INGLEWOOD, Calif. (April 25, 2012)—Willa B Awesome, the upset winner of the Santa Anita Oaks last month, will take on six other California bred 3-year-old fillies in the $300,000 Melair Stakes Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Along with the $300,000 Snow Chief Stakes for 3-year-olds, the Melair is the richest event of the 13th California Gold Rush program.
The eight stakes – including a pair of $60,000 maiden races – are restricted to horses bred or sired in the state. The Gold Rush purses total $1.11 million.
The Melair is the sixth of 10 races. Post time is 1 p.m. Track gates open at 9:55 a.m. There will be a Fans’ Choice giveaway (one per paid admission while supplies last) featuring a variety of past giveaway items.
Owned by Phil Daniels, Patsy London, John Winters and breeder Terry Lovingier and trained by Walther Solis, Willa B Awesome was 13-1 when she surprised Reneesgotzip by a nose in the Grade I Oaks March 31.
The victory was the fourth in 12 starts for the daughter of Awesome Gambler and the Nineeleven mare Cause I’m Tricky. Earlier in the year, she had wired four opponents at 11-1 in the Grade III Santa Ysabel. She has earned $428,896.
A first out winner versus maidens over Cushion Track April 21, 2011, Willa B Awesome has yet to be off the board in three local starts. After her debut victory, she was third in the Cinderella Stakes last June 11 and third in the Sharp Cat last Nov. 13.
Starlight Magic will stretch out in her second start of 2012 for owner Cory Wagner and trainer Mark Glatt. The Marino Marini filly out of the General Meeting mare Star’s Millennium has won two of five and banked $134,780. Her biggest win came in the California Cup Juvenile Fillies last Oct. 28 at Santa Anita.
Sidelined for five months after her Cal Cup victory, Starlight Magic returned with a second place finish as the 17-10 favorite in the Evening Jewel Stakes March 31 at Santa Anita. She wound up three-quarters of a length behind Warren’s Amber in the 6 ½ furlong race.
Starry Skies will switch Cushion Track after beginning her career with consecutive sprint victories on turf. Owned by a partnership that includes breeders John Harris, Per Antonsen and Don Valpredo and trained by Marty Jones, Starry Skies has earned $68,400. She’s by Sky Mesa out of the Saint Ballado mare Cosmah Star.
Warren’s Amber, who has never run beyond seven furlongs on dirt or synthetic, will try for her third lifetime victory. Owned by breeder Benjamin Warren and trained by Jorge Gutierrez, the daughter of Broadway Moon and the Mud Route mare I’m a Cat’s Meow has started seven times and earned $155,550.
Vicki Victoria, who broke her maiden over Cushion Track last Dec. 17, will be making her two turn debut for owner Heinz Steinmann and trainer Mike Harrington.
The Swiss Yodeler filly out of the Sharp Victor mare Mable Kent is 2-for-11 with a bankroll of $129,860.
John Sadler, who won the race named after the brilliant female he trained more than 25 years ago with She’s an Eleven in 2006, will be represented by Unusual Hottie.
A daughter of Unusual Heat and the Ski Champ mare Branca Como Neve owned by Seyyed Nilforushan, Unusual Hottie has won twice in four starts while earning $48,800. She defeated $40,000 maidens by 2 ½ lengths in her career bow over Cushion Track last Nov. 17.
Named for the popular local track camera woman Anna James, Anna You’re Up will be seeking her third win in five starts in the Melair.
Claimed for $25,000 by Ceasar Dominguez for Divas N Dudes out of a one mile turf victory March 29, Anna You’re Up has banked $34,950. She’s by Terrell out of the Coronado’s Quest filly Feed the Kitty. Ann You’re Up has never raced at Betfair Hollywood Park.
From inside out, the field for the Melair: Warren’s Amber, Eswan Flores rides, 120 pounds; Starry Skies, Joel Rosario, 116; Unusual Hottie, Kevin Krigger, 116; Willa B Awesome, Martin Pedroza, 124; Starlight Magic, Rafael Bejarano, 122; Vicki Victoria, Russell Baze, 116 and Anna You’re Up, Joe Talamo, 116.
Stoney Fleece, who won the Grade III Generous Stakes over the Betfair Hollywood Park turf last Nov. 27, will make his first synthetic appearance since Del Mar in the Snow Chief.
Owned by Gary and Cecil Barber and trained by Sadler, Stoney Fleece has won four of 10 – three of nine since being claimed for $40,000 by his current connections – and earned $189,860.
A son of Decarchy and the Deputed Testamony mare Gold Fleece, Stoney Fleece was fifth in the I’m Smokin over Del Mar’s Polytrack Sept. 5, 2011 in his last start over a synthetic track.
The other Sadler entrant is Corner Office. Owned by breeders Pam and Marty Wygod, the Betrando colt out of the Deputed Testamony mare No Trouble Tweenus has won once in five outings and earned $57,828. The Wygods won the 1995 Snow Chief with Pumpkin House.
