United Eyes Breeders’ Cup Return
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
Six months removed from running second, beaten just a head, in the 2019 Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, United is back at the races this weekend and eyeing another bid at the $6 million race. Since his heartbreaking defeat as a 51-1 shot behind subsequent Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar, United has gone on to run second in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) before winning the San Marcos (G2).
The San Marcos victory came February 1 over ten furlongs at Santa Anita, which is the same trip United will find in the $200,000 Charles Whittingham (G2) on Saturday. The race drew seven runners.
United, who runs for LNJ Foxwoods and is trained by Richard Mandella, is a five-year-old gelding by Giant’s Causeway, who also suffered Breeders’ Cup heartbreak when he finished second in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic behind Tiznow. United, who will be ridden by Flavien Prat, is two for seven over the local course with five top three efforts.
His two main opponents have drawn just outside of him, with Originaire (Ire) in the sixth stall and Rockemperor (Ire) on the outside. Originaire was an impressive allowance winner here February 29, scoring by 5 ¼ lengths over 1 1/8 miles. Jeff Mullins trains the son of Zoffany (Ire) for BG Stables. Originaire has three wins in 16 starts.
Rockemperor ships in for trainer Chad Brown. The four-year-old son of Holy Roman Emperor showed great promise upon his arrival from France, running third in the Belmont Derby (G1) and sixth in the Saratoga Derby before going to the sidelines. He returned in Grade 2 company at the Fair Grounds March 21, finishing third. Irad Ortiz, Jr. makes a rare trip to California to ride this starter for Brown.
Desert Stone (Ire) will break from the rail. Richard Baltas trains the son of Fastnet Rock (Aus), who won the San Gabriel (G2) here January 4. He ran ninth in Grade 1 company March 7 but that was over a mile. He stretches out to ten furlongs for the first time here.
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