03/23/2013 1:10PM

Santa Anita Derby: Maiden winners Storm Fighter, Summer Exclusive earn a shot

Benoit Photo
Storm Fighter will jump from a statebred maiden win to the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The March 2 program at Santa Anita will rightfully be remembered for Game On Dude’s emphatic win in the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap. It turns out two maiden race winners on that day – the 3-year-olds Storm Fighter and Summer Exclusive – may be deserving of attention over time.

Storm Fighter, who won a race for California-breds over 1 1/16 miles in his third start, and Summer Exclusive, who won over 6 1/2 furlongs in his career debut that day, are being prepared for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 6.

Storm Fighter made his first start around two turns on March 2, and drew away as the 3-5 favorite to win by 5 3/4 lengths. The Santa Anita Derby will be his first start in a stakes, and is worth a gamble, according to Karen Headley, who assists her father, trainer Bruce Headley.

“Why not?” she said. “He can go farther, and he’s a really nice colt.”

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Storm Fighter, by Stormin Fever, races for Golden Eagle Farm. Gary Stevens will ride Storm Fighter in the Santa Anita Derby, Karen Headley said.

Summer Exclusive did not have a rider for the Santa Anita Derby as of Friday, but trainer Peter Miller said he had a few candidates in mind. He is eager to work Summer Exclusive over seven furlongs or a mile this week before confirming plans for the Santa Anita Derby, which is run over 1 1/8 miles.

“He’ll have to look like he’ll do it,” Miller said. “It’s a lot of money.”

Owned by a partnership, Summer Exclusive won his debut by a length.

The Santa Anita Derby field is led by Hear the Ghost, who won the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on March 9. The second through fourth-place finishers in that race – Flashback, Tiz a Minister, and Goldencents – as well as Super Ninety Nine, who was fifth in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 16, are other expected candidates.

Blueskiesnrainbows may target Texas Mile

Friday, Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer won an optional claimer with Blueskiesnrainbows, who won the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes last summer when trained by Bob Baffert.

Blueskiesnrainbows joined Hollendorfer’s stable last fall after owners Bad Boy Racing and Whizaway Farms transferred the 4-year-old colt, who is by English Channel.

In Friday’s race, Blueskiesnrainbows ($3.40) led throughout under leading rider Rafael Bejarano to win by 3 3/4 lengths over Phantom Lover, finishing a mile in 1:36.28. Hollendorfer said Blueskiesnrainbows will be considered for the $200,000 Texas Mile at Lone Star Park on April 27.

GEFJMachine More than 1 year ago
Regarding Storm Fighter, have no right to state that unless you have been around this colt all his life like I have. We are not pushing this colt, he is telling us he belongs here. We don't care about the money or the KY derby. Not everyone is in it for that. Sorry you felt the need to mud sling without knowledge the animal you speak of.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Maiden Special Weight winners go right to Grade 1 Company, that is brilliant ! Sure hope they don"t leave their hearts on the racetrack after they get their ass"s kicked. Just doing it for the money huh ! What about your horses !....
David Rose More than 1 year ago
Same thing they did with Paynter last year!
Kendra Mcallister More than 1 year ago
Paynter won graded stakes, is it smart who knows that's why your a fan and that's their job just come and enjoy the show they call them race fillers
GEFJMachine More than 1 year ago
See my reply above regarding Storm Fighter. I do however agree with your thought on the other maiden winner. Putting a first time out winner in a graded stakes race without experience going two turns is a bad idea. Even with a potentially good horse it sets them up for failure just when they are developing and not something we would do if Storm was in the same position...which he's not.