Chiropractor, Distinctiv Passion & Pretty N Cool highlight Santa Anita stakes
A 1 1/8-mile turf affair, the San Gabriel drew an overflow field of 14. Chiropractor, a chestnut son of Kitten’s Joy, drew post 10 with Corey Nakatani and faces a tough task in his 4-year-old bow.
Trainer Phil d’Amato will send out a pair of top contenders in Obviously and Big John B.
Multiple Grade 1 winner Obviously, an earner of more than $1.4 million, will attempt to carry his speed past a mile. The 8-year-old gelding returned from a 10-month hiatus with a respectable third in the Woodbine Mile (G1) last September and is exiting a ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). Joseph Talamo retains the mount on the confirmed front-runner.
Big John B, a fast-closing second most recently in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2), captured the Del Mar H. (G2) and Cougar II H. (G3) in 2015 and has the class to be a serious factor with his best. Rafael Bejarano will be up on the late-running 7-year-old gelding.
Grade 3 scorer Bal a Bali, runner-up in the November 27 Seabiscuit (G2) at Del Mar, is another contender of note. Flavien Prat rides the Brazilian champion for Richard Mandella.
The $200,000 Santa Ynez (G2) kicks off the stakes action with a field of eight 3-year-old fillies and Bob Baffert is well-represented in the 6 ½-furlong test with three entrants, including likely favorite Pretty N Cool. A daughter of Scat Daddy, the gray filly captured the Sorrento (G2) at Del Mar and Matron (G2) at Belmont Park last year and figures to appreciate the cutback to a one-turn distance following a fourth in the Los Alamitos Starlet (G1) on December 12. Regular rider Martin Garcia will be up.
Golden Gate shipper Code Warrior will put her unbeaten record on the line while being tested for class in the Santa Ynez. A Florida-bred daughter of Society’s Chairman, she defeated males in the November 7 Golden Nugget before rolling to a 1 ¾-length tally in the Golden Gate Debutante three weeks later. Anne Sanguinetti will accompany the speedy dark bay.
Distinctiv Passion will make a title defense in the $100,000 Midnight Lute (G3). The 6-year-old is a five-time winner on Santa Anita’s main track, and 2-for-2 at the 6 ½-furlong distance, but has dropped his last three outings.
Four-time Grade 3 hero Salutos Amigos, fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) two back, has returned to the West Coast for owner/trainer David Jacobson and will be running late. All Run tries stakes company in good form for trainer Richard Baltas, registering century-topping BRIS Speed ratings for convincing allowance wins in his last two, and Seattle Serenade will step up to make his stakes debut with a 2-for-2 mark in tow. Grade 2 runner-up San Onofre, who ran well at Santa Anita last winter/spring, is also intriguing as he returns off the shelf for conditioner Karen Headley.
Chiropractor (yellow hat) winning the Hollywood Derby courtesy of Benoit Photos