Bayamo, freshened since his runner-up effort in the Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) at Del Mar more than two months ago, rates an edge in a solid field of seven older horses entered for the $250,000 Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship (gr. IT) at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting Sunday.
Trainer Julio Canani gave his 5-year-old Valanour gelding a break after Bayamo completed four tough races during the summer. In the 1 1/8-mile Eddie Read July 25, the Irish bred, owned by Prestonwood Farm, lost to stable mate Special Ring by three-quarters of a length. That effort followed a 4 1/2-length victory over Sarafan in the American Handicap (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park three weeks earlier.
Bayamo's summer campaign came after an 11-month recess while recovering from bone chips in an ankle.
The Hirsch is an extra furlong and that could be the advantage of Star Over the Bay, stubborn winner of both the Sunset Handicap (gr. IIT) and Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT) this summer. In both of those races, the 6-year-old Mike Mitchell-trained gelding looked beaten a furlong from home but battled back to pull out victory. Star Over the Bay was an $80,000 claim by Mitchell in May for a partnership that is headed by Carl Van Burger and Landon Vaughn.
Another multiple graded stakes winner, the 7-year-old gelding Sarafan, has run second to both of the top choices recently for trainer Neil Drysdale and owner Gary Tanaka. Sandwiched around a victory in the Escondido Handicap Aug. 4 were runner-up finishes to Bayamo in the American and by a neck to Star Over the Bay in the Del Mar Handicap.
The Tin Man, who figures to set the pace, is expected to show improvement form his two most recent efforts, which came following a long layoff for trainer Richard Mandella.
Vangelis and Ballingarry were fifth and sixth, respectively, in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) in late August. Puerto Banus, making his first start since March 20 when he was fifth as the favorite in the San Luis Rey (gr. IIT). He won the 12-furlong San Luis Obispo (gr. IIT) prior to that. $250,000 Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship (gr. IT), 3 & up, 1 1/4 miles (turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. The Tin Man, Mike Smith
2. Puerto Banus, Victor Espinoza
3. Ballingarry, Rene Douglas
4. Sarafan, Corey Nakatani
5. Star Over the Bay, Tyler Baze
6. Bayamo, David Flores
7. Vangelis, Jose Valdivia Jr.
All carry 124 pounds.