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Santa Anita Hosts Twin Hillside Turf Stakes For Cal-Breds
Credit: Zoe Metz Photography

Santa Anita Hosts Twin Hillside Turf Stakes For Cal-Breds

ARCADIA, CA – A pair of popular California-bred stakes, the $100,000 California Distaff Handicap and the $100,000 California Flag Handicap, will both be contested at about 6 1/2 furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course this Saturday and Sunday.

With the Eddie D Stakes (G2) on October 1 marking a return of racing to the popular Camino Real course, a total of 3 hillside races have been run to date, with average field size at better than 8 horses per race. 


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Classy Warren’s Showtime heads the California Distaff Handicap, which drew a competitive field of six fillies and mares 3 and up.

A part of the CTBA-sponsored Golden State Series, the California Distaff Handicap is for eligible fillies and mares bred or sired in California.

Owned and bred by Ben and Sally Warren, Warren’s Showtime is a 2-time graded stakes-winning daughter of top sire Clubhouse Ride and is out of the Warrens’ Grade 1-winning Affirmative mare Warren’s Veneda.

Never worse than third in 6 starts this year, all stakes, Warren’s Showtime rallied from off the pace to take the Wilshire Stakes (G3) at 1 mile on turf 2 starts back on June 20 and was most recently a close third versus state-breds as the even-money favorite in the 1-mile turf Solana Beach Stakes at Del Mar August 15.

Trained by Craig Lewis and easily the leading money earner in the field with $715,431 from an overall race record of 21-7-2-10, Warren’s Showtime, who will be shortening up out of 5 consecutive efforts at a mile on grass, will be trying the hillside turf for the first time with regular rider Juan Hernandez up.

Scratched out of the Chillingworth Stakes (G3) at 6 furlongs on the main track October 3, Kaleem Shah’s 4-year-old Bella Vita, who was most recently a 4 1/2-length winner of a first-condition allowance going 6 1/2 furlongs on dirt August 29, broke her maiden sprinting on turf here in her second start, but will also be trying the hill for the first time.

A $400,000 2-year-old in training sale purchase in April, 2019, Bella Vita is by Shah’s 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Bayern and is out of the Storm Cat mare Queenie Cat. Trained by Simon Callaghan, Bella Vita will like employ a stalking style when ridden for the first time by Victor Espinoza. With an overall mark of 11-3-5-1, she has earnings of $283,722.

A 6-year-old mare by Lucky Pulpit out of the multiple stakes winning Lady Railrider, Pulpit Rider is owned by her breeders, Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams, and is trained by Mike Puype. A game nose winner of the Solana Beach, Pulpit Rider, who is winless in 3 tries down the hill dating back to January of 2018, is a 4-time stakes winner who will be making her 30th career start.

Carded as race 7 of 9 with an approximate post time of 4:00 PM PT, the field for the California Distaff Handicap is:

  1. Warren’s Showtime (Hernandez)
  2. Cassie Belle (Tyler Baze)
  3. Pulpit Rider (Drayden Van Dyke)
  4. Anna Fantastic (Edwin Maldonado)
  5. Bella Vita (Espinoza)
  6. Sedamar (Joe Bravo)

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North County Guy Prominent In California Flag

An impressive allowance winner going a route of ground in his most recent start, consistent North County Guy rates a big chance among a wide open field of nine in Sunday’s California Flag.

A 6-year-old gelding by The Pamplemousse, North County Guy rallied impressively to win by 2 1/4 lengths going a mile and 1/16 on turf August 20 at Del Mar, which was his 14th consecutive turf route dating back to September 1, 2019.

Although he’s been routing for the past 2 years, trainer Richard Baltas has been anxious to get North County Guy back on the hillside turf course, as he blitzed a group of Cal-bred allowance types, including eventual multiple stakes winner Fashionably Fast, in his first try down the hill back on October 28, 2018 – some 22 races ago. A close third in an open hillside allowance January 27, 2019, North County Guy will be trying the hill for the fourth time in what will be his 33rd career start Sunday.

