04/15/2011 2:54PM

Santa Anita: San Juan Capistrano offers prestige for Haimish Hy


ARCADIA, Calif. – Haimish Hy ended his 2010 season with a win at the highest level, the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby last November. So far this year, he has not continued that level of success, losing his first three starts.

A start in a Grade 1 may be in Haimish Hy’s future this spring or summer, but he can reach another career milestone in Sunday’s $150,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita. The historic race is run over about 1 3/4 miles on turf, the longest graded stakes in California and one that carries considerable prestige on the circuit.

The Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano is the closing day feature of the winter-spring meeting and the last race on the program.

Asking Haimish Hy to run that far is not a concern to trainer Art Sherman. “He acts like he wants to run all day long,” he said.

Owned by a partnership, Haimish Hy has been a puzzle this year for Sherman. A start on the main track in the Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes in January, Haimish Hy’s first on a sand-and-clay track, resulted in a sixth-place finish.

After a game third behind the multiple stakes winners Champ Pegasus and Bourbon Bay in the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo Handicap on turf in February, Haimish Hy was the 8-5 favorite in the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Stakes on March 20, a race intended for turf but moved to the main track because of wet conditions. Running for the first time on a sloppy track, Haimishy Hy finished a well-beaten fourth in a field of six.

“It’s been kind of a funny deal,” Sherman said. “I ran him in the slop last time and he didn’t handle it. He got mud in his eyes.

“Getting him back on the grass, I think, will work. I need the perfect scenario. He’s a little bit of a funny horse to ride. He likes to make that one run. I think he’ll have a big chance.”

Haimish Hy will be ridden for the first time by Mike Smith, who replaces Garrett Gomez, currently riding in Kentucky. Haimish Hy will carry top weight of 119 pounds in a field of 10 that features only one stakes winner this year in Juniper Pass, from the San Luis Rey Stakes.

Quindici Man, third in the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 5, will attempt to win his first graded stakes, as will other contenders such as Dahoud and Imponente Purse, who were second and third in the San Luis Rey.

Ray Bell trains Juniper Pass and respects the chances of Haimish Hy. “I’m convinced Haimish Hy didn’t like it at all,” Bell said of the track condition on March 20.

Juniper Pass was third in the Hollywood Derby last fall, and lost his first two starts of 2011 before winning the San Luis Rey Stakes. Similar to Sherman, Bell is confident that the San Juan Capistrano distance is within Juniper Pass’s range.

“He’s given every indication the distance won’t be a problem,” Bell said. “I hope the race he ran in the mud wasn’t a fluke.”


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