Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella seeks a record fourth victory in the $100,000 Railbird Stakes for 3-year-old fillies with unbeaten Witty at Hollywood Park Sunday.
From everything he has seen so far, Mandella thinks Witty could be every bit as good as his three previous winners — She’s Tops in 1992, Supercilious in 1996 and Brulay in 1998 — in the Grade III test at seven furlongs on Cushion Track.
“She’s given us reason to be excited about her possibilities,” said Mandella Wednesday from his Santa Anita training base. Witty scored a pair of facile victories in her first two starts at Santa Anita on March 4 and April 12.
Witty would provide a nice Mother’s Day bonus to her dam, Well Dressed, with her first stakes victory. Well Dressed is also the dam of Well Armed, winner of the $6-million Dubai World Cup in March.
By Distorted Humor, the Kentucky-bred filly is a half-sister to Well Armed, who is by Tiznow. Witty is owned by Ramona Bass, Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm owner Dell Hancock, a trio of friends who bought the filly for $400,000 at the 2007 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Mandella is tied with D. Wayne Lukas for the most Railbird victories with three.
Victor Espinoza, who won the 2003 Railbird on Buffythecenterfold, has the call back on Witty in the stake.
Expected to join Witty in the Railbird are: Carlsbad (Tyler Baze), Strawberry Tart (Mike Smith), Burg Berg (Aaron Gryder), Gold Goddess (David Flores), Music Magic (Alex Solis), Ultra Blend (Jose Valdivia, Jr.) and Will O Way (Jesus Rios).
Unbeaten Carlsbad will put a five-race winning streak on the line, with four victories at Turf Paradise and one at Santa Anita by a total of 54 lengths.
Strawberry Tart won her last two starts at Oaklawn Park by a total of 19 ¾ lengths.
Two other nominees considered possible worked on Cushion Track Wednesday: Melair Stakes winner Pretty Unusual went four furlongs in :47.20 and Lady Lumberjack went three furlongs in :35.60.
Third Dawn, runner-up by a nose to champion Stardom Bound in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks, was declared out of the race by trainer John Sadler following a bout with colic.
HYPERBARIC WORKS FOR SHOEMAKER
Hyperbaric worked five furlongs on Cushion Track in 1:00.40 Wednesday for the $250,000-added Shoemaker Mile on turf May 25, the first Grade I stake of the meet.
Hyperbaric, a 6-year-old gelding trained by three-time Shoemaker winner Julio Canani, will try to rebound from a 14th-place finish in the Dubai Duty Free Stakes in his last start March 28.
Owned by Texan Jack Preston’s Prestonwood Racing, Hyperbaric climaxed a brilliant 2008 campaign with a victory in the Grade I Citation Handicap here in November. He has won seven of 13 starts and earned $654,476.
PEDROZA SHOOTS FOR JUNE 1 RETURN
Veteran jockey Martin Pedroza hopes for a June 1 return to riding, agent Rich Silverstein advised Wednesday.
Pedroza, 43, suffered a broken pelvis in a post parade spill at Santa Anita on Jan. 11.
“His bones are healed, and one doctor has released him,” said Silverstein. “He’s still got to see another doctor for internal injuries, probably in the next week or so.
“He goes to the gym six days a week and is jogging five or six miles,” said Silverstein of Pedroza’s exercise routine and therapy for his comeback. “He’s bending, stretching and doing some light weight-lifting.”
Pedroza, a native of Panama, has ridden 3,069 winners and earned more than $85 million during a career that began in 1981.
DAKOTA PHONE BLOWS OUT HALF FOR MERVYN LeROY
Dakota Phone worked four furlongs in 48 seconds Wednesday on Cushion Track for the $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap Saturday.
Trained and co-owned by Jerry Hollendorfer, the 4-year-old gelding seeks his first graded stakes win in the Grade II test at 1 1/16 miles.
Dakota Phone rallied to finish second, a nose behind unbeaten Rail Trip, in their last starts in the Santana Mile Handicap at Santa Anita on April 4. He has won four of 16 starts and earned $257,010.
Dakota Phone drew the rail under jockey Rafael Bejarano in a field of six in the Mervyn LeRoy.
SADLER EYES BUSY STAKES SCHEDULE
John Sadler, leading trainer at this meet last year, is targeting stakes here the next three weekends.
Sadler said Wednesday he planned to start Red Arrow in the $100,000 Los Angeles Handicap May 16, Whatsthescript in the $250,000-added Shoemaker Mile May 25 and Black Mamba in the $250,000-added Gamely Stakes May 30.
FINISH LINES — The stewards excused jockey JOEL ROSARIO from his mounts Wednesday because of illness . . . Hall of Fame trainers looked ahead at stakes plans during the meet. Neil Drysdale said that Mrs Kipling, winner of the $100,000 Senorita Stakes Sunday, returned in good order and will make her next start in the $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap May 31. He also said U S Ranger will return in the $250,000 Shoemaker Mile May 25, and Artiste Royal will defend honors in the $300,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap June 6…Richard Mandella said he planned to start both Dixie Chatter and Tiz West in the Shoemaker…*Bob Baffert* said Guns On The Table would be ready to fire in the $100,000 Los Angeles Handicap May 16.
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