Updated on 01/30/2013 4:57PM

Ultimate Eagle to run in Donn Handicap at Gulfstream, skip San Antonio at Santa Anita

Email
Shigeki Kikkawa
Ultimate Eagle will chase a $500,000 purse in the Donn rather than run for $150,000 in the San Antonio.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Ultimate Eagle will ship to Florida for a bigger purse and greater prestige than offered in California, while the 2013 debut of Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Calidoscopio has been postponed.

Neither horse will run Sunday in the Grade 2, $200,000 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita, which early this week was shaping up as a virtual walkover for Game On Dude.

Ultimate Eagle originally was scheduled to run in the San Antonio, but owner B.J. Wright and trainer Mike Pender decided Tuesday evening to ship him to Gulfstream Park instead for the Grade 1, $500,000 Donn Handicap on Feb. 9.

“If he won the San Antonio and beat Game On Dude, it would be just a stepping-stone to something else, it would not be his grand accomplishment,” Pender said. “If he were to go win the Donn it would elevate him to the stature that we think he is. He deserves that.”

Ultimate Eagle has won five races and $547,800 from 12 starts, including the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby on turf and Grade 2 Strub Stakes by more than seven lengths on dirt at Santa Anita. A pair of runner-up finishes by Ultimate Eagle in Grade 2’s sets him up for a peak effort in the Donn. It will be his third start back following an eight-month layoff.

“I think he’s sitting on one of those Strub-type performances,” Pender said at Hollywood on Wednesday, one day after Ultimate Eagle worked a sensational six furlongs in a bullet 1:12 under regular rider Martin Pedroza.

“Marty came back and his eyes were as big as golf balls,” Pender said.

Ultimate Eagle will work once more at Hollywood, on Sunday or Monday, before he ships early next week to Gulfstream. Pedroza will ride Ultimate Eagle in the Donn.

Ultimate Eagle is one of two late defections from the San Antonio.

Calidoscopio, the BC Marathon winner scheduled to commence his 2013 campaign in the San Antonio, wrenched an ankle and missed a week of training. He also will skip the race.

Trainer Mike Puype said the setback was relatively minor, and Calidoscopio could have three or four workouts leading to his comeback. That could come March 2 in the Santa Anita Handicap.

Defections by Ultimate Eagle and Calidoscopio will leave Game On Dude as the odds-on favorite Sunday in a small San Antonio field.