05/08/2017 11:16AM

Stakes-bound 3-year-olds some consolation for Callaghan

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Benoit & Associates
Simon Callaghan trained Abel Tasman to this victory in the Grade 1 Starlet last year.

ARCADIA, Calif. – It was not long after Abel Tasman won the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs last Friday that trainer Simon Callaghan’s cellphone began to jingle with text messages.

“They were all very supportive,” Callaghan recalled on Sunday.

The messages came from friends reaching out to Callaghan, the original trainer of Abel Tasman. The filly was transferred to trainer Bob Baffert in early March after a dispute arose regarding the silks that jockey Joe Talamo wore for Abel Tasman’s 2017 debut in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes at Santa Anita on March 4.

Abel Tasman finished second to Unique Bella in the Santa Ysabel while wearing the silks of co-owner Clearsky Stables and not the intended silks of co-owner China Horse Club. Days later, Abel Tasman was sent to Baffert, with Callaghan citing the silks mix-up as the reason.

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The loss of Abel Tasman was a blow to Callaghan’s 35-horse stable. Still, he could be on the verge of stakes wins with 3-year-olds in California and Canada.

Queen Laila, a maiden-race winner in her debut April 8, will have her stakes debut in Sunday’s $75,000 Angels Flight Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs at Santa Anita.

Beau Recall, second in Saturday’s Grade 3 Senorita Stakes for fillies on turf, is likely to run in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Stakes on June 17. Placido, who was third in his debut, a maiden race for 3-year-old sprinters on Saturday, could develop into a contender for the Queen’s Plate Stakes at Woodbine on July 2.

Queen Laila is owned by Callaghan’s father, Neville, and Ben McElroy and was bought for $250,000 as a yearling. She had two workouts last summer before she was sidelined with an injury.

“Her and Abel Tasman were my two best 2-year-old fillies,” Callaghan said.

“We gave her time, and she’s come back great. She definitely acts like a good filly. She has a lot of class. The seven-eighths should be in her favor.”

Beau Recall, an import from Ireland last year owned by Slam Dunk Racing, was second to Sircat Sally in the China Doll Stakes in March and in the Senorita. Callaghan was encouraged that Beau Recall rallied from last into a modest pace to finish second by 1 1/2 lengths in the Senorita.

“She probably didn’t have a right to be second,” he said.

The long-term goal for Beau Recall is the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks at 1 1/8 miles on turf Aug. 19.

“I think she’ll get the pace she’s been crying out for,” Callaghan said.

Placido, bought for $250,000 as a 2-year-old and owned by Arnold Zetcher, raced four wide and was beaten 3 3/4 lengths in his debut. His next start is likely to be a two-turn race for maidens, and if he runs well, he would be considered for the Queen’s Plate, Canada’s top race for 3-year-olds.

“He’s eligible for the Queen’s Plate,” Callaghan said. “It’s something we’ll talk about if we can get him to stretch out and win.”

Those runners provide a solid core of 3-year-olds in a stable that will soon swell to 40 runners with the addition of recently acquired 2-year-olds. Still, there is the disappointment of the loss of Abel Tasman, who won the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos for Callaghan last December. The filly is based at Santa Anita. Callaghan can see her train on a daily basis.

“It’s tough,” Callaghan said. “We did everything in regards to training and planning her races. We won a Grade 1 with her at 2. We gave her time in January and February.

“For her to be taken away, it’s probably as professionally as tough a thing as you’ll go through.”