|Big 'Cap Runner-Up Magnum Readies
For Lone Star Park 'Cap
(May 24, 2006) - A $100,000
purse boost since last year is helping to lure the deepest field
in race history for Monday's Grade III, $400,000 Lone Star Park
Handicap. The top three finishers from April's Grade III Texas Mile-Preachinatthebar,
Stockholder and Texcess-are all scheduled to return in the season's
richest race, but they'll have to deal with a new shooter to these
parts in Magnum, the runner-up in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap
and last month's Grade II Oaklawn Park Handicap.
The Lone Star Park Handicap is the featured race on the annual
Memorial Day program known as Lone Star Million. The richest annual
day of racing in Texas comprises six stakes worth $1 million in
purses. In addition to the Lone Star Park 'Cap, fans can look forward
to the Grade III, $200,000 WinStar Distaff with defending champion
Katdogawn, plus Grade I winner Sweet Talker and Grade II winner
Shining Energy; the $150,000 Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes for 3-year-olds
with $75,000 Grand Prairie Turf Challenge champ Kip Deville, Grade
III Crown Royal American Turf hero Stream Cat and Grade III Lone
Star Derby runner-up Wait in Line; the $100,000 Beck Auto Group
Turf Sprint starring Grade III Aegon Turf Sprint champ Man of Illusion;
the $100,000 Stonerside Stakes for 3-year-old fillies including
Grade II Fantasy Stakes third Brownie Points; and the $100,000 Valid
Expectations Stakes for female sprinters like stakes winner G G's
Magnum posted one of the year's highest Beyer Speed Figures in
a North American route race with a 112 in his Big 'Cap (Santa Anita
Handicap) effort. The race was won by Lava Man, the national earnings
leading among older horses and the leading vote getter in the latest
NTRA Thoroughbred Poll. Less than one length separated Lava Man
and Magnum at the wire, 7 1/2 lengths ahead of the rest of the field.
Trainer Darrell Vienna believes Magnum is the type of horse that
could end up running in the Breeders' Cup Classic this fall. "I
do believe he is that good, but he really would need to earn his
way because of the cost of supplementing him," Vienna said.
"Tentatively what we're considering is the WinStar, the Hollywood
Gold Cup and the Pacific Classic. Each one of those is a steppingstone,
though, and if we slip on one of the stones we could change course."
Even thinking about the Breeders' Cup for the Argentine-bred Magnum
would have been unthinkable last summer, when Magnum struggled through
his first three races in North America.
"He always worked very well and he acted as if he would be
an important horse, but it's not unusual for the horses coming form
the Southern Hemisphere-especially when they begin racing in our
summer, which is their winter-to take some time to get it all together,"
Vienna said. "I was starting to get frustrated with him just
at the point when he turned the corner because he was promising
more than he was delivering."
When Magnum did turn the corner, however, he exploded into one
of the West Coast's top older horses. He earned a 106 Beyer for
his 2006 debut, a 5 1/4-length win in a Santa Anita allowance. Next
came the Big 'Cap, where he finished second at 17-1. Off the strength
of such a huge effort in the West Coast's most important race for
older horses, Magnum went off favored in the Oaklawn 'Cap. There
he settled further off the pace than usual, making it impossible
to catch eventual winner Buzzard's Bay, who bounced to an easy early
lead and never looked back.
Magnum hasn't raced since the April 8 Oaklawn 'Cap, but has trained
weekly at his Santa Anita Park base. Vienna said he came out of
the Oaklawn race "like he didn't even run." Most recently,
the 5-year-old worked six furlongs Friday in 1:12 2/5, handily,
precisely the same as his previous move six days prior.
Patrick Valenzuela, tied for first in the Hollywood Park jockey
standings entering Wednesday, will ride Magnum for the first time
in the Lone Star Park 'Cap. "I think P-Val fits every horse,
but this is a pretty straightforward horse to ride," Vienna
said. "Martin [Pedroza] did a very good job with him, but he
had a conflict with another very good horse, Charmo, running at
Hollywood Park. I feel very fortunate we got a rider of Patrick's
caliber. I think Patrick's really a rider without equal."
Vienna said Valenzuela worked Magnum on May 5 "just so he
could get on him and get a feel for him."
The only horses to post higher Beyers than Magnum at one mile or
more this season are Sinister Minister (116 in the Grade I Blue
Grass Stakes), Lava Man (113 winning the Big 'Cap), Wanderin Boy
(113 in a Keeneland allowance) and Bernardini (113 in Saturday's
Grade I Preakness Stakes).
Vienna said his other Lone Star Million nominee, Crystal Castle
in the $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint, is "fifty-fifty"
to make the trip to Texas. "We worked him [Wednesday] morning
and we're really on the fence about whether we're going to bring
him," Vienna said. "He's older now and may not be what
he was before. I suspect the company there is going to be of substantially
higher quality [than his last race at Santa Anita]."
