Columbine Stable and trainer Beau Greeley hope to end a string of frustrating near misses with Sligo Bay in Saturday's Arcadia Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park.
The 4 year old, Irish-bred son of Sadler's Wells, out of Angelic Song, lost his last three races by less then 1 1/2 lengths combined. The colt hasn't won a race since May 20 last year when he won the Cinema Handicap (gr. III).
Greeley certainly hasn't ducked tough competition since Sligo Bay came stateside last year. The bay colt was run down in the final furlong of the Hollywood Derby (gr. I) by Bobby Frankel's Denon, then got nosed at the wire in the San Gabriel Handicap (gr. II) by Neil Drysdale's Irish Prize, who is the Arcadia's 2-1 early morning favorite.
Sligo Bay isn't a "hard-luck" horse to Greeley.
"He's a good horse, he just hasn't had the 'bob' go his way," said Greeley from his Hollywood Park stable office Wednesday. "That's going to happen in horseracing."
The Arcadia will be Sligo Bay's first start of the year.
"We gave him a few months off after the (San Gabriel Handicap Dec. 30)," said Greeley. "The bigger money races start up about now, so hopefully, he can get his year off to a good start right now."
Irish Prize will carry 122 pounds, while Sligo Bay will tote 116 pounds.
The nine-furlong turf test was renamed in 2001, and was run as the El Rincon Handicap since its inception in 1988, through 2000. Saturday's edition will be the 15th running. The field for the Arcadia Handicap, for older horses at 1 1/8 miles on turf, from the rail out is:
Irish Prize, Gary Stevens, 122;
Kerrygold, David Flores, 114;
(a) Sumitas, Kent Desormeaux, 116;
(a) Homeland, Brice Blanc, 112;
Sumati, Pat Valenzuela, 111;
Night Patrol, Victor Espinoza, 112;
Seinne, Chris McCarron, 113;
Sligo Bay, Laffit Pincay Jr., 116,
El Gran Papa, Alex Solis, 114.
(a) Gary A. Tanaka-owned entry.