Three grade I winners are included in the field of nine set to go in Santa Anita's $100,000 Thunder Road Handicap (gr. IIIT) Feb. 5.
Though it is the lowest graded of three stakes on the program, the one-mile turf lineup came up extremely tough. Included are grade I victors Fluke, Dakota Phone and Victor's Cry, as well as veteran grade II winner Proudinsky , and Meteore, who also owns a grade II win.
The Thunder Road, set to go at 4:07 p.m. PST as the eighth race on the card, supports the $250,000 Las Virgenes (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies and the $200,000 Strub Stakes (gr. II) for 4-year-olds, both of which are on the main track.
Victor's Cry, winner of last spring's Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT) at 21-1 odds and freshened since an 11-1 surprise in the Citation Handicap (gr. IIT) Nov. 27, is the 122-pound high weight. The 6-year-old Virginia-bred son of Street Cry, owned by Equilete Stable and trained by Eoin Harty, tallied both of those upsets at Hollywood Park. He now returns to a Santa Anita course where his lone win came in an allowance on the hillside turf layout one year ago.
After winning the 1 1/16-mile Citation with a powerful late bid by nearly two lengths, Victor's Cry is back at what Harty believes is the ridgling's best distance. Victor Espinoza, aboard for the Citation, rides Victor's Cry from the far outside post.
Dakota Phone, winner of the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) in a 37-1 upset Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs, returns to the grass for the first time since a second-place finish behind The Usual Q. T. in a one-mile allowance at Hollywood Park in June. The 6-year-old Zavata gelding has won once in five tries on the turf for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and comes in off a well-beaten fifth in the San Pasqual Stakes (gr. II) on the Santa Anita main track Jan. 8. Joel Rosario rides.
Patricia Bozano's Brazilian-bred Fluke, also 6, won the 2009 Citation for trainer Humberto Ascanio when it was a grade I event. He has started just once since last April, finishing second in an allowance Nov. 27.
All three of the his races in 2010 ended in runner-up efforts, including the Frank E. Kilroe Handicap (gr. IT) in March when he was nosed by Proviso, and the Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT) one month later. Both races were at the Thunder Road distance over the Santa Anita turf course. Regular rider Joe Talamo is aboard.
The German-bred Proudinsky, also conditioned by Ascanio, embarks on his 8-year-old season for owner Stella Perdomo after just two starts in 2010, both seconds in the Citation and the San Gabriel Stakes (gr. IIT) Dec. 27. The son of Silvano won the San Gabriel in his previous start one year earlier. Patrick Valenzuela retains the mount.
Wertheimer and Frere's 5-year-old Meteore ran third in the Citation for trainer Richard Mandella and returned with a fifth-place showing in the San Gabriel. The son of Pulpit took the La Jolla Handicap (gr. IIT) at Del Mar in August 2009 but has lost nine races in a row since.
$100,000 Thunder Road Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Blue Chagall (FR), G K Gomez, 118, J C Canani
2. Fluke (BRZ), J Talamo, 120, H Ascanio
3. Dakota Phone (KY), J Rosario, 120, J Hollendorfer
4. Proudinsky (GER), P A Valenzuela, 120, H Ascanio
5. Meteore (KY), A Quinonez, 116, R E Mandella
6. Jazzman's Dance (KY), K Stra, 108, J Davidson
7. Skyrush (ARG), M A Pedroza, 116, D Vienna
8. Colgan's Chip (CA), B Blanc, 116, J Sahadi
9. Victor's Cry (VA), V Espinoza, 122, E G Harty