Kings River Knight Kicks off Season in $200K Unusual Heat Turf Classic

January 10, 2024

Kings River Knight surges to victory in the California Flag Handicap (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Presented by City National Bank, Race Is Part of CTBA’s Lucrative Golden State Series

Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Box

ARCADIA, Calif.— Never better as a recently turned 6-year-old gelding, John Sadler’s Kings River Knight, a winner of four out of his last five starts, all stakes, should be plenty tough to beat as he stretches his considerable speed to a mile and one eighth on grass in Saturday’s $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic at Santa Anita.

The Unusual Heat Turf Classic is part of the lucrative CTBA-sponsored Golden State Series for registered California-bred or sired horses.

With 10 older horses engaged, Kings River Knight, who comes off a smashing 1 ½ length score in the California Flag Handicap at about 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course Oct. 15, was a solid fourth in last year’s Turf Classic when trained by Andy Mathis, as he pressed the pace and was beaten one length on the money.

With four wins and two seconds, all in statebred stakes since joining the Sadler barn, Kings River Knight, a bay son of Acclamation out of the Poteen mare Seasontoperfection, was bred in California by Old English Rancho and is owned by the Elwood Johnston Trust, Integrity Thoroughbred Racing, LLC and Kenneth Tevelde.

Freshened since his last start and with a 96 Beyer Speed Figure in hand from his Cal Flag score, Kings River Knight, who will be ridden for the third time in a row by Juan Hernandez, who has also been aboard for his last four wins. With an overall mark of 13-7-5-0, he has earnings of $426,010.

Carmelitas Man wins The California Dreamin as a Tracking Trips at Past the Wire horse to watch, Ernie Belmonte, Past the Wire
Carmelita’s Man wins the California Dreamin’ Aug. 5, 2023, at Del Mar (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Trainer Dean Pederson’s hard knocking 7-year-old gelding Carmelita’s Man brings a hefty bankroll of $569,880 and would certainly appreciate a fast pace to run at with regular rider Tiago Pereira up. By Mucho Macho Man out of the North Light mare Carmelita, he’s been idle since fourth, beaten 3 ½ lengths in a second condition allowance at a mile and one eighth on turf here Nov. 2.

Owned by Larry and Ann Jett, Carmelita’s Man has a win and two seconds from eight tries at the Turf Classic distance and is 29-8-6-3 overall.

Based at Golden Gate Fields with veteran conditioner Steve Specht, a pair of Larry and Marianne Williams homebred geldings by Tamarando, 5-year-old Royal ’n Rando and 4-year-old Passarando, would appear to fit nicely in the Turf Classic.

A respectable sixth, beaten 2 ½ lengths in last year’s Turf Classic, Royal ’n Rando was second in his only other career try at a mile and one eighth on turf as a 3-year-old in the statebred Snow Chief Stakes here in March of 2022.

Most recently third in a one mile classified allowance on synthetic Tapeta Nov. 26 at Golden Gate Fields, Royal ’n Rando will be handled by regular rider Frank Alvarado. Out of the Grand Slam mare Royal Grand Slam, Royal ’n Rando is 23-6-3-3 overall with earnings of $220,592.

Winless from five starts last year, Passarando, who is out of the Lucky Pulpit mare I’m Passing Ya Now, will be ridden for the first time by Frankie Dettori and could certainly outrun his odds. Most recently fifth, beaten five lengths in the same one mile classified allowance Royal ’n Rando exits, Passarando worked a mile in company with his stablemate on Dec. 23 at Golden Gate, getting the distance in 1:42.40 while besting Royal ’n Rando’s 1:42.60.


Race 9 of 9 Approximate post time 4:30 p.m. PT

  1. None Above the Law—Joel Rosario—124
  2. Carmelita’s Man—Tiago Periera—124
  3. Bally’s Charm—Hector Berrios—124
  4. Mogollon Rim—Armando Ayuso—120
  5. Kings River Knight—Juan Hernandez—124
  6. Silent Heat—Antonio Fresu—120
  7. Aligato—Flavien Prat—124
  8. Passarando—Lanfranco Dettori—124
  9. Catalina Eddy—Kazushi Kimura—120
  10. Royal ’n Rando—Frank Alvarado—124

First post time for a nine-race card on Cal Cup Day this Saturday, is at 12:30 p.m. with admission gates opening at 10:30 a.m.

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