BC Turf Qualifiers to Try Santa Anita Course
by Jack Shinar
Date Posted: 9/27/2012 7:28:17 PM
Last Updated: 9/29/2012 2:31:26 PM
Turbo Compressor won the United Nations at Monmouth Park July 7.
Turbo Compressor and Casino Host, both qualifiers for the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) later this fall, will take a test spin over the Santa Anita Park course in the $150,000 John Henry Turf Championship (gr. IIT) Sept. 30.
Turbo Compressor, looking to bounce back from a withering defat in the Sword Dancer Stakes (gr. IT) at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 18, ships west from the upstate New York track for Todd Pletcher and will be making his Santa Anita debut in the 1 1/4-mile event. He qualified for and all-expense paid berth in the $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf Nov. 3 with his dandy front-running victory in the United Nations (gr. IT) at Monmouth Park July 7.
Casino Host, locally based for trainer Ron Ellis, won the Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT) Aug. 25 to also sew up a BC berth slot. He previously raced on the East Coast for Chad Brown and will also be getting his first racing experience on the Santa Anita lawn.
The John Henry was previously known as the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes when it was part of the Oak Tree Racing Association's autumn meet. It is one of several races renamed for the current meet by Santa Anita. The John Henry, named for one of the all-time greats in California racing, is race 9 on the Sunday program with an expected post of 5:08 p.m. PDT.
A good field of 10 is set for the John Henry. It includes Bourbon Bay, a multiple grade II winner who has won seven of nine starts on the Santa Anita grass, and grade II winner Slim Shadey (GB), who ran fifth in the United Nations as a slight favorite.
Bourbon Bay, Turbo Compressor, and Casino Host were each assigned top weight of 124 pounds.
Turbo Compressor won the Colonial Turf Cup prior to United Nations for owners P and G Stable and Off the Hook, and has three wins from six starts in his break-out season. A 4-year-old ridgling son of Halo's Image, the Florida-bred Turbo Compressor has found success as a front-runner and figures to be able to dictate the action once again. Joe Bravo will fly in for the mount and they will break from post 6.
Gary and Mary West's Casino Host closed well to get third in the 1 1/8-mile Eddie Read Stakes (gr. IT) and appreciated the extra quarter mile in the Del Mar Handicap. He caught 6-5 choice Dhaamer in deep stretch to prevail by a neck with Joe Talamo aboard at odds of 7-2. The pair are reunited for the John Henry.
Casino Host also won the Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots when under Brown's care April 1.
Bourbon Bay, from the Neil Drysdale barn for owners David and Jill Heerensperger, has not been out since winning the San Juan Capistrano Handicap (gr. IIT) by a nose on closing day of Santa Anita's winter/spring meet April 22. The 6-year-old Sligo Bay gelding loves Santa Anita, where he has won six grade II stakes on the turf over the past three years. His career mark stands at 9-5-4 in 26 races with earnings of $968,536.
Rafael Bejarano takes over on Bourbon Bay, replacing the departed Joel Rosario. They break from post 9.
Drysdale also entered David Heerensperger's Fire With Fire, who was third in the Del Mar Handicap after taking the lead in the stretch at odds of 27-1 in his graded stakes debut. Bourbon Bay and Fire With Fire race uncoupled.
Slim Shadey won the 10-furlong San Marcos (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita in February but has dropped five straight since. Trained by Simon Callaghan, the British-bred 4-year-old gelding has been given a bit of a break since a tiring fifth-place effort in the July 21 Eddie Read.
After winning just once in 13 starts to begin his career in Great Britain, Slim Shadey has posted two wins and three seconds from eight tries since the start of his 2012 campaign. Garrett Gomez rides.
Grassy, a two-time grade II winner in New York for tainer Christophe Clemente, makes his second Southern California appearance for Marty Jones. In his only start this year, the 6-year-old son of El Prado was fifth in an allowance/optional claiming heat at 1 1/16 miles on the Del Mar sod Aug. 30. He is owned by Button Stable, George Hicker, and Gary F. Jones. Grassy drew the rail and will be ridden by Alonso Quinonez.
Argentina-bred Interaction, second in the Eddie Read for trainer Ron McAnally, was outkicked in the Del Mar Handicap when well backed and wound up fifth, although beaten by less than two lengths. The 6-year-old son of Easing Along, owned by Pozo de Luna, is another in the John Henry field that was until recently based in the east. The well-traveled bay has also raced in the United Arab Emirates and Argentina, winning six of 17 starts.
Darley's Balladry would be making his third lifetime start on the turf. The 4-year-old Unbridled's Song colt was also entered in the Awesome Again Stakes (gr. I) a day earlier on the main track by trainer Eoin Harty. Balladry last raced July 27, finishing third in the Cougar II Handicap (gr. III) on Del Mar's Polytrack.
Completing the field are Temple's Door, an allowance/optional claiming winner at Del Mar last month for trainer Jeff Mullins, and Brushburn, eighth in the Del Mar Handicap.
$150,000 John Henry Turf Championship Stakes (gr. II, Race 9, 5:08 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Grassy (KY), A Quinonez, 119, M F Jones
2. Balladry (KY), P A Valenzuela, 119, E G Harty
3. Casino Host (KY), J Talamo, 124, R W Ellis
4. Temple's Door (KY), M E Smith, 119, J Mullins
5. Interaction (ARG), V Espinoza, 119, R L McAnally
6. Turbo Compressor (FL), J Bravo, 124, T A Pletcher
7. Fire With Fire (KY), M Garcia, 119, N D Drysdale
8. Slim Shadey (GB), G K Gomez, 121, S Callaghan
9. Bourbon Bay (KY), R Bejarano, 124, N D Drysdale
10. Brushburn (CA), B Blanc, 119, S Knapp
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