Santa Anita: Juvenile stakes
ARCADIA, Calif. – The promising 2-year-old Right Hand Man tries to end a stakes drought for trainer Jeff Bonde in Saturday’s $125,000 Santa Anita Juvenile.
Bonde is winless in stakes since Distinctiv Passion won the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap at Santa Anita in May 2015. A win by Right Hand Man would boost Bonde’s stable days before he sends 25 horses to Del Mar for the track’s summer meeting, which begins July 15.
Bonde had seven stakes wins in Southern California in 2012, five in 2013, one in 2014, and two last year.
Owned by a partnership that includes the Blinkers On Racing syndicate, Right Hand Man won his debut in a maiden special weight race at five furlongs at Santa Anita on June 10, leading throughout. Ridden by Stewart Elliott, Right Hand Man won by 1 1/2 lengths as a 3-1 shot in a field of 10.
“He’s a good horse,” Bonde said. “He probably went into the race one work short. He’s a big boy. I think he’ll improve off that race.”
The Santa Anita Juvenile is run at 5 1/2 furlongs and is the first stakes for 2-year-olds in Southern California this year. Saturday’s program includes the $125,000 Landaluce Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 5 1/2 furlongs. Those races are the final stakes of the Santa Anita spring-summer meeting, which ends Sunday.
All the nominees for the Landaluce and Santa Anita Juvenile ran in a maiden race in their last start. None has stakes experience.
Arlington: Four Grade 3 races
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – The Pizza Man used the 1 1/2-mile Stars and Stripes Stakes as a springboard to his rousing win in the 2015 Arlington Million, and his connections are sending him down the same path this summer.
The Pizza Man was one of 10 horses entered Wednesday in the Stars and Stripes, which is one of four Grade 3 turf stakes Saturday at Arlington designed as preps for races on the Aug. 13 Arlington Million card. The Stars and Stripes is worth $100,000, while the American Derby, Modesty, and Arlington Handicap are $125,000 races.
The Arlington Handicap over 1 1/4 miles is the more naturalseeming Million prep, but the longer Stars and Stripes, which The Pizza Man won by a neck in 2015, worked for him last year. Last year vs. this year – that’s the question that has settled over The Pizza Man, one of the best Illinois-breds in recent history. The Pizza Man had a great 2015 campaign, nearly winning the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile and finishing a creditable fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. But after winning the Hollywood Turf Cup on Nov. 26, The Pizza Man finished fifth as the 6-5 favorite in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on Feb. 26, then was fourth at 7-5 while making his comeback July 2 in the Wise Dan at Churchill Downs.
Still, owner-breeder Rich Papiese isn’t stressing over his 7-year-old’s form.
“I’m not guaranteeing anything, but he’s going to show up Saturday, and I think you’ll see a completely different Pizza Man,” Papiese said.
The Pizza Man wasn’t in peak health when stabled at Fair Grounds over the winter, Papiese said, and his blood work wasn’t perfect before he was sent to Gulfstream to race.
“We probably should have sent him home then because he just wasn’t himself,” Papiese said.
The Pizza Man got rest at Papiese’s farm in Florida and in the Wise Dan, over nine furlongs, wound up last of 10 behind a muddling pace. He finished about as strongly as could be expected, but with the top finishers also coming home fast off the slow gallop, The Pizza Man had little chance to win.
The Pizza Man drew post 6 and will have Robby Albarado in the irons. He figures to be a strong favorite over a field that also includes Roman Approval, Greengrassofyoming, Five Green Stars, Pumpkin Rumble, Quiet Force, Birdsone, Bullards Alley, O’prado Ole, and Chip Leader. Roman Approval, Greengrassofyoming, Five Green Stars, Pumpkin Rumble, and Quiet Force are cross-entered in the Arlington Handicap.