Although his Derby Trail run ended with disappointment, grade I winner Tamarando has a chance to claim a lucrative consolation prize as the likely favorite in the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes April 26 at Santa Anita Park.
For 3-year-olds at 1 1 1/8 miles on turf, the Snow Chief is the co-featured event in the California Gold Rush, comprised this year of five stakes worth a combined $850,000 for state-sired horses as part of the Golden State Series. Eight were entered in the Snow Chief, which is race 10 on the Saturday card with a scheduled post time of 5:30 p.m. PDT.
This will be the first year that Santa Anita hosts the Gold Rush, which was previously conducted at Hollywood Park.
The other stakes on the program are the $250,000 Melair (race 9), for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the main track; the $125,000 Spring Fever (race 7) for older fillies and mares at six furlongs on the main track; the $125,000 Tiznow (race 5) for older horses at one mile on the main track; and the $100,000 Fran's Valentine (race 4) for older fillies and mares at one mile on the grass.
Tamarando, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for owners/breeders Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams, will be making his turf debut. He looks to rebound from an eighth-place finish in the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes (gr. III) as the favorite March 22 on the Polytrack at Turfway Park. Away slowly under Russell Baze, the Bertrando colt was never involved while finishing 11 1/2 lengths back.
Winner of the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) at Golden Gate Fields Feb. 15, Tamarando also captured the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) last summer. He possesses a career mark of 4-2-3 in 11 races with earnings of $630,120, by the far the most in the field. Jockey Rafael Bejarano takes over.
Hollendorfer also will saddle Tommy Town Thoroughbreds homebred Pray Hard, who will try two turns for the first time and help to ensure a solid pace. A gelding by Kafwain, Pray Hard was an impressive three-length Cal-bred allowance winner as the 3-5 favorite two starts back going six furlongs. He comes off a fourth-place finish at 6 1/2 furlongs in Santa Anita's Echo Eddie Stakes April 5. Corey Nakatani gets the mount.
Northern California-based trainer Blaine Wright got his first Santa Anita stakes win with Alert Bay in the Echo Eddie, as the City Zip gelding rallied to win by a half-length under Tyler Baze, who retains the ride. A one-mile turf maiden winner three starts back at Golden Gate Feb. 2, Alert Bay seeks his fourth consecutive win in the Snow Chief for owner Peter Redekop.
The speedy Rovenna, a 2 3/4-length winner of the Evening Jewel Stakes for sprinters April 5, seeks her third consecutive victory in the Melair Stakes. Trained by Michael Machowsky for owner/breeder Donald Dizney, the daughter of Vronsky will be trying the 1 1/16-mile distance for the first time. Victor Espinoza rides her back.
Rovenna was a first-out open maiden special weight winner last July at Calder Casino & Race Course, and has made her last seven starts in Southern California for Machowsky. Although winless from two tries at a mile, she ran a respectable third in the state-bred Golden State Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita Nov. 1, and was a close third in the Cal Cup Oaks Jan. 25. Rovenna has amassed earnings of $257,760 from an overall mark of 3-1-3 in eight starts.
Hollendorfer’s Swiss Lake Yodeler defeated Rovenna by a length in the seven-furlong Soviet Problem Stakes Dec. 21, and by 2 1/4 lengths in the Golden State Juvenile Fillies before that. The Swiss Yodeler miss, also owned and bred by Mr. and Mrs. Williams, will try to rebound following a 24 3/4-length drubbing in the Pure Romance Bourbonette Oaks (gr. III) at Turfway Park March 22.
Veteran trainer Hector Palma has an improving filly in Magic Spot, who will be seeking her third win in a row in her first stakes try. A one-mile turf maiden winner versus state-breds Feb. 7, the daughter of Papa Clem won a Cal-bred allowance impressively in front-running style March 21. With Bejarano opting to ride Swiss Lake Yodeler, Magic Spot will be handled for the first time by Mike Smith.
Owned by BG Stable and Palma, Magic Spot has two wins and two thirds from five starts.
Multiple stakes-winning Marks Mine heads a field of eight older fillies in the Spring Fever. Trained by Steve Specht for Mr. and Mrs. Williams, the 4-year-old filly by Benchmark comes off a half-length win as the even money favorite in the six-furlong Camilla Urso Stakes March 15 at Golden Gate Fields.
Marks Mine has an impressive resume that includes seven wins, two seconds and a third from 10 starts at six furlongs; she is 8-4-2 overall from 16 races and is the leading money earner in the field with $363,854.
The Williams family also has the standout in the Tiznow with Rousing Sermon, who has $710,092 in career earnings while winning five of 26 starts for Hollendorfer. The 5-year-old horse by Lucky Pulpit looms the horse to beat despite finishing a well beaten sixth in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) March 8. Bejarano is aboard once again.
Hollendorfer will also saddle William Ziering’s homebred 7-year-old Kate's Event, the elder statesman in a field of seven. A winner of last year's Tiznow at Hollywood, the son of Event of the Year would be best suited with a fast pace to run at.
The Hall of Fame trainer sends out multiple graded stakes winner Halo Dolly in the Fran's Velentine as well. Winner of the Dream of Summer Stakes last time out, the 6-year-old daughter of Popular can surpass $1 million in career earnings in the Fran's Valentine, a race she was sixth in last year.
Although winless in three tries over the Santa Anita lawn, she has eight wins from 10 starts at a mile on grass for owners Hollendorfer, Michael O’Farrell, Joe Schneider, George Todaro, and partners.
Trainer Jeff Bonde’s multiple stakes-winning Unusual Way comes off a second-place finish to Halo Dolly as the 1-2 favorite in the Dream of Summer and will try to turn the tables Saturday. Dancingtothestars, from the Doug O'Neill barn, is also a threat.
$250,000 Melair Stakes (Race 9, 5 p.m.), Cal-Bred or Sired 3YO Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Swiss Lake Yodeler (CA), R Bejarano, 125, J Hollendorfer
2. Rovenna (CA), V Espinoza, 123, M Machowsky
3. Wonderful Lie (CA), C S Nakatani, 118, D Blacker
4. Magic Spot (KY), M E Smith, 120, H O Palma
5. Anniversary Kitty (CA), M Garcia, 118, C Dollase
6. Versye (CA), M Gutierrez, 118, D F O'Neill
7. Shakeitupbetty (CA), J Talamo, 118, J E Kruljac
8. Harlington's Rose (CA), T Baze, 120, S Knapp
$250,000 Snow Chief Stakes (Race 10, 5:30 p.m.), Cal-Bred or Sired 3YOs, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Frensham (CA), M Gutierrez, 118, D F O'Neill
2. Alert Bay (CA), T Baze, 123, B D Wright
3. Aotearoa (CA), M E Smith, 123, L Powell
4. Awesome Return (CA), J Talamo, 118, M Puype
5. Kukaluka (CA), V Espinoza, 115, P Miller
6. Tamarando (CA), R Bejarano, 125, J Hollendorfer
7. Pray Hard (CA), C S Nakatani, 120, J Hollendorfer
8. Patriots Rule (CA), F H Perez, 118, R Diodoro
Blinkers On: Aotearoa