Claimed for $20,000 24 starts back on August 22, 2018, North County Guy, who is out of the Unusual Heat mare Warmth, is owned by Nancy Messineo and Bruce Sands. With 8 wins, as many seconds, and 6 thirds, he has earnings of $518,527 and will be seeking his second career stakes win as Umberto Rispoli rides him back off of his impressive allowance score on August 20.

Most recently a disappointing fifth, beaten 11 lengths by North County Guy going 1 1/16 miles on turf as the 7/5 favorite August 20, Indian Peak will try to bounce back as he sprints for the first time since well-beaten on synthetic Tapeta in his debut on September 8, 2019 at Golden Gate Fields.

A California-bred stakes winner going a mile and 1/8 on turf at Santa Anita in his 10th career start on June 20, 2020, Indian Peak is an impressive looking 4-year-old gelding by Comic Strip who was originally conditioned by Golden Gate-based Quinn Howey.

Currently based with Peter Miller at San Luis Rey Downs, Indian Peak, who is owned by Wachtel Stable and Gary Barber, will be reunited with Juan Hernandez, who rode him to a pair of victories from 4 tries when trained by Howey. With an overall mark of 19-5-3-1, Indian Peak has earnings of $273,532 and will hope to be rolling late in his hillside debut.

Second to recent Eddie D Stakes (G2) winner Lieutenant Dan going 5 furlongs on turf in Del Mar’s Green Flash Handicap (G3) August 22, the Andy Mathis-trained Give Me the Lute will likely blast off and be on or near the early lead with Kent Desormeaux riding him back. A 5-year-old gelding by Boisterous out of the Midnight Lute mare Steal the Lute, he was a gate-to-wire winner of Golden Gate’s Albany Stakes going 5/8 on turf 2 starts back on June 12 and rates a solid chance in what will be his first start down the hill.

Claimed for $80,000 ten starts back on August 11, 2019, Give Me the Lute is owned by Roderick and Wendy Hogan. With 5 wins from 12 starts on grass, Give Me the Lute is 14-5-3-2 overall with earnings of $209,323.

Claimed for $80,000 out of a third-place finish coming down the hill here on October 2, the Mark Glatt-trained Whooping Jay, who was off as the 2/1 favorite, lacked room turning for home and rates a big chance with Joe Bravo riding for the first time. A 5-year-old gelding by Square Eddie, Whooping Jay has been a gem of consistency, posting an overall mark of 14-5-5-2. Owned by William Branch, William Buster Jr., and Mark Cohen, Whooping Jay has amassed earnings of $313,250.

Trainer Steve Knapp’s venerable Loud Mouth, a winner of 1 of 5 starts on grass, finished a close second in the 1-mile E.B. Johnston Stakes for Cal-breds September 12 at Los Alamitos and was moved up via disqualification, giving him his second career stakes victory. A 5-year-old full horse by Boisterous, Loud Mouth has banked $127,660 from 7 starts this year. Owned by Thomsen Racing, LLC, Loud Mouth has an overall mark of 29-8-1-2, with earnings of $374,070.

Named for the decorated World War II hero, Nick Alexander homebred Desmond Doss will try the hillside for the first time in what will be his 17th career start. A 5-year-old full horse by Grazen out of the Malek mare Malley Girl, Desmond Doss, who is trained by Steve Miyadi, is enjoying his finest year, winning a 1-mile main track stakes 3 starts back at Los Alamitos and winning 3 of his 9 starts this year. 

With Kyle Frey riding him back off of a third-place finish in a 1-mile Cal-bred stakes on September 12 at Los Al, Desmond Doss is 16-5-2-2 overall with earnings of $299,341.

Carded as race 7 of 9 with an approximate post time of 4:00 PM PT, the field for the California Flag Handicap is:

  1. Give Me the Lute (Desormeaux)
  2. Ground Attack (Edwin Maldonado)
  3. Tiger Dad (Victor Espinoza)
  4. North County Guy (Rispoli)
  5. Loud Mouth (Cedillo)
  6. Unbridled Ethos (Ricky Gonzalez)
  7. Whooping Jay (Bravo)
  8. Desmond Doss (Frey)
  9. Indian Peak (Hernandez)

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