Santa Anita: Ju­ve­nile stakes

Daily Racing Form Saturday Stakes Preview - - FRONT PAGE - – Steve An­der­sen – Mar­cus Hersh

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.

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