12/07/2016 1:16PM

Distinctive B fits well in first-level optional claimer

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Mr. Pucci is set to make just his fourth career start.

CYPRESS, Calif.– Distinctive B, the winner of a $20,000 claiming race for maidens 18 months ago, has become a reliable runner for Rockingham Ranch and trainer Peter Miller this year.

Claimed for $40,000 in April, Distinctive B has earned $48,400 in four subsequent starts, including a win in a $40,000 claimer at Del Mar in September and a second to the highly regarded Ten Blessings at Santa Anita last month.

Those performances have led to a start in a first-level optional $40,000 claimer at Los Alamitos on Friday.

“He should be tough if he runs either of his last two races, which I think he will,” Miller said.

Distinctive B drew post 8 in a field of 10 that includes Mr. Pucci, who has not raced since beating maidens at Santa Anita last February, and two former stakes runners who will race as geldings for the first time – Sir Samson and Westbrook.

KEY CONTENDERS

Distinctive B, by With Distinction

Last 3 Beyers: 97-97-87

Distinctive B will be ridden by Tyler Baze, who has been aboard for the 4-year-old gelding’s last three starts. Distinctive B is expected to race near the front.

“He’s won from off the pace, but he’s fast,” Miller said. “If someone wants the lead, he can be second or third. He’s versatile.”

◗ Distinctive B disputed the pace in a $40,000 claimer at six furlongs at Del Mar on Sept. 1 and won by 3 3/4 lengths. In an optional claimer at Santa Anita on Nov. 4, Distinctive B set the pace but was beaten 4 3/4 lengths by Ten Blessings. Trainer Bob Baffert rates Ten Blessings as a candidate for the $300,000 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26.

◗ Friday’s race will be the fifth start for Distinctive B since he was claimed. He did not start for three months after being claimed April 1.

“He had a minor throat issue,” Miller said. “It didn’t require surgery. It required medication and a little brief break.”

Mr. Pucci, by Malibu Moon

Last 3 Beyers: 85-82-79

◗ A 4-year-old, Mr. Pucci has been limited to three career starts and has not raced since winning a maiden race at six furlongs at Santa Anita by 5 1/4 lengths as the 2-5 favorite last February. Mr. Pucci disputed the early pace and pulled clear in the final furlong for a convincing win.

◗ Mr. Pucci had two workouts following that race before being given the spring and summer off.

“It was a problem we needed to turn him out for,” said trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

◗ Mr. Pucci, who will be ridden by Mario Gutierrez for the first time, drew the inside post for Friday’s race.

“He’s been doing well,” Hollendorfer said. “I didn’t like drawing inside, but there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Sir Samson, by Smart Strike

Last 3 Beyers: 51-81-80

◗ Trained by Brian Koriner, Sir Samson has not raced since finishing a well-beaten sixth in an optional claimer at Santa Anita last February. The first three finishers returned to win their next starts. Sir Samson was competitive in sprints earlier in his career.