LERNER RUNNER PROVES MORE THAN QUEEN FOR A DAY
O’NEILL SEEKS UPSET WITH SCORING IN GRADE III SHAM
OMAHA BEACH COULD WORK SOON FOR RICH PEGASUS
CONSISTENT QUEEN BEE TO YOU SET FOR LA CANADA
Andrew Lerner is batting .500 since taking over the training of Queen Bee to You, winning three of six races, all stakes, and the 30-year-old California native hopes to improve on that mark Saturday when he sends out the six-year-old California-bred mare in the Grade II, $200,000 La Canada Stakes for fillies and mares, four and up, at 1 1/16 miles.
“She’s been really good for us; we won three stakes with her,” Lerner said, reluctant to assume full credit for her success. “There were good guys taking care of her and we just pretty much took over where he (former trainer Mike Pender) left off.
“She’s got so much speed and we’ve tried to help her by harnessing it, and I think it’s shown in some of her races. We’re training her to be more tactical, but if no one wants to go with her in the La Canada, we can be a little closer.
“If someone wants to go, we’ll sit back.”
Queen Bee to You’s stakes victories have come in the restricted Bertrando and the Grade II Bayakoa at Los Alamitos, and the restricted Betty Grable at Del Mar.
A daughter of the Gilded Time stallion Old Topper, Queen Bee to You will be making her 33rd start in the La Canada. She has won seven times, with 11 seconds and five thirds, good for $538,770 in earnings. Gilded Time won the 1992 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and an Eclipse Award as outstanding two-year-old male when trained by Darrell Vienna.
Old Topper was a stakes winner conditioned by the late Noble Threewitt, who died at 99 on Sept. 17, 2010. His best horse was Correlation, who captured the Florida Derby and the Wood Memorial in 1954.
Early probables for the La Canada are Horologist, Flavien Prat; Message, no rider; Queen Bee to You, Ruben Fuentes; probable favorite Spiced Perfection, no rider; and Zusha, Tiago Periera.
TEAM O’NEILL EYES UPSET IN TODAY’S GRADE III SHAM
At 15-1, Scoring is the longest price on Jon White’s morning line in today’s Grade III Sham Stakes, but Doug O’Neill did supplement the colt, and the two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer has been known to pull an upset in the past.
“He finished second in his only start but was moved into first on a disqualification,” noted O’Neill assistant Leandro Mora of the son of Justin Phillip. “He had some shin issues after that race (June 16 of last year), so he’s been away for six months but he’s been training very well.
“All the horses in the race still have to show potential, so even though we’re a longshot, we felt it was worth trying.”
The field for the Sham, race five of 10: Authentic, Drayden Van Dyke, 8-5; Zimba Warrior, Jose Valdivia Jr., 6-1; Uncaptured Hero, Flavien Prat, 6-1; Azul Coast, Joel Rosario, 5-2; $2,000 supplemental nomination Scoring, Abel Cedillo, 15-1; and Taishan, Aaron Gryder, 5-2.
The Sham is worth 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, four to the runner-up, two to the third-place finisher and one point to the fourth.
MANDELLA HEADING TO FLORIDA TO JOIN OMAHA BEACH
Richard Mandella will take a redeye to Florida Tuesday to supervise training up close and personal for recent Grade I Runhappy Malibu Stakes winner Omaha Beach, who will be retired to stud after he runs in the Grade I, $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25.
The son of War Front currently is bedded down with trainer Mark Hennig at Gulfstream, with Mandella foreman Jose Vera minding the store until the Hall of Fame trainer’s arrival.
“Omaha Beach went to the track today, will gallop Wednesday, and might work Thursday or Friday,” Mandella said at Santa Anita Saturday morning.
Owned by Fox Hill Farms, Inc., Omaha Beach won the Malibu by 2 ¾ lengths on Dec. 28, earning $180,000 while boosting his career bankroll to $1,651,800.
FINISH LINES: George Herman Ruth never got out of the batter’s box when finishing eighth of nine in his debut race Friday, but the three-year-old gray Grazen colt owned and bred by Nick Alexander did have an excuse, leaving the gate in tardy fashion. First he dwelt, then he hopped. “He showed a lot of speed on the farm,” said Alexander, who names many of his horses for former Major League baseball greats. He has no problem getting approval. “If the player is dead,” he said, “you don’t need an OK.” George Herman Ruth, for those who don’t know a walk from a balk, was the real name of Babe Ruth, the New York Yankee legend whose home run heroics in the team’s home town of the Bronx and in other Big League cities saved the game after the World Series Black Sox Scandal of 1919. The colt’s dam, naturally enough, is Shesabronxbomber. Another of Ruth’s nicknames was The Bronx Bomber . . . First post for an eight race program Sunday is 12:30 p.m.