Monday, November 02, 2009
Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint
California Flag – Trainer Brian Koriner was all smiles Monday morning following a bullet work by the 5yo gelded son of Avenue of Flags in preparation for Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at 6 1/2f on Santa Anita’s downhill turf course.
Riding a three-race win streak, California Flag sizzled 4f on the main turf track in 48 flat, inspiring Koriner to say, “Everything is just perfect right now.”
California Flag led much of the way in the 2008 Turf Sprint before fading to 10th.
Canadian Ballet – first on preference list
Cannonball – “He worked awesome,” said Blake Heap, assistant to Wesley Ward in charge of the trainer’s California string and his Breeders’ Cup duo, in reference to Sunday’s bullet work of 59 2/5 for 5f on Santa Anita’s firm turf.
Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith was aboard for the work. Ramon Dominguez will ride the 4yo in the Turf Sprint.
“He couldn’t be doing any better,” Heap added. Cannonball went back to the track Monday to jog a mile.
Cherokee Heaven – eighth on preference list
Dancing in Silks – see Sprint (third on preference list in Turf Sprint)
Delta Storm – Senior citizen of the line-up, the 8yo gelding jogged on Cushion Track at Hollywood Park Monday under exercise rider Adalberto Lopez and will be shipped to Santa Anita Tuesday.
Trainer Mike Mitchell said that Garrett Gomez would ride the veteran, who has won 11 of 31 starts. He worked 5f in 1:01 4/5 at Hollywood Park Friday.
“He was kind of a speed horse when I claimed him (for $40,000 at Churchill Downs in May, 2008, for Michael House),” said Mitchell. “I gave him a long break that he needed (from December to June), and since he came back, he has been a little more rateable. Garrett can place him wherever he wants.”
Desert Code – The defending Turf Sprint champion will put in his final work on Tuesday with a half-mile move on the turf under regular rider Richard Migliore. In preparation for the work, Desert Code galloped 1 1/2 m Monday on the main track.
“His last race was a good one,” said trainer David Hofmans referring to the 5yo son of E Dubai’s seventh-place finish in Oak Tree’s Morvich Handicap won by California Flag. It was Desert Code’s first start since April. “Actually, it was a better race for him than the one he ran in that race [Morvich] last year.
“He loves the course and he loves the distance. So we’re ready to roll.”
Diamondrella – Trainer Angel Penna, Jr. said that Diamondrella had a light gallop on the Belmont Park main track on Monday morning and was scheduled to arrive at Santa Anita by noon on Tuesday.
“We’re packing and getting ready for the flights for her and for myself,” he said.
The 5yo daughter of Rock of Gibraltar (second-place finisher in the 2002 Mile) last worked on Saturday on Belmont’s main track rather than over the turf course and she covered 4f on the dirt in 48 1/5.
“We wanted to do a different schedule and wanted to work her on the turf, but the weather did not cooperate with us,” said Penna, who opted for the main track after heavy rains rendered the grass unsuitable for his purposes.
Diamondrella, a two-time grade I winner in 2009 under regular rider Rajiv Maragh, will be turning back in distance from a two-turn mile on Keeneland’s turf course in the First Lady Stakes last out to the 6 1/2f run down the hill on the grass at Santa Anita.
El Gato Malo – The 4yo gelding galloped on Cushion Track at Hollywood Park under exercise rider Juan Olivera Monday before being shipped to Santa Anita for trainer Craig Dollase.
The son of El Corredor is cross-entered in the Dirt Mile but Dollase said he would only run in the Turf Sprint, in which he needs to draw in from the also-eligible list. If not, he will run in an allowance race in which he is entered Thursday.
El Gato Malo, owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, won the San Rafael Stakes here last year and won a turf race at Del Mar in September, but has never tested the unique hillside turf course at Santa Anita before.
“For a million bucks, I'm willing to take a shot,” said Dollase.
David Flores has the call.
Fleeting Spirit – see Sprint
Game Face – see Filly & Mare Sprint
Get Funky – The Florida-bred turf specialist returned to the racetrack Monday morning after having turned in a 6f move of 1:10 3/5 on Santa Anita’s main track Saturday, setting himself up for another possible dash down the hillside Saturday in the Turf Sprint.
