Trainer John Sadler's Zappa, a 6 1/4-length winner of the 2008 Cougar II Handicap, is back to defend his title against Mike Mitchell's top-weighted duo of Big Booster and Church Service in the $150,000 renewal of the 1 1/2-mile event Aug. 5.
Trainer Doug O'Neill, perfect in four previous tries in the TVG/Betfair Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), shoots for his fifth win since 2002 when he saddles Informed for the $700,000 Cushion Track event July 11.
Everything went right for front-running Midships in the $196,000 San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (gr. IIT) as he held sway over the up-against-it Spring House on a warm closing day afternoon April 19 at Santa Anita Park.
Big Booster returns to the turf to defend his title in the $200,000 San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (gr. IIT) on closing day of the 2008-09 season at Santa Anita April 19.
His recent form had been poor but Stream Cat turned things around when given extra ground in the $100,000 Tokyo City Cup Handicap (gr. III) at 12 furlongs, spoiling the return to action of favorite Big Booster at Santa Anita March 28.
Trainer Mike Mitchell will be looking for the trifecta March 28 when he sends out distance specialist Big Booster and two two others in the $100,000 Tokyo City Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Santa Anita Park.
European invader Sixties Icon, who has won three consecutive group III events in England, was installed as the 2-1 morning-line choice for the inaugural $500,000 Breeders' Cup Marathon Oct. 25 at Santa Anita Park.
Thoroughbreds in this country don't get much of an opportunity to race that far, and most of them aren't bred to cover such a long route of ground.
Controlling the tempo from the outset, Zappa galloped to an easy victory in the $150,000 Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar July 30 and earned a starting slot in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Dirt Marathon at Santa Anita this fall.
Tyler Baze was supposed to be aboard three-time Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) winner Lava Man for this year's 69th running. But when the veteran stakes hero was withdrawn prior to entries being taken, the jockey wound up on lightly regarded Mast Track. The move couldn't have worked out better for Baze when his 10-1 outsider employed front-running tactics to win in a Cushion Track record time June 28.
While the focus of the 2008 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) is rightfully on the powerhouse grade I victors Heatseeker and Tiago, there are seven graded winners in the field of 10 for the 1 1/4-mile classic.
Lava Man, who tied Native Diver's record of three straight Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) victories last year, won't be going for a fourth one on June 28.
Odds-on choice Big Booster moved closer to a potential run at the inaugural Breeders' Cup Dirt Marathon this fall, lumbering to victory over three outmatched rivals in the first Gallant Man Handicap over 1 5/8 miles on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track.
Trainer Mike Mitchell says he's not worried about the unusual 1 5/8-mile distance of the first $100,000 Gallant Man Handicap June 1, and with good reason. After all, his horse, Big Booster, recently proved a convincing winner of the the even longer San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (gr. IIT).
PORTER ON PEDIGREES, by Alan Porter
Two years ago, Big Booster was a $35,000-$39,000 claimer running at Belmont Park. Today, he has the honor of being a grade II winner, having just taken the San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap at Santa Anita Park. The move west and several goes over the synthetic turf reinvigorated Big Booster's racing career.
Trainer Mike Mitchell and jockey Rafael Bejarano punctuated their 2007-08 Santa Anita meet titles when they teamed to win the marathon $250,000 San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (gr. IIT) with Big Booster on closing day of the stand April 20.
Shamdinan, reunited with trainer Doug O'Neill since the colt's runner-up finish in the 2007 Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT), makes his Southern California debut in Santa Anita's $250,000 San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (gr. IIT).
Long disappointing on the turf, Niagara Causeway has found a home on synthetic racing surfaces after tallying a game score over Church Service by a nose for his first graded stakes win in the $108,200 Tokyo City Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Santa Anita March 29.
Zappa, off the board in two starts since winning the San Pasqual Handicap (gr. II) in January, tries softer company for trainer John Sadler in the $100,000 Tokyo City Cup (gr. III) at 1 1/2 miles on Santa Anita's synthetic racing surface March 29.
