Eddie Logan anchors New Year’s Eve stakes action
Benoit photo of Santa Anita's iconic shoeshine man, Eddie Logan, who died in early 2009 at the age of 98.
Thursday’s $75,000 Eddie Logan S. at Santa Anita isn’t the richest stakes on offer on New Year’s Eve, but as a listed contest for promising 2-year-olds, it’s the most appealing.
The one-mile turf event has drawn an overflow field of 11, relegating one to the also-eligible list. Path of David has garnered early 5-2 favoritism off a convincing Del Mar maiden win in his first try for Kristin Mulhall. Previously placed in a pair of turf maidens for Mike Stidham, the full brother to classic-placed Atigun keeps Joe Talamo aboard.
Arabian Leopard has taken a bit longer to put it together than might have been expected from a $575,000 OBS June 2-year-old, but the Bob Baffert pupil finally broke through last time in a dirt sprint. As a son of Scat Daddy and a Silver Hawk mare, Arabian Leopard ought to make himself right at home on turf. His one past attempt on the surface, a fourth, may not be indicative: the Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum colorbearer was wheeling back on two weeks’ rest and got embroiled in an early duel.
Although the also-eligible Tiz a Billy is still a maiden, he’s missed in a couple of photos to Collected, the eventual Cecil B. DeMille (G3) runner-up, and next-out Del Mar Juvenile Turf winner Hollywood Don.
Three others are exiting the Cecil B. DeMille. Canada was a belated sixth after finding himself too far back early. Two starts ago, the $500,000 Keeneland September yearling had secured better stalking position en route to breaking his maiden here. Trained by Simon Callaghan, the well-bred Giant’s Causeway colt races for a powerhouse partnership of Stonestreet and the Coolmore principals. Imperious One was ninth in the DeMille in his U.S. debut for Doug O’Neill. Formerly in England with Charlie Hills, he doesn’t bring any compelling form with him, but as a full brother to Group 3 victress Royal Confidence, he could improve. DeMille 11th Storming Candy, who had to drop into maiden claiming company to score, isn’t living up to his smart pedigree yet.
French import Mr Notorious is on a retrieval mission after flopping in his American premiere in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf. That was all the more disappointing since he’d just sold for the top price of $200,000 at Del Mar’s Paddock Sale, fresh off the plane. Trainer Jim Cassidy forecasts a significant turnaround here, and the addition of blinkers could help. Was he well bought, or well sold?
Recent Del Mar maiden winner Trust Your Gut has shown more since switching to turf, befitting a son of City Zip. Giopress, from the first crop of Gio Ponti, is a May foal who’s been steadily improving up at Golden Gate. Bully Pulpit (by California Chrome’s sire Lucky Pulpit) turned in one of his better efforts when third in the October 10 Zuma Beach over this course and distance – his lone turf start. Afleet Domination will be tested for class after plying his trade in maiden claimers on the dirt.
The New Year’s Eve stakes action kicks off with Aqueduct’s $100,000 Alex M. Robb for New York-breds. Empire Classic winner Empire Dreams, a closing third in the Thunder Rumble division of the New York Stallion Stakes, should appreciate the stretch-out to 1 1/16 miles here.
Saratoga Snacks, who won this race back in 2012, aims to rebound off a subpar seventh as the 5-2 favorite in the Empire Classic. Also exiting the Empire Classic is multiple stakes-winning sophomore Good Luck Gus, who lost all chance with a bad stumble at the start and did well to finish fifth. Empire Classic third Full of Mine comes off an ambitious tilt at the Cigar Mile (G1), where he trailed.
The ubiquitous Todd Pletcher dispatches 3-year-olds Bullheaded Boy and Ostrolenka, who have crossed swords with Good Luck Gus. Defending champion Big Business is winless since, but could turn things around first off the claim for Repole Stable and trainer Bruce Levine. Last year’s Alex Robb third, West Hills Giant, has likewise gone off form.
Fair Grounds offers the six-furlong Louisiana Futurity and the companion division for fillies, each state-bred stakes with an advertised purse of $96,970. The Louisiana Futurity features the respective third and fourth from the Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile, Icy Gentleman and John’s Luck, as well as flashy winners Blue Tizzy, Anterior, Rock N Sake and Half Cajun. Highlighting the fillies’ division are Smittys Cougar, third in the Champions Day Lassie, and Al Stall Jr.’s smart debut winner Thegoodwitch. Another to watch for is second-time starter Rita’s Fifty Seven, a daughter of multiple stakes queen The Beter Man Can, who captured this race in 2004.