Teddy’s Promise will attempt to replicate her authoritative triumph in the Grade I La Brea Stakes for 3-year-olds on New Year’s Eve when returning at the same seven-furlong distance in Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Santa Monica Stakes for fillies and mares.
Racing for the first time over Santa Anita’s hillside turf course, Caracortado stormed home to a 1 ¼ length victory moments after Denman had remarked, “Caracortado did not fire today.”
The exciting chestnut gelding has been installed as the 4-5 favorite to gain his sixth stakes win among eight entrants in the $100,000 Sensational Star Stakes while making his second start at 6 ½ furlongs over the unique downhill turf layout.
The Sensational Star joins the $100,000 Crystal Water Stakes at 1 1/16 miles and the $100,000 Valentine Dancer Stakes for fillies and mares at one mile on turf as the races for California-bred or sired horses that comprise Santa Anita’s portion of the bicoastal Sunshine Millions event.
In conjunction with Sunshine Millions stakes races at Gulfstream Park, the two tracks will co-host the $250,000 guaranteed “Luck” Pick Six, a $1 wager with a mandatory payout that will encompass the three events for Cal-breds at Santa Anita along with three of Gulfstream’s six stakes for Florida breds.
In succession, the fast-paced “Luck” Pix Six is due to be concluded with 1 ½ hours while juxtaposing California-bred and Florida-bred stakes. It is due to begin with Gulfstream’s eighth race, the $150,000 Filly & Mare Turf at 1:10 p.m., Pacific Time. Caracortado and the Sensational Star will be up next as Santa Anita’s fourth race at 1:34 p.m. Following in order will be Gulfstream’s $150,000 Turf, 1:50 p.m.; Santa Anita’s Crystal Water, 2:05 p.m.; Gulfstream’s $400,000 Classic, 2:25 p.m., and Santa Anita’s Valentine Dancer at 2:37 p.m.
The ninth-race Santa Monica then becomes the centerpiece of Santa Anita’s card. Among six challengers to Teddy’s Promise will be Sugarinthemorning, second in the La Brea; Home Sweet Aspen, who finished fourth, and Rumor, dominant winner of the Kalookan Queen Handicap on Jan. 1.
The 45th running of the Grade III, $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles completes Santa Anita’s stakes presentations. Its lineup of seven includes Grade I Hollywood Starlet winner Killer Graces and runner-up Charm the Maker. They will face flashy Eden’s Moon, who broke her maiden by 11 ½ lengths for trainer Bob Baffert while going one mile on Jan. 8. The Santa Ysabel will be contested as the third race.
Santa Monica favorite Teddy’s Promise, trained by Ron Ellis for owner/breeders Ted and Judy Nichols, won her third straight in the La Brea. The extent of her class, however, did not become evident until her showing at odds of 16-1 in the prestigious Grade I. Among those she left in her wake was three-time Grade I winner Turbulent Descent. “I had so much horse today,” said winning jockey Victor Espinoza, “I wasn’t expecting anybody to come near me. She’s a runner.” Teddy’s Promise will take earnings of $350,808 from a 5-2-1 record in 13 starts into the Santa Monica.
“I think she’s still improving,” Espinoza said in anticipation of being reunited with Teddy’s Promise. “She’s getting better and better. In past races, she was on the lead, but I think Ron (Ellis) has figured out that she’s better coming from off the pace. He’s done an unbelievable job with her.”
Rumor, a 4-year-old daughter of Indian Charlie, will be seeking her first graded stakes victory. She has never been worse than second while winning 4 of 7 career starts for $201,718. Mike Smith will take over in the saddle for injured Garrett Gomez.
Richard Mandella trains Rumor for Ramona Bass, Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider. “Richard has taken his time with her and done a tremendous job,” Gomez said following the filly’s 2 ¼-length victory in the Kalookan Queen at 6 ½ furlongs.
The complete field for the Santa Monica Stakes, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Bella Diamante, David Flores, 118; Big Tiz, Corey Nakatani, 118; Teddy’s Promise, Victor Espinoza, 123; Home Sweet Aspen, Joel Rosario, 118; She’s Cheeky, Joseph Talamo, 118; Rumor, Mike Smith, 118, and Sugarinthemorning, Rafael Bejarano, 118.
Killer Graces and Charm the Maker renew their rivalry in the Santa Ysabel. Charm the Maker came out 1 ¼ lengths ahead when winning Hollywood Park’s Sharp Cat Stakes on Nov. 13 before Killer Graces turned the tables by one-half length in the Grade I Starlet on Dec. 10. Both have been freshened since then.
Joe Talamo is the regular rider for Killer Graces, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for a partnership. The Congaree offspring has earned $394,830 from a 3-3-0 mark in 8 starts. Rafael Bejarano replaces Gomez atop homebred Charm the Maker, who is trained by Ron McAnally and owned by his wife, Deborah. The Empire Maker filly has posted a 2-1-1 record in 4 starts for winnings of $208,200.
Kaleem Shah purchased Eden’s Moon at auction for $390,000 last May. The daughter of Malibu Moon was 2-5 when beaten by well-regarded Reneesgotzip in her six-furlong debut last December at Hollywood Park. When stretched out to one mile at Santa Anita on Jan. 8, she demolished her opposition. Martin Garcia has the return riding assignment as Eden’s Moon steps into graded stakes competition
The complete field for the Santa Ysabel Stakes, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Coup de Coeur, Rosario, 118; Eden’s Moon, Martin Garcia, 118; Batalha, Chantal Sutherland, 118; Willa B Awesome, Martin Pedroza, 118; Lady of Shamrock, Smith, 118; Killer Graces, Talamo, 123, and Charm the Maker, Bejarano, 118.
