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A trio of Grade 2 stakes each worth $200,000 purses – the Mathis Mile & San Gabriel on turf, the San Antonio on dirt – support the Malibu Day card on Tuesday, December 26, at Santa Anita Park.
First post for the Opening Day 11-race festivities is 11:00 a.m. Pacific.
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Phil D’Amato’s hard-hitting English-bred Almendares retains the services of Flavien Prat and figures to be tough to deny among a field of seven sophomores in Tuesday’s Grade II, $200,000 Mathis Mile (turf) at Santa Anita. The Mathis Mile is one of six graded stakes on an 11-race card on Santa Anita’s Classic Meet opening day and has been carded as race nine.
A 3-year-old gelding with a terrific stretch kick, Almendares rallied from far back to win going away by three quarters of a length in a one mile turf second condition allowance Dec. 3 at Del Mar—earning a career best 95 Beyer Speed Figure in the process.
A hard-charging fifth, beaten one length two starts back at a mile and one eighth on turf in the Grade II Twilight Derby here Nov. 4, Almendares finished well to be third, beaten one length three starts back in the Grade II Del Mar Derby on Sept. 3.
Two for five in Ireland and a winner of two of his four starts locally with D’Amato, Almendares is owned by CYBT, McLean Racing Stables, Saul Gervitz, et al.
An authoritative 2 ¼ length one mile maiden turf winner in his eighth career start Sept. 9 at Del Mar, the Jeff Mullins-trained Dandy Man Shines rallied for another 2 ¼ length one mile turf win in the restricted Let It Ride Stakes on Nov. 10 and thus seeks his third win in a row with Umberto Rispoli at the controls on Tuesday.
Owned by Red Baron’s Barn, LLC and Rancho Temescal, Dandy Man Shines is a 3-year-old gelding coming to his best at a distance he relishes.
A three-time Group I stakes winner and favored in 10 out of his 11 starts in his native Argentina, John Sadler’s Subsanador figures prominently as he makes his U.S. debut with Flavien Prat at the controls versus five rivals going a mile and one sixteenth in Tuesday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita.
With Flavien Prat engaged, Subsanador, a 4-year-old chestnut colt, has been idle since winning a Group II stakes in Argentina on July 29, but he enters the San Antonio on the strength of a strong work tab that includes four consecutive bullet moves, the most recent a seven furlong clocking of 1:25.80 on Dec. 11.
Owned by Carlos Alejandro Vazquez, Subsanador’s Argentine resume reads 12-7-1-1 with earning of $149,124.
A winner of this year’s Grade I Santa Anita Handicap and with career earnings in excess of $1.8 million, owner Steve Moger’s Stilleto Boy has lofty credentials but comes off a pair of terrible starts, as he finished a distant last in the Grade I Awesome Again here Sept. 30 and was eased two starts back in the Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar.
Trained by Ed Moger, Jr., Stilleto Boy has long been based at Golden Gate Fields but will be relocating soon to Santa Anita with the rest of Moger’s stable. A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by Shackleford, Stilleto Boy, a three-time stakes winner, is 25-4-4-9 and is 8-2-2-2 at Santa Anita.
With leading man Juan Hernandez back aboard for the first time since September of 2022, look for Stilleto Boy to run a much improved race in the San Antonio, a race in which he finished second a year ago.
A runaway 8 ¼ length Grade II winner going the seldom-run distance of a mile and five eighths here on Nov. 4, Richard Mandella was nonetheless in search of a new rider for his Irish-bred Salesman, as Flavien Prat has opted to ride newcomer Subsanador.
With Mike Smith engaged, Salesman, who earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure on Nov. 4, seems to have found a new home on dirt as a 6-year-old gelding. Raced nearly exclusively on turf in France, Salesman was well beaten in his first two stateside assignments on grass with Mandella, finishing ninth in the Grade I Shoemaker Mile here May 29 and 12th in the restricted Wickerr Stakes July 23 at Del Mar.
Switched to dirt at a mile and one sixteenth in the restricted Los Alamitos Special Sept. 17 he ran a much improved third, followed by his rollicking win on Nov. 4. Owned by Wertheimer and Frere, Saleman is 26-4-6-5 overall with earnings of $335,300.
French-bred Easter, fresh off one of the most impressive turf performances of the year in Southern California, looms a standout versus five rivals at a mile and one eighth on turf in Tuesday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Gabriel Stakes, one of six graded events on an 11-race opening day card at Santa Anita.
Turning for home in the Grade II Seabiscuit Handicap at a mile and one sixteenth over the Del Mar turf Nov. 25, it appeared that D’Amato’s top turf runner Hong Kong Harry had the race in-hand, but his stablemate Easter pinned his ears under Antonio Fresu and powered to a half length victory while earning a lofty 99 Beyer Speed Figure.
With Fresu set to ride him back, Easter, a 5-year-old gelding who had won three of his nine stateside starts with Maryland-based Graham Motion prior to the Seabiscuit, will be seeking his third consecutive stakes victory on Tuesday.
Owned by Madaket Stables, LLC, Easter was a half length winner of the restricted Lure Stakes at one mile on turf two starts back here on Oct. 28. With two wins from eight starts in France at ages two and three, Easter is 18-6-3-3 overall with earnings of $447,910.
Racing on the lead, D’Amato’s Tio Magico went on to a gutty neck win in a second condition allowance going 1 1/8 miles on turf here Nov. 2 and could very well be a part of the exacta with Flavien Prat taking over from Fresu, who sticks with Easter.
Originally headquartered at Woodbine Racecourse in Toronto, Tio Magico, a 5-year-old Ontario, Canadian-bred gelding by Uncle Mo, will be making his tenth start for D’Amato on Tuesday and his first in a stakes since joining the stable in the summer of 2022.
Bred by Sam-Son Farm and owned by Sam-Son Farm and Agave Racing Stable, Tio Magico, who earned a career-high 94 Beyer in his most recent start, has won two of his last three starts and is 18-4-2-3 overall with earnings of $287,919.
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