Calculator is undefeated in three starts sprinting down the hillside course at Santa Anita Park

Calculator is undefeated in three starts sprinting down the hillside course at Santa Anita Park

Benoit Photo

Miller Trio Hits Hillside for Daytona Stakes

Calculator, Conquest Tsunami, Stormy Liberal could be Dubai-bound with good efforts.

Roy H likely won't be the only runner from Peter Miller's barn to head overseas for Dubai World Cup night March 31.

But how many horses get on the plane to Dubai will begin to get decided Feb. 24, after the Daytona Stakes (G3T) on the Santa Anita Park hillside course.

Miller said all three entrants for the about 6 1/2-furlong grass sprint—Calculator, Conquest Tsunami, and 2017 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) winner Stormy Liberal—are potential prospects for the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint (G1) March 31.

"We could have anywhere from two to four going to Dubai," said Miller, who also indicated Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint runner-up Richard's Boy will get his audition for a Dubai trip in the March 11 Sensational Star Stakes, a sprint down the hillside course that is restricted to California-breds.

Running horses down the hillside has been a particularly successful proposition for Miller, who overall won at a 21% rate in 2017 and is at 21% again early in 2018. In the past two years in sprints down the hill, Miller wins at a 24% rate and at a 34% clip in stakes.

Further hillside success for Miller is not hard to envision in this year's Daytona. Stormy Liberal won the race last year, when it was contested in late May, and has a four-stakes win streak on the course entering this year's event, Calculator is undefeated in three starts down the hill (including a front-running win last time out in the Clockers' Corner Stakes ), and Conquest Tsunami won his hillside debut by 4 1/4 lengths Jan. 20 in an optional-claiming allowance.

BALAN: Calculator Speeds to Victory in Clockers' Corner Stakes

"I don't know what it is. Maybe it's the fact that I really like the race," Miller said. "Maybe that helps. I love running down the hill and it's my favorite race. It's a beautiful race to watch—the only right-handed turn in North America, the crossover on the dirt. Whatever it is, I like it."

Stormy Liberal is one of two grade 1 winners in the field, along with What a View, who will make a return to racing off a nearly eight-month layoff.

Trainer Kenny Black said he'll use the Daytona as a prep for the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1T), a race What a View won in 2016.

"This is my work for the Kilroe," Black said. "The mile horses have always run well off the hill and they don't let us work on the grass. I really think he's going to have a big year."

The 7-year-old Vronsky gelding also finished second by a head in the 2017 Kilroe, and although he's won only one race—the Crystal Water Stakes in May of 2017—since he took the Kilroe and Thunder Road Stakes (G3T) back to back in 2016, What a View also had tough-luck seconds to Ashleyluvssugar in the California Cup Turf Classic and to Bolo in the Arcadia Stakes (G2T) last year.

Sending the sometimes hard-to-handle gelding down the hill was never an option early in his career, but with age has come maturity.

"He's changed so much mentally," Black said. "Until he was 5 he would always need a pony just to go to the track and I wouldn't even be able to jog him without blinkers on. I was afraid he'd hurt somebody if I ran him down the hill."

Entries: Daytona S. (G3T)

Santa Anita Park, Saturday, February 24, 2018, Race 4

  • Grade III
  • About 6 1/2f
  • Downhill turf
  • $150,000
  • 4 yo's & up
  • 2:06 PM (local)
11Fabozzi (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJoseph Talamo120Mark Glatt15/1
22Tombelaine (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateMike E. Smith120Catherine Day Phillips8/1
33What a View (CA)Tyler Baze120Kenneth D. Black5/1
44Conquest Tsunami (ON)Keeneland Sales GraduateVictor Espinoza120Peter Miller4/1
55Calculator (FL)Flavien Prat120Peter Miller5/2
66Perfectly Majestic (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateKent J. Desormeaux120Robert B. Hess, Jr.6/1
77Stormy Liberal (KY)Joel Rosario124Peter Miller2/1