At his home base of Santa Anita Friday morning, Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist had his first workout since returning last Sunday from Baltimore where the son of Uncle Mo trained by Doug O’Neill for Paul and Zillah Reddam suffered his lone defeat after eight straight victories, finishing third in the Preakness Stakes.
At the convenient time of 7:11 in ideal conditions under exercise rider Jonny Garcia, Nyquist worked four furlongs in 48.60, breezing, according to Santa Anita clockers, who caught him in 24.60 for the first quarter, with a five furlong gallop out of 1:02 flat.
— XBTV (@WatchXBTV) June 17, 2016
“It was kind of a medium gallop out, kind of a two-minute lick gallop out,” O’Neill said. “I got him in 48 and two (fifths). I’m very happy right now, but a lot will depend on how he cools out and what Jonny says. He looked good to me.
“I think it was a good first step back. I was very happy.”
Nyquist, champion two-year-old male of 2015, missed the Belmont Stakes due to an elevated white blood cell count that surfaced after the Preakness.
SMITH, SONGBIRD REMAIN UNCHALLENGED
It’s impossible to knock Mike Smith and Songbird.
How can you fault perfection?
The Hall of Fame jockey and the champion three-year-old filly destined for racing’s shrine are unbeaten and unchallenged in seven victories, one seemingly easier than the other.
Smith hopes the streak continues Saturday in the Grade II, $200,000 Summertime Oaks where Songbird faces five other three-year-old fillies going a mile and a sixteenth.
Songbird has led virtually from start to finish in every victory, four of them coming in Grade I races. Can or will another foe take her out of her game which comes so naturally?
“I’ve always thought that if a horse were to try and outrun her (for the lead), I wouldn’t mind, but they’re certainly going to have to run to do it,” Smith said of the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms.
“They’re not going to get the lead running a 24 (quarter mile). I just let her do her thing leaving there, she gets into a comfortable stride and that’s where she’s at. A horse would have to run to get in front of her, and if it did, I don’t think Songbird would mind.
“It wouldn’t bother her. She’s just got natural ability and uses it.”
The field for the Oaks, race eight of nine with a 1:30 p.m. first post time: That’s a Lady, Santiago Gonzalez, 20-1; Bellamentary, Martin Garcia, 6-1; Songbird, Mike Smith, 1-5; Coppa, Joe Talamo, 5-1; Kay Kay, Alonso Quinonez, 30-1; and Sutton’s Smile, Flavien Prat, 20-1.
Not Now Carolyn was scratched.
HONEYMOON SUNDAY’S FEATURE, FIRST POST 12 NOON
Cheekaboo returns to her favored surface Sunday when the daughter of Unusual Heat runs in the Grade II Honeymoon Stakes for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
“She’s a lot better on grass,” trainer Peter Eurton said. “She hasn’t run bad on dirt, but being back on grass and the added distance is better for her than a mile. She’s coming up to the race well.”
Cheekaboo was third in her last race, the Melair Stakes for California-breds at 1 1/16 miles on the main track May 28. Her five prior races were at one mile, three of them on turf.
The field for the $200,000 Honeymoon, race eight of nine with first post time 12 noon: Lady Valeur, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; Gone to Bali, Tyler Baze, 8-1; Stays in Vegas, Alex Solis, 4-1; Decked Out, Kent Desormeaux, 4-1; Cheekaboo, Mike Smith, 12-1; Be Mine, Flavien Prat, 7-2; Jeremy’s Legacy, Santiago Gonzalez, 6-1; How Unusual, Stewart Elliott, 12-1; Where’s the D, Mario Gutierrez, 12-1; and Sutton’s Smile, Joe Talamo, 12-1.
SUNDAY FIRST POST IS 12 NOON DUE TO EXPECTED HIGH TEMPERATURES
Due to the expectation of unusually high temperatures on Sunday, Santa Anita Park has announced that in consultation with the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC), California Thoroughbred Trainers (CTT) and the Jockeys’ Guild, it has moved first post time on Sunday up to 12 noon in an effort to mitigate the effects of the heat.
