Surprise winner of the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) two months ago, former claimer Furthest Land returns to Santa Anita Jan. 9 for the $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap (gr. II).
Seven are entered for the 1 1/16-mile Pro-Ride test with Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Furthest Land drawing the far outside post and the top weight assignment of 121 pounds. Garrett Gomez has the call on the 5-year-old son of Smart Strike for trainer Mike Maker.
Gomez was not along for the ride when Furthest Land captured the Dirt Mile at Santa Anita by three-quarters of a length over Ready's Echo at odds of 21-1 Nov. 6. That win belonged to Julien Leparoux. But the Eclipse Award-winning jockey won the Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) with the dark bay gelding at Turfway Park prior to the Breeders' Cup.
The ever-astute Ken Ramsey counts Furthest Land as his best claim ever after he plucked the Kentucky bred out of a $35,000 turf event at Belmont Park Oct. 24, 2008. Furthest Land has won 7 of 11 races since, including a 6-for-9 campaign last year with earnings of more than $800,000.
Overall, Furthest Land has an 8-2-1 career mark in 16 races and purses totaling $869,689. He previously ran for trainer Christophe Clement.
Winning his synthetic track debut at Keeneland in April, Furthest Land is perfect in three starts over the surface. In the Dirt Mile, he sat patiently in third before challenging in the final furlong to get home over Ready's Echo. The latter is a Todd Pletcher runner that was also nominated to the San Pasqual but was forced to miss the race with an ankle problem.
Ramsey suggested after the Breeders' Cup that the next major goal for Furthest Land could be the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) March 27.
Bold Chieftain, who reached millionaire status with his second victory in the California Cup Classic last fall, could present the biggest challenge to Furthest Land in the San Pasqual. The 7-year-old son of Chief Seattle counts 11 stakes wins among his 14 victories from a 32-race career. He is on a three-race winning streak after capturing the 1 1/16-mile San Quentin Stakes at Golden Gate Fields in his most recent start Nov. 27.
Trained by Bill Morey Jr., Bold Chieftain was entered after recording a :47 4/5 half-mile drill in company at Golden Gate Fields Jan. 3. The dark bay has career earnings of $1,122,411 and will be ridden once more by Russell Baze.
Nownownow, who won the San Fernando Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita against 4-year-olds last January, makes his first start in nearly 10 months for trainer Patrick Biancone. Nownownow has not raced since finishing third, a neck behind the victorious Proudinsky in the Mervin Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT) on the Fair Grounds turf last March. The 5-year-old son of Whywhywhy won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Monmouth Park in 2007.
He’s a nice horse,” jockey Joe Talamo said. “I worked him his last few times and he’s definitely fit. He seems to love the track. He’s run some nice races over it, and if he has some pace to run at, it will help.”
Nownownow has a lifetime mark of 3-3-2 in 15 starts while banking $830,599 for Fab Oak Stable and partners.
Rosewood Stables' Cherokee Artist gets back to his favored synthetic track following a fifth-place finish in the San Gabriel Handicap (g. IIT) on grass two weeks ago for trainer Graham Motion. The 5-year-old son of Cherokee Run won the Presque Isle Downs Mile on a Tapeta Footings surface by three lengths in September and has a couple of victories over Santa Anita's synthetic track.
Rafael Bejarano takes over the riding chores from Jeremy Rose.
Consistent Neko Bay , in the money in 10 of 12 lifetime starts for trainer John Shirreffs and owners Jerry and Ann Moss, looks for his first graded stakes win. The 7-year-old Giant's Causeway horse ran sixth in the Dirt Mile and came back to place third in the Native Diver Handicap (gr. III) as the favorite Dec. 12.
Goldsville, trained by Peter Eurton, and Spurrier, from the Bob Baffert barn, each step up out of allowance company.
$150,000 San Pasqual Handicap (gr. II, Race 8, 4:07 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Cherokee Artist (KY), R Bejarano, 115, H G Motion
2. Bold Chieftain (CA), R A Baze, 119, W J Morey, Jr.
3. Nownownow (KY), J Talamo, 116, P L Biancone
4. Goldsville (FL), A O Solis, 113, P Eurton
5. Neko Bay (KY), M E Smith, 115, J A Shirreffs
6. Spurrier (KY), J Rosario, 113, B Baffert
7. Furthest Land (KY), G K Gomez, 121, M J Maker