11/17/2011 1:42PM

Hollywood: Sanagas can step to the fore in Turf Cup


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The 2012 season essentially starts on Saturday for Sanagas, the 5-year-old gelding who makes his Grade 1 debut in the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup at Hollywood Park.

Trainer Graham Motion has shipped Sanagas from his base in Maryland to California with the expectation that the Turf Cup can be the end of a season that already includes two stakes wins. A victory on Saturday would raise Sanagas’s presence in a national turf division desperately in need of quality and consistent performers.

“I think next year he could be a force to be reckoned with,” Motion said.

Sanagas will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh and starts from the outside post in a field of seven. The Turf Cup, the eighth of nine races on Saturday’s program, is run over 1 1/2 miles.

Bred in Germany, Sanagas won 4 of 5 starts on right-handed tracks in that country for trainer Peter Schiergen, who later saddled Danedream to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last month. While in Germany, Sanagas was plagued with bleeding issues, Motion said.

Sent to Motion earlier this year, Sanagas has won 2 of 4 starts in the United States. After a seventh-place finish in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap at Arlington Park in July, Sanagas won the restricted John’s Call Stakes at Saratoga in July, finished fourth as the favorite in the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap at Belmont Park in September, and rebounded to win the Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 20.

“He hasn’t done too much wrong,” Motion said. “The first few times I ran him, he was quite quirky, but he’s gotten over that. He was very erratic. Having been lightly raced in Germany, and then going a different direction here, I think he was a bit confused.”

Owned by Andreas Jacobs, Sanagas was considered for more prominent races earlier this fall, but Motion said the focus on building toward 2012. “I wanted to get ambitious after he ran at Saratoga,” he said. “The owners were happy to be conservative for the rest of the year.”

The Turf Cup distance will not be an issue. The Sycamore was scheduled for 1 1/2 miles on turf, but was run over 1 5/8 miles on Keeneland’s Polytrack synthetic surface because of wet conditions.

There are four other 2011 stakes winners in the Turf Cup field – Ashtar, who won the Group 1 El Derby in Chile in February; Bourbon Bay, who has won two stakes this year; Miss Match, who won the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitational for females in March; and Norvsky, who won the California Cup Classic last month.

Falcon Rock, who was stakes-placed in the summer, and Goldwaki, a French stakes winner in 2010 but sixth in his first two starts in this country this year, also start.

Neil Drysdale trains Bourbon Bay and Miss Match. Bourbon Bay was second by a head in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap in August as the 7-10 favorite, but was a disappointing last of eight in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Stakes at Woodbine on Sept. 18.

Miss Match finished last of nine in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4, but worked well enough on turf last weekend to merit an entry in the Turf Cup. The Turf Cup will be her third start against males this year, preceded by a seventh in the Hollywood Gold Cup and a fourth in the Goodwood Stakes.

The Turf Cup will be Norvsky’s first start over 1 1/2 miles on turf, an issue that does not concern trainer Don Warren. In the California Cup Classic over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 29, Norvsky was running best at the finish, leading in the final strides. The Turf Cup will be Norvsky’s first start in a Grade 1 race.

“With his long stride, we think he can he get the distance,” Warren said.

Jockey Rafael Bejarano, who was aboard for the Cal Cup Classic, will ride Norvsky. A 5-year-old gelding, Norvsky has been first or second in his last six starts and has won two stakes for statebreds this year.

“He’s slowly improved all through the season,” Warren said. “A couple of those races I think the rider brought him on too late. I think he should have won at least one more.”

1 Bourbon Bay G. Gomez 
126 Lbs
N. Drysdale
1 Norvsky R. Bejarano 
126 Lbs
D. Warren
1 Falcon Rock (IRE) D. Flores 
126 Lbs
S. Callaghan
1 Miss Match (ARG) M. Smith 
123 Lbs
N. Drysdale
1 Goldwaki (GER) B. Blanc 
126 Lbs
R. McAnally
1 Ashtar (CHI) H. Berrios 
126 Lbs
R. Cardenas
1 Sanagas (GER) R. Maragh 
126 Lbs
H. Motion