Fourteen horses, potentially matching the largest field in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) in a quarter century, are headed for the $1 million event March 1 in a race that redefines "wide open."
WinStar Farms' homebred Well Armed, thanks to a well-crafted ride from Aaron Gryder on the front end, had just enough to hold off the surging Heatseeker by a head in winning the $250,000 San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita Feb. 9.
Synthetic surface standouts Student Council and Awesome Gem, the first two finishers in last summer's $1 million Pacific Classic (gr. I), are expected to make their 2008 bow in the $250,000 San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) over Santa Anita's Cushion Track on Super Bowl Sunday Feb. 3.
Tiago loves Santa Anita, no matter the surface. In his first start at the Arcadia, Calif., track since winning the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on the old dirt track April 7, the 3-year-old colt delivered a desperate nose victory over the unlucky Awesome Gem in the $520,000 Goodwood Breeders' Cup (gr. I) on the new Cushion Track Sept. 29.
Well beaten in the Pacific Classic last time out, California star Lava Man has an opportunity to prove he's as good as ever when he takes on nine rivals in the $500,000 Goodwood Breeders' Cup (gr. I) at Oak Tree's Santa Anita meeting Sept. 29.
Defending champion Lava Man drew the rail as the 5-2 morning line favorite for the $1-million Pacific Classic Sunday.
Lava Man and A.P. Xcellent, who staged a dramatic Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) stretch duel won by the California star by a nose on June 30, are among 13 horses entered in the $1 million Pacific Classic (gr. I) at Del Mar Aug. 19.
Twenty-three horses were nominated -- with 13 considered likely -- for the $1 million Pacific Classic (gr. I) at 1 1/4 miles on the Del Mar Polytrack Aug. 19, including defending champion Lava Man.
Favored Lava Man joined the legendary Native Diver as the only horse to win the prestigious Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) in three consecutive years when he prevailed by a nose over the gritty A. P. Xcellent in a heart-pounding stretch duel Saturday at Hollywood Park.
Lava Man, attempting to match legendary Native Diver with his third consecutive victory in Saturday's $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), will face eight rivals in the 1 1/4-mile classic at Hollywood Park.
Lava Man, who can match legendary Native Diver with a third consecutive victory in the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap (gr. I) June 30, has been assigned high weight of 124 pounds for the 1 1/4-mile classic.
With forecasts calling for a strong chance of thunderstorms Saturday, five of the 11 horses entered for the $100,000 Fort Marcy Handicap (gr. IIIT) – the first scheduled turf stakes event of the season at Aqueduct – are present for the main track only.
American Freedom, guided by Jose Velez Jr., drove through along the inside and was up in deep stretch for an upset victory in the $150,000 Red Bank Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the soft Monmouth Park turf Saturday.
Icy Atlantic survived a stretch-long duel with Mustanfar by a nose, but the 9-5 favorite couldn't withstand a stewards' inquiry. Mustanfar was declared the winner of the $111,100 Lexington Stakes (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park Sunday through disqualification.
Icy Atlantic and Commendation, who have faced the best 3-year-old turf horses in the East, will attract plenty of attention in the wagering when they square off against seven rivals in the $100,000 Lexington (gr. IIIT) Sunday at Belmont Park.
Master David is entered in the $250,000 Kent Breeders' Cup (gr. IIIT) on the Delaware Park turf Saturday. The 1 1/8-mile Kent has attracted a field of nine 3-year-olds.
Artie Schiller, ridden confidently by Richard Migliore, cruised to his first graded stakes victory in Sunday's $110,000 Hill Prince (gr. III) for 3-year-olds on the Belmont Park inner turf course.
Artie Schiller and Timo, evenly matched foes as 2-year-olds last year who went their separate ways over the winter, resume their rivalry in Sunday's $100,000-added Hill Prince (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park.
Prince Arch came from off the pace rallying down the center of the course seven wide to take Thursday's $111,100 Forerunner Stakes at Keeneland.
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