03/22/2012 12:18PM

Santa Anita: Twice the Appeal going longer in Tokyo City Cup

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Tom Keyser
Twice the Appeal will stretch out to 1 1/2 miles in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup.

ARCADIA, Calif. – A former maiden claimer, Twice the Appeal had a successful 3-year-old season last year, winning the Grade 3 Sunland Park Derby, earning $419,800, and finishing 10th of 19 in the Kentucky Derby.

This year, Twice the Appeal has lost his first three starts, leaving trainer Jeff Bonde ready to experiment with the colt in Saturday’s $100,000 Tokyo City Cup over 1 1/2 miles at Santa Anita.

The Grade 3 Tokyo City will be the longest race of Twice the Appeal’s career, which includes three wins in 14 starts.

“I’m kind of optimistic,” Bonde said. “Going in, we have a feeling that it’s okay. The horse has always been a fun horse. He gave us some big thrills last year.”

The Kentucky Derby over 1 1/4 miles equals the longest start for Twice the Appeal. He was last of 19 on the turn and passed nine horses with a seven-wide move to finish 10 1/2 lengths behind Animal Kingdom. Even though that race was nearly 11 months ago, Bonde draws confidence from that performance.

“He seemed like he was finishing over 1 1/4 miles,” he said.

Earlier this year, Twice the Appeal was second in the Fifth Season Stakes and third in the Essex Handicap at Oaklawn Park before finishing seventh of 13 in the Santa Anita Handicap over 1 1/4 miles here March 3. Twice the Appeal was a 35-1 outsider in the Big Cap, closing ground in the stretch.

The Tokyo City Cup, the longest dirt stakes of the winter-spring meeting, has drawn a field of eight, including Eldaafer, winner of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Marathon over 1 1/2 miles at Churchill Downs.

Eldaafer was trained by Diane Alvarado at the time and has been based with Brian Koriner and Robertino Diodoro in the West since last fall.

In February, Eldaafer finished fourth in the Turf Paradise Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on turf for Diodoro, who has a division of horses at the Phoenix track. Since that race, Eldaafer has rejoined Koriner’s stable at Santa Anita.

A 7-year-old gelding, Eldaafer is winless in four starts since an allowance race at Delaware Park last August. He was sixth in the BC Marathon at Churchill Downs last November for Alvarado.

The only other stakes winner in the field is Skipshot, who won the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park in 2010. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Skipshot, 5, won an allowance race over a mile at Golden Gate Fields on March 1, ending an eight-race losing streak since the Swaps.

Bonde also starts Graeme Crackerjack, who was second in an optional claimer over 1 1/16 miles on March 3.

“He’s been running well at Santa Anita,” Bonde said. “We thought we could take a shot.”

Trainer Mike Mitchell has two entrants – Highway Bandit, second in an optional claimer over 1 1/4 miles on turf Jan. 27; and Dhaamer, an import from England over the winter. Previously trained by John Gosden, Dhaamer, 5, has won 3 of 10 starts, with the victories over 1 1/4 miles or 1 5/16 miles.