ARCADIA, Calif. (May 18, 2016)—With recent graded stakes winner San Onofre leading the way, several locally based sprinters such as Wild Dude, Coastline, Cherubim, Sahara Sky and Kafister, along with out of state invaders Subtle Indian and Dream Saturday, all loom dangerous in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Kona Gold Stakes, for older horses at 6 ½ furlongs. Named for trainer Bruce Headley’s Eclipse Award winning sprinter (2000), the Kona Gold has attracted a wide-open field of 10.
SAN ONOFRE: Trained by Karen Headley, bred by her father, trainer Bruce Headley and owned by the family’s Matson Racing, San Onofre relished his outside post position in the Grade III, 5 ½ furlong Los Angeles Stakes on April 16, as he stalked a fast pace and went on to an authoritative one length win under Edwin Maldonado. A 6-year-old California-bred gelding by Surf Cat, San Onofre will again break from the far outside and will hope for a similar trip in the Kona Gold. With four wins and as many seconds from 11 starts at Santa Anita, San Onofre has six wins from 13 overall starts and earnings of $402,385.
SUBTLE INDIAN: A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by Indian Charlie, Subtle Indian comes off a huge gate to wire win in the Grade III, six furlong Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 10. Trained by Robertino Diodoro and owned by Mercedes Stables, LLC, Subtle Indian, who broke from the rail in a field of nine, won the Count Fleet by 3 ¾ lengths and dating back to Jan. 15, rattled off four consecutive sprint wins at Oaklawn. With seven wins from nine overall starts, Subtle Indian figures to be well-backed in the betting with regular rider Ramon Vazquez shipping in for what his connections hope will be his fifth consecutive win. With six of his seven wins coming at Oaklawn Park, Subtle Indian has earnings of $500,300.
WILD DUDE: One of three Jerry Hollendorfer-trained entrants, this 6-year-old Florida-bred horse by Wildcat Heir was second, beaten one length by San Onofre, as the even money favorite in the Los Angeles Stakes April 16 with Kent Desormeaux up. He’ll be reunited with Rafael Bejarano on Saturday, and although he drew the rail, he is a perfect two for two from that post and will hope for a lively pace. A winner of the Grade I, six furlong Santa Anita Sprint Championship four starts back on Oct. 3, Wild Dude is a four-time graded stakes winning sprinter who also took Del Mar’s Grade I, six furlong Bing Crosby Stakes on July 26. A nationally prominent sprinter dating back to February, 2014, Wild Dude, who is owned by Hollendorfer and Green Smith, Jr., is 21-7-5-4 overall with earnings of $975,232.
COASTLINE: One of two Phil D’Amato-trained horses in the lineup, this 5-year-old horse by Speightstown comes off a good second, beaten a length and a quarter, by top sprinter Kobe’s Back here in the Grade II, seven furlong San Carlos Stakes on March 12. Originally based in the Midwest, Coastline, who is owned by Agave Racing Stable or Jaam Racing, Inc., won the restricted Clockers’ Corner Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf two starts back and will be making his fourth start for D’Amato in the Kona Gold. In his first-ever start at 6 ½ furlongs on dirt, Coastline should be mid-pack early with Tyler Baze riding him back. A winner of five of 20 overall starts, he has earnings of $396,806.
SAHARA SKY: Trained and owned in-part by Hollendorfer and Kim Lloyd’s Sweetwater Stable, this 8-year-old son of Pleasant Tap gained national acclaim when he won the prestigious Grade I Metropolitan (Mile) Handicap at Belmont Park in May, 2013. A dedicated deep closer, Sahara Sky’s last win came eight starts back in Santa Anita’s Grade II, seven furlong San Carlos Stakes in March, 2014. Third, beaten one length in the Kona Gold 13 months ago, Sahara Sky, who is now based with Hollendorfer at Golden Gate Fields, was likely in need of his a last race there, as he had been away nine months prior to finishing fifth in a six furlong classified allowance on April 23. Classy Sahara Sky, who will be ridden for the first time by Martin Garcia, has three wins from seven starts at 6 ½ furlongs and is 25-8-4 overall, with earnings of $1,180,238.
DREAM SATURDAY: Owned by Top Racing, LLC, he’s been away since Aug. 9 at Saratoga and will be making his first start for Hollendorfer on Saturday. Third, beaten 2 ¼ lengths three starts back in the Grade I, seven furlong Carter Handicap at Aqueduct on April 4, this 5-year-old horse by Any Given Saturday has an impressive local work tab to his credit as he seeks his initial stakes win with Mike Smith aboard for the first time. With a win from two starts at 6 ½ furlongs, Dream Saturday is 12-4-2-1 overall with earnings of $198,156.
KAFISTER: Trained by David Bernstein, this 6-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by Kafwain is a nose shy of having won three starts in a row. A game nose winner of a six furlong classified allowance here on March 25, Kafister, who was claimed by Bernstein for $20,000 some 16 starts back in March, 2014, has been in the money in his last seven starts, winning his last two. Owned by longtime clients Alan Aidekman and Gaylord Ailshie, Kafister is razor sharp, but will be making his first added money start since running fourth in his third career start, Santa Anita’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. Kafister, who will be ridden for the first time by Flavien Prat, is 26-11-3-4 overall with earnings of $324,450.
CHERUBIM: Trained by D’Amato, this 5-year-old Henny Hughes gelding posted a game nose victory in a 6 ½ furlong classified allowance at Los Alamitos on April 22 but will take a steep raise in class in the Kona Gold. Prior to his win at Los Alamitos, Cherubim had been idle since running second in the restricted Pirate’s Bounty Stakes going six furlongs at Del Mar on Sept. 7. Owned by Gerald Frankel, Cherubim, who is 13-3-5-1 overall, will be making his first graded stakes assignment with regular rider Tiago Pereira set to ride back.
THE GRADE II KONA GOLD STAKES IN POST POSITION ORDER WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS
Race 9 (of 11)
- Wild Dude—Rafael Bejarano—122
- Souper Knight—Abel Lezcano—120
- Cautious Knight—Santiago Gonzalez—120
- Coastline—Tyler Baze—120
- Cherubim—Tiago Pereira—120
- Dream Saturday—Mike Smith—120
- Subtle Indian—Ramon Vazquez—120
- Kafister—Flavien Prat—120
- Sahara Sky—Martin Garcia—120
- San Onofre—Edwin Maldonado—120
Santa Anita Park