Santa Monica Looms For Eclipse Finalist Ce Ce, Locals To Work On Turf Sunday For Pegasus Day
At seven furlongs and with a purse of $200,000, the San Vicente is one of three stakes Saturday and one of six next weekend at The Great Race Place.
With Horse of the Year favorite Knicks Go and the brilliant Life Is Good set to meet in the Grade I, $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Saturday at Gulfstream Park, fans will be treated to a huge day of bicoastal racing at both Gulfstream in South Florida and at Santa Anita as 10 graded stakes will be offered between the two venues with first live race post time for a nine-race program at Santa Anita 12:30 p.m.
Complementing the San Vicente on Saturday are the Grade III, $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at six furlongs for four-year-olds and up and the Grade III, $100,000 Megahertz Stakes at a mile on turf for older fillies and mares.
Sunday’s attractions are the Grade II, $225,000 San Marcos Stakes for older horses at 1 ¼ miles on turf, and two $75,000 events, the Lady of Shamrock Stakes at a mile on turf for three-year-old fillies and the Baffle Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs on turf for three-year-olds.
Richard Baltas has two of the 15 horses nominated to the San Vicente, both California-breds, Straight Up G and Smuggler’s Run, with the latter most likely to participate.
“Smuggler’s Run is by Straight Fire, the same sire as Straight Up G,” the trainer said. “Straight Fire is standing at Legacy (Ranch) and has had like 20 foals and 10 winners.”
Straight Fire broke his maiden for trainer Keith Desormeaux by 10 ½ lengths at Del Mar in 2016, earning a 98 Beyer. He entered stud in 2018 and stands this year for $5,000.
“Straight Fire showed precocity, speed and brilliance in his brief career, all attributes that appeal to California breeders,” said Pete Parrella, who along with his wife, Evelyn, own Legacy Ranch, a 145-acre facility in Clements outside of the Sierra foothills, where the prolific Clubhouse Ride and hot sire Mr. Big also stand.
Owned by KMN Racing LLC, nom de course of Kevin Nish, Smuggler’s Run was no secret winning his debut race by 5 ½ lengths on Jan. 1 as the 3-10 favorite. The bay gelding was trained at that time by Ruben Alvarado.
“I’ve only had him for one or two works,” Baltas said, “but he’s a nice horse.”
McCarthy mulls Santa Monica for Ce Ce
Santa Anita is likely to showcase an Eclipse Award finalist and possible champion on Feb. 5 if unsung Ce Ce makes her 2022 debut in the Grade II Santa Monica Stakes.
Nothing was written in stone at press time, but Michael McCarthy, while keeping “all options open,” was presently leaning in that direction for the five-year-old Elusive Quality mare, owned and bred by Bo Hirsch.
“Both are in play,” the trainer said, alluding to the Inside Information Stakes at Gulfstream Park a week from today on Jan. 29, and the $200,000 Santa Monica at seven furlongs.
“We’re very proud of her being a finalist for an Eclipse Award (as Female Sprinter, along with Bella Sofia and Gamine),” said McCarthy, who has given a leg up to Hall of Fame member, three-time Kentucky Derby winner and Triple Crown king Victor Espinoza in her last six races, winning four, including a 2 ½-length conquest of Edgeway and previously unbeaten Gamine in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint last Nov. 6 at Del Mar.
“I thought her year was very good,” McCarthy continued. “She shipped a few times and ran respectably wherever she went. Her Breeders’ Cup performance was dominating.
“We’re leaning this way (Santa Monica) but I’m going to keep all my options open.”
FINISH LINES: The following horses will work on the Santa Anita turf Sunday morning at approximately 11:45 a.m. in preparation for graded stakes assignments at Gulfstream Park next Saturday: Hit the Road (Dan Blacker) will work a half mile in preparation for the Grade I, $1 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Turf; Bob and Jackie, as well as Bodhiccita (both trained by Ricard Baltas) will work in preparation for the Grade III, $500,000 Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf…Congratulations to jockey Abel Cedillo, breeder Terry Levinger and stallion Stay Thirsty on accounting for Friday’s early Daily Double with favorites Bowl of Cherries and Saul’s Call. Stay Thirsty, a son of Bernardini, stands at Lovacres Ranch for $15,000 live foal in Warner Springs, located in Northern San Diego County . . . Simulcast host Tom Quigley will have former jockey and current John Sadler assistant Juan Leyva as his guest handicapper 11:20 a.m. Sunday in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Due to high winds, training was limited at Santa Saturday morning to gallopers and joggers on both tracks.
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Photo Credit: Zoe Metz Photography