(Trainer Richard Mandella / Photo by Gene McLean_
From the Santa Anita Media Team:
MOONLIGHT D’ORO READY FOR FIRST STAKES TEST
Moonlight d’Oro makes her stakes debut in next Saturday’s G3 Las Virgenes Stakes for three-year-old fillies at one mile, a major steppingstone to the G2 Santa Anita Oaks on April 3.
The bay filly owned by MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm LLC is coming off an impressive maiden win at one mile, sashaying home first by three lengths as the 9-10 favorite last Dec. 13 under Flavien Prat, who will be back up in the $200,000 Las Virgenes.
“We’ll see how good she is,” said Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, who won his first Las Virgenes in 1993 with Likeable Style ridden by Gary Stevens and his second in 2013 with champion Beholder under the late Garrett Gomez.
Moonlight d’Oro worked six furlongs Wednesday in a bullet 1:12.60.
Mandella said Border Down is likely for this Saturday’s Grade III Thunder Road at a mile on grass, while Extra Hope “is nominated in case it looks like rain and it ends up a dirt race.”
Border Town also is nominated to the San Marcos Stakes at 1 ¼ miles on grass which had been scheduled to be run today but was moved back a week when nearly 2 ½ inches of rain inundated the area Friday.
D’AMATO MULLS THREE FOR SAN MARCOS STAKES
Phil D’Amato has three horses nominated to next Saturday’s G2 San Marcos Stakes at a mile and a quarter on turf, and all are possible starters for the trainer who celebrates his 45th birthday March 11.
The three are Acclimate, Count Again and Salvator Mundi. Although they gained a week due to rain, each would be coming back on a relatively short turnaround, led by Acclimate, third as the 19-10 favorite in the Unusual Heat Turf Classic on Jan. 16.
Count Again disappointed at even money when eased in the San Gabriel Stakes on Jan. 2, while Salvator Mundi was a creditable third in an overnight race on Jan. 8.
“They’re all under consideration,” D’Amato said. Count Again won the Grade II Seabiscuit at Del Mar last Nov. 28, but was eased as the even-money favorite in Grade II San Gabriel after being just three lengths off the pace midway through the race.
“He took a funny step right at the top of the stretch and Juan (Hernandez) just kind of wrapped up on him to make sure he was all right. Luckily, he was.
“For sure I’ll run Acclimate and Salvator Mundi. It’s a rather quick comeback for Acclimate, but I had this race in the back of my mind for him. It was hard to pass up 200 grand ($200,000 purse) against Cal-breds (in the Unusual Heat Turf Classic presented by City National Bank at a mile and an eighth), but at the same he’s coming back at a distance he prefers (in the San Marcos).
“I always had this race planned for him, if he came out of the Unusual Heat in good shape, and he really has, so we’ll look to wheel him back going a mile and a quarter.”
Salvator Mundi, a 5-year-old son of outstanding turf miler and grass sire Artie Schiller, was claimed for $40,000 in September of 2019 at Keeneland and has won twice in seven starts for D’Amato since. The San Marcos would be only his third stakes race in 16 career starts.
“He’s just kind of learning where he needs to be placed to be most effective,” D’Amato said of the bay gelding who stalked the pace before weakening to finish sixth in the Grade II John Henry Turf Classic at a mile and a quarter last Sept. 26.
“I think he merits another chance at a mile and quarter for sure, the way he’s come out of that race.”
This will be the 69th running of the San Marcos, won last year by LNJ Foxwoods’ United, ridden by Flavien Prat and trained by Richard Mandella.
RECORD 11TH SAN VICENTE WINS LOOMS FOR BAFFERT
Although he’d be coming off a six-month layoff, Bob Baffert said Freedom Fighter is “possible” for next Saturday’s G2 San Vicente Stakes, a race the two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer has won a record 10 times, including last year with Nadal and three straight years from 2011 through 2013 with The Factor, Drill and Shakin It Up.
Baffert captured his first San Vicente in 1997 with Silver Charm, who would go on to win the Kentucky Derby.
Freedom Fighter, a Violence colt out of the City Zip mare Canadian Ballet, hasn’t run since winning his debut race last Aug. 1 when he led throughout five furlongs at Del Mar to score by a head as the 1-2 favorite.
He has shown readiness for his comeback with three bullet workouts among his most recent drills, including a five furlong move in 59.60, handily from the gate on Thursday. It was the fastest of 70 works at the distance.
The San Vicente is for three-year-olds at seven furlongs.
FINISH LINES: Track Surfaces Consultant Dennis Moore reports 2.4 inches of rain fell at Santa Anita through 12 noon yesterday…There were 25 recorded workouts Saturday including three on the training track. Bullet drills were recorded on the main track by Shady Empire, who went four furlongs in 48.40 for trainer Jeff Bonde, and by Waraire, who went five furlongs in 59.40 for John Sadler.