Don Alberto Stable’s Unique Bella and jockey Mike Smith win the Grade II, $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes, Sunday, February 5, 2017 at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia CA. © BENOIT PHOTO
RACE HONORS THE MEMORY OF JOE HERNANDEZ, THE ORIGINAL ‘VOICE OF SANTA ANITA’
ARCADIA, Calif. (March 1, 2017)—A Kentucky Derby hopeful a year ago, Danzing Candy will try turf for the first time as he makes his first start in eight months in Saturday’s $75,000 Joe Hernandez Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course. Joining Danzing Candy in a wide open field of eight older horses are several in good recent form, including Fabozzi, Stormy Liberal, Perfectly Majestic and Forest Chatter.
DANZING CANDY: A winner of last year’s Grade II San Felipe Stakes when trained by Clifford Sise, he was subsequently well beaten in both the Santa Anita and Kentucky Derbies and was then transferred to Bob Baffert, for whom he debuted in the Grade III Affirmed Stakes here on July 2, running second as the 1-5 favorite. Blessed with an abundance of natural speed, he was a gate to wire winner of the San Felipe and has been training well for his return, as evidenced by a bullet six furlong move in 1:11.60 from the gate on Feb. 15. A Kentucky-bred colt by Twirling Candy, he was bred by Halo Farms and is owned in part by Halo Farms and Mr. and Mrs. James Bashor. Danzing Candy will be reunited with Mike Smith, who has been aboard for all three of his career wins.
STORMY LIBERAL: Owned by Gary Hartunian’s Rockingham Ranch and trained by Peter Miller, this 5-year-old Stormy Atlantic gelding ran the best race of his career down the hillside turf here on Jan. 29, taking the restricted Clockers’ Corner Stakes in gate to wire fashion by 1 ½ lengths under Norberto Arroyo, Jr., who rides him back on Saturday. A course specialist, all four of his lifetime wins have come down the hill and he’s been second over the course three times, from nine tries. With an overall mark of 17-4-6-1, he has earnings of $247,570.
PERFECTLY MAJESTIC: Although well beaten going a mile and a quarter on turf in the Grade II San Marcos Stakes on Feb. 4, this 5-year-old gelding by Majesticperfection has plenty of back class and is a solid 3-1-1-1 over the course. With what appears to be an abundance of speed signed on, look for Kent Desormeaux to have this veteran rolling late for longtime primary client, Bob Hess, Jr. Owned by Griffin Thoroughbred Stables and Schroeder Farms, LLC, Perfectly Majestic is 22-4-6-7 overall with earnings of $340,503.
FABOZZI: Trained by Mark Glatt, this 4-year-old gelding by Sidney’s Candy appears to be coming to his best as he cuts back in distance from two consecutive wins going a flat mile on turf, the most recent here on Feb. 4, a race in which he got a career best 94 Beyer Speed figure. Owned by William Branch and Norman Stables, LLC, Fabozzi, who will be ridden back by leading rider Flavien Prat, has three wins from seven starts and will be making his first added money appearance in the Hernandez.
THE JOE HERNANDEZ STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 7 of 10 Approximate post time 3:30 p.m. PT
1. Danzing Candy—Mike Smith—120 2. Forest Chatter—Joe Talamo—120 3. Fabozzi—Flavien Prat—122 4. No Silent—Stewart Elliott—120 5. Forever Juanito—Tyler Baze—120 6. Perfectly Majestic—Kent Desormeaux—120 7. Clever Royal—Corey Nakatani—120 8. Stormy Liberal—Norberto Arroyo, Jr.—124
First post time for a 10-race card on Saturday will be at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates will open at 10:30 a.m. For scratches, changes and complete morning line information, please visit santaanita.com.