Bourbon Bay worked seven furlongs in 1:26.80 on the Hollywood Park turf course Sunday in preparation for the $250,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap Saturday.
The Grade I Whittingham at 1 ¼ miles on grass highlights a program of four stakes that also includes the Honeymoon Handicap, Affirmed Handicap and Cinderella Stakes. The card, which begins at 11 a.m., will also feature a simulcast of the Belmont Stakes from Elmont, N.Y.
Bourbon Bay, a 5-year-old gelding, was ridden by exercise rider Debra Biggs when he worked in company with Gothic Samurai. Rafael Bejarano has the Whittingham call.
“He went well,” said Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale, happy with the multiple stakes winner’s sixth work since returning from Dubai, where he finished a distant 11th in the Dubai Sheema Classic March 26.
“He got run into going into the first turn,” explained Drysdale of the disappointing performance. Bourbon Bay has won four Grade II distance turf stakes at Santa Anita the past two years.
Drysdale, a former assistant to the legendary Whittingham, has won the race six times, one less than co-leaders Whittingham and Bobby Frankel.
Drysdale’s previous winners: Both Ends Burning in 1985, Political Ambition in 1988, Storm Trooper in 1998, White Heart in 2000, Storming Home in 2003 and Artiste Royal in 2008.
David and Jill Heerensperger, who owned Artiste Royal, also own Bourbon Bay, who has won six of 17 starts and earned $539,424.
“He will probably be stalking,” said Drysdale. “There’s speed in the race.”
Bourbon Bay, who is winless in four starts on the Hollywood Park turf, will try to foil the repeat victory bid of Acclamation, who has won four of seven starts on the grass here.
Acclamation, trained by Don Warren, led all the way to win the Whittingham by 1 ½ lengths last year and comes off a seven-length score in the Jim Murray Handicap here May 14.
Acclamation, a 5-year-old California-bred horse owned by Old English Rancho, seeks to become the first two-time winner of the Whittingham since John Henry won it three times in 1980, ’81 and ’84 when it was called the Hollywood Turf Invitational Handicap. Joe Talamo has the call.
Other probable starters are Falcon Rock (Brice Blanc), Haimish Hy (Tyler Baze) and the John Sadler-trained duo of Celtic New Year (Victor Espinoza) and Red Alert Day.
Celtic New Year, third-place finisher in the San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita April 17, worked seven furlongs in 1:25.20 on Cushion Track with exercise rider Jose Alferez.
CASSIDY WHISPERS REPEAT IN HONEYMOON
Trainer Jim Cassidy, who won the Honeymoon Handicap last year with Evening Jewel, seeks another victory in the race Saturday with Whisper Louise. The $150,000 Grade II stake is for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
“I was very happy with her first start,” said Cassidy in reference to a closing second behind Cambina in the Providencia Stakes on the Santa Anita turf April 9.
Cassidy hopes the Irish-bred English-raced filly, owned by Three Chimneys Racing, joins the long list of European imports that have blossomed under his care.
Victor Espinoza, who rode Evening Jewel last year and has won the Honeymoon three times in the past seven years, has the return call.
Cambina, who won the Providencia and two other stakes at Santa Anita before finishing third in the Senorita Stakes here May 7, worked five furlongs on turf in 1:00.20 for the Jeff Bonde Stable. Joe Talamo has the Honeymoon call.
Other probable starters include Senorita winner Star Billing (Chantal Sutherland), Senorita runner-up Entrustment, unbeaten Sarah’s Secret (Rafael Bejarano) and Bonita Star (Patrick Valenzuela).
BAFFERT TO UNCOIL POTENT PAIR IN AFFIRMED
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Sunday that he planned to enter a formidable duo of Awesome Patriot and Coil in the $100,000 Affirmed Handicap Saturday. The Grade III stake is for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.
Awesome Patriot, wire-to-wire winner of the 1 1/8-mile Alydar Stakes May 8, worked six furlongs in 1:12.80 here and will be ridden back by Rafael Bejarano.
Coil, an impressive winner of a six-furlong optional claimer May 6, will be ridden by Martin Garcia. “I decided to stay here with Coil,” said Baffert of the colt he had considered for the Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont Park the same afternoon.
Baffert, who previously won the Affirmed with General Challenge in 1999 and Point Determined in 2006, seeks to equal the record of three wins held by Jay Robbins.
Other probable starters include Akkadian (Joe Talamo), Spud Spivens (Alonzo Quinonez) and Runflatout.
SOLIS TO RUN DUO IN CINDERELLA
Trainer Walther Solis said Sunday that he planned to start Silent Sue and Willa B Awesome in the $70,000-added Cinderella Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 5 ½ furlongs Saturday.
Willa B Awesome, who broke her maiden at first asking at 4 ½ furlongs April 21, worked five furlongs in 59.80 and will be ridden back by Rafael Bejarano.
Silent Sue broke her maiden second time out at 4 ½ furlongs May 22.
Other probable starters include Killer Graces (Joe Talamo), Por Que’ Te Quiero (Victor Espinoza) and Chloe W (Patrick Valenzuela). Unraced Chloe W worked four furlongs in 46.80 for trainer Eric Kruljac.
SADLER BACK ON WINNING TRACK
Trainer John Sadler never thought he was in a slump despite 24 straight stakes losses dating to February before Twirling Candy won the $150,000 Grade II Californian Saturday as the 2-5 favorite.
Sadler pointed out that most of his starters during that streak had run well and that he had several close second and third-place finishes despite conceding weight in many of those instances.
“We’re running in all those stakes,” said Sadler proudly of his stable Sunday. “Most guys don’t run in 24 stakes in a year.”
Sadler, who started the year with a flurry of stakes wins at Santa Anita, hopes to finish the second half of the Hollywood Park meet the same way.
He said that Twirling Candy came back from the Californian in good shape and remains on target for a return in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup July 9.
Sadler was also happy with Saturday works by Switch for the $250,000 Grade I Vanity Handicap June 18 and Zazu for the $150,000 Grade II Hollywood Oaks June 25.
FINISH LINES —Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will be at Belmont Park Saturday to ride Irrefutable in the True North Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard, according to agent Brad Pegram. Smith will join fellow Hollywood Park-based riders Joel Rosario, Garrett Gomez and David Flores in Belmont races. Smith and Rosario will continue east to ride at Royal Ascot in England the following week before returning for the weekend of June 18…Happy birthday to Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg, 75 Tuesday. Trainer Paul Schiewe also celebrates a Tuesday birthday, his 54th. Trainer Ted H. West turns 38 Wednesday….The two winning tickets in Saturday’s Pick Six, each worth $518,864.80, were purchased through TVG and the Las Vegas hub.
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