Justique Eyes Kentucky Oaks Points In Santa Ynez

December 28, 2022

Justique under Victor Espinoza win Dezi Arnaz at Santa Anita Nov. 19, 2022 (Benoit Photo) 

Smooth Like Strait, Hit The Road Set For Hernadez Clash

Stable Notes By Victor Ryan

ARCADIA, Calif.—Following an eye-catching debut win sprinting at Del Mar this summer, Justique was promptly stretched out to 1 1/16 miles for the Grade II Chandelier and disappointed when a well-beaten third as the 6-5 favorite.

Following the Chandelier dud, Justique returned to sprinting in the seven-furlong Desi Arnaz at Del Mar on Nov. 19 where she rallied from dead last to win impressively by 2 1/2 lengths. Trainer John Shirreffs on Monday said the daughter of Triple Crown winner Justify will likely stay around one turn for her next start in Sunday’s Grade III, $200,000 Santa Ynez going seven furlongs.

“I think so,” Shirreffs said of Justique running in the Santa Ynez. “She’s been doing well and I’d like to see her run a good race.”

Justique has worked four times at Santa Anita since the Desi Arnaz, which includes a five-furlong move in 1:01 on Sunday.

The Santa Ynez is an official prep for next year’s Kentucky Oaks with qualifying points awarded to the top five finishers on a scale of 20-8-6-4-2

Justique is among 10 nominees for the Santa Ynez, which will be drawn on Thursday along with the remainder pf the Sunday’s card.

Smooth LIke Strait and jockey Umperto Rispoli won the Grade I $300,000 Shoemaker Mile Monday, May 31, 2021 at Santa Anita. (Benoit Photo) 

Smooth Like Strait, Hit The Road Set For Hernadez Clash

While the Grade II, $250,000 Joe Hernandez on the hillside turf course at about 6 ½ furlongs is set to mark the return of Hit the Road after an 11-month layoff, he won’t be the only Grade 1-winning miler in the starting gate if everything goes according to plan

On Monday, trainer Michael McCarthy said Breeders Cup veteran Smooth Like Strait will make his hillside debut in the Joe Hernandez

“We’ve been wanting to run him down the hill for a long time,” McCarthy said.

Smooth Like Strait has earned more than $1.7 million while compiling a record of 24-7-9-3 for owner Cannon Thoroughbreds. In the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Mile, the 5-year-old Midnight Lute horse faded late to finish ninth after setting the pace. He returned in last month’s Grade II Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar and again finished off the board.

Like Strait and Hit the Road, who will be making his first start since January’s Pegasus World Cup Turf, lead 22 nominees for the Joe Hernandez. The race along with the rest of Saturday’s card will be drawn on Wednesday.

Finish Lines: Speed Boat Beach, winner of the Speakeasy and Cecil B. DeMille Stakes (G3) on turf for Bob Baffert, leads the nominees for Friday’s Eddie Logan Stakes one mile on grass. Baffert said Monday he is considering running the Bayern colt, but it will depend on the weather…

With rain forecast for Arcadia later this week, both the main track and inner training track will be closed for training on Wednesday… 

Santa Anita will race four straight days beginning on Friday. A special New Year’s holiday card will be held on Monday…

Every Friday of the Classic Meet fans will be offered free Infield admission and parking, plus $3 beers and $5 margaritas.           

@jonathanstettin congrats on a great hit. Very nice job!!!

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