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Trainer Phil D’Amato’s Gold Phoenix tops Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 John Henry Turf Championship at Santa Anita as he seeks his third consecutive graded stakes victory.
Named for the two-time Horse of the Year and seven-time overall Eclipse Award winning Hall of Fame gelding, the John Henry has attracted a field of eight three-year-olds and up at a mile and one quarter.
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Although seventh in the Grade I Shoemaker Mile on turf here May 29, Gold Phoenix, a 5-year-old gelding, has been nothing short of brilliant in his last two starts, rallying to take the Grade II Eddie Read Stakes at a mile and one eighth on turf by three quarters of a length July 30 and the Grade II Del Mar Handicap at a mile and three eighths on grass by 1 ¼ lengths Sept. 2.
A close third in last year’s John Henry, Gold Phoenix, who is owned by Little Red Feather Racing, Sterling Stables, LLC and Marsha Naify, surpassed the $1 million mark in earnings on Sept. 2.
The Irish-bred son of Belardo will hope to be rolling late under Juan Hernandez in what will be his 16th career start and 15th with D’Amato.
D’Amato will also send out the venerable Masteroffoxhounds, who showed the way in the Eddie Read on July 30 when finishing third, beaten 1 ¼ lengths by his stablemate, Gold Phoenix.
Winless in four starts this year, the 6-year-old full horse by War Front’s last win came seven starts back in last year’s John Henry here at Santa Anita. Owned by Rockingham Ranch, Masteroffoxhounds is a two-time graded stakes winner over the course and will be ridden back by Edwin Maldonado.
First post time for a nine-race card that will include three other stakes on Saturday is at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m.
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