Despite being the oldest member of the eight-horse field entered in the race, Dynaforce has made just 16 career starts – all of them on the turf.
Dynaforce’s last start resulted in a sixth-place finish to Filly & Mare Turf opponent Pure Clan in Belmont’s Flower Bowl, but Mott attributes that distant disappointing performance to a soft course.
Forever Together – The defending Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf champion galloped about 1 1/8m on the Santa Anita training track Wednesday morning.
Hall of Fame Trainer Jonathan Sheppard has mapped the same schedule this year that propelled the daughter of Belong to Me to victory last year, including the Just a Game, Diana, Canadian and First Lady.
“It was the same, with the exception that she didn’t win the First Lady. Otherwise, it was nearly identical,” Sheppard said.
In her final prep for the Filly & Mare Turf, Forever Together closed from a distant last to finish third in the First Lady over a soft Keeneland course, finishing 1 ½ lengths behind the winner under jockey Julien Leparoux.
“I think Julien left her with a little too much to do. I don’t think he’d mind me saying that. I didn’t mind how far back he was the first part of the race, but he should have started to ease up (his hold) in the turn for home so he didn’t have 20 lengths to make up in the stretch,” Sheppard said.
Is Sheppard as confident in Forever Together as he was prior to her fast-closing triumph at Santa Anita last year?
“Yes, which wasn’t a very high confidence last year.” he said. “Handicapping is one of those things that isn’t my strong point. My philosophy, I suppose, is to prepare my horses the best I can for the races they’re going to run in and put it in the hands of the gods. When your expectations are too high, it gets depressing when you lose, so I just try to get them up to the race the best I can and not worry about the others.”
Leparoux, who guided Forever Together to victory last year, will have the return mount.
Magical Fantasy – The 4yo filly by Diesis is going to run 10 furlongs Friday in the Filly & Mare Turf and her trainer, Paddy Gallagher, thinks she is ready to perform well in it. To that end, he put her through a 1 1/4m gallop Wednesday morning.
“I couldn’t ask for her to be doing better,” the affable Irish transplant offered Wednesday morning at his Barn 68 headquarters on the Santa Anita backstretch. “The post (she drew post 4) is fine. She’s doing fine, so am I, and so is her rider (Alex Solis). This is how we want it to be.”
Magical Fantasy comes into the race on a four-race win streak, including a trio of Grade I turf tests against the top west coast fillies and mares. Twice this year she has run the 1 1/4m distance on Santa Anita’s grass, and twice she has been victorious.
Maram – The winner of last year’s Juvenile Fillies Turf galloped 1 3/8m under exercise rider Richard Johnson at Santa Anita Wednesday morning in preparation for a start in the Filly & Mare Turf.
Trainer Chad Brown is pleased to bring Maram back to Santa Anita, the site of the highlight of his young training career.
“I think she knows she’s been here before,” Brown said. “I think she’s comfortable with the surroundings. She’s settled in here really, really well.”
The native of Saratoga Springs, N.Y. is obviously confident that Maram will relish the firm going of the Santa Anita course, but he can’t say that it is her favorite course.
“Most of my turf horses, I have a good handle on what they prefer. With her, I’m not sure, she’s so versatile,” Brown said. “She’s run well every time I’ve run her, and I’ll tell you, every time I’ve run her the turf has been just a little bit different. It was yielding at Belmont; it was firm last year at the Breeders’ Cup; it was a little choppy last time. She seems to show up every time, so I can’t say for sure what she prefers.”
Although a collection of minor setbacks delayed Maram’s 2009 debut until Aug. 8, when she won a minor stakes race at Saratoga, Brown is confident the 3yo daughter of Sahm is ready to fire her best shot in her third start of the year.
“The mile and a quarter is a big question, but watching her gallop and how she comes home, I think she’s fit enough now. She’s showing me that she is galloping and she’s not even taking a breath.”
Maram has successfully made the transition from precocious 2yo to seasoned 3yo, her trainer said.
“This year she’s done what you like to see horses do. Sometimes you see good 2-year-olds and they never progress to three. A lot of it is physical attributes. They don’t grow; they don’t change, they get worse mentally,” Brown said.
“This filly has improved in every area from two to three. She grew in size; she relaxed mentally; she got stronger; these are things when you have a 2yo turn three you take for granted. You assume that they’ll do that, but they don’t.”
Regular rider Jose Lezcano, who was aboard for her Juvenile Fillies Turf win last year, has the return call for the Filly & Mare Turf.
Midday – Trainer Henry Cecil said Wednesday that the Juddmonte Farms’ 3yo filly should be ready for the race after making one start off a late-summer freshening.
The homebred daughter of Oasis Dream is 2-2-2 in six starts this year. After finishing second in the English Oaks, third in the Irish Oaks, and winning the Nassau Stakes, all Group 1 races, Cecil decided she need a breather.
“She had some hard races and I gave her a rest for about six weeks,” Cecil said. “She did herself very well and was coming back very well and working very nicely without blowing a candle out.
“I gave her a prep race for the Breeders’ Cup, the Prix de l’Opera (3rd) on Arc de Triomphe day, and she needed the race. I knew straight afterwards she needed the start. It would have been nice to have won it, a steppingstone for the Breeders’ Cup, but the race just put her right, and I think she’s on course.”
Midday, who will have regular rider Thomas Queally up, is 4-1 on the morning line in the field of eight.
Pure Clan – The Flower Bowl Invitational winner had her first stroll over the Santa Anita turf course on Wednesday after arriving from Kentucky on Monday. She galloped 1 1/2m with exercise rider and assistant Steve Schmelzel aboard.
Trainer Bob Holthus was expected to arrive later in the day to oversee her final preparations.
Rutherienne – Virginia Kraft Payson’s homebred mare Rutherienne galloped 1 1/4m on Wednesday morning under Christophe Lorieul, assistant to trainer Christophe Clement, and he pronounced the 5yo daughter of Pulpit fit and ready.
“She feels great,” Lorieul said. “She seems to like it here and she is very sound and is doing extremely well.”
Rutherienne is not only sound, she’s consistent. In 22 career outings, almost all of which have been Graded stakes, she has won 11 times. Moreover, she has finished in the money in 20 of her 22 races. The only bad race of her career was in September of 2007, when she finished 10th in the Garden City on the Belmont Park turf.
“She had a legitimate excuse that day,” Lorieul said. “After the race we found a hole in her ankle and despite being injured in the race, she still tried. That’s the way she is. She tries hard every time.
“She is a very aggressive filly and very competitive. You can see it even in the mornings when she’s out on the track. When she sees other horses, she starts fighting,” Lorieul added. “This filly always knocks on the door and gives us her best every single time and in every race. That’s why we’re here with her. She earned her shot and she deserves it.”
Clement is slated to arrive on Thursday to supervise the final preparations for Rutherienne.
Visit – The 4yo filly galloped 1 1/4m on the main track Wednesday under exercise rider Salvador Martinez after being shipped from Hollywood Park Tuesday.
The Juddmonte Farms homebred is winless in nine United States starts after beginning her career in England, but was a close fourth in this race last year and has been a close second in two Grade 1 stakes this year.
"I hope this will be her day," said Ruben Loza, an assistant to trainer Bobby Frankel.
The filly drew the rail under John Velazquez in a field of eight.