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Updated on 09/17/2011 1:50PM
Fortune rains on Triple Act
ARCADIA, Calif. - For trainer Eoin Harty, it was the perfect storm. Harty wanted to run European import in a maiden race on the dirt in her first start in this country, but there was nothing in the condition book for her. An extra race, however, was added by the racing office for Saturday's card. Trouble was, it was on the turf.
"I'm going to enter, because it's supposed to rain," Harty said the day entries were taken. "I hope it rains enough to take the race off the turf, but not enough to where the track is sloppy."
It could not have have worked out better. The extra race was used by the racing office as Saturday's second. It rained hard at Santa Anita on Friday, and because of the wet grass, the one-mile race was moved from the turf to the dirt. And when Saturday dawned gorgeous, the track dried enough that it was rated good and was fast later in the day.
Triple Act did her part, too, winning effortlessly by 2 1/2 lengths in the manner befitting a filly who cost $2.2 million as a yearling.
"How many times does it work out that way?" Harty said after the race. "I wanted to run her on the dirt because there's so many more opportunities on dirt, and she had been training so well on dirt."
The only person who did not share in the victory was jockey Gary Stevens. He had been working Triple Act regularly and was scheduled to ride her when she finally made her U.S. debut. But Stevens's daughter, Ashley, was married Saturday, so Stevens took the day off.
Triple Act's win gave Harty victories on consecutive days. On Friday, his 4-year-old colt won a 1 1/16-mile, second-level allowance race to earn a berth in the Grade 2, $300,000 Strub Stakes at 1 1/8 miles Feb. 7.
"The timing's quite right," Harty said. "A mile and an eighth is not a problem. The competition might be, but the distance won't be."
Large field for San Fernando
With Malibu Stakes winner Southern Image bypassing the race and Travers Stakes winner Ten Most Wanted not quite ready to make his 4-year-old debut, a large field of mostly undistinguished 4-year-olds is set to compete in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes, the second leg of the Strub Series.
The best-known horse in the 1 1/16-mile race is Toccet, who has lost his last six starts and most recently finished 11th in the 12-horse Malibu. He tuned up for the San Fernando with a five-furlong work in 59.80 seconds Sunday morning. Victor Espinoza is scheduled to ride.
Excessivepleasure, who last year won derbies in Indiana, Iowa, and New Mexico, is also expected to start. He flew through a five-furlong work in 57.80 seconds Saturday at Hollywood Park. Tyler Baze has the mount.
Others expected for the San Fernando include Anziyan Royalty, Blazonry, Domestic Dispute, During, Ender's Shadow, Formal Attire, Spensive, Touch the Wire, and Watchem Smokey.
Spensive worked six furlongs in 1:12.80 on Sunday, and During worked five furlongs in 1:00.20. Both are trained by Bob Baffert.
Megahertz favored in San Gorgonio
Also Saturday is the Grade 2, $150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on turf for older fillies and mares. Megahertz should be a strong favorite here against few rivals.
Megahertz, who was fifth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf in her last start, is 4 for 7 on Santa Anita's turf and captured the Grade 1 John Mabee/Ramona Handicap at Del Mar last summer. She worked six furlongs in 1:14.60 on Sunday morning at Hollywood Park. Alex Solis, the meet's leading rider, has the mount.
Megahertz is expected to be challenged by Firth of Lorne, Garden in the Rain, and Mer de Corail. Spring Star and Star Parade are possible. Firth of Lorne (1:00.60) and Garden in the Rain (1:00.20) worked five furlongs Sunday at Santa Anita, and Mer de Corail (1:15.20) worked six furlongs.
A small field is also likely for Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000 San Miguel Stakes at six furlongs for 3-year-olds. The unbeaten Hosco, who won an allowance race on opening day Dec. 26, will shoot for his third victory in the San Miguel. His rivals are expected to include Gethsemani, Last Minute Detail, and The Herc. Roi Charmant, another possibility, worked five furlongs in 59.40 seconds Sunday.
Pick six pays $760,851
Only two tickets had all six winners in Saturday's pick six, and those tickets were each worth $760,851.80.
No one hit the pick six Thursday or Friday, leading to a carryover of $536,394 entering Saturday's card. Another $1,763,484 was bet into the pick six Saturday.
There was only one winning favorite in the sequence. Several short-priced runners were defeated, including Olmodavor in the featured San Pasqual Handicap.
Both tickets were purchased out of state, according to track officials. One was purchased at a casino in Nevada, the other at a simulcast site in Corbin, Ky.
Storm Pilot impressive in defeat
In a battle of two well-regarded first-time starters, Teton Forest beat Storm Pilot in Saturday's fourth race, but it was Storm Pilot who was all the rage following the race.
Teton Forest, sent off at 7-2, won the seven-furlong race for maidens in 1:21.94 to beat 3-5 favorite Storm Pilot by 1 1/2 lengths. But Storm Pilot broke several lengths behind the field, then made an extended run on the turn in an eye-catching debut.
"And he bent a shoe, too," said his trainer, Bruce Headley, who was shaking his head after the race. "What would he have done, break the track record if he had broke? I already knew he was good. This is just what happens when you have to eat dirt in the pressure of a race. It's a lot different from a fast workout."
* Trainer John Sadler was fined $1,000 because his horse, Sweet Rhapsody, tested positive for the prohibited drug Cetirizine. According to steward Tom Ward, Cetirizine is an antihistamine.
* For a horse who has run once, Strong Cat has had an eventful career. He won his debut for Headley on Dec. 26, but the next day, owner Stan Fulton fired Headley and gave Strong Cat to trainer Rafael Becerra. And on Monday, Strong Cat was flown to Florida, where he will now be trained by Elliott Walden.
* Medaglia d'Oro breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60, and Ten Most Wanted breezed a half-mile in 49 seconds, both on Sunday at Hollywood Park. The two are preparing for their first starts since the Breeders' Cup Classic.
* Because of rain, few horses worked Friday and Saturday at Santa Anita, but they made up for it Sunday. They kept the clockers busy, with 243 recorded drills, including 101 at five furlongs.
* Gail McNeal, who has worked the press box elevator for more than 20 years, was honored Sunday as Santa Anita's employee of the week. The popular McNeal once had a horse named after her, Elevator Gail.