Separated by one length when last they met, talented California-breds Marckie's Water and Ashleyluvssugar will square off again in Saturday's Grade II, $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes at a mile and one quarter over the Santa Anita Park turf.
Marckie's Water, trained by Richard Baltas, rallied to win a mile and one eighth turf allowance by a half-length here on April 28 and at age five, will be seeking his first graded stakes win.
Although winless in his last 11 starts dating back to a victory in the 2017 Whittingham, 8-year-old Ashleyluvssugar, a multiple stakes winning earner of more than $1.4 million, pressed the pace and stayed gamely to be third, beaten one length by Marckie's Water on April 28 and will hope to win his third Whittingham Stakes on Saturday with veteran Brice Blanc back aboard.
Named for the legendary late Hall of Fame trainer, Saturday's Charles Whittingham honors a true American racing icon. Known affectionately as the "Bald Eagle," Charlie Whittingham, who died at the age of 86 on April 20, 1999, won the race's precursor, the Hollywood Invitational Handicap, a record seven times, beginning in 1970 with Fidle Isle and ending in 1987, with Rivlia.
2019 Charles Whittingham Stakes Odds & Entries
Race 7 at Santa Anita on Saturday, May 25 - Post 7:03 PM
|1||Prime Attraction||3-1||Kent Desormeaux
|2||Morse Code||12-1||Edwin Maldonado
|3||Marckie's Water||5-2||Tiago Pereira
|4||Ya Gotta Wanna||8-1||Aaron Gryder
|6||Tizzarunner||7-2||Drayden Van Dyke
A winner of five out of his 17 career starts, this 5-year-old full horse by Tribal Rule will be making his fourth graded stakes appearance on Saturday. A close fourth in the Grade II, mile and one half Hollywood Turf Cup four starts back at Del Mar on Nov. 23, 2018, he was ridden for the first time by Tiago Pereira in his April 28 allowance win and appears at the peak of his powers, as his 93 Beyer Speed figure nearly matched his career best of 94, which he achieved in the Hollywood Turf Cup.
A winner of one of his two starts at a mile and one quarter on turf, Marckie's Water looks like the horse to beat.
Owner: Little Red Feather Racing & Norman Tavares | Trainer: Richard Baltas
Managed to perfection over seven racing seasons by Eurton, this 8-year-old Game Plan gelding seeks his third win in the Whittingham, his first coming at the tender age of four in 2015. Attentive to the pace under Blanc in his most recent start, look for "Ashley" to be on or near the lead Saturday as he bids for his third win from four tries at a mile and one quarter on turf.
A five-time graded stakes winner, Ashleyluvssugar is 33-10-6-5 overall, with earnings of $1,446,583.
Owner: Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable & Ciaglia Racing, LLC | Trainer: Peter Eurton
Prime Attraction makes his 16th straight stakes start in Saturday's Grade II Charles Whittingham Stakes, all but one a graded event and six of them Grade I's.
His lone win during a span that began in the Grade II Californian at Santa Anita more than two years ago, on April 22, 2017, came in the Grade III Native Diver on Nov. 25, 2017.
"He's been pretty good and pretty consistent," said Jim Cassidy, who trains the six-year-old Unbridled's Song horse for principal client Deron Pearson, who campaigns as DP Racing. "The horse is doing fine since he came back from Kentucky (where he finished an eventful 12th in the Grade I Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 4).
"We'd like to win this race for more reasons than one, since I knew Charlie. He was a good man, and I did win the race in 2016 (with 11-1 shot Si Sage)."
Owner: D P Racing, LLC | Trainer: James Cassidy