Motion Bringing Grade I Winner Sweet Talker for WinStar
Trainer Graham Motion returns to the sight of his biggest win,
the 2004 Breeders' Cup Turf, with Grade I-winning filly Sweet Talker
in Monday's Grade III, $200,000 WinStar Distaff. The daughter of
Stormin Fever won her 2006 debut in last month's $60,000 Dahlia
Stakes at Laurel Park, an easy start to a campaign that could establish
her as one of the nation's premier turf distaffers.
"I think she was ready to go the first time back," Motion
said. "We tried to find a sensible spot to bring her back in
and I didn't want to overface her in her first start. I hadn't run
her before so you never know what to expect. This is a logical progression
and she's had plenty of time to recover from that race."
The Dahlia was Sweet Talker's first start for Motion since being
purchased for $1.15 million out of the Keeneland November Breeding
Stock Sale by Courtlandt Farms, the stable of Bryan, Texas, resident
Sweet Talker is an incredible six-for-eight on the turf and has
never finished out of the top three. She has won three in a row
entering the WinStar and five of her last six. Her 3-year-old campaign
included three stakes wins, topped off with a nose triumph in the
Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland in October.
"I think she's just a very honest, hard-trying filly,"
Sweet Talker had a final workout in preparation for the WinStar
on Monday, breezing seven furlongs in 1:33 4/5 at Fair Hill Training
Center, the Maryland complex that was Barbaro's home leading up
to the Preakness Stakes.
"It's on a wood-chip surface and seven furlongs is actually
a two-turn breeze," Motion said. "The wood-chip oval is
inside the dirt oval. Anywhere between 1:30 and 1:34 on that surface
is very respectable. It's a breeze that I do a lot here with my
turf horses. She went nicely."
Ramon Dominguez, who rode Sweet Talker to victory in the Dahlia
and was aboard for Monday's workout, will travel to Lone Star to
ride in the WinStar. On October 30, 2004, Motion and Dominguez teamed
to upset the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf at Lone Star Park with
27-1 shot Better Talk Now.
"My feelings are very good about coming back to Lone Star,"
Motion said. "I have very good memories of it."
Other contenders known to be pointing to the WinStar Distaff include
defending champion Katdogawn, last year's Grade II San Clemente
Handicap winner Shining Energy, graded stakes-placed Lock and Key,
last month's $75,000 Irving Distaff winner Paz Ciudadana, the Irving
Distaff runner-up My Misty Princess, the Keeneland allowance winner
Joint Aspiration, the Santa Anita allowance winner Dancing Edie,
the German Group 3 winner Peaceful Love, regional stakes winners
Stela and Stretching, plus Remington Park allowance winner Caviar
Harty to Try for Second Stonerside Win with Beholden
Trainer Eoin Harty will attempt to win the $100,000 Stonerside
Stakes for the second consecutive year with Beholden, a promising
Gulfstream Park allowance winner coming off a tough fifth in the
Grade III La Troienne Stakes on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill
The Stonerside is a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies.
Last year, Harty upset the race with R Fast Lady, a speedy daughter
of Artax, and hopes to get a similar race from Beholden.
"I think they're very similar, to be honest," Harty said
of the two fillies. "They've got similar running styles and
I hope I have the same result."
Beholden, a daughter of Cat Thief, won a one-mile first-level allowance
at Gulfstream Park in March in 1:37 1/5. She went off at 7-1 in
a deep field for the 7 1/2-furlong La Troienne, but broke outwards
at the start, and then raced five-wide on the turn to reach contention
before flattening out in the stretch.
"The only race in her life she's ever finished off the board
was in her last start and that was a tough race, a very big step
up in class," Harty said. "I think she's got a shot down
there in Texas or I wouldn't be coming."
As for the incident at the start of the La Troienne, the trainer
said handicappers should not be concerned about a repeat of such
disadvantageous behavior. "She's always been good in the gate
but sometimes these things happen," Harty said.
Beholden breezed five furlongs Wednesday morning in 1:01.70 over
Belmont Park's main track with regular jockey Javier Castellano
aboard. "She went really well," Harty said. "She's
very fit. That was just a little something to take the edge off
Because Castellano is booked to ride in Monday's Grade I Metropolitan
Handicap (the Met Mile) at Belmont Park, Harty has named Patrick
Valenzuela to ride Beholden. The filly is campaigned by Sheikh Mohammed
bin Rashid al Maktoum's Darley Stable, the owners of Saturday's
Preakness Stakes winner, Bernardini.
Lone Star Million Rundowns
GRADE III, $400,000 LONE STAR PARK HANDICAP -
According to stakes coordinator Mike Shamburg and other sources,
here are the known possible runners for the Grade III, $400,000
Lone Star Park Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-olds and
up on Memorial Day (with jockey, trainer and assigned weight): Preachinatthebar
(Jon Court, Bob Baffert, 121 pounds); Magnum-ARG (Patrick Valenzuela,
Darrell Vienna, 117); Cosmonaut (Julien Leparoux, Patrick Biancone,
116); Nakayama Kun (TBA, Akiko Gothard, 116); Real Dandy (TBA, Steve
Asmussen, 116); Stockholder (TBA, Steve Asmussen, 116); Texcess
(Aaron Gryder, Mike Mitchell, 116); Shamoan-IRE (TBA, Eoin Harty,
115); Dominguin-PER (TBA, Dante Zanelli Jr., 114); Gold and Roses
(Norberto Arroyo Jr., Tom Bush, 115); Watchem Smokey (TBA, Brandon
Marks, 115); and Wishingitwas (TBA, Bart Evans, 113).
GRADE III, $200,000 WINSTAR DISTAFF HANDICAP -
According to stakes coordinator Mike Shamburg and other sources,
here are the known possible runners for the Grade III, $200,000
WinStar Distaff Handicap, a one-mile turf test for fillies and mares
on Memorial Day (with jockey, trainer and assigned weight): Shining
Energy (TBA, Julio Canani, 120 pounds); Sweet Talker (TBA, Gram
Motion, 120); Katdogawn (Aaron Gryder, Wally Dollase, 119); Paz
Ciudadana-CHI (TBA, Steve Asmussen, 117); Lock and Key-IRE (TBA,
Ben Cecil, 116); My Misty Princess (TBA, Steve Asmussen, 116); Caviar
Emptor (TBA, Joe Offolter, 115); Dancing Edie (TBA, Wally Dollase,
115); Joint Aspiration-GB (Julien Leparoux, 115); Peaceful Love-GER
(TBA, Jeff Mullins, 115); Stela-CHI (TBA, Cole Norman, 115) and
Stretching (TBA, Michael Stidham, 114).
$150,000 PIN OAK STUD USA STAKES - According to
stakes coordinator Mike Shamburg and other sources, here are the
known possible runners for the $150,000 Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes,
a 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-olds on Memorial Day (with jockey
and trainer): Aver (TBA, Sherman Savoie); Desert Wheat (TBA, Tony
Richey); Kip Deville (TBA, Mike Neatherlin); Stream Cat (Julien
Leparoux, Patrick Biancone); Tahoe Warrior (TBA, Todd Pletcher);
and Wait in Line (TBA, Chris Hartman). Also known to be under consideration
is Castles in the Sky (TBA, Donnie K. Von Hemel).
$100,000 BECK AUTO GROUP TURF SPRINT HANDICAP
- According to stakes coordinator Mike Shamburg and other sources,
here are the known possible runners for the $100,000 Beck Auto Group
Turf Sprint Handicap, a five-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-olds
and up on Memorial Day (with jockey, trainer and assigned weight):
Man of Illusion-AUS (Julien Leparoux, Patrick Biancone, 120); Charming
Socialite (TBA, Bill Pettit, 116); Crystal Castle (Patrick Valenzuela,
Darrell Vienna, 115); Oncearoundtwice (TBA, John Locke, 115); K
D King (TBA, Keith Dunaway, 113); War Bridle (TBA, Tommie Morgan,
113); and Sweepingly (Alfredo Juarez Jr., Chris Hartman, 110).
$100,000 STONERSIDE STAKES - According to stakes
coordinator Mike Shamburg and other sources, here are the known
possible runners for the $100,000 Stonerside Stakes, a seven-furlong
sprint for 3-year-old fillies on Memorial Day (with jockey and trainer):
Annie Savoy (TBA, Kari Craddock); Beholden (TBA, Eoin Harty); Brownie
Points (TBA, Donnie K. Von Hemel); Downthedustyroad (TBA, Bob Baffert);
Prahtheta (TBA, Glynn Winn); Rachelsarompin (TBA, Tim Dixon); Trick's
Pic (Julien Leparoux, Patrick Biancone); and White She Devil (TBA,
Steve Asmussen). Also known to be under consideration is Open Meadows
(TBA, Jack Bruner).
$100,000 VALID EXPECTATIONS STAKES - According
to stakes coordinator Mike Shamburg and other sources, here are
the known possible runners for the $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes,
a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares on Memorial Day (with
jockey and trainer): Angel Baby (TBA, Dallas Keen); Cookin's Cast
(TBA, Alan Love Sr.); G G's Dolly (TBA, Kelly Von Hemel); Ketchmewhereyoucan
(TBA, Tommie Morgan); Red Lifesaver (TBA, Steve Asmussen); Trolley's
Last (Julien Leparoux, Patrick Biancone); and True Tails (Jamie
Theriot, Cole Norman). Also known to be under consideration are
Bridal Gal (TBA, Mark Whitton), Expectant Diva (TBA, Randy Mayfield)
and Follow the Lite (TBA, Bret Calhoun).
DOWN THE STRETCH: Trainer Greg Gilchrist
announced Monday that champion sprinter Lost in the Fog will make
his next start in the Grade III Aristides Breeders' Cup at Churchill
Downs on June 3 and not the $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint.
Gilchrist said the main factor in the decision he made with owner
Harry Aleo was the need to get a start over the track that will
host this year's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships
on Nov. 4...There will be no more Wednesday racing this season.
The upcoming racing week features five days of action, Thursday
to Monday, because of the special Memorial Day program May 29. After
Memorial Day, racing will be conducted four days per week, Thursdays
to Sundays, plus Monday, July 3 and Tuesday, July 4. There will
be no racing on Thursday, July 6.
By Jim Mulvihill
Additional reporting by Darren Rogers