· A YEAR LATER, NO PRATFALLS FOR FLAVIEN · CHROME ARRIVES SUNDAY AT SANTA ANITA · BEHOLDER BREEZES FRIDAY FOR ZENYATTA · PLUM CANDY RIPE FOR FRONTRUNNER STAKES · NYQUIST SETTLES IN FOR PENNSYLVANIA DERBY · MASOCHISTIC IN BULLET BREEZE FOR SPRINT
PRAT LOOKS FORWARD TO BREEDERS’ CUP What a difference a year makes. On Sept. 17, 2015, Flavien Prat suffered serious injuries in a riding spill that would force him to miss the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland six weeks later. Fast forward to Sept. 17, 2016. The 24-year-old Frenchman wins the Grade I Northern Dancer Turf at Woodbine aboard The Pizza Man and is now is healthy as a horse for his Breeders’ Cup foray at Santa Anita come Nov. 4 and 5. “September 17, 2015, we’re at Los Alamitos, Flavien takes a spill and hurts his back,” recounted his full-time agent for the past two years, Derek Lawson. “September 17, 2016, we ride the Pizza Man at Woodbine and win a Grade I. “Flavien was out for three months after the spill, but he’s back now and in the best condition he’s been in. All the other stuff is behind us now.” Evidence of that was bold and clear when Prat tied perennial Southern California riding king Rafael Bejarano for the recent Del Mar riding title. Each won 38 races. “He has 137 wins so far this year,” Lawson pointed out. “He’s developed a super-great relationship with two other French riders, Julien Leparoux and Florian Giroux. They’re all buddies, they all win tons of races and they challenge each other on the race track. “Each has his own set of riding skills they use at various points in a race, and when they’re competing against each other, it’s fun to watch.” Giroux will be at Santa Anita opening day to ride Zipessa for trainer Michael Stidham in the Eddie D. Stakes. “The big thing was winning the Del Mar title,” Lawson continued. “Even though it was a tie, there are dead heats in racing, and I told Flavien, ‘Hey, we dead-heated for a win.’ It was a lot of fun and now we start at Santa Anita and see how we do in the Breeders’ Cup.” Prat’s expected Breeders’ Cup mounts include Lord Nelson in the Sprint, Avenge in the Filly & Mare Turf, and With Honors in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
CHROME TO WORK SATURDAY FOR AWESOME AGAIN Mighty California Chrome, riding a five-race winning streak, will work seven furlongs early Saturday at his Los Alamitos headquarters for the Grade I, Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race Saturday, Oct. 1, at Santa Anita. “He’ll ship to Santa Anita early Sunday,” trainer Art Sherman said by phone Thursday from the Cypress track. California Chrome worked six furlongs last Saturday at Los Al in a bullet 1:13.20. The five-year-old California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit won the Pacific Classic last out by five lengths on Aug. 20 and has won each of his last five races by daylight margins, boosting his career earnings to a North American record $13,252,650. Three-time Eclipse Award champion Beholder, meanwhile, is scheduled to work six furlongs at Santa Anita early Friday morning for Richard Mandella, who conditions the six-year-old daughter of Henny Hughes for B. Wayne Hughes. Beholder will attempt to turn the tables on 2015 Three-Year-Old Filly champion Stellar Wind in the Zenyatta Stakes on Oct. 1. Stellar Wind upset Beholder in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on July 30. If ever there was a horse for course, however, it’s Beholder, winner of 13 races from 14 starts at Santa Anita. The Awesome Again and the Zenyatta are two of five Grade I, “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge events on the second day of Santa Anita’s 23-day Winter Meet. Santa Anita hosts the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for an unprecedented ninth time on Nov. 4 and 5. Supplementing the headline events will be the FrontRunner Stakes for two-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles; the Chandelier Stakes for two-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles; and the Rodeo Drive Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at 1 ¼ miles on Santa Anita’s renovated turf course. Victory gives the winning horse in each race a fees paid berth to its respective Breeders’ Cup event. On Saturday, Oct. 8, the Grade I Santa Anita Sprint Championship for three year olds and up at six furlongs will serve as a springboard to the $1.5 million TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 5. Santa Anita’s 23-day Autumn Meet starts on Friday, Sept. 30 and concludes on Sunday, Nov. 6. Friday’s feature is the $100,000, Grade III Eddie D., named for one of the game’s greatest riders, Hall of Fame member Eddie Delahoussaye. The ever-popular Cajun will be on hand to present a trophy to the winning connections. Entries for next Saturday and Sunday’s races will be taken a week from today, Wednesday, Sept. 28. Friday’s opening day card will be drawn on Tuesday, Sept. 27. First post time opening day will be 1 p.m. First post Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 1 and 2, will be 12:30 p.m.
PLUM CANDY STEPS UP IN GRADE IN FRONTRUNNER Simon Callaghan is looking forward to seeing Spendthrift Farm’s Plum Candy run in the Grade I, $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles come Saturday, Nov. 5. But first things first, and that would be the FrontRunner Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Oct.1. “He broke his maiden impressively at Del Mar,” the trainer said of the son of Medaglia d’Oro. “He relaxes good and he gets the distance well, but it’s a big step up from maiden company to a Grade I where there are more established two-year-olds.” Also probable for the FrontRunner are Del Mar Futurity winner Klimt, Rafael Bejarano, and third-place Futurity finisher Midnight Pleasure, Martin Garcia. Klimt worked five furlongs Wednesday for Bob Baffert in 1:00.40.
NYQUIST SETTLES IN FOR PENNSYLVANIA DERBY Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist is on the scene at Parx in Bensalem, Pa., for Saturday’s $1.25 million Pennsylvania Derby, and trainer Doug O’Neill will fly out Friday to join the champion two-year-old colt owned by Paul and Zillah Reddam. “I talked to the boys this morning,” O’Neill said Thursday at Santa Anita. “He tracked and visited the gate today, stood in there, met the gate crew, and we’re optimistic about Saturday. “Getting him there usually is fine, but still, going from a van to a plane, back to a van, new stalls, anything can happen, but so far, so good, a very smooth transition.”
FINISH LINES: Masochistic, Daily Racing Form’s early 7-2 favorite for the $2 million TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 5, worked four furlongs Thursday in a bullet 47.60, breezing. Santa Anita clocker Dane Nelson recorded a quarter mile clocking of 23.40 with a five furlong gallop out time of 1:01 flat. “Awesome” is how trainer Ron Ellis described the move. Masochistic will pass the Grade I “Win and You’re In” Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 8 and train up to the BC Sprint. “He runs well fresh,” Ellis said . . . On opening day next Friday, Lady Shipman will take on males in the Grade III Eddie D. Stakes for three-year-olds and up at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Lady Shipman is a virtual win machine, having won 13 of 19 career starts at tracks including Parx, Woodbine, Pimlico, Belmont, Gulfstream and Saratoga. If the four-year-old daughter of Midshipman fares well in the Eddie D., it could be on to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint against males on Nov. 5.