Irish-bred Daytona, a 4-year-old Indian Ridge gelding trained by Dan Hendricks, won four successive graded stakes, including a pair at Santa Anita, before finishing a close third when favored in the March 8 Mervyn Munoz Jr. Handicap (gr. IIT) at the Fair Grounds. In the 1 1/8-mile Munoz, contested on yielding ground, Daytona took the field deep into the stretch before being overtaken by one length by Proudinsky. He lost the runner-up spot by a head to French Beret.
Daytona's victories during the hot streak came in the Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT) and Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) late in 2007 and the San Gabriel (gr. IIT) and Fair Grounds (gr. IIIT) handicaps this year. Owned by the partnership of Jeff Davenport, Tom Lenner, Jess Ravich and Thomas Murray, Daytona has achieved a career record of 6-2-3 in 13 races for earnings of $691,390.
Alex Solis, aboard Daytona in the Munoz, retains the mount for Hendricks. Daytona carries top weight of 120 pounds and will break from post position 3.
Storm Military, breaking from the outside for trainer Bobby Frankel, can be expected to provide Daytona with some company on the front end with David Flores aboard. The 6-year-old Argentina-bred horse dueled on the front end in the Frank Kilroe Mile Handicap (gr. IT) on the Santa Anita grass March 1 before weakening late to finish fourth, 4 1/4 lengths behind the victorious Ever a Friend, who is not in the Arcadia field.
The race also draws the Kilroe runner-up, Artiste Royal, who was making his first start in three months for trainer Neil Drysdale. The 7-year-old Irish-bred Danehill ridgling won Oak Tree's 10-furlong Clement Hirsch (gr. IT) on the Santa Anita lawn last October.
Hyperbaric returned from a 14-month layoff to run second, beaten a nose in an allowance race on the hillside turf course Feb. 25 for trainer Julio Canani and owner Prestonwood Racing. The 5-year-old Sky Classic gelding won the first three races of his career before going to the sidelines following a ninth-place finish in the 2006 Malibu Stakes (gr. I).
Also on the comeback trail is the Irish-bred Golden Balls, last seen finishing second in the Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Hollywood Park lawn last June for trainer James Cassidy.
No Dream, a stakes winner in France who ran sixth in the 2007 French Derby (Fr-I), tries to rebound from a 10th-place finish in the Sir Beaufort (gr. IIIT) in his U.S. debut for Richard Mandella Dec. 26.
$150,000 Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 7, 3 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Hyperbaric (KY), 113, Tyler Baze
2. No Dream (KY), 113, Victor Espinoza
3. Daytona (IRE), 120, Alex O. Solis
4. Artiste Royal (IRE), 118, Corey S. Nakatani
5. Golden Balls (IRE), 116, Brice Blanc
6. Crested (GB), 115, Richard Migliore
7. Storm Military (ARG), 115, David R. Flores