Hollywood Derby Winner Favored In SA Handicap

Racing News
Posted 02.29.12 at 11:25

Ultimate Eagle scores a gate-to-wire upset victory in the Hollywood Derby. © Benoit Photo

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (February 29, 2012)—Ultimate Eagle, who earned the lone Grade I victory of his career when wiring the field in the Hollywood Derby last Nov. 27, will try for another in the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap Saturday at Santa Anita.

Scheduled for 1 ¼ miles, the Big `Cap is the 11th and final race. Post time is 12 Noon. Track gates at Hollywood Park will open at 10:15 a.m. for simulcasts.

Owned by B.J. Wright and trained by Mike Pender, Ultimate Eagle is the 5-2 favorite on Jon White’s morning line. Game On Dude, the defending champion who would have been the public choice Saturday, is skipping the race and will make his next start in the $10 million Dubai World Cup March 31 at Meydan Racecourse in the United Arab Emirates.

A 4-year-old son of Mizzen Mast and the Captain Bodgit mare Letithappencaptain, Ultimate Eagle has won five of his last six. Besides the Hollywood Derby, which he won by three-quarters of a length at 14-1, Ultimate Eagle has picked up two other graded victories during his current hot streak. He won the Grade II Oak Tree Derby last Oct. 15 at Santa Anita, then took the Grade II Strub Stakes by 7 ¼ lengths Feb. 4.

A Kentucky bred who was purchased for $70,000 at a Florida sale in April, 2010, Ultimate Eagle has won five of nine overall and banked $567,800.

Martin Pedroza, who won the 1989 Santa Anita Handicap with 50-1 shot Martial Law, will take his usual place atop the dark bay, who will leave from post two in the field of 13.

From inside out, the field for the Santa Anita Handicap: Uh Oh Bango, Mike Smith rides, 117 pounds; Ultimate Eagle, Martin Pedroza, 120; Ron the Greek, Jose Lezcano, 116; Boxeur des Rues, Mario Gutierrez, 112; Thirtyfirststreet, Eswan Flores, 114; Twice the Appeal, Christian Santiago Reyes, 114; Fiddlers Afleet, Kevin Krigger, 110; Gladding, Joel Rosario, 116; Setsuko, Victor Espinoza, 116; Norvsky, Joe Talamo, 118; Prayer for Relief, Martin Garcia, 117, 118; Holladay Road, Rafael Bejarano, 114 and Victory Pete, Corey Nakatani, 114.

The two races immediately before the Santa Anita Handicap are also Grade I events. The ninth is the $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile while race 10 is the $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf. The field of eight in the Las Virgenes includes Hollywood Starlet winner Killer Graces while Mr. Commons, Compari and Jeranimo headline the Kilroe.

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