Mokat will be com­ing late

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By Steve An­der­sen

AR­CA­DIA, Calif. – There will be no cause for panic if Mokat is toward the back of the field in the first half-mile of Satur­day’s Grade 2 Buena Vista Stakes at Santa Anita.

“She doesn’t like to be too close,” trainer Richard Bal­tas said. “I know she wants to be more out of it.”

Mokat fin­ished last of 12 in the Grade 1 Amer­i­can Oaks at 1 1/8 miles on turf against 3-year-old fil­lies here Dec. 31. She sur­prised Bal­tas by be­ing as close as third with a quar­ter­mile re­main­ing and faded from con­tention in the fi­nal fur­long.

“She had a wide trip that day,” he said.

Mokat will have her first start against older fil­lies and mares in the $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes at a mile on turf. Bal­tas is hope­ful that Mokat can re­peat her ef­fort from the Grade 2 San Cle­mente Hand­i­cap at a mile on turf at Del Mar last sum­mer, when she closed from eighth in a field of 10 to win by 3 3/4 lengths.

The San Cle­mente is Mokat’s only stakes win in 12 starts.

The Buena Vista is the lead­ing race at Santa Anita next week­end. Sun­day’s main race is the $100,000 Spring Fever Hand­i­cap for Cal­i­for­nia-bred fil­lies and mares at six fur­longs. There is rac­ing on Mon­day, Pres­i­dents Day, led by the $75,000 Baf­fle Stakes for 3-year-olds on the hill­side turf course.

Bal­tas also plans to start Hill­house High in the Buena Vista. Hill­house High was third in the Grade 2 Goldikova Stakes here in early Novem­ber and has not raced since.

Other can­di­dates are Do the Dance, Evo Campo, Juno, Pretty Girl, Prize Ex­hibit, and Wild at Heart.

Juno, a Group 1 win­ner in Brazil in 2015, was re­cently trans­ferred from trainer Richard Man­della to Neil Drysdale, ac­cord­ing to rac­ing of­fice records.

Royal Al­bert Hall to Qatar

Royal Al­bert Hall, who was third in the Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland last April, will start in the $1 mil­lion Emir’s Tro­phy in Qatar on Feb. 25, trainer Doug O’Neill said Sun­day.

The Emir’s Tro­phy is run at 1 1/2 miles on turf and is worth $570,000 to the win­ner. The race is part of a week­end of rich stakes for Thor­ough­breds and Ara­bi­ans in Doha, Qatar. The Qatar sea­son runs from late Novem­ber to early April.

A 5-year-old geld­ing by Royal Ap­plause, Royal Al­bert Hall has won 2 of 22 starts and earned $234,233. Owned by Steven Keh, Scott Knight, Mike Ryan, and Mark Verge, Royal Al­bert Hall was third in an op­tional claimer at Santa Anita on Jan. 2.

O’Neill said Alan Gar­cia will ride Royal Al­bert Hall.

Jock­eys play ball for char­ity

For the 50th year, the Santa Anita jock­eys and a team of sev­enth and eighth graders from nearby Holy An­gels School will meet in a char­ity bas­ket­ball game at LaSalle High School in Pasadena, Calif., on Feb. 23.

The event ben­e­fits the Per­ma­nently Dis­abled Jock­eys Fund, the Holy An­gels ath­letic pro­gram, and the Eye on Ja­cob Foun­da­tion.

This year, in­di­vid­ual jock­eys are be­ing spon­sored by rac­ing en­ti­ties such as own­ers and train­ers. On Sun­day, a friendly bid­ding war broke out re­gard­ing ad­ver­tis­ing priv­i­leges for Hall of Famer Mike Smith. The West Point Thor­ough­breds syn­di­cate had pur­chased a spon­sor­ship for Smith for $250, but trainer Bob Baf­fert of­fered $750 to spon­sor Smith. West Point Thor­ough­breds will now spon­sor Vic­tor Espinoza, the rider of re­tired Horse of the Year Cal­i­for­nia Chrome.

Tick­ets for the game are $5, and the event is ex­pected to at­tract a large crowd. Hall of Fame jock­eys Kent De­sormeaux, Laf­fit Pin­cay Jr., Alex Solis, Gary Stevens, and Smith will con­duct an au­to­graph ses­sion at 6:30 p.m. Tipoff is 7:30 p.m.

◗ Big Hit, who fin­ished third in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 7, is out of train­ing with an undis­closed in­jury. Trainer Phil D’Amato said last week that Big Hit will be aimed at races “in the lat­ter half of the year.”

Owned by Gary and Mary West, Big Hit won a maiden race at Del Mar on Nov. 19. In the Sham Stakes, Big Hit was beaten 13 lengths by Gorm­ley.

EMILY SHIELDS

Mokat will be asked to make a late run in the Buena Vista.

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