Combacker Notional Makes Turf Debut
Photo: Benoit
Grade II winner Notional, runner-up in last year's Florida Derby (gr. I) but sidelined by a fractured ankle soon after, begins his 4-year-old campaign on Santa Anita's hillside turf course in the $75,000 Daytona Handicap Feb. 17.

Trained by Doug O'Neill for owner J. Paul Reddam, Notional won both San Rafael (gr. II) and Risen Star (gr. III) stakes last winter leading up to the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby March 31. The California-bred colt by In Excess gave a game effort, rallying for second, 1 1/4 lengths behind Scat Daddy.

In April, Notional suffered a non-displaced condylar fracture of the left front ankle during a routine gallop over Keeneland’s Polytrack while preparing for the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

Notional, who has won three of six starts and earned $503,200, was assigned top weight of 120 pounds for his grass debut. A full field is entered for the about 6 1/2-furlong test. Garrett Gomez will ride Notional for the first time.

Tarabilla Farms’ 4-year-old colt Desert Code, who will carry 118, won the Baldwin Stakes (gr. IIIT) over the downhill layout last March. Desert Code’s record on grass is 2-1-1 in four starts. He faltered badly in his last start, the Malibu Stakes (gr. IT) on the main track Dec. 26. Richard Migliore has the return riding engagement for trainer David Hofmans.

Battle Won was victorious in his only start down the hillside for trainer Mike Mitchell Jan. 20. The hard-trying 8-year-old, owned by Jay and Gretchen Manoogian, has faced graded stakes company in 14 of his last 17 races. Rafael Bejarano will be aboard the bay gelding, a winner of $786,756 from a career record of 8-8-4 in 30 starts.

Defending Daytona champion Night Chapter, co-owned by trainer Bobby Frankel in partnership with Diamond Pride, is back. A 7-year-old, Night Chapter sports a 2-1-2 mark over the course while his overall record is 7-3-4 in 26 starts for earnings of $304,718. Brice Blanc, aboard for last year’s triumph, has the return call.

$75,000 Daytona Handicap (Race 9, 4:30 p.m.), 4 & Up, About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Desert Code (KY), 118, Richard Migliore
2. Night Chapter (GB), 117, Brice Blanc
3. El Don (CA), 116, Joseph Talamo
4. Tenga Cat (KY), 113, Alonso Quinonez
5. Stoneside (IRE), 117, Victor Espinoza
6. Battle Won (KY), 117, Rafael Bejarano
7 Gotaghostofachance (MD), 116, Jon K. Court
8. Moth Ball (GB), 115, Michael C. Baze
9. Notional (CA), 120, Garrett K. Gomez
10. Zoning In (CA), 116, Tyler Baze
11. Cheroot (CA), 117, Martin A. Pedroza
12. Hello Sunday (FR), 117, David R. Flores
Also Eligible
13. Bestdressed (CA), 110, Martin Garcia

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