Getty Images

Illuminant wins Grade 1 Gamely Stakes at Santa Anita

Leave a comment

ARCADIA, Calif. — Illuminant closed from just off the pace to win the $300,000 Gamely Stakes for fillies and mares by one length Monday at Santa Anita.

Ridden by Flavien Prat, Illuminant ran 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:48.34 and paid $12.40, $5 and $3.40 at 5-1 odds in just her second start in a Grade 1 race.

“It’s pretty exciting to win a race like this,” trainer Michael McCarthy said. “I thought she would run well. She’s a very honest filly, tries hard and I thought the mile and an eighth would be right up her alley.”

France-bred Wekeela returned $2.60 and $2.40 as the 4-5 wagering favorite in her second U.S. race after shipping in from New York for trainer Chad Brown.

“The pace was slow, but we were right behind the winner turning for home and that filly never stopped,” said Javier Castellano, aboard Wekeela.

Ireland-bred Elektum was another three-quarters of a length back in third and paid $3.80 to show.

Keri Belle was fourth, followed by Fanticola, Nancy From Nairobi, Dressed to a T and Nashoba’s Gold. Evo Campo was scratched.

Trainer John Sadler saddled Elektum, winless in her last five starts since last August at Del Mar, and Nancy From Nairobi, whose three-race winning streak ended after she never pressed the pace.

With Fanticola using her natural speed to set the early pace, Illuminant settled into second most of the way around until gaining a short lead into the stretch before inching away under Prat’s right-handed whip.

“Fanticola was the only speed in the race, so I knew that I needed to be right there,” Prat said. “My filly has speed too, so I knew it would be OK.”

Fanticola was second by a neck in last year’s Gamely. She finished in the money for the 12th time in 13 races on the track’s turf course.

Illuminant finished third behind winner Tepin and runner-up Wekeela in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley on turf at Keeneland last month.

“The turf is a bit softer here and that’s maybe better for her, especially going a mile and an eighth,” Prat said. “Here at Santa Anita, I feel it’s better if you’re closer to the lead. At Keeneland, it’s a bigger turf course and when you come from off the pace there it’s easier.”

The victory, worth $180,000, increased Illuminant’s career earnings to $367,650, with four wins in 11 starts.

Baffert hoping Arrogate gives him third Dubai World Cup win

Getty Images
Leave a comment

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Having taken over the mantle as the world’s best racehorse from California Chrome, Arrogate will attempt on Saturday to wear another crown that last fitted his illustrious American compatriot, the Dubai World Cup.

All eyes are on the 4-year-old Arrogate, who lost on debut 11 months ago but hasn’t lost since.

He’s won the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup this year to stretch his unbeaten streak to six. In both races, Arrogate defeated Chrome, who won the Dubai World Cup last year at Meydan Racecourse by five lengths despite jockey Victor Espinoza hanging on to a loose saddle for most of it.

Under jockey Mike Smith, Arrogate has forged a winning combination in his last three Group 1 races: Travers Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup.

In Dubai, they have drawn stall nine among 14 contenders, a position which fails to douse the confidence of his trainer Bob Baffert.

“Nine is fine,” said Baffert, who also trained 2015 U.S. Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

“He’s settled in pretty well. As long as he shows up, that’s the key. If he runs his race, we know what he can do.”

Smith was all praise for his mount, ranked the No. 1 racehorse in the world.

“I have been blessed with some really, really good horses, but I am not sure I have ever sit on one like this,” Smith said.

“Everything about him, his disposition, his mechanics, the way he gets over the ground … at times you feel as if you are running downhill instead of a level ground. What amazes me most is when the race is over, it looks as if he did not put much effort into it. His recovery time is so quick.”

Arrogate’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup wins came over 2,000 meters on dirt, the same distance and conditions as the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

Baffert hopes Arrogate can give him a third Dubai World Cup victory after Silver Charm (1998) and Captain Steve (2001).

He suffered a heart attack during his last visit to Dubai in 2012, and watched the World Cup five nights later with stents in two of his blocked arteries. He also watched from even farther afield last year as his other horse, Hoppertunity, finished third behind Chrome and Mike de Kock’s Mubtaahij.

He’s giving Hoppertunity another chance.

“Both my horses are happy and healthy,” Baffert said. “He (Hoppertunity) should be collecting a check again. That is what he does, picks up the pieces in these big races. He reminds me of Pac-Man, he just keeps going. A Dubai World Cup 1-2, that would be something.”

Mubtaahij is also back, although he will start under Christophe Soumillon from the widest of stalls.

“Like everyone, we wanted low,” the Belgian jockey said. “I will have to … hope for some luck.”

The Dubai World Cup features a nine-race card offering $30 million across six Group 1 and three Group 2 races on turf and dirt.

Six three-year-olds nominated late to Triple Crown series

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Thunder Snow, winner of the UAE 2000 Guineas, is among six 3-year-olds made eligible to compete in the Triple Crown series during the late nomination period.

The late nominees, which required a payment of $6,000 each, raise the total nominations to 425 for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. The late nomination period closed Monday. The early nomination window closed in January and required a payment of $600.

Ireland-bred Thunder Snow, owned by Godolphin Racing, is set to run Saturday in the $2 million UAE Derby in Dubai. The colt has three wins in seven career starts for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

The other late nominees are Hollywood Handsome, trained by Dallas Stewart; More Than Words, trained by Charlie LoPresti; Parlor, trained by Eddie Kenneally; Rapid Dial, trained by Ingrid Mason; and Stretch’s Stone, trained by Bruce Levine.

Thoroughbreds that weren’t nominated to the Triple Crown have one final chance by paying a supplemental fee. The fee for the Derby is $200,000; $150,000 for the Preakness; and $75,000 for the Belmont.