Mcpeek seeks Second Straight Beholder win

February 21, 2022

Trainer Ken McPeek eyes his second straight victory in Santa Anita’s Grade I Beholder Mile on March 5, this time with Envoutante, a daughter of Uncle Mo that will make her five-year-old debut in a race named for the four-time Eclipse Award champion and three-time Breeders’ Cup winner trained by Hall of Fame member Richard Mandella.

McPeek won last year’s Beholder with Swiss Skydiver on March 13. In 2020, Swiss Skydiver captured the Grade II Santa Anita Oaks. A daughter of Daredevil, Swiss Skydiver was named Eclipse Award champion three-year-old filly of 2020, defeating males in the Preakness that year.

“Envoutante is going to work next Friday or Saturday, and we’re working on travel logistics, but right now the plan is to bring her,” McPeek said by phone this morning after saddling 2-1 favorite Smile Happy to a second-place finish yesterday behind Epicenter in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds. “We’re also working on a rider.”

In her most recent race, for the second straight year, Envoutante (freely translated from French it’s “enchanting” as in an enchanting smile) won the 1 1/8-mile Grade II Falls City Stakes last Nov. 25 at Churchill Downs, prompting the pace and drawing off to win by six lengths “geared down.”

Owned by Walking L Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm, Envoutante is out of the stakes-winning Bluegrass Cat mare Enchante and has a 6-2-4 record from 16 starts with earnings of $931,658.

The Beholder offers $500,000 in purse money with $300,000 guaranteed to the winner and $100,000 to the runner-up, so even a second-place finish would make Envoutante a millionaire.

STIFFER TEST FOR ALICE MARBLE IN WISHING WELL

Alice Marble outran her 9-1 odds finishing second to her multiple stakes-winning stablemate Leggs Galore in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint for California-breds on Jan. 16.

She figures to face a less daunting task in this Saturday’s $75,000 Wishing Well Stakes for older fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs out of the turf chute.

“She’s a very professional filly,” said Phil D’Amato, in contention for Santa Anita’s training lead as usual, currently a close second behind Bob Baffert at 20-19. “She’s shown she can run just as well on the grass as she can on dirt, so it’s nice to have double-threat horses like that.

“We’re going to run there.  Granted it will be against open company, so it will be a bit saltier competition, but it’s a good prep race for the Irish O’Brien on March 19.”

Alice Marble worked five furlongs this morning in 1:00.60, while Leggs Galore went the same distance on the training track in 1:01.60.

Alice Marble is owned and was bred by Nick Alexander, a decades-long proponent of racing in The Golden State, and while D’Amato obviously values his support and cooperation, he is not obsessed with capturing the training title, particularly with the meet so far from its conclusion on June 19.

“I don’t look at training titles, especially this early in the meet,” D’Amato said. “We’re just trying to run horses, win and develop them, and everything’s been going pretty well so far.”

FINISH LINES: Deepest condolences to Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez and his family on the passing of his mother-in-law after a lengthy illness. Her funeral is scheduled this week.  As a result, Velazquez will not be available to ride 2-1 morning line favorite Barraza in today’s Grade III San Simeon Stakes.  Vladimir Cerin has announced that Daisuke Fukumoto will ride . . . There is special holiday racing tomorrow, Presidents’ Day, which also is Dollar Beer and Soda Day, with hot dogs available for $2 . . . With a sweep of the final three races yesterday, Flavien Prat increased his lead over runner-up Velazquez in the jockeys’ standings to a commanding 55-26. Prat also leads in mounts this meet with 170, 36 more than Juan Hernandez . . . There were 172 recorded workouts Sunday, 53 on the training track . . .                     Trivia question: How many times did the late, great Charlie Whittingham win the Santa Anita Handicap: seven, eight or nine? . . . Congrats to Reddam Racing LLC on spreading the wealth when Increase Stakes ($6.80) and Rosie Forecast formed a $24 exacta by running one-two in Saturday’s fifth race. Doug O’Neill is Reddam’s primary trainer, but Increase Stakes is trained by Edward Freeman, while Rosie Forecast is conditioned by Ben Cecil . . . Under consideration for the Grade II Buena Vista Stakes at a mile on turf March 5 is the five-year-old French-bred mare Avenue de France, winner of two restricted stakes at Golden Gate Fields for trainer Leonard Powell. She had been nominated to this Saturday’s Wishing Well Stakes at     6 ½ furlongs on turf, but it is a distance she has never attempted in 15 career starts, each of those not shorter than one mile. With five wins, she has won an impressive 33 percent of her races . . . Trivia answer: nine times over a remarkable span of 36 years, the first in 1957 with Corn Husker ridden by Ralph Neves, the last in 1993 with Sir Beaufort ridden by Patrick Valenzuela. Talk about staying power: The Bald Eagle had it…A memorial for longtime and highly respected radio and television sportscaster Bill Seward, who passed away following a lengthy battle with cancer at 63 on Jan. 14, will be held at St. Francis de Sales School Auditorium in Sherman Oaks on Saturday, Feb. 16 from 2 to 5 p.m.

LATEST CONTENT FROM XBTV:

WORKOUTS:

Tapwater (Outside) and Honey Jar (Mandella) 2-19-22

Warren’s Showgirl (Lewis) 2-19-22

Kalypso (Baffert) 2-19-22

Bob and Jackie (Baltas) 2-19-22

Kura (Outside) and Moonlight d’Oro (Mandella) 2-18-22

As Luck Happens (Gaines) 2-18-22

Constitutionaffair (Glatt) 2-18-22

Minister Shane (Outside) and Coalinga Road (Gaines) 2-18-22

Say the Word (D’Amato) 2-18-22

Extra Hope (Mandella) 2-18-22

Parnelli (Shirreffs) 2-17-22

Margot’s Girl (Lewis) 2-17-22

First Prez (Mullins) 2-17-22

Continental Divide (Cassidy) 2-17-22

Irish Prophet (Drysdale) 2-17-22

Express Train (Shirreffs) 2-16-22

Border Town (Outside) and Bombard (Mandella) 2-16-22

Head for Business (Hess, Jr.) 2-16-22

Big Splash (Yakteen) 2-16-22

Aas de Faust (Outside) and Jibber Jabber  (Gallagher) 2-16-22

Soothsay (Outside) and Kazuhiko (Mandella) 2-16-22

Santa Anita Stable Notes by Ed Golden

Photo: Ken Mcpeek (Benoit Photo)

What a day for @jonathanstettin who had the Rainbow 6 twice! That’s why he’s the KING!

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