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Santa Anita Park Preview | Joe Hernandez Stakes 2023
Balnkihov (Benoit Photo)

Santa Anita Park Preview | Joe Hernandez Stakes 2023

                Phil D’Amato’s classy Irish-bred Balnikhov cuts back in distance and heads a field of 12 three-year-olds and up going about 6 ½ furlongs down the one of a kind hillside turf course in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Joe Hernandez Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

                First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 12 noon with admission gates opening at 10 a.m.

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                A fast finishing third, beaten one length going a mile and one sixteenth over the Del Mar lawn in the Grade II Seabiscuit Handicap Nov. 25, Balnikhov, a two-time graded stakes winner on grass, will be trying the hillside course for the first time on Saturday and will be ridden by Antonio Fresu, who guided him to a narrow second place finish four starts back in the Grade II Eddie Read Stakes on July 30.

                A 4-year-old gelding owned by Little Red Feather Racing, Madaket Stables, LLC and Old Bones Racing Stable, LLC, Balnikhov’s last win came six starts back in the Grade III San Francisco Mile on April 29.  Although winless since then, he has competed well in a series of graded turf stakes at distances of 6 ½ furlongs to a mile and one eighth.

                A winner of three stakes from 14 stateside stakes starts with D’Amato, Balnikhov is 22-6-5-3 overall with earnings of $664,343.

                Most recently second, beaten 1 ¾ lengths going five furlongs on turf in Del Mar’s Stormy Liberal Stakes Dec. 2, D’Amato’s Irish-bred Turn On The Jets gives the stable a powerful one-two punch.  A first condition allowance winner going five furlongs on turf in his U.S. debut nine starts back in August, 2022, this 4-year-old gelding was subsequently a close second and third in a pair of second condition hillside allowances at Santa Anita in October and November of 2022 and will thus be making his third career hillside appearance on Saturday.

                Owned by the Benowitz Family Trust, CYBT, Michael Nentwig, et al, Turn on the Jets, who can make or press the early lead if need-be, will be reunited with Juan Hernandez, who has won with him twice from six engagements.

                Winless but close in his five Southern California starts, four of them stakes, Mark Glatt’s Irish-bred I’m A Gambler has shown an affinity for the Santa Anita hillside course in his last start and rates a huge chance with Frankie Dettori taking over for the first time.

                Fourth, beaten one length down the hill in the Grade II Eddie D Stakes two starts back on Sept. 30, I’m A Gambler was most recently fifth, beaten 1 ¼ lengths down the hill in a classified allowance Oct. 29, a race in which he was off at odds of 2-1 in a field of eight.

                A winner of nine out of his 24 starts in both England and Ireland, I’m A Gambler, a 4-year-old gelding, is 29-9-4-3 overall.  Owned by Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal, he has earnings of $312,695.


Race 1 of 9  Post time 12 p.m. PT

  1. Lucky Score—Edwin Maldonado—125
  2. Balnikhov—Antonio Fresu—123
  3. Daniel’s Magic—Kazushi Kimura—121
  4. Forbidden Kingdom—Flavien Prat—121
  5. Peaceful Waters—Hector Berrios—121
  6. I’m A Gambler—Lanfranco Dettori—121
  7. Lovesick Blues—Tyler Baze—121
  8. Johnny Podres—Kyle Frey—121
  9. Tahoe Sunrise—Victor Espinoza—119
  10. Turn On The Jets—Juan Hernandez—121
  11. Olympic Runner—Umberto Rispoli—121
  12. Front Run the Fed—Geovanni Franco—121
  13. (AE) Dancing Buck—Edwin Maldonado—121

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