(Queen Ofthe Temple / Photo Courtesy of Santa Anita)

From the Santa Anita Media Team:

QUEEN OFTHE TEMPLE AIMS FOR STAKES BREAKTHROUGH IN ASTRA

A field of nine long-winded fillies and mares take the spotlight Saturday in the featured $100,000 Astra Stakes going 1 ½ miles on turf. Figuring to be among the top choices is Queen Ofthe Temple, a 5-year-old mare who is twice Grade III-placed going a marathon distance for trainer Dan Blacker.

By Temple City, Queen Ofthe Temple has been off since a third-place finish Nov. 24 in the Grade III Red Carpet going 1 3/8 miles at Del Mar. In two other graded stakes tries last year, she was third in the Grade III Santa Barbara in the spring and sixth in the Grade I Rodeo Drive in the fall, both at Santa Anita.

Blacker said Queen Ofthe Temple has been targeting the Astra since shortly after her solid try in the Red Carpet. He expects a big effort on Saturday.

“She seems to do her best running at these marathon distances and this looks like a good spot,” Blacker said Thursday. “She appears to have really gotten better with age.”

In preparation for her seasonal bow, Queen Ofthe Temple has worked four times at Santa Anita since Dec. 14. While there is a 15-day gap on the work tab between Dec. 30 and her final breeze last Saturday, a four-furlong drill in 48.60 seconds, Blacker indicated that is not a concern. This has been a particularly wet winter so far at Santa Anita, which has forced horsemen to be nimble with their training regimens.

“We’ve been lucky with her,” Blacker said. “We’ve gotten the works in that we’ve needed to between the rainstorms.”

In the Astra, Queen Ofthe Temple has lured the services of top jockey Juan Hernandez. Hernandez previously rode Queen Ofthe Temple to a close second place finish here in a maiden race last spring.

“Juan has been on her before and obviously he’s the leading rider, so we’re thrilled to have him on,” Blacker said.

The Astra goes as the eighth race on Saturday’s 10 race card with an approximate post time of 3:30. The field in post position order: Warrens Candy Girl, Umberto Rispoli, 6-1; Lady Clementine, Flavien Prat, 5-1; Queen Ofthe Temple, Juan Hernandez, 3-1; Duvet Day, Kazushi Kimura, 6-1; Australia Mia, Frankie Dettori, 5-2; Almost A Factor, John Velazquez, 15-1; Tiz An Adventure, Mike Smith, 6-1; Barrister’s Ride, Ricardo Gonzalez, 12-1; New Heat, Abel Cedillo, 20-1.

SANTA ANITA HORSES EYE RICH PEGASUS WORLD CUP CARD

The final invitation list for next Saturday’s lucrative Pegasus World Cup program at Gulfstream Park was released this week and a handful of Santa Anita-based horses remain in the mix.

In the Grade I, $3 million Pegasus World Cup going 1 1/8 miles on dirt, three of the 15 horses to receive invites hail from Santa Anita: Defunded, Stilleto Boy and Get Her Number.

Defunded has been targeting the Pegasus World Cup since he closed out the 2022 campaign with consecutive wins in the Grade I Awesome Again at Santa Anita and Grade III Native Diver at Del Mar on Nov. 27. The 5-year-old Dialed In gelding will try and provide trainer Bob Baffert with a third Pegasus World Cup win following previous tallies with Mucho Gusto in 2020 and Arrogate in 2017.

Stilleto Boy would be making a second appearance in the Pegasus World Cup for trainer Ed Moger Jr. Last year, the 5-year-old Shackleford gelding finished third behind winner Life Is Good at 26-1. Most recently, Stilleto Boy was runner-up to Country Grammar in the Grade II San Antonio here on Dec. 26. Get Her Number has been back training at San Luis Rey Downs for trainer Peter Miller following a trip to New York last month where he finished second by a head in the Grade I Cigar Mile on Dec. 3.

In the Grade I, $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf, Santa Anita-based Master Piece, Speaking Scout and One More Bid all remain eligible. Master Piece, winner of the Grade II Eddie Read at Del Mar last summer for trainer Michael McCarthy, has been off since an eighth-place finish in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf on Nov. 5 at Keeneland.

Speaking Scout most recently won the Grade I Hollywood Turf Cup on Dec. 3 at Del Mar for trainer Graham Motion, while One More Bid is exiting a 16-1 upset in the Grade II Mathis Mile on Dec. 26 at Santa Anita for trainer Ryan Hanson. In the Grade III, $500,000 Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf, McCarthy is expected to be represented by Queen Goddess. A Grade I winner in 2021, the 5-year-old Empire Maker mare comes off a win in the Grade III Robert J. Frankel on Dec. 31 at Santa Anita.

Entries for the Pegasus World Cup program will be taken on Sunday.

TOP CAL-BRED BRICKYARD RIDE WORKS A BULLET TOWARDS RETURN

Brickyard Ride, a seven-time stakes winner for trainer Craig Lewis, continued preparations for his 6-year-old bow when drilling six furlongs Thursday at Santa Anita.

Brickyard Ride completed the move in 1:12.80, which was the fastest of five works at the distance. The full horse by Clubhouse Ride has been off since last May when he finished fifth in the Grade II Triple Bend.

“He went great, really doing well,” Lewis said from Clocker’s Corner after his charge cooled out.

The work on Thursday was Brickyard Ride’s sixth since Dec. 9. Lewis indicated he’s getting close to a race, but nothing has been decided at this point.

“When he’s ready he’ll tell me. It’s a long year,” the trainer noted. A homebred for Alfred A. Pais, Brickyard Ride has racked up a record of 23-12-1-1 with earnings of $744,977. His biggest wins came in the 2021 Grade II San Carlos and last year’s Grade III Kona Gold.

PLAYER-FRIENDLY ‘COAST TO COAST PICK 5’ RETURNS SATURDAY

With all systems go Saturday at both Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park, the ‘Coast to Coast Pick 5’ returns starting at 12:59.

The Coast to Coast Pick 5 is a $1 minimum wager with a player-friendly 15 percent takeout rate held on Saturdays and Sundays. While last Saturday’s wager was canceled due to no racing at Santa Anita, the following day’s Coast to Coast Pick 5 returned a healthy $2,531.80 for 82 winning tickets.

This Saturday the wager begins with the third race from Santa Anita, a starter/optional claimer going 5 ½ furlongs on turf. The sequence proceeds with the ninth and 11th races from Gulfstream Park and concludes with races six and eight at Santa Anita.

Finish Lines: Saturday’s 10-race card featuring the $100,000 Astra Stakes has an early first post of 12 noon. First post time for Sunday’s nine-race program will be at 12:30…Every Friday during the Classic Meet on-track patrons will receive free admission, free parking and drink specials that include $3 beers and $5 margaritas… Tizamagician, a multiple graded stakes winner for trainer Richard Mandella, has been retired and will stand the 2023 breeding season at Milky Way Farm in Temecula, Calif. A stud fee has not been announced.