Millionaire Desert Code, winner of both last fall's Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint and the Daytona Handicap (gr. IIIT) six weeks ago on the hillside turf course, will attempt to stretch out to a mile in the Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita April 4.
Conditioned by David Hofmans for Tarabilla Farms, the 5-year-old son of E Dubai will be rejoined by Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) winning jockey Aaron Gryder as the 121-pound high weight among nine entrants in the Arcadia. Gryder, at the age of 38, last weekend scored the biggest victory of his career when riding Well Armed to a runaway triumph in the world’s richest race at $6 million.
Desert Code is coming off a 2 1/2-length victory as the favorite in the Daytona with Gryder aboard Feb. 15. A winner of $1,088,939 with a 7-4-2 record in 20 races, the chestnut horse could be hard to run down in the Arcadia. Interestingly, the versatile runner came from far back in the field to claim the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint Oct. 25 by a half-length at odds of 36-1. Desert Code has won five of eight lifetime starts on the Santa Anita grass.
Among his major rivals in the Arcadia is Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Moss's homebred Madeo, winner of the Del Mar Derby (gr. II) last summer. In his most recent start March 12, the 4-year-old Mizzen Mast colt won a conditional allowance at the Arcadia distance. That victory came after being pulled up in the San Fernando Stakes (gr. II) two months earlier and vanned off.
Dixie Chatter , a grade I winner at 2 who nearly upset the Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap (gr. IT) for trainer Richard Mandella March 7, merits consideration. The 4-year-old Dixie Union colt raced four wide to get the lead in the stretch but could not hold off Gio Ponti and Ventura late while giving a game effort to be third, beaten by less than a length.
Also exiting the Kilroe for this spot are the Argentina-bred Global Hunter, who finished fourth for trainer A.C. Avila, Mr Napper Tandy (sixth), and Becrux (seventh).
$150,000 Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 7, 3:07 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Madeo (KY), 119, Garrett K. Gomez
2. Booyah (FL), 113, Michael C. Baze
3. Desert Code (KY), 121, Aaron T. Gryder
4. Holy Thunder (KY), 112, Danny Sorenson
5. Global Hunter (ARG), 117, Alex O. Solis
6. Mr Napper Tandy (GB), 114, Joel Rosario
7. Sky Cape (KY), 116, Rafael Bejarano
8. Dixie Chatter (KY), 116, Tyler Baze
9. Becrux (ITY), 115, Victor Espinoza