“He’ll gallop up to the race from here,” trainer John Sadler said, “and I’ve got Rafael Bejarano confirmed as his rider.”
Get Funky, sired by Straight Man from a Storm Bird mare, has made 21 of his 24 lifetime starts on the grass, five of them coming on the unique 6 1/2f layout at Santa Anita. The 6yo horse has two firsts and two seconds on that course with his lone out-of-the-money finish coming in the Turf Sprint last year.
Lethal Heat – Following a bullet work in 46 3/5 for 4f on Sunday, trainer Barry Abrams said “She ratified her Del Mar form that she is still at the top of her game. She’s always been a good work horse, but she’s even stronger than when she was at Del Mar [where she finished third to Zenyatta in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes].
“She’s had a lot of good races against good horses, but they’ve just been the preliminaries. Now we’re ready for the main event. She’s been knocked down [beaten] a few times and she’s got up to come back like Rocky Balboa.”
Lethal Heat has been pre-entered in both the Ladies’ Classic, which will be run on Friday and is her first preference, and the Turf Sprint on Saturday, and Abrams remains adamant that he still plans to run the 4yo daughter of Unusual Heat in both races.
Octavio Vergara was in the irons for Sunday’s work. Abrams explained his choice of Vergara as wanting “a jockey’s mentality aboard the horse every day.” Vergara gallops the horse each day. The filly walked Monday.
Her regular rider, Alex Solis, will be aboard for her Breeders’ Cup races.
Lord Shanakill – The Kentucky-bred, but European-trained-and-raced 3yo, has quickly won the affections of Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella. He’s had the son of champion sprinter Speightstown for a little more than a month, but has been encouraged by his style and abilities on the racetrack.
“He’s an impressive horse,” Mandella noted trackside Monday morning. “I like the way he carries himself, and his works – especially his last three – have been very good. He worked here Saturday in eleven (1:11 2/5) and I think it set him up right.”
The trainer said the colt galloped Monday morning and would do the same right up to the Saturday race. He also noted that his regular European rider – Jim Crowley – would be in from England for the mount.
Noble Court – The bay horse who runs out of John Sadler’s Barn 56 at Santa Anita returned to the racetrack Monday morning following a walking day Sunday.
The 5yo by the Seattle Slew sire Doneraile Court had registered a bullet on the Santa Anita turf Saturday morning, stopping watches at 1:00 2/5. Saturday’s Turf Sprint, will be only the 14th career start in four seasons for the Kentucky-bred.
“He’s doing well,” Sadler said. “Joel Rosario will ride him again. We jogged him today and he’ll gallop up to it from here.”
Noble Court has finished in the top three in 12 of his 13 starts, including six victories.
Only Green – see Filly & Mare Sprint (sixth on preference list in Turf Sprint)
Silver Timber – Silver Timber arrived at Santa Anita Monday morning following a flight from Louisville.
The rejuvenated 6yo gelding, who was claimed for $25,000 at Gulfstream Park in April, is coming off a victory in the Woodford Stakes at Keeneland, his third victory in four starts for trainer Chad Brown.
“He’s continued to develop,” said Brown, who saddled Maram for a victory in the Juvenile Fillies Turf last year. “It’s probably just a different program and a change of pace sometimes helps. I will say that he was in great shape when he got to me.”
Strike the Deal – The well-traveled 4yo son of Van Nistelrooy, who has won his last two starts, is expected to be one of the favorites in the Turf Sprint.
The Jeremy Noseda-trained runner remained in quarantine Monday after arriving from Europe on Sunday.
Strike the Deal won stakes at Newbury and Doncaster in September, and will again be ridden by Kieran Fallon, who was aboard in those races.
This will be Strike the Deal’s second try in a Breeders’ Cup event. He finished fourth in the Juvenile Turf at Monmouth Park in 2007.
Square Eddie – “We’re doing great,” said trainer Doug O’Neill in his usual positive fashion. “We’ll be coming down that hill (in the Turf Sprint), we’ve got Frankie (Dettori) to ride and the horse is feeling good.”
The California-based conditioner said his chestnut 3yo by Smart Strike had galloped Monday morning at Santa Anita and would gallop up to the race. “We’re in gallop mode,” he noted.
Square Eddie had worked six furlongs at Santa Anita Saturday in 1:13 2/5.
Tenga Cat – seventh on preference list
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