Opening Day at Santa Anita on Monday, Dec. 26! G1 Malibu, G1 La Brea, G2 Mathis Brothers Mile, G3 San Simeon; $1 million Guaranteed all-stakes Pick 4. Previews of the graded stakes follow:
From Santa Anita:
GRADE I MALIBU & GRADE I LA BREA HEADLINE FOUR GRADED STAKES ON NINE-RACE PROGRAM
ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 21, 2016)–A close third in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint Nov. 5, trainer Robert Falcone, Jr.’s Mind Your Biscuits heads a field of 10 sophomores going seven furlongs in Santa Anita’s Grade I, $300,000 Malibu Stakes on opening day, Monday. Beaten 1 ¼ lengths by Bob Baffert’s likely Eclipse Champion Sprinter Drefong, Mind Your Biscuits will have to contend with three Baffert runners in the Malibu–Santa Anita Derby runner-up Mor Spirit, up and comer Ten Blessings and Jazzy Times, who hopes to rebound off a disappointing third in a second condition allowance Dec. 4 at Del Mar.
MIND YOUR BISCUITS: Freshened since the Breeders’ Cup with a return to his Belmont Park base, this New York-bred colt by Posse appears “loaded” for his return to action as he worked a bullet half mile here on Sunday in 47.20, which was the best of 62 drills at the distance. Accordingly, he retains the services of top eastern-based jockey Joel Rosario. Owned by J Stables, Head of Plains Partners LLC, Summers and partners, “Biscuits” hopes to cap a year in which he’s compiled a 3-2-2 mark from eight starts. Unhurried early, he closed with a rush in the Breeders’ Cup and will hope to employ similar tactics on opening day.
MOR SPIRIT: Idle since well beaten in the Kentucky Derby, this Pennsylvania-bred ridgling by Eskendereya was second to eventual Preakness Stakes winner Exaggerator in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 9. Prior to that, he was second in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes March 12 and was victorious in both the Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 6 and in the Grade I Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity on Dec. 19, 2015. Owned by Michael Lund Peterson, Mor Spirit has trained forwardly for his return, with his most recent move a shared bullet half mile this morning in 46.20, best of 40 at the distance. (He worked “head-up” in company with stablemate Jazzy Times). A sharp second in his debut going 6 ½ furlongs in September, 2015, Mor Spirit will try sprinting for only the second time in his nine-race career. Ridden in seven of his eight career starts by the recently sidelined Gary Stevens, he’ll be ridden for the first time on Monday by Mike Smith.
TEN BLESSINGS: An impressive 4 ¾ length allowance winner going seven furlongs here on Nov. 4, this Kentucky-bred colt by Smart Strike earned a Malibu best last-out Beyer Speed figure of 106. Owned and bred by longtime Baffert clients Hal and Patti Earnhardt, Ten Blessings has an abundance of early speed and appears primed for a top effort as he tries stakes competition for the first time. Out of the Indian Charlie mare Indian Blessing, Ten Blessings will be ridden back by Rafael Bejarano, who also guided him to a first-out maiden special weight win going six furlongs four starts back on Feb. 6 here at Santa Anita.
THE GRADE I MALIBU STAKES IN POST POSITION ORDER WITH JOCKEYS AND WEIGHTS
Race 8 of 9 – Approximate post time 3:30 p.m. PDT
1. Navy Hymn–Luis Contreras–119
2. Mind Your Biscuits–Joel Rosario–121
3. Semper Fortis–Mario Gutierrez–119
4. Ten Blessings–Rafael Bejarano–119
5. Jazzy Times–Martin Garcia–119
6. Who’s Out–Flavien Prat–119
7. Sharp Azteca–Edgard Zayas–121
8. Mor Spirit–Mike Smith–121
9. Awesome Banner–Julien Leparoux–121
10. Horse Greedy–Jamie Theriot–119
First post time on opening day, Monday, Dec. 26, is at 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m. For opening day promotions and reservations, scratches, late changes and complete morning line information, please visit santaanita.com.
LIGHTSTREAM HEADS FIELD OF EIGHT PROVEN 3-YEAR-OLD FILLES IN OPENING DAY, GRADE I, $300,000 LA BREA STAKES
ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 21, 2016) – Highly regarded Lightstream will step out for the first time in her six race career with new California connections backing her. Prominent So Cal owners, Little Red Feather Racing, have recently bought a share in the Florida-based filly by Harlan’s Holiday, who could very likely go off as the favorite over hometown hero, Enola Gray, in the 45th running of the Grade I, $300,000 La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Dec. 26.
