- ILIAD, TERM OF ART BOUND FOR SANTA ANITA DERBY
- HENDRICKS HAS HAPPY MARE FOR SANTA MARGARITA
- NO DARE AND GO, BUT BAL A BALI POSTS KILROE UPSET
- STEVENS ‘REPROVES’ HIMSELF WITH A COMEBACK WIN
- BAFFERT LIKES WHAT HE SEES IN ARROGATE WORKOUT
TEAM O’NEILL HAS DESIGNS ON SANTA ANITA DERBY
San Vicente Stakes winner Iliad and Cecil B. DeMille winner Term of Art, second and third behind runaway winner Mastery in Saturday’s Grade II San Felipe Stakes, are bound for the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 8, trainer Doug O’Neill’s assistant Leandro Mora said Sunday morning.
“Both horses looked good this morning and the Santa Anita Derby is what we’re looking at,” Mora said.
O’Neill won the Santa Anita Derby back to back in 2012 and 2013 with I’ll Have Another and Goldencents.
Meanwhile, Bob Baffert barely had a chance to begin celebrating after Mastery’s 6 ¾-length romp in the San Felipe that established him as the Kentucky Derby favorite, when the bubble burst.
Mastery was pulled up after the finish of the 1 1/16-mile race and taken back to the barn via horse ambulance after being evaluated by track vet Dr. Dana Stead.
“When he got back to the barn, he seemed OK, but when he got off the wash rack, he showed some filling in his left front ankle,” Baffert said after the race Saturday. “It’s a condylar fracture. He’ll be operated on early Monday and they’ll insert two screws (at Santa Anita’s Equine Hospital on the backstretch).
“We won’t know until after the surgery whether or not this is career-ending.”
Sunday morning, Baffert said Mastery “was eating and looked comfortable, but the most important thing now is to focus on his well-being. Our emotions went from the highest of the highs after he won to the lowest of the lows. Obviously what happened is pretty disappointing.
“But in this game you have to keep things in perspective. It could have been worse.”
HAPPY AUTUMN FLOWER TESTS GRADE I WATERS
Autumn Flower has enhanced her broodmare status with third-place finishes at long odds in Grade II stakes in her last two outings, the La Canada and the Santa Maria.
Trainer Dan Hendricks is satisfied with that accomplishment for the moment, but has his sights set on even greater heights when the five-year-old Flower Alley mare runs in next Saturday’s Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles.
“Another third would be fine, but she’s maturing and as happy as she’s ever been since we’ve changed some of her routine from last year. It’s really worked,” Hendricks said. “We added a goat, my son (Gregg) takes extra time with her and grazes her every morning.
“She’s just happy and doing well.”
Autumn Flower never ran in a stakes race until Dec. 3 of last year when she finished sixth in the Grade II Bayakoa Handicap. She had won two optional claiming races before that for owners Thomas Traver and Priscilla Webb.
MANDELLA DOES IT AGAIN WITH BAL A BALI IN KILROE
It was a far cry from Dare and Go’s 3 ½-length victory at nearly 40-1 that ended Cigar’s 16-race winning streak in the 1996 Pacific Classic, but Bal a Bali’s win as the longest shot in Saturday’s Grade I Kilroe Mile at 9-1 put another upset notch on Richard Mandella’s Hall of Fame resume.
Bal a Bali hadn’t raced since last June 16, a span of nearly nine months, but had been training forwardly, even sporting a bullet work, uncommon for a Mandella campaigner.
“He came out of the race in good shape but I’m not sure where I’ll go next,” Mandella said Sunday morning. “He’s a very good horse, so it was no surprise that he was good enough (to win under those conditions), but running that good after all that layoff, I was happy to see he did what he could do.
“But it was no surprise that he could do it. I always thought he was that good. I have nothing immediate in mind. I’ll give him a little extra time because I know he runs really well with long layoffs, but I’m not giving him nine months this time.”
Bal a Bali, a seven-year-old full horse bred in Brazil and owned by Calumet Farm, won his U.S. debut way back on May 9, 2015, when he captured the Grade III American Stakes at Santa Anita. The Kilroe marked his 14th triumph in 23 starts.
Ridden by four-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano, who also piloted 13-10 favorite Shaman Ghost to a three-quarter length victory over Midnight Storm in the Santa Anita Handicap, Bal a Bali paid $21.20 as the longest shot in the field of seven.
‘GREAT TO BE BACK,’ VICTORIOUS STEVENS SAYS
Gary Stevens won his first race since coming back from hip replacement surgery Dec. 21 when he piloted Shehastheritestuff to a half-length victory for trainer Paddy Gallagher in Saturday’s sixth race at one mile on turf. The four-year-old California-bred daughter of Unusual Heat paid $16.40.
“It’s great to be back and great to have support of the trainers this first week back,” the 54-year-old Hall of Fame rider said Sunday morning. “Paddy put me on a nice filly that fit my style and fortunately we got the job done.
“The first win back is always the toughest. You’ve got to reprove yourself, and like any athlete, you’ve got to fight back and show that you’ve still got some shelf life.”
For the unsinkable Gary Stevens, there’s no expiration date in view.
FINISH LINES: Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup winner Arrogate worked seven furlongs Sunday morning in company as he prepares for the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 25. With Martin Garcia up and in company with Cat Burglar, Arrogate was timed in 1:25 flat for seven furlongs, with fractional times of 24.60, 36.80, 48.60 and 1:12.80. Cat Burglar was clocked in 1:25.40. “He went really nice,” Bob Baffert said of Arrogate. “I saw what I needed to see. He just cruised around there and he’ll ship tomorrow (for Dubai).” . . .
Ron Ellis reports Masochistic came out of his second-place finish as the 1-2 favorite in the Triple Bend Stakes in good order, but “has no plan” for his next race. “We’ll have to regroup and see what goes on,” the trainer said. “It was his first race in four months; he got a little tired.” Masochistic was beaten a length by 16-1 shot Denman’s Call, one of six winners picked on top by Toby Turrell‘s Winners Card . . .
Agent J.R. Pegram has booked Kent Desormeaux on Santa Maria and La Canada runner-up Show Stealer for Art Sherman in next Saturday’s Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes . . .
There is a Pick Six carryover of $189,246 into Sunday’s program . . . With apologies to General Douglas MacArthur, “Old geldings never die. They just race away,” and the 11 scheduled starters in today’s eighth race, the $30,000 “605 Starter Handicap” at 5 ½ furlongs, have run a combined total of 434 races, winning 93 and earning $2,051,129. The leader is 10-year-old Nextdoorneighbor with 15 wins from 55 starts for current trainer Steve Knapp, who also has Changing Karma entered . . .
Also next Saturday, Santa Anita has the St. Paddy’s Day Pitch, with the person tossing a ringer winning $1 million! It’s free to enter. Get on track, fill out a contest entry card and you could be one of four entries selected, or sign up online at santaanita.com/events before March 18, as one online entry also will be chosen.