Daytona Stakes winner Caracortado heads the field for the Sensational Star Stakes.

Daytona Stakes winner Caracortado heads the field for the Sensational Star Stakes.

Benoit Photography

Caracortado Tops Cal-Bred Stakes Set Jan. 28

Stunning hillside winner back for Sensational Star; two other stakes also on tap.

Caracortado, a stunning come-from-behind winner of the Daytona Stakes (gr. IIIt) on Santa Anita's hillside earlier this month, heads the field for the $100,000 Sensational Star Stakes over the same course Jan. 28.

The Sensational Star, at about 6 1/2 furlongs on the unique grass layout, is one of three stakes restricted to state-bred horses that will comprise the California portion of this year's revamped Sunshine Millions program with Gulfstream Park. The races, each worth $100,000 will be run in succession.

Caracortado turned in the most visually impressive win of the Santa Anita meet this year when he appeared to have been distanced on the turn of the Daytona. But the 5-year-old California-bred gelding made a torrid closing rush to win the Jan. 8 event, making up 15 lengths. Caracortado stormed to a 1-¼ length victory.

The exciting chestnut has been installed as the 4-5 favorite to gain his sixth stakes win among eight entrants in the Sensational Star.

The Sensational Star joins the $100,000 Crystal Water Stakes at 1 1/16 miles and the $100,000 Valentine Dancer Stakes for fillies and mares at one mile on turf in the bicoastal Sunshine Millions event. Also on the Santa Anita program are the $300,000 Santa Monica Stakes (gr. I) for older fillies and mares at seven furlongs, and the $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles.

In conjunction with Sunshine Millions stakes races at Gulfstream Park, the two tracks will co-host the $250,000 guaranteed “Luck” Pick Six, a $1 wager with a mandatory payout that will encompass the three events for Cal-breds at Santa Anita along with three of Gulfstream’s six stakes for Florida breds.

In succession, the fast-paced “Luck” Pix Six is due to be concluded within 1 ½ hours while juxtaposing California-bred and Florida-bred stakes. It is due to begin with Gulfstream’s eighth race, the $150,000 Filly & Mare Turf at 1:10 p.m.(all ties Pacific). The Sensational Star will be up next as Santa Anita’s fourth race at 1:34 p.m. Following in order will be Gulfstream’s $150,000 Turf, 1:50 p.m.; Santa Anita’s Crystal Water, 2:05 p.m.; Gulfstream’s $400,000 Classic, 2:25 p.m., and Santa Anita’s Valentine Dancer at 2:37 p.m.

The main danger to Caracortado in the Sensational Star appears to be 5-2 second choice Compari, a 6-year-old gelding who has won five of six over Santa Anita’s turf course including the 2010 Sensational Star. Owned and bred by Harris Farms, John Nicoletti, and Donald Valpredo, the son of Redattore does his best running on the front end. Compari has banked $510,430 from a 7-1-1 record in 13 starts. Mike Smith will attempt to pose an elusive target for Caracortado.

Bejarano, who rode Compari in his last two starts, will be back aboard Caracortado, a son of Cat Dreams.

Co-owned by Don Blahut and a winner of $864,105 from nine wins in 19 starts, Caracortado will break from post 5, one outside of Compari, while carrying high weight of 123 pounds.

Thirtyfirststreet, a multiple stakes winner who captured an allowance event by 6 ½ lengths at 1 1/16 miles in his last start Jan. 12, is the 2-1 morning line choice among six runners set for the Crystal Water. Rosario rides the 4-year-old Good Journey colt who was bred by his trainer, Doug O’Neill, and co-owner Mark Gorman. A winner of the California Breeders’ Championship at Santa Anita as a 2-year-old and the Lone Star Derby last year, Thirtyfirststreet shows a record of 4-2-2 in 13 races while earning $345,200.

Holladay Road, a $25,000 claim by trainer Julio Canani on behalf of Gary and Wendy Broad last July at Del Mar, is coming off an allowance win on grass at Hollywood Park in his last start in December. He previously missed by a neck to victorious Norvsky when a hard-charging third in the California Cup Classic on turf. Before that, he won his only previous start on dirt while sprinting at Santa Anita. Bejarano takes over in the irons for Garrett Gomez. A 7-year-old gelding, Holladay Road has won five of 12 races worth $171,820.

Unzip Me, a downhill turf course specialist, will stretch out to a mile for the first time in her 25th career start at the age of 6. She faces nine rivals in the Valentine Dancer. The homebred daughter of City Zip has been victorious in nine stakes ranging in distance from to five to 6 ½ furlongs, all on turf, for Harris Farms, Valpredo, Per Antonsen, and partners.

Despite her inexperience around two turns, Unzip Me has been established as the 5-2 favorite. Bejarano will be aboard for the 11th straight time as the chestnut mare attempts to expand her horizons for trainer Marty Jones. With earnings of $902,228 from a 13-4-4 log in her 24 starts, Unzip Me will be aiming for millionaire status by meet’s end. She has finished off the board but once in her last 18 races. Even then, she was only one length behind the winner when running fourth.

Halo Dolly, the 3-1 second choice, is unbeaten in two starts at one mile on turf. Included was Del Mar’s Solana Beach Handicap last August while extending a victory streak to five. The 4-year-old daughter of Popular, trained and co-owned by Jerry Hollendorfer, owns an 8-3-1 record in 14 races for winnings of $277,700.

$100,000 Sensational Star Stakes (Race 4, 1:30 p.m.), 4 & Up, Cal-Breds, About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Luckarack (CA), H I Berrios, 116, D F O'Neill
2. Ain't No Other (CA), M Garcia, 120, S Miyadi
3. Tamarack Smarty (CA), D R Flores, 116, M Puype
4. Compari (CA), M E Smith, 118, M F Jones
5. Caracortado (CA),  R Bejarano, 123, M Machowsky
6. My Summer Slew (CA), A Quinonez, 116, C Dollase
7. Mega Heat (CA), J Talamo, 116, P Eurton
8. Red Defense (CA), J Rosario, 118, C Gaines

$100,000 Crystal Water Stakes (Race 5, 2 p.m.), 4 & Up, Cal-Breds, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Legal Separation (CA), V Espinoza, 116, E Moger Jr.
2. Bluegrass Reward (CA), J Talamo, 118, M R Mitchell
3. Spud Spivens (CA), M E Smith, 118, H Moreno
4. Thirtyfirststreet (CA), J Rosario, 120, D F O'Neill
5. Holladay Road (CA), R Bejarano, 118, J C Canani
6. Macho Dorado (CA), C S Nakatani, 116, R B Hess Jr.

$100,000 Valentine Dancer Stakes (Race 6, 2:30 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, Cal-Breds, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Secret Cove (CA), J Rosario, 118, P Miller
2. Warren's Got Game (CA), C Santiago Reyes, 116, J Gutierrez
3. Antares World (CA), M Garcia, 120, S Specht
4. La Sombre (CA), A Quinonez, 116, B J Koriner
5. Chokecherymary (CA), C S Nakatani, 116, G Mandella
6. Cayanna (CA),  V Espinoza, 116, M Machowsky
7. Unzip Me (CA), R Bejarano, 120, M F Jones
8. California Nectar (CA), H I Berrios, 116, D F O'Neill
9. Halo Dolly (CA), J Talamo, 123, J Hollendorfer
10. Bench Glory (CA), B Blanc, 116, S McCarthy