Congaree, looking to establish himself as the class of national handicap picture, trounced a solid field in Saturday's $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita.
Stonerside Stables' Congaree, smashing 5 ½-length winner of the Cigar Mile (gr. I) at Aqueduct on Nov. 30, faces a daunting task as the 121-pound high weight when he takes on 10 seasoned stakes campaigners in Saturday's $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap (Gr. II) for older horses at 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita.
A field of six is likely for the 1 1/16-mile, $70,000-added Steinlen Handicap over the Hollywood Park turf Sunday.
Decarchy, White Heart and Freedom Crest, three major stakes winners who all went to the sidelines this spring, are ready to launch comebacks Sunday in the $70,000-added Steinlen Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on turf.
When jockey Chris McCarron booted home Seinne a half-length winner in the $150,000 Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT), he became the first rider in Santa Anita Park history to ride three graded stakes winner on the same card. Previously on the day, McCarron was in the irons for graded stakes wins in the San Bernardino Handicap (gr. II) and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I).
Trainer Paco Gonzalez hopes to set the stage for his own daily double Saturday at Santa Anita Park. He'll start by winning the $200,000 San Bernardino Handicap (gr. II) with Bosque Redondo, then two races later cap off his day by taking the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) with probable favorite Came Home.
Freedom Crest is being prepared to make his 6-year-old debut in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) on March 2. The Kentucky-bred son of To Freedom last raced in October, when last in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) after defeating Tiznow and Skimming in the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Hnadicap (gr. II).
Kona Gold and Tiznow go down to defeat in their preps for the World Thoroughbred Championships
Led by defending champion Skimming, Dubai World Cup winner Captain Steve and Hollywood Gold Cup top finisher Futural, the field of seven drawn for Sunday's grade II, $250,000 San Diego Handicap could prove to be one of the best in the 60 runnings of the historic race.
After winning a duel with Lesters Boy early on, Smile Again was headed in the stretch by 13-10 favorite Freedom Crest before fighting back to post a neck-length win in Saturday's $100,000 Bel Air Handicap (gr. II) at Hollywood Park. Earlier on the card, 2-year-old filly Georgia's Storm led from wire-to-wire in winning the $108,400 Landaluce Stakes (gr. III) under Chris McCarron.
It will be student versus teacher in the $100,000 Bel Air Handicap at Hollywood Park when trainer Richard Baltas and Freedom Crest meets the Richard Mandella-trained Out Of Mind. Baltas assisted Mandella for 1 1/2 years before going out on his own.
Morton Fink's Guided Tour, shipped into Southern California from Louisiana by trainer Niall O'Callaghan, posted a mild upset in the $300,000 San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park on Sunday, defeating Lethal Instrument by a length and a half under jockey Larry Melancon. Moonlight Charger finished third, with ex-claimer Freedom Crest, the odds-on favorite, bringing up the rear in the eight-horse field.
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