Veteran gelding Captain Scotty will defend his title as he heads a field of eight older horses going six furlongs in the Grade 3, $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, January 23.
A 7-year-old son of Quality Road, Captain Scotty gives trainer Peter Miller a strong one-two punch as he'll be joined by recent acquisition Shashashakemeup, who comes off a big second place finish in his first start off a $50,000 claim at Churchill Downs.
Several others, including the Shelbe Ruis-trained Kneedeepinsnow, Mark Glatt's Pyron, Brian Koriner's Take the One O One, Bob Baffert's Ax Man and Doug O'Neill's Wildman Jack, all rate solid chances in the 69th renewal of the Palos Verdes.
||Take the One O One
||Jose Valdivia, Jr.
Following his win in the Palos Verdes a year ago, Captain Scotty sustained a string of four double digit defeats, beginning with an 11 ½ length loss in the $1.5 million Saudi Cup Sprint on Feb. 29. In an effort to right the ship, Miller dropped "Scotty" in for a $25,000 claiming tag three starts back on Oct. 2 at Santa Anita, the result being a second place finish.
A gate to wire six furlong winner on Oct. 31 at Del Mar, Captain Scotty comes off a game nose victory in a 5 ½ furlong optional claimer at Los Alamitos Dec. 6, a race in which he earned a much improved 92 Beyer Speed figure.
Owned by Gary Barber and Wachtel Stable, Captain Scotty, who has six wins from 20 starts and earnings of $382,048, will be ridden back by Ricky Gonzalez.
Owned by Tom Kagele, Shashashakemeup was haltered for $50,000 win two starts back at Churchill Downs Oct. 28 and although he was second, beaten 2 ¾ lengths in a second condition allowance Nov. 27, he registered a career-best 96 Beyer and thus merits serious consideration with top jock Juan Hernandez taking over in what will be his Santa Anita debut.
Kneedeepinsnow, a 5-year-old full horse by Flatter, comes off what appeared to be the best race of his career on Dec. 31, a powerful 2 ¼ length score in a second condition allowance at 6 ½ furlongs. Owned by Ruis Racing, LLC, Kneedeepinsnow will be trying stakes competition for the first time and be ridden by Ruben Fuentes as regular rider Abel Cedillo opted to stay with Wildman Jack.
Claimed for $40,000 four starts back at Churchill Downs on July 9, the Mark Glatt-trained Pyron then took a six furlong starter allowance at Del Mar Aug. 15 and in his second start off the claim, rallied for a 1 ½ length win over Kneedeepinsnow at the same distance on Oct. 16 here.
Most recently a close third in a 6 ½ furlong classified allowance Nov. 8 at Del Mar, this 5-year-old full horse by Candy Ride posted a career-top 92 Beyer and appears poised to run a smasher in the Palos Verdes. Owned by Ken Copenhaver, Pyron seeks his first stakes victory with Umberto Rispoli riding back.
California-bred Take the One O One shortens up out of a close third at 29-1 in the Grade II San Antonio Stakes Dec. 26 and Patti and Hal Earnhardt's hard knocking Ax Man, idle since fourth in the Grade II San Diego Handicap at 1 1/16 miles July 25, looms dangerous off the bench for Bob Baffert. A winner of six of 14 starts, 6-year-old gelding Ax Man will be ridden for the first time by Tyler Baze.
W.C. Racing's homebred Wildman Jack, who was a close fourth four starts back behind top sprinter Collusion Illusion in the Grade I Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar Aug. 1, was well beaten as the favorite in Grade II Joe Hernandez Stakes going 6 ½ furlongs on turf here Jan. 1 and will be trying dirt for only the second time in what will be his 14th career start for Doug O'Neill.
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