Yahilwa rested, ready for La Canada Stakes

Daily Racing Form Saturday Stakes Preview - - FRONT PAGE - – Steve An­der­sen – Mike Welsch

AR­CA­DIA, Calif. – The 2015 sea­son caught up with Yahilwa in the stretch of the Breed­ers’ Cup Distaff at Keeneland last Oc­to­ber.

Less than four weeks af­ter a hard-fought third-place fin­ish in the Grade 1 Spin­ster Stakes at Keeneland, Yahilwa faded to sixth of 14 in the BC Distaff. The sea­son was over.

When Yahilwa re­turns to rac­ing in Satur­day’s $200,000 La Canada Stakes for fil­lies and mares at Santa Anita, trainer Jim Cas­sidy ex­pects a brighter per­for­mance.

“She puts so much ef­fort in her races,” Cas­sidy said. “She needs a lit­tle more time be­tween races.”

The Grade 2 La Canada Stakes will be the 16th stakes ap­pear­ance for the 6 -year-old Yahilwa in her 32nd start. It would be her most pres­ti­gious win. Yahilwa won the Grade 3 Sixty Sails Hand­i­cap at Hawthorne last April and the Trea­sure Chest Stakes at Delta Downs in 2014.

Yahilwa, owned by Deron Pear­son, was se­cond by seven lengths to Be­holder in the Grade 1 Cle­ment Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar last Au­gust. In the Spin­ster, she was beaten a neck by the late-ral­ly­ing Got Lucky and a head by Un­ta­pable.

“It was a bum­mer,” Cas­sidy said of the loss. “I don’t think any­one saw that horse com­ing.”

The La Canada Stakes is run at 1 1/16 miles and is open to fe­males ages 4 and up for the first time this year. The race was pre­vi­ously run for 4-yearold fil­lies.

The lead­ing con­tenders in­clude Bir­datthewire, who won the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fil­lies at seven fur­longs here Dec. 26, and Taris, who won the Grade 3 Go for Wand Hand­i­cap at Aqueduct on Nov. 27. Taris was third af­ter a trou­bled trip in the BC Filly and Mare Sprint at Keeneland on Oct. 31.

Gulf­stream: Sun­shine Mil­lions

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The Sun­shine Mil­lions Clas­sic got an un­ex­pected shot in the arm at en­try time Wed­nes­day when trainer Ed­die Plesa Jr. de­cided to wheel Mr. Jor­dan back on one week’s rest. Mr. Jor­dan was vir­tu­ally elim­i­nated at the start of last Satur­day’s Grade 3 Hal’s Hope af­ter col­lid­ing with Ma­trooh while leav­ing the gate. Mr. Jor­dan had made only one pre­vi­ous start since run­ning sev­enth last Au­gust in the Haskell at Monmouth, fin­ish­ing third in the Har­lan’s Hol­i­day here Dec. 12.

Mr. Jor­dan will face nine ri­vals in the 1 1/8-mile, $250,000 Clas­sic: Abound­ing Legacy, Catholic Cow­boy, Mexikoma, Mor­gans Har­bour, Roll on the Navajo, Runs With Bulls, Saraguaro, de­fend­ing cham­pion Sr. Quisqueyano, and Your­dream­sormine.

Ten also will con­test Satur­day’s $200,000 Sun­shine Mil­lions Distaff, led by Flut­terby and Dog­wood Trail. The lineup also in­cludes Im­pe­rial Se­cret, Le­gal Laura, Mom’z Laugh, Mo­ment of De­light, My Miss Venezuela, Win­ning for Sarah, You Bought Her, and Lucky Switch, who was sup­ple­mented into the field by trainer Ralph Nicks.

Wild­cat Red is the only mil­lion­aire en­tered on the Sun­shine Mil­lions pro­gram. But Wild­cat Red, the run­nerup in the 2014 Florida Derby, will not be com­pet­ing in the Clas­sic. In­stead, trainer Jose Garof­falo has opted to bring him back off his lat­est lay­off in a more suit­able spot, the six-fur­long, $150,000 Sun­shine Mil­lions Sprint.

Wild­cat Red has not started since fin­ish­ing fifth be­hind Rock Fall in the Grade 1 Vos­burgh. That per­for­mance came on the heels of a fourth-place fin­ish in the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga. Over­all, Wild­cat Red won once dur­ing a five-race 2015 cam­paign that was short­ened due to an in­jury sus­tained in last year’s Sun­shine Mil­lions Clas­sic.

“He pulled a mus­cle in his back dur­ing the Sun­shine Clas­sic,” said Garof­falo. “So, we gave him plenty of time to re­cu­per­ate. Af­ter that, he did a lot of trav­el­ing and ran hard in some tough races against some very good horses, so we just de­cided to give him a lit­tle rest af­ter the Vos­burgh. He’s not had any other phys­i­cal is­sues.”

Wild­cat Red, who has been sta­bled pri­mar­ily at Gulf­stream Park through­out his ca­reer, won the seven-fur­long Hutch­e­son and the 1 1/16-mile Foun­tain of Youth as step­ping-stones to his near miss to Con­sti­tu­tion in the Florida Derby. Those per­for­mances earned him a spot in the 2014 Ken­tucky Derby, but Wild­cat Red did not ap­pear to han­dle the sur­face at Churchill Downs that day, fin­ish­ing 18th be­hind Cal­i­for­nia Chrome.

“He’s train­ing well, his last work was ex­cel­lent, and he’s ready to run,” said Garof­falo. “But I was think­ing the Clas­sic was too long for him the first time af­ter the lay­off and that the Sprint was a bet­ter place to bring him back, to start him over again this year.”

Al­though he’s skip­ping the Clas­sic, Wild­cat Red might ac­tu­ally be re­turn­ing in a tougher spot, with the red-hot X Y Jet likely to be one of the shorter-priced fa­vorites on the Sun­shine Mil­lions card. The Sprint field also in­cludes Ack­eret, Al­fredo Ro­mano, C. Zee, El Bo­tas, It’s Not Me, and Puntrooskie.

Three other Sun­shine Mil­lions stakes are sched­uled for Satur­day: the $150,000 Turf, the $150,000 Filly and Mare Turf, and the $150,000 Turf Sprint. The races are re­stricted to Florida-breds.

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