Trainer Alexis Barba, who won the 2010 Snow Chief with Alphie’s Bet, will saddle that one’s half-brother in 2012.
Unusual Heatwave, who is by Unusual Heat out of the Candi’s Gold mare Miss Alphie, has won once in eight starts and has a bankroll of $100,262. This will be only his second race on something other than turf. He was second in his career debut last Aug. 7 over the Del Mar Polytrack.
Owned by Peter O. and Ellen Johnson and Teresa McWilliams, who also campaigned Alphie’s Bet, Unusual Heatwave comes off a fourth place finish in the Pasadena Stakes March 23 at Santa Anita.
A three-time winner over the Tapeta surface at Golden Gate Fields, Bench Light will be aiming for his first victory in Southern California. Brian Koriner trains the gelding, who has started eight times and earned $39,201, for E-Racing.Com and Neil Haymes. Bench Light is a son of Benchmark and the Habitony mare Lightly Go Lightly.
Third in the Echo Eddie Stakes March 31 at Santa Anita, Real Conundrum will be trying two turns for the first time in the Snow Chief. The Tale of the Cat colt out of the Desert King mare La Maitresse is 1-for-4 with earnings of $62,160 for owner Judi Partridge and trainer Dan Hendricks.
Another participant trying more ground for the first time is Suances Candy. The Suances gelding out of the Alpino Fitz mare Sweet Fitz has a win and a second in two sprints on turf for owner-breeder Red Baron’s Barn LLC and trainer Darrell Vienna. Suances Candy has banked $44,800.
Teraad, a Bertrando colt out of the Mr. Prospector mare Patria, has one win in five races and earnings of $49,088 for owner-breeder Nizar A. Abuljadayel and trainer Jeff Bonde.
Trained by Solis for a partnership that includes Daniels and Winters, Oh Righty has won twice in five outings and earned $49,150. The Rio Verde gelding out of the West by West mare Right Direction has yet to race beyond 6 ½ furlongs.
Rounding out the lineup are two maidens – D’Obsession and Dylan Donnelly.
Owned by breeder B.J. Wright and trained by Mike Pender, D’Obsession was a fast-closing fourth in his sprint debut April 1 at Santa Anita. The son of Decarchy and the Moscow Ballet mare Easy Obsession earned $3,360 for his performance.
Mike Mitchell trains Dylan Donnelly for owner-breeder Nick Alexander. The gray Tribal Rule gelding has been second in three of four. Out of the Rubiano mare Hazen, he has earned $33,950.
From inside out, the field for the Snow Chief: Corner Office, Alonso Quinonez rides, 116 pounds; Teraad, Russell Baze, 116; Unusual Heatwave, Rafael Bejarano, 116; D’Obsession, Patrick Valenzuela, 116; Real Conundrum, Martin Pedroza, 116; Oh Righty, Kevin Krigger, 116; Bench Light, Jose Valdivia, Jr., 116; Dylan Donnelly, Joe Talamo, 116; Suances Candy, David Flores, 116 and Stoney Fleece, Joel Rosario, 122.
The track record holder for five furlongs over Cushion Track, M One Rifle will try to stretch his speed to 7 ½ furlongs in the $125,000 Tiznow Stakes.
Owned by a partnership that includes breeders Ed Bernstein, Brian Greenspun, Irwin Molasky and trainer Bruce Headley, M One Rifle has won five of 20 and earned $528,142.
The 6-year-old One Man Army gelding out of the Bertrando mare Leanessa set the record of 55.98 in the Cool Frenchy Stakes May 7, 2011.
The Barbers and Sadler will try for a Tiznow victory with Italian Rules, a son of Tribal Rule and the Half a Year mare Golden Harmony they claimed for $40,000 March 6, 2011.
The chestnut is 3-for-4 since the purchase and was second in his defeat. He’s won seven of 23 overall and banked $325, 830.
He hasn’t been in a race restricted to California breds since he lost by a nose to Red Defense, another Tiznow entrant, in an optional claimer Nov. 27, 2010 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
A 5-year-old gelded son of Redattore and the Flying Continental mare Air Defense, Red Defense has won half of his 10 races for owner-breeder Harris and Carla Gaines. The chestnut has earned $168,582. Gaines and Harris combined to win the 2006 Tiznow with Lucky J.H.
A winner twice in his last three races around two turns, Joy Boy will shorten up a bit for a partnership that includes E-Racing.Com and Dr. William Gray and trainer Brian Koriner. The 4-year-old Tribal Rule colt out of the Half Term mare Joyously has won four of 12 and earned $151,830.
Kingpin Ryno, who was defeated by a head in the first division of the NTRA Stakes on Gold Rush Day a year ago, will make his first start over Cushion Track since for trainer Joshua Litt.
Owned by J B K Stable and Joshua Litt, the gelded son of In Excess and the Personal Flag mare Live Free Or Die has won twice in 10 races and banked $143,608.