The main danger to Caracortado in the Sensational Star appears to be 5-2 second choice Compari, a 6-year-old gelding who has won 5 of 6 over Santa Anita’s turf course including the 2010 Sensational Star. Owned and bred by Harris Farms, John Nicoletti and Donald Valpredo, the son of Redattore does his best running on the front end. Compari has banked $510,430 from a 7-1-1 record in 13 starts. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will attempt to pose an elusive target for Caracortado.
Bejarano, who rode Compari in his last two starts, will be back aboard Caracortado, who trailed by 15 lengths midway through the Daytona. Denman wasn’t the only one who saw little hope for the son of Cat Dreams at that juncture. Trainer and co-owner Mike Machowsky was headed for a libation.
“When the horses hit the quarter pole, I started walking to the bar,” said Machowsky. “I knew he would fly home, but I couldn’t believe the way he was finishing. I couldn’t believe how fast he went the last quarter-of-a-mile. He’s just got that turn of foot that’s really unbelievable.”
Co-owned by Don Blahut and a winner of $864,105 from nine wins in 19 starts, Caracortado will break from post position No. 5, one outside of Compari, while carrying high weight of 123 pounds on Saturday.
The complete field for the Sensational Star, with jockeys, weights and morning line odds in post position order: Luckarack, Hector Berrios, 116, 15-1; Ain’t No Other, Garcia, 120, 6-1; Tamarack Smarty, Flores, 116, 20-1; Compari, Smith, 120, 5-2; Caracortado, Bejarano, 123, 4-5; My Summer Slew, Alonso Quinonez, 116, 20-1; Mega Heat, Talamo, 116, 12-1, and Red Defense, Rosario, 118, 8-1.
Thirtyfirststreet, a multiple stakes winner who captured an allowance event by 6 ½ lengths at 1 1/16 miles in his last start on Jan. 12, is the 2-1 morning line choice among six runners set for the Crystal Water. Rosario rides the 4-year-old Good Journey colt who was bred by his trainer, Doug O’Neill, and co-owner Mark Gorman. A winner of the California Breeders’ Championship at Santa Anita as a 2-year-old and the Lone Star Derby last year, Thirtyfirststreet shows a record of 4-2-2 in 13 races while earning $345,200.
Holladay Road, a $25,000 claim by trainer Julio Canani on behalf of Gary and Wendy Broad last July at Del Mar, is coming off an allowance win on grass at Hollywood Park in his last start in December. He previously missed by a neck behind victorious Norvsky when a hard-charging third in the California Cup Classic on turf. Before that, he won his only previous start on dirt while sprinting at Santa Anita. Bejarano takes over in the irons for Gomez. A lightly raced 7-year-old gelding, Holladay Road has won 5 of 12 races worth $171,820.
The complete field for the Crystal Water, with jockeys, weights and morning line odds in post position order: Legal Separation, Espinoza, 116, 6-1; Bluegrass Reward, Talamo, 118, 9-2; Spud Spivens, Smith, 118, 9-2; Thirtyfirststreet, Rosario, 120, 2-1; Holladay Road, Bejarano, 118, 5-2, and Macho Dorado, Nakatani, 116, 9-2.
Unzip Me, a downhill turf course specialist who has won 6 of 10 starts sprinting over the tricky Santa Anita strip, will stretch out to a mile for the first time in her 25th career start at the age of 6. She faces nine rivals in the Valentine Dancer. The homebred daughter of City Zip has been victorious in nine stakes ranging in distance from to five to 6 ½ furlongs, all on turf, for Harris Farms, Donald Valpredo, Per Antonsen and partners.
Despite her inexperience around two turns, Unzip Me has been established as the 5-2 favorite by Santa Anita morning line maker Jon White. Bejarano will be aboard for the 11th straight time as the chestnut mare attempts to expand her horizons for trainer Marty Jones. With earnings of $902,228 from a 13-4-4 log in her 24 starts, Unzip Me will be aiming for millionaire status by meet’s end. She has finished off the board but once in her last 18 races. Even then, she was only one length behind the winner when running fourth.
Halo Dolly, the 3-1 second choice, is unbeaten in two starts at one mile on turf. Included was Del Mar’s Solana Beach Handicap last August when extending a victory streak to five. The 4-year-old daughter of Popular, trained and co-owned by Jerry Hollendorfer, displays an 8-3-1 record in 14 races for winnings of $277,700. Talamo, whose only previous teaming with Halo Dolly was in the Solano Beach, will again handle the reins.
The complete field for the Valentine Dancer Stakes, with jockeys, weights and morning line odds in post position order: Secret Cove, Rosario, 118, 15-1; Warren’s Got Game, Christian Santiago Reyes, 116, 20-1; Antares World, Garcia, 120, 9-2; La Sombre, Quinonez, 116, 4-1; Chokecherymary, Nakatani, 116, 10-1; Cayanna, Espinoza, 116, 15-1; Unzip Me, Bejarano, 120, 5-1; California Nectar, Berrios, 116, 10-1; Halo Dolly, Talamo, 123, 3-1, and Bench Glory, Brice Blanc, 116, 20-1.
The festive Sunshine Millions Day program will include a California Food Truck Festival in the infield along with live entertainment. Gates open at 10 a.m., with a special early first post time at 12 noon.