Yahilwa rested, ready for La Canada Stakes
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.