According to the National Weather Service, Sunday’s high temperature in Arcadia predicted for 4 p.m., is expected to reach 100 degrees, which is nine degrees above normal for this date.
Santa Anita’s admission gates will open on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. For additional information, fans are encouraged to visit santaanita.com, or to call (626) 574-RACE.
DRAMS FOR DADS ON SUNDAY, FATHER’S DAY
Treat Dad, grandpa, uncle or friend to an experience he will long remember—‘Drams for Dads,’ a special buffet brunch and Scotch tasting in the iconic Director’s Room featuring The Glenlivet, with 2015 Ambassador of the Year/Icons of Whisky and Master of Scotch Rick Edwards at The Great Race Place.
Visit http://www.santaanita.com/events/2016-drams-for-dads/ to learn how you can purchase this unique experience for a one of a kind Father’s Day.
FINISH LINES: Richard Mandella reports three-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder is scheduled to work “Saturday or Sunday” as she prepares for her upcoming engagement in the Grade I, Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Clement L Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar July 30. The six-year-old Henny Hughes mare galloped on Santa Anita’s main track Friday . . . American Cleopatra, a full sister to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, worked three furlongs in company with an unnamed daughter of the dam Fortune Queen Friday in 35.60 for Bob Baffert, who trains the daughter of Pioneerof the Nile–Littleprincessemma for owner Ahmed Zayat . . . Donworth, the equine version of Al Capp’s world’s worst jinx Joe Btfsplk from the Li’l Abner comic strip, is nominated to two Grade I races next Saturday, the Triple Bend at seven furlongs and the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Gold Cup at a mile and a quarter, but Doug O’Neill says the four-year-old Tiznow colt won’t run in either race. “He’s still battling a few little issues, so we’re going to get him right and look at something down the road,” O’Neill said. Donworth, third in the Charles Town Classic on April 23 in his most recent start, was at Belmont Park for last Saturday’s Met Mile but scratched due to a cough. Probable for the Gold Cup: Bal a Bali, Hard Aces, Home Run Kitten, Lieutenant Colonel, Melatonin, Second Summer and Win the Space . . . Viking Spirit, a three-year-old Fullbridled gelding trained by Jesus Mendoza, is a first-time starter entered in Saturday’s seventh race. Jon White, Santa Anita’s morning line oddsmaker, notes that for some this brings to mind a Southern California stakes star in the 1960s that had the same name. “James Nazworthy trained the Viking Spirit of the sixties,” White said. “Viking Spirit’s biggest win came in the 1965 Californian when he beat Quadrangle. Quadrangle had won the Belmont Stakes the year before. But I’d say Viking Spirit probably is best-remembered for finishing second to Native Diver in the Los Angeles Handicap (also in 1965) when Native Diver and Viking Spirit battled neck-and-neck all the way down the stretch to a photo finish. Native Diver narrowly beat Viking Spirit, with 1964 Kentucky Derby runner-up Hill Rise off the board (finishing fifth). Native Diver’s final time (1:20) tied the seven-furlong world record. As usual, Jerry Lambert was on ‘The Diver,’ while Ken Church rode Viking Spirit. I think it’s safe to say the battle between Native Diver and Viking Spirit in the Los Angeles Handicap was one of the most memorable races in Southern California in the sixties.” . . . Majestic Heat, the 3-1 morning line favorite in today’s third race, broke from the rail in her last four races but drew the six hole today . . . Sunday’s handicapping seminar in the East Paddock Gardens will start at 10:50 a.m. . . . Racing rarity: Each of the four horses in Thursday’s second race at 1 1/8 miles on turf finished half a length behind each other. The winner was Finnegans Wake followed by: Texas Ryano, Little Curlin, Papacoolpapacool and Life’s Journey . . . There was one winning Pick Six ticket Thursday worth $277,652.40 purchased for $672 at the Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood.
Santa Anita Park