Leaving New York has won three of 12 and earned $128,275 for owner Sheehy LLC and trainer Carl O’Callaghan. He’s a 5-year-old Tribal Rule gelding out of the Woodman mare Shady Lady Dancer.
An upset winner over the Santa Anita turf March 30, Mobilized returns to the scene of one of his five victories for Double JH Stables, Inc. and the Estate of breeder Robert Reseigne.
The 6-year-old Soul of the Matter horse and the Red Ransom mare Valleyofthebells has started 21 times and earned $288,830 for trainer Gary Mandella.
Sammy’s a Runnin’, who has been second or third in six of seven races over Cushion Track, has won three of 20 and banked $155,624 for a partnership that includes breeders Block-Forman Stables, Art Gugliemi and Samuel Wenguer. Trained by Art Sherman, Sammy’s a Runnin’ is a 5-year-old son of Swiss Yodeler and the Runaway Groom mare Runaway Susie.
Spud Spivens is back to his favorite surface for owners Vincent and Audrey Marchionno and trainer Henry Moreno. The 4-year-old Tizbud gelding out of the Cutlass Reality mare has won three – all at Betfair Hollywood Park – of 21 and earned $187,084.
From inside out, the field for the Tiznow: Mobilized, Rafael Bejarano rides, 120 pounds; Sammy’s a Runnin’, Alonso Quinonez, 118; Spud Spivens, Eswan Flores, 120; Kingpin Ryno, Jose Valdivia, Jr., 118; Italian Rules, Joel Rosario, 120; M One Rifle, Joe Talamo, 120; Joy Boy, Antonio Castanon, 120; Leaving New York, Edwin Maldonado, 120 and Red Defense, Russell Baze, 120.
Camille C and Going for a Spin, a pair of past Gold Rush winners, are among the eight entrants in the $125,000 B. Thoughtful Stakes, which goes at 7 ½ furlongs over Cushion Track.
Trained by Marcelo Polanco for owner Carlos Polanco, Camille C won the 2010 Melair, but is winless in 14 subsequent starts. The 5-year-old daughter of Roman Ruler and the Rahy mare Paris Operetta has won three of 27 and banked $367,495.
The winner of the 2011 Warren’s Thoroughbred, Going for a Spin is back with trainer Mike Mitchell after being re-claimed for $32,000 April 6. The 4-year-old Ministers Wild Cat filly out of the Mr. Greeley mare Gender Motors is 4-for-19 with a bankroll of $178,352. She’s owned by a partnership that includes Little Red Feather Racing.
Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who has won the B. Thoughtful a record three times, is scheduled to run Halo Dolly and Sister Kate.
Owned by a partnership that includes Hollendorfer and George Todaro, Halo Dolly has won nine of 16. The Popular filly out of the Comic Strip mare Spanish Halo has earned $313,730.
A 4-year-old full sister to multiple graded stakes winner Brother Derek, Sister Kate is 3-for-5 for owner-breeder Mary Caldwell. The 4-year-old gray daughter of Benchmark and the Siyah Kalem mare Miss Soft Sell has earned $76,050. This will her first race away from Golden Gate Fields.
Second in her only Cushion Track start in her career debut July 19, 2009, A Jealous Woman goes turf to synthetic for Three Cent Stable and trainer Francis Meza.
The 6-year-old Muqtarib mare and the Fly So Free mare Miss Free Bird has won five of 12 and earned $236,516.
Miss Becca, who has been worse than second only once in seven starts, will be seeking her fourth win for owners Dennis Conner and Wade Jacobsen and trainer Peter Eurton. She is a 5-year-old Marino Marini mare out of the In Excess mare Excessiveability.
Warren’s Jitterbug is also switching from turf to Cushion for owner-breeder Warren and Gutierrez. The 5-year-old daughter of Affirmative and the Peaks and Valleys mare Jitterbug Jan has won three of 23 and banked $284,744.
Completing the field is Bench Glory, a 5-year-olld Benchmark mare out of the Skywalker mare Image of Glory has won three of nine for owner-breeder Harris and trainer Sean McCarthy. She’s earned $149,272.
From inside out, the lineup for the B. Thoughtful: Camille C, Joel Rosario rides, 120 pounds; Going for a Spin, David Flores, 120; Bench Glory, Chantal Sutherland, 120; Warren’s Jitterbug, Rafael Bejarano, 120; Sister Kate, Kevin Krigger, 120; Miss Becca, Joe Talamo, 118; Halo Dolly, Russell Baze, 122 and A Jealous Woman, Brice Blanc, 120.
The other four stakes on the Gold Rush program are the $70,000 Grey Memo at seven furlongs, the Warren’s Thoroughbreds for older fillies and mares at seven furlongs, the $60,000 Alphabet Kisses for maiden fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs and the $60,000 NTRA for maiden colts and geldings at 6 ½ furlongs.
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