Jour, I’m a Gambler had a narrow lead at the eighth pole before getting overhauled late.

The Eddie D will be I’m a Gambler’s third start on the comeback trail.

“I thought it was a good effort in the Del Mar Mile, he got a big number for the race,” Glatt said in reference to I’m a Gambler’s 97 Beyer Speed Figure.

“We’re going to shorten him up a little bit and see if that’s a winning move.”

Antonio Fresu, who has been aboard for both of I’m a Gambler’s starts this year, again has the call on Saturday.

Bran out for a gallop (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

While the Eddie D is a potential steppingstone to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint going five furlongs here Nov. 4, that will not be the road taken for morning-line favorite Bran no matter how good he runs in the about 6 ½-furlong Eddie D.

Bran returned from nearly a year layoff in the GIII Green Flash going five furlongs at Del Mar Sept.2. Last early in a 12-horse field, the 5-year-old French-bred gelding made a late bid to finish 3 ½ length behind winner Motorious.

“We wanted to run five furlongs because that’s the distance of the Breeders’ Cup,” Sadler said. “But what we thought was true was proven true. It was too short for him.”

Last year, Bran won a pair of stakes on the downhill turf course (Siren Lure, GIII Daytona). Sadler believes a return to the unique layout should make him tough Saturday.

“He’s been great here at Santa Anita, he’s won down the hill and it’s his second start off the layoff,” Sadler said. “He should be a good fit in this spot.”
Top turf trainer Phil D’Amato will saddle Balnikhov (6-1), a multiple stakes winner at a mile on turf, and promising allowance winner Unconquerable Keen (8-1). Balnikhov will be trying the hillside course for the first time.

“We’re trying something a little different,” D’Amato said. “He’s a horse that likes to have speed to run at. I think he’ll have a better chance of getting that scenario going down the hill. We’ll see if this gives him another dimension.”

Unconquerable Keen, a 4-year-old Irish-bred gelding, won a second-level allowance going five furlongs on turf at Del Mar Aug. 31. In June, Unconquerable Keen tried the hill for the first time. He faded to seventh after setting a sharp pace.

“We tried the hill one time and he kind of ran off that day,” D’Amato said. “Joe Bravo’s been working him and getting to know him. I think he’ll get him to relax and finish a little better.”

The Eddie D goes as the ninth on a 10-race card. Post time is approximately 5 p.m. Pacific. The field in post position order: Balnikhov, Geovanni Franco (6-1); Bran, Juian Hernandez (5-2); Sumter, Umberto Rispoli (15-1); Mas Rapido, Edwin Maldonado (30-1); Noble Reflection, Mario Gutierrez (6-1); Lane Way, Mike Smith (3-1); I’m A Gambler, Antonio Fresu (6-1); Unconquerable Keen, Joe Bravo (8-1); Ah Jeez, Tiago Pereira (8-1); Packs a Wahlop, Hector Berrios (15-1); Radical Right, Diego Herrera (20-1).

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