Las Vegas, NV - Opening weekend in the Santa Anita autumn meet runs through Sunday, September 30. Included on that card is the Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship Stakes. $150,000 will be on the line as horses three years old and upward go 1 1/4 miles on Santa Anita's turf track.
The John Henry has attracted a field of 10 three year olds for race 9 on Santa Anita's Sunday card. Post time is 5:08 PM. Here is a brief glance into the past performances of all 10 entries and what should play out on Sunday
Turbo Compressor - has won three of five starts lately for trainer Todd Pletcher - all since switching to grass. Those wins include the Grade 1 United Nations two starts ago, the minor Colonial Turf Cup Stakes on June 16, and an Allowance Optional Claiming at Gulfstream in March. He also won the Carl G. Rose Classic Handicap at Calder in November. Scattered around the wins however are some unflattering and eye-popping results - on May 5 Turbo Compressor had an eighth in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and last time out was an incredibly poor ninth in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga August 18. He can look so good at times but so bad at others. Despite the poor result last time out, Turbo Compressor is still a favorite this Sunday.
Bourbon Bay - Bourbon Bay comes into the John Henry on an impressive two race win streak - the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano Handicap last time out here in April and the Grade 2 San Luis Rey here in March. Bourbon Bay hasn't raced in five months but was in the best form of his career before the layoff. He has six wins in seven starts at this track including five Grade 2 events - if he can shake the rust he could contend.
Slim Shadey - had looked good before a fifth as favorite in the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth on July 7 and another fifth last time out in the Grade 1 Eddie Read. Before those disappointing results he had three straight second place finishes - the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham to Acclamation, in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs and the Grade 1 San Luis Stakes on March 25. He had two straight wins - an Allowance Optional Claiming on January 12 and the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes on February 11 at Santa Anita but hasn't been the same since those wins. Slim Shadey seems a little off at present but could reasonably be a threat in this race.
Casino Host - bounced back after two straight disappointing results - a seventh in the Colonial Turf Cup Stakes and a fourth in the Grade 2 Dixie with an OK third in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes on July 21 and a very nice win in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap last time out. He also looked good early this year in posting two straight wins in 2012 - the Grade 2 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap at Fair Grounds on April 1 and Allowance score at Gulfstream on February 4. Casino Host has shown good form, is a graded stakes winner and multiple graded stakes placed - he could surprise if he puts it all together on Saturday.
Interaction - Former Argentinean Horse of the Year Interaction has yet to find the form that made him a star in his native land. He had a is win in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Hollywood Park on June 16 and a decent second to Acclamation in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes on July 21 but last time out he was a disappointing fifth in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap. He did have some disappointing results to end 2011 as well - a ninth in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap, an eighth in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap and a seventh in the Grade 2 Dubai City of Gold. Hall of Fame trainer Ron McNally took over Interaction to hopefully cure the inconsistencies that have plagued this horse on North American soil.
Balladry - finished second in the Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes at Santa Anita on January 14 prior to a fifth in the Grade 2 Strub Stakes. He won an Allowance at Hollywood Park on April 29 and followed it up with a pair of thirds - last time out in the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap July 27 and before that at the Prove It Stakes at Hollywood Park on June 8.
Brushburn - had two wins and a third place finish in 2010 before a two year layoff. Brushburn retuned July 22 to an OK second in the minor California Dreamin' Handicap here but was a distant eighth last time out in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap on August 25.
Grassy - is a multiple graded stakes winner that returned to a fifth in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Del Mar August 30 after nearly 10 months away. He won the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap a year ago to prove that he has what it takes to be competitive on Sunday.
Fire With Fire - made his graded stakes debut with a very good third in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap after six straight Allowance races produced three seconds and a third place finish. Fire With Fire hasn't tasted victory in over a year - an Allowance at Saratoga.
Temple's Door - is coming off an Allowance Optional Claiming score - his first win in 15 months. Temple's Door started 2012 with a seventh in an Allowance Optional Claiming and followed it with a third in an Allowance before his most recent win here on August 5.