Turf Sprint and Dirt Mile - Wed. notes

December 10, 2019

Bob Baffert (Fed Biz, Dirt Mile) – Fed Biz galloped 1 1/2m Wednesday morning.

“He's training well and he's run well here,” Baffert said. “I liked the way he ran on the dirt last time (second to Shared Belief in the 1 1/16-mile Awesome Again). He put up a pretty good fight against Shared Belief, the favorite for the Classic. It's a tough race. Goldencents (defending race champion) is the horse to beat but I think Fed Biz is capable.”

Chad Brown (Bobby's Kitten, Turf Sprint) – Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred Bobby’s Kitten returns to Santa Anita for a second try in the Breeders’ Cup. Last year, he was third in the Juvenile Turf after setting the early pace.

The Kitten’s Joy 3yo colt will be making his debut in a sprint - his most recent start was a third in the Woodbine Mile - and he’s trying Santa Anita’s unique 6 1/2f downhill turf course for the first time. All four of the previous Turf Sprint winners at Santa Anita had at least one win on the course.

“He’s never been down the hill,” Brown said. “ Historically, I think having some experience down the hill is real beneficial. So we’re giving that up, but hopefully he makes up for it in just overall talent. I think 6 1/2 should work well for him.”

The quartet of Santa Anita winners, Desert Code (2008), California Flag (2009) and Mizdirection (2012 and 2013), were all based in California and had a combined record of nine wins from 12 starts on the course before their victories. Mizdirection was 5 for 5 and added the two Turf Sprint victories to remain undefeated down the hillside.

Bobby’s Kitten galloped 1 1/2m Wednesday morning.

David Hofmans (Home Run Kitten, Turf Sprint) – The trainer hopes that the 3yo colt will repeat the performance of Desert Code, who produced a 36.50-to-1 upset victory in the inaugural 2008 Turf Sprint. Home Run Kitten is owned by Tarabilla Farms, which also owned Desert Code.

“They have a similar running style, the same color, and they’re built alike,” said Hofmans in comparing the two. “This horse is more consistent. He tries every single time.”

Tarabilla is the nom de course for Susan Osborne of Glendale, Calif. “Desert Code was retired to stud at Harris Farm, and Susie and I go up once or twice a year to visit him,” said Hofmans.

Home Run Kitten galloped 1½m with exercise rider Martin DeRubin.

David Simcock (Caspar Netscher, Turf Sprint) – see European report

Gary Mandella (Silentio, Turf Sprint) – The 5yo horse galloped 1½m under exercise rider Felipe Guerrero for his first start on the hillside turf course, according to the trainer.

“Silentio is doing great,” said assistant Sergio Zepeda. “It’s his first time going down the hill and I think he’s going to like it.”

Ian Wilkes (Free as a Bird, Turf Sprint) – Elizabeth Valando’s Free as a Bird refused to fly from Louisville on Wednesday morning and was declared out of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

“She didn’t like the sound of the engines and had to be backed off the plane,” trainer Ian Wilkes said. “She is scratched.”

Wilkes said it was the first time the 5yo mare had been scheduled to fly.

“As long as she is OK, we’re fine,” said Wilkes, who had flown in to Southern California on Tuesday.

John Sadler (Sweet Swap, Turf Sprint) – Sweet Swap jogged a mile and stood in the gate Wednesday morning.

The 5yo son of Candy Ride has been off since April, but has experience from eight races on Santa Anita's unique downhill 6 1/2 f course with wins in half of those starts.

“He runs well fresh and he's been worse than second only once down the hill, so it's definitely a good race for him," Sadler said. "He's more of a sprinter than his full brother -- Sidney's Candy.”

Keith Desormeaux (Marchman, Turf Sprint) – Martin Racing Stable’s Marchman continued his preparation for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint with another gallop around the Santa Anita Park track. The son of Sharp Humor comes off a sixth – beaten 2¾ lengths – in the Woodford Stakes behind Turf Sprint morning-line favorite No Nay Never in his first race since July 12. Earlier in 2014, the 4yo won two Graded turf sprint stakes, including the Shakertown at Keeneland, making him one of only three starters in the field with multiple Graded turf sprint stakes wins.

“He’s doing really well,” trainer Keith Desormeaux said. “He has been jogging nice and limber and happy. He gets along with his rider in the mornings and is a whole lot of horse. It’ll be a light week until the race and we’ll school Thursday and gallop on Friday. He’s had a long season, so we don’t have to do much.”

In the money in six of his seven 2014 starts, Marchman has finished in the money in six of his seven career turf springs – including three victories – and will hope to extend that mark when Keith’s brother, Hall of Fame jockey Kent, rides him for the first time on Saturday.

“Jockeys have got to ride the race, but the best ones ride it how it comes up,” said (Keith) Desormeaux. “Nothing is predetermined, whether you’re going five-eighths or a mile and a half. We’re not putting him on the lead. I think those races down the hill, you have to key your horses and follow a horse over the dirt course and then make your run. Closers can be at an advantage. I think he’ll run very well.”

Kelly Breen (Pants On Fire, Dirt Mile) – One would think that after 28 career starts over five years of race and more than $1.3 million in earnings, Pants On Fire would be slowing down, but actually the 6 yo is enjoying a great season in which he has not been worse than third since returning from a lengthy layoff in July.

“He’s just a warrior,” said trainer Kelly Breen. “He’s now 6, but couldn’t be doing any better. If you look at his Beyers (Speed Figures), they say this is his best year yet.”

Leandro Mora (Goldencents, Dirt Mile) – “Usually nobody wants the number one post, but I think it fits his style,” said the trainer, confident the 4yo colt would successfully defend his title from the rail. He seeks to become the first Dirt Mile repeater in its eight-year history. Goldencents galloped 1 ½ miles at 6 a.m. under regular exercise rider Jonny Garcia.

Mora will be sending out his first Breeders’ Cup starter but he has worked as the chief assistant for Doug O’Neill the past 13 years and had a hand in four Breeders’ Cup winners. Stevie Wonderboy in the 2005 Juvenile, Thor’s Echo in the 2006 Sprint and Maryfield in the 2007 Filly & Mare Sprint preceded Goldencents.

Steve Asmussen (Tapiture, Dirt Mile) – Tapiture has been training very well heading into the Dirt Mile and trainer Steve Asmussen is expecting a big race from the 3yo Tapit colt, as long as the track doesn’t play to his disadvantage.

“My only concern with him is that the track will have a bias (towards speed),” said Asmussen. “He’ll need them to slow down a little and come back to him if he’s going to have a chance.”

Wesley Ward (No Nay Never and Undrafted, Turf Sprint) – The Wesley Ward-trained trio of Undrafted, No Nay Never and Judy the Beauty arrived around 11 a.m. Wednesday after a delayed flight from Kentucky. No Nay Never and Judy the Beauty are morning line favorites for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, respectively. All are expected to hit the track Thursday morning, with champion jockey Frankie Dettori astride race mount No Nay Never.

“They’ve all arrived and we’re excited,” Ward reported.

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