Race is part of CTBA-Sponsored Golden State Series
ARCADIA, Calif. – An impressive allowance winner going a route of ground in his most recent start, consistent North County Guy rates a big chance among a wide-open field of nine California-bred or sired 3-year-olds going 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf in Sunday’s $100,000 California Flag Handicap.
The California Flag, named for Barbara and Keith Card’s homebred gelding who won the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita in 2009, is part of the lucrative Golden State Series, which is for eligible California-bred or sired horses and is sponsored by the CTBA.
A 6-year-old gelding by The Pamplemousse, North County Guy rallied impressively to win by 2 ¼ lengths going a mile and one sixteenth on turf Aug. 20 at Del Mar, which was his 14th consecutive turf route dating back to Sept. 1, 2019.
Although he’s been routing for the past two years, trainer Richard Baltas has been anxious to get North County Guy back on the hillside turf course, as he blitzed a group of Cal-bred allowance types, including eventual multiple stakes winner Fashionably Fast, in his first try down the hill back on Oct. 28, 2018—some 22 races ago. A close third in an open hillside allowance Jan. 27, 2019, North County Guy will be trying the hill for the fourth time in what will be his 33rd career start Sunday.
Claimed for $20,000 24 starts back on Aug. 22, 2018, North County Guy, who is out of the Unusual Heat mare Warmth, is owned by Nancy Messineo and Bruce Sands. With eight wins, as many seconds and six thirds, he has earnings of $518,527 and will be seeking his second career stakes win as Umberto Rispoli rides him back off of his impressive allowance score on Aug. 20.
Most recently a disappointing fifth, beaten 11 lengths by North County Guy going 1 1/16 miles on turf as the 7-5 favorite Aug. 20, Indian Peak will try to bounce back as he sprints for the first time since well beaten on synthetic Tapeta in his debut on Sept. 8, 2019, at Golden Gate Fields.
A California-bred stakes winner going a mile and one eighth on turf at Santa Anita in his 10th career start on June 20, 2020, Indian Peak is an impressive looking 4-year-old gelding by Comic Strip who was originally conditioned by Golden Gate-based Quinn Howey.
Currently based with Peter Miller at San Luis Rey Downs, Indian Peak, who is owned by Wachtel Stable and Gary Barber, will be reunited with Juan Hernandez, who rode him to a pair of victories from four tries when trained by Howey. With an overall mark of 19-5-3-1, Indian Peak has earnings of $273,532 and will hope to be rolling late in his hillside debut.
Second to recent Grade II Eddie D Stakes winner Lieutenant Dan going five furlongs on turf in Del Mar’s Grade III Green Flash Handicap Aug. 22, the Andy Mathis-trained Give Me the Lute will likely blast off and be on or near the early lead with Kent Desormeaux riding him back. A 5-year-old gelding by Boisterous out of the Midnight Lute mare Steal the Lute, was a gate to wire winner of Golden Gate’s Albany Stakes going five eighths on turf two starts back on June 12 and rates a solid chance in what will be his first start down the hill.
Claimed for $80,000 10 starts back on Aug. 11, 2019, Give Me the Lute is owned by Roderick and Wendy Hogan. With five wins from 12 starts on grass, Give Me the Lute is 14-5-3-2 overall with earnings of $209,323.
Claimed for $80,000 out of third place finish coming down the hill here on Oct. 2, the Mark Glatt-trained Whooping Jay, who was off as the 2-1 favorite, lacked room turning for home and rates a big chance with Joe Bravo riding for the first time. A 5-year-old gelding by Square Eddie, Whooping Jay has been a gem of consistency, posting an overall mark of 14-5-5-2. Owned by William Branch, William Buster, Jr. and Mark Cohen, Whooping Jay has amassed earnings of $313,250.
Trainer Steve Knapp’s venerable Loud Mouth, a winner of one of five starts on grass, finished a close second in the one mile E.B. Johnston Stakes for Cal-breds Sept. 12 at Los Alamitos and was moved up via disqualification, giving him his second career stakes victory. A 5-year-old full horse by Boisterous, Loud Mouth has banked $127,660 from seven starts this year. Owned by Thomsen Racing, LLC, Loud Mouth has an overall mark of 29-8-1-2, with earnings of $374,070.
Named for the decorated World War II hero, Nick Alexander’s homebred Desmond Doss will try the hillside for the first time in what will be his 17th career start. A 5-year-old full horse by Grazen out of the Malek mare Malley Girl, Desmond Doss, who is trained by Steve Miyadi, is enjoying his finest year, winning a one-mile main track stakes three starts back at Los Alamitos and winning three of his nine starts this year.
With Kyle Frey riding him back off of a third-place finish in a one mile Cal-bred stakes on Sept. 12 at Los Al, Desmond Doss is 16-5-2-2 overall with earnings of $299,341.
The $100,000 California Flag with jockeys & weights in post-position order
Race 7 of 9, Approximate post time 4 p.m. PT
1. Give Me the Lute—Kent Desormeaux—124
2. Ground Attack—Edwin Maldonado—119
3. Tiger Dad—Victor Espinoza—118
4. North County Guy—Umberto Rispoli—122
5. Loud Mouth—Abel Cedillo—120
6. Unbridled Ethos—Ricardo Gonzalez—117
7. Whooping Jay—Joe Bravo—122
8. Desmond Doss—Kyle Frey—121
9. Indian Peak—Juan Hernandez—119
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Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Office
North Country Guy winning an AOC at Del Mar under Umberto Rispoli on August 2-, 2021. (Benoit Photos).