(from Oak Tree at Santa Anita release)
Defending champion Get Funky, seeking an assured Breeders’ Cup berth, heads 12 entrants in the $100,000 Morvich Handicap as the Oak Tree Racing Association launches its 40th season at Santa Anita Sept. 24.
The 26-day meet includes Breeders’ Cup XXV on Oct. 24-25.
The Morvich, at about 6 1/2 furlongs over Santa Anita’s hillside turf course, is part of the Breeders’ Cup’s “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series with the winner to secure a starting spot in this year’s inaugural $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Get Funky, a 5-year-old Florida-bred trained by John Sadler for Keith Abrahams, is unbeaten in two starts over Santa Anita’s downhill grass layout. He drew post position No. 4 and carries high weight of 121 pounds. Regular rider Jose Valdivia Jr. will be aboard.
The winner of last year’s Morvich by a neck, Get Funky could become the third horse to win back-to-back runnings of the event, joining El Cielo (2000-01) and Impressive Luck (1977-78).
The son of Straight Man has earned $604,757 from seven wins in 16 starts, and will be seeking his third straight stakes victory after taking Hollywood Park’s Robert K. Kerlan Memorial Handicap and the Green Fish Handicap at Del Mar.
Get Funky will have to contend with British-bred Rebellion, a multiple-stakes winner in the East, who will be making his first start over Santa Anita’s unique downhill turf course.
With Rafael Bejarano to ride for trainer Graham Motion, Rebellion is coming off a fast-finishing second to Lewis Michael in the Pat O’Brien Handicap (gr. II) at seven furlongs over Del Mar’s Polytrack surface on Aug. 24.
The Hickory Tree Stable runner has posted a 7-3-4 record in 18 career starts for earnings of $533,367. Rebellion has won three of nine starts on grass. He was assigned second high weight of 120 pounds.
$100,000 Morvich Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 8, 4:30 p.m.), 3 & Up, About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight
1. Rebellion (GB), Rafael Bejarano, 120
2. Siren Lure (KY), Alex Solis, 117
3. Soul City Slew (KY), Martin Garcia, 115
4. Get Funky (FL), Jose Valdivia Jr., 121
5. Ten Meropa (KY), Tyler Baze, 114
6. Easy On The Eye (AUS), Corey Nakatani, 113
7. Five Star Thief (KY), Joel Rosario, 114
8. One Union (KY), Victor Espinoza, 117
9. California Flag (CA), Joseph Talamo, 114
10. Tropic Storm (FL), Aaron Gryder, 117
11. Matto Mondo (CHI), Mike Smith, 116
12. Desert Code (KY), Garrett Gomez, 117