Quick Casablanca (left) and Fire With Fire (right) finished a head apart in the Last Tycoon.

Quick Casablanca (left) and Fire With Fire (right) finished a head apart in the Last Tycoon.

Benoit Photo

Last Tycoon Rematch Set in Whittingham Stakes

Quick Casablanca, Fire With Fire reprise their terrific finish May 24 at Santa Anita.

Quick Casablanca and Fire With Fire, separated by a head the last time they met for their respective Hall of Fame trainers, will battle again in the $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes (gr. IIT) on the Santa Anita Park turf May 24.

Ron McAnally got the better of his training counterpart Neil Drysdale when Quick Casablanca rallied to overtake pacesetter Fire With Fire by a head at the wire in the Last Tycoon Stakes (gr. IIIT) April 25. Now their charges will go at it again with an extra eighth of a mile to negotiate in the 1 1/4-mile Whittingam, contested for the first time at Santa Anita.

Nine older horses are entered, with David Heerensperger's 6-year-old Fire With Fire, front-running winner of the 1 1/2-mile San Luis Rey Stakes (gr. IIT) March 22, packing top weight of 124 pounds. He'll spot most of his rivals, including Quick Casablanca, five pounds while seeking to give Drysdale a seventh win in the race. That would tie him with his mentor Whittingham, who racked up his victories when the race was known as the Hollywood Invitational Turf Handicap. The race was a grade I until last year.

The Whittingham, race 7 of nine on the Santa Anita Saturday card, is tentatively set for a 4 p.m. PDT post.

Quick Casablanca, an imposing Chilean-bred campaigned by Pablo Gomez, broke through in the Last Tycoon with his first United States victory in six starts. The dual grade I winner in his native country began his North American career in New York with trainer Chistophe Clement last spring; he made his first start for McAnally last time out.

McAnally has won the Whittingham four times in his career, three times with John Henry (1980-81, '84) and also with Sweet Return in 2005.

Joe Talamo has the return ride on Quick Casablanca from gate 2, while Drysdale again turns the reigns on Fire With Fire over to Tyler Baze from post 6.

Others in the field include Alain and Gerard Wertheimer's Segway, an impressive gate-to-wire allowance winner going 1 1/8 miles on turf May 10. The 5-year-old Giant's Causeway  gelding has solid graded stakes credentials and along with Fire With Fire and Bright Thought, figures to ensure a solid pace in the Whittingham.

Trained by another Hall of Fame conditioner, Richard Mandella, Segway was a close third four starts back in the Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IIT) at 1 1/2 miles Dec. 14. Mandella won the Whittingham in 1996 with Brazilian Sand Pit.

Pressing Fire With Fire in the Last Tycoon, Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s Joelito tired late to finish sixth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths at odds of 3-1. The Whittingham will be his first try beyond 1 1/8 miles and his fourth attempt in added-money competition. A 4-year-old colt by Rock Hard Ten, Joelito is owned by J.W. Singer.

Bright Thought returns to Southern California after setting the pace and fading to ninth in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT), a nine-furlong test won by two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan at Churchill Downs May 3. Trained by Jorge Gutierrez and owned by Dye and Venneri Racing, Bright Thought’s career highlight came in last year’s San Luis Rey Stakes, when he coasted home in front by 3 1/4 lengths in an outstanding time of 2:22.72. 

Making up the rest of the field are French-bred African Oil, the Argentinian group II winner Dr Action, Gainesway homebred Irish Surf , and former claimer Soi Phet.

$200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes (gr. IIT, Race 7, 4 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Soi Phet (CA), M Garcia, 119, L Powell
2. Quick Casablanca (CHI), J Talamo, 119, R L McAnally
3. Bright Thought (KY), V Espinoza, 119, J Gutierrez
4. African Oil (FR), K J Desormeaux, 119, S Callaghan
5. Irish Surf (KY), E Trujillo, 119, D L Hendricks
6. Fire With Fire (KY), T Baze, 124, N D Drysdale
7. Segway (KY), G L Stevens, 119, R E Mandella
8. Joelito (KY), C S Nakatani, 119, J Hollendorfer
9. Dr Action (ARG), T J Pereira, 121, P Miller