Pair of Florida Shippers for Santa Anita Handicap
Photo Copyright Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
A pair of shippers from Florida will spice up the $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap (G1) at Santa Anita on Saturday, March 7. The eight-horse field also includes defending champion Gift Box and Midcourt, who has won five of his last six starts.
Endorsed and Hofburg are both coming in from Florida. Endorsed will break from the outside for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who has recently announced he is disbanding his stable to pursue being a jockey agent. Endorsed is by Medaglia d’Oro and is out of the Grade 1-winning Tapit mare Dance Card, who was third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) in 2013. Endorsed is coming off a win in allowance company at Gulfstream Park. The lightly raced colt started twice at two, then had eight months off before winning at Belmont Park. He was second in the Curlin and fourth in the Travers (G1) at Saratoga before being off from August to January.
Hofburg is best known for running seventh behind Justify in the 2018 Kentucky Derby (G1). He was third in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and then won the Curlin by five lengths that year. He only started once in 2019, winning an allowance at Saratoga before going back to the sidelines. Hofburg has since returned, running once at the Fair Grounds in Grade 3 company and finishing seventh. With a race under his belt, the son of Tapit can be dangerous here. Flavien Prat will ride.
Gift Box, who has won three of four at Santa Anita, won the race last year in a thriller over McKinzie, scoring by a nose. He was then second behind future Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Vino Rosso in the Gold Cup (G1) next out, but wasn’t seen from June until December. Gift Box, who is trained by John Sadler, came back strongly in the San Antonio (G2), scoring by three and three quarters lengths with Midcourt back third. Sadler also won the race in 2018 with Accelerate, and seeks to be the first trainer to win it three years in a row.
That loss was the only one in Midcourt’s last six starts. He rebounded to win the San Pasqual (G2) over Two Thirty Five and Combatant, both of whom are in the race. John Shirreffs trains Midcourt, a son of Midnight Lute out of the Grade 1 winning mare Mayo On the Side. Last year, Midcourt won the Native Diver (G3) at Del Mar and the Comma to the Top over this track. He is three for six at Santa Anita.
Multiplier and Brown Storm (Chi) both switch over from the grass for this. The Santa Anita Handicap, which can be watched live on TVG, was first run in 1935. It has been won by the likes of Seabiscuit, Round Table, Spectacular Bid, Tiznow, and Shared Belief.
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