Songbird among workers for Saturday’s Grade 1 stakes
By Jay Privman
ARCADIA, Calif. – The biggest day of the Santa Anita fall meeting will be the first day. On Saturday, five Grade 1 stakes, all worth $300,000 and all of them Win and You’re In races toward the Breeders’ Cup, will be run on an 11-race, opening-day card. In advance of that blockbuster card, a number of top-class horses had their final works Monday, including the circuit’s top 2-year-old filly, Songbird, who is set for the Chandelier Stakes, which will mark her first try around two turns.
Songbird won the Del Mar Debutante on Sept. 5 in her last start, making her 2 for 2. She’s a big, long-striding filly and effortlessly covered a half-mile in 47.20 seconds Monday in a manner trainer Jerry Hollendorfer hopes is a preview of how she’ll run Saturday.
“She indicates she’ll go two turns,” Hollendorfer said. “She went nice and easy. She’s done terrific since her last race.”
Beholder heads up the 1 1/16-mile Zenyatta Stakes for older females, and her presence in that race will be welcomed by the males who futilely chased her in the Pacific Classic, including Bayern and Hoppertunity, both of whom worked five furlongs Monday in preparation for the Awesome Again.
Bayern, winless since the Breeders’ Cup Classic last year, looked sharp when working in 59.20 under jockey Martin Garcia.
A bit later, Hoppertunity worked in company and appeared to be going slightly better than Cat Burglar while timed in 1:00.
A win in the 1 1/8-mile Awesome Again earns a berth in the BC Classic against the likes of American Pharoah and Beholder.
Del Mar Futurity winner Nyquist is scheduled to head the field in the FrontRunner. Among his expected rivals is Blameitonthelaw, who was third in the Del Mar Futurity but came back to work a strong six furlongs Monday in 1:14.20 while wearing blinkers, which he will add for the FrontRunner.
“I don’t think he handled the track at Del Mar,” said trainer John Sadler. “He’s trained very well since he’s been back up here.”
Also ready for the FrontRunner is Who’s Out, who worked a half-mile in 48.60 for Hollendorfer. He disappointed in his debut but came back to crush maidens by 7 1/2 lengths in his second start.
Justin Squared, considered possible for the FrontRunner, worked six furlongs in 1:14 for trainer Bob Baffert.
The FrontRunner, like the Chandelier, is at 1 1/16 miles.
In addition to the Awesome Again, Chandelier, FrontRunner, and Zenyatta, the other Grade 1 race on the Saturday card is the Rodeo Drive for female turf runners going 1 1/4 miles.
Also working Monday was Dortmund, who has been idle since the Preakness Stakes but is nearing a return to action. He was given an official time of 1:01 for five furlongs.
“He was emaciated after the Preakness,” said Baffert, who added that Dortmund tipped the scales at 1,300 pounds when weighed over the weekend.
Dortmund won the Santa Anita Derby earlier this year and was third in the Kentucky Derby. His comeback was delayed over the summer when he was cast in his stall and severely bruised his ribs. Baffert said his year-end goal is the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs in late November. Baffert hopes to get a prep race into Dortmund prior to the Clark.
“I have to start looking for something,” Baffert said.
** Om, the Del Mar Derby winner, worked a half-mile in 51.40 on the dirt Monday. He is awaiting the Grade 2, $200,000 Twilight Derby on turf Oct. 24.
** Kobe’s Back, the talented sprinter whose gate troubles have hampered him lately, zipped five furlongs in 58.40, the best time of 60 at the distance Monday.
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