ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 19, 2015)—Fresh off his most prestigious career win and in search of his fifth consecutive victory, trainer Blaine Wright’s Alert Bay heads a field of 12 older horses bred or sired in California in Saturday’s $250,000 California Cup Turf Classic at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
A neck winner of the Grade II Mathis Brothers Mile (turf) on Dec. 26, Alert Bay, a 4-year-old gelding by City Zip, won a pair of Grade III stakes on dirt at Hastings Park in Vancouver, B.C. on Sept. 14 and Oct. 13. Subsequent to that, he shipped to Zia Park in Hobbs, New Mexico, to take the 1 1/16 miles (dirt) Zia Park Derby on Nov. 26.
A close third to rival Awesome Return in his only try at a mile and one eighth on turf (Santa Anita’s Snow Chief Stakes on April 26, 2014), Alert Bay bested Awesome Return by 1 ¼ lengths in their most recent dust-up, the Mathis Brothers Mile.
Owned by Peter Redekop B.C., Ltd., Alert Bay has good tactical speed and will be ridden back by Tyler Baze. He has earnings of $617,207 from an overall mark of 13-7-4-1.
Richard Kritzski’s homebred Awesome Return has been a gem of consistency for trainer Mike Puype since well beaten by eventual Horse of the Year California Chrome eight starts back in the Cal Cup Derby Jan. 25. Never worse than third since, the 4-year-old colt by Decarchy had three wins from eight starts last year, good for earnings of $326,820.
A winner of the Snow Chief Stakes last April in his only try at the Turf Classic distance, Awesome Return rallied well from off the pace in the Mathis Brothers Mile and will be ridden back by Kent Desormeaux. With four wins, a second and three thirds from 10 overall starts, Awesome Return has career earnings of $354,780 and rates a big chance on Saturday.
Turf specialist Boozer, who disappointed at 5-2 in a one mile turf allowance Jan. 2, is blessed with ample speed and could well be sent to the front by new rider Gary Stevens. Trained by Mark Glatt and owned by Al and Sandee Kirkwood, the 5-year-old Unusual Heat gelding comes off a phenomenal 2014, which was capped by victory in the 6 ½ furlong turf California Flag Stakes on Oct. 18.
With all 13 of his lifetime starts coming on grass, Boozer has five wins, two seconds and two thirds, with earnings of $297,742.
Jerry Hollendorfer’s G.G. Ryder is another with sharp, consistent recent form. Based at Golden Gate Fields, the 4-year-old colt by Chhaya Dance was second two starts back in the Grade III, 1 1/16 miles Berkeley Handicap on synthetic Tapeta Nov. 30 and he comes off a big gate to wire one mile classified allowance turf win Jan. 1 at Golden Gate. Owned by Hollendorfer and George Todaro, G.G. Ryder has run competitively with both Alert Bay and Awesome Return and gets the services of leading rider Rafael Bejarano.
Out of the Storm Boot mare Stormy Gigi, G.G. Ryder has three wins from five starts on turf and is 14-7-2-1 overall with earnings of $215,794.
The complete field for the $250,000 California Turf Classic, to be run as the ninth race on a 10-race card with jockeys and weights in post position order: Tamarando, Corey Nakatani, 123; G.G. Ryder, Rafael Bejarano, 123; Alert Bay, Tyler Baze, 123; Patriots Rule, Fernando Perez, 120; Big Bane Theory, Joe Talamo, 123; Bench Light, Elvis Trujillo, 120; Awesome Return, Kent Desormeaux, 123; Stoney Fleece, Tiago Pereira, 120; Boozer, Gary Stevens, 120; Super Ability, Martin Garcia, 120; Christopher Street, Drayden Van Dyke, 118, and Alpine Luck, Brice Blanc, 118.
Special early first post time on Saturday is 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.
Santa Anita Park is a Stronach Group company, North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator. The Stronach Group racetracks include Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness. The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, and is one of North America’s top race horse breeders through its award-winning Adena Springs operation. The Stronach Group is one of the world’s largest suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering systems, technologies and services. Its companies include AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology; Xpressbet, an Internet and telephone account wagering service; and Monarch Content Management, which acts as a simulcast purchase and sales agent of horseracing content for numerous North American racetracks and wagering outlets.The Stronach Group is also a major producer of televised horseracing programming through its HRTV cable and satellite network