A winner of the Grade II Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 22, Lightstream has never run out of the money, even in her last three graded stakes attempts. Trained by Brian Lynch, Lightstream was a second place finisher in the Grade I Test at Saratoga on Aug. 6 and ran third in the Grade I Mother Goose at Belmont on July 2. Julien Leparoux, aboard for her first two races, and also her most recent victory, will travel west and once again have the mount.
Lightstream is owned by Up Hill Stable, Head of Plains Partners, LLC and Little Red Feather Racing. In six career races she has amassed earnings of $457,000.
Enola Gray will have a new rider Monday at Santa Anita Park. The 3-year-old filly will gain Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith for the first time in six career outings.
Bred in California by owner Nick Alexander, Enola Gray has been on everyone’s list since an impressive 16 ¼ lengths win in her first ever outing, a six and-a-half furlong maiden special weight at Santa Anita on April 10. Since then, the Phil D’Amato trained filly by Grazen hasn’t run worse than second. A winner of three ungraded stakes earlier in the year – the Melair on May 28, the Fleet Treat on July 22 and the California Distaff Handicap down the hillside turf course on Oct 15, “Gray” will take a shot at her first-ever added money attempt in the La Brea.
The field, including jockeys and weights for the Grade I La Brea.
Race 7 – Approximate post time: 3 p.m.
1. Lunar Empress, Norberto Arroyo, Jr., 119
2. Lightstream, Julien Leparoux, 121
3. Finley’sluckycharm, Brain Hernandez, Jr., 119
4. Constellation, David Flores, 119
5. Coniah, Tyler Baze, 119
6. Chao Chom, Kent Desormeaux, 119
7. Enola Gray, Mike Smith, 119
8. Perfect Pic, Santiago Gonzalez, 119
BLACKJACKCAT, BLACKOUT, CONQUEST ENFORCER, FRANK CONVERSATION, ISOTHERM & MOONLIGHT DRIVE ALL CLASH IN WIDE OPEN GRADE II, $200,000 MATHIS BROTHERS MILE (TURF) ON OPENING DAY, MONDAY, AT SANTA ANITA
CARDED AS THE LAST RACE ON OPENING DAY, MATHIS BROTHERS MILE ATTRACTS 11 SOPHOMORES
ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 21, 2016)–The best may indeed be last on opening day, Monday, at Santa Anita. Carded as the ninth and final race, the Grade II, $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile (turf) has attracted a wide open field of 11 three year olds and could be the best betting race of the day as The Great Race Place opens for its 80th Winter Meet.
BLACKJACKCAT: A 3-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by Tale of the Cat, this Al and Sandee Kirkwood homebred is trained by Mark Glatt and retains the services of “Big Money” Mike Smith. Third in the Grade II Twilight Derby here two starts back on Nov. 4, Blackjackcat set the pace and tired to finish sixth in the Grade I Hollywood Derby on Dec. 3 at Del Mar and will be cutting back in distance from four consecutive tries at a mile and one eighth.
BLACKOUT: Trained by Florida-based Mark Casse, this French-bred colt ran evenly when finishing eighth, beaten three lengths, in the Grade III, 1 1/16 miles turf Commonwealth on Nov. 12 at Churchill Downs. Based at Palm Meadows in south Florida, he’ll be making his fourth stateside start for owners Gary Barber, Justin Casse and River Card Stable. He has two wins from three career tries at a mile on turf.
CONQUEST ENFORCER: Formerly trained by Casse, he was sold privately following a neck defeat in the Grade II, six furlong turf Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine on Oct. 16 and will make his first start for Loooch Racing Stables Inc., Imaginary Stables or Ritchie, and trainer Phil D’Amato. An Ontario-Canadian-bred colt by Into Mischief, he’s been favored in six out of his seven starts. With a win from two tries at a mile on turf, Conquest Enforcer has plenty of speed and has four wins and two thirds to his credit.
FRANK CONVERSATION: Third, beaten two lengths at odds of 19-1 in the Grade I, 1 1/8 miles turf Hollywood Derby on Dec. 3, he was a half length winner of the Grade II Twilight Derby under the same conditions here on Nov. 4 at 36-1. Owned by Reddam Racing, LLC and trained by Doug O’Neill, the Kentucky-bred colt by Quality Road will cut back in distance a furlong and hope to relax as he’s done in his last two starts. Mario Gutierrez once again has the riding assignment.
ISOTHERM: Well beaten in the Grade I Hollywood Derby at Del Mar, he’s winless in his last seven starts but has been keeping good company and gets the services for the first time of Kent Desormeaux. Trained by New York-based George Weaver and owned by Matthew Schera, Isotherm will likely be taken off the pace in his first-ever try over the Santa Anita turf.
MOONLIGHT DRIVE: Third, beaten one length three starts back in the Grade III La Jolla Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on turf, Italian-bred Moonlight Drive was subsequently seventh in the Grade II Del Mar Derby Sept. 4. Following that, he was freshened by Bob Baffert and responded with a game neck victory going 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf on Oct. 22. With a 4-1-2-1 mark at one mile on turf, Moonlight Drive, who is owned by CHRB Chairman Chuck Winner, David Bienstock and Ro and Ward Williford, could be on the early lead or thereabouts under regular pilot Rafael Bejarano.
THE GRADE II MATHIS BROTHERS MILE IN POST POSITION ORDER WITH JOCKEYS AND WEIGHTS
Race 9 of 9 – Approximate post time 4 p.m. PST
1. Mittersill–Joel Rosario–119
2. Blackjackcat–Mike Smith–119
3. Moonlight Drive–Rafael Bejarano–119
4. Conquest Enforcer–Flavien Prat–121
5. Fabozzi–Luis Contreras–119
6. Isotherm–Kent Desormeaux–119
7. Path of David–Joe Talamo–121
8. Frank Conversation–Mario Gutierrez–124
9. Blackout–Julien Leparoux–119
10. Defiantly–Brice Blanc–121
11. Tusk–Drayden Van Dyke–119
HOLY LUTE AND ACCEPTANCE HEAD A FULL FIELD OF 14 IN THE GRADE III, $100,000 SAN SIMEON STAKES OPENING DAY AT SANTA ANITA
ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 21, 2016) – Though not a victor in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 5, Holy Lute is still a force to be reckoned with down the six and-a-half furlong Camino Real hillside turf course and will head a competitive field of 14 in Monday’s $100,000, Grade III, San Simeon Stakes for 3-year-olds and up.
Trained by Jim Cassidy and owned by Class Racing Stable, Holy Lute ran his best-ever Beyer Speed figure, a 102, in the Grade III Eddie D. down the hillside Sept. 30, thus giving his connections every confidence to run in the Breeders’ Cup. Though he finished sixth, it was by a beaten margin of only 3 ½ lengths in a field of 14 world class runners. An intact horse at the age of 6, Holy Lute is by Midnight Lute out of the Holy Bull mare, Holy Christmas. With 10 races down the hillside turf since the beginning of 2015, Holy Lute has a record of 10-2-4-0 for the course.
Though third in his last outing at Del Mar in the seven furlong (dirt) Carey Grant Stakes on Nov. 20, trainer Kenny Black said Acceptance stumbled badly that day and looks to be running in very similar company on Monday as he did in the California Flag Handicap, a race in which he won by head on Oct. 22 down the hill.
Owned by Finish Line Racing and the Ellwood Johnston Trust, the 4-year-old bay colt by Vronsky has a record of 12-4-1-1 and overall earnings of $378,803.
The full field, including jockeys and weights, for the Grade III San Simeon
Race 6 – Approximate post time of 2:30 p.m.PDT
1. Jimmy Bouncer, Mario Gutierrez, 123
2. Hobbits Hero, Rafael Bejarano, 121
3. Stormy Liberal, Norberto Arroyo, Jr., 121
4. Drummer, Tyler Baze, 121
5. Ohio, Drayden Van Dyke, 121
6. Acceptance, Stewart Elliott, 123
7. Cape Wolfe, Santiago Gonzalez, 121
8. Richard’s Boy, Victor Espinoza, 121
9. He Will, Flavien Prat, 121
10. Tough Sunday, Chantal Sutherland, 121
11. Bettys Bambino, Joel Rosario, 121
12. Holy Lute, Jamie Theriot, 125
13. Horse Laugh, Luis Contreras, 121
14. Iron Rob, Corey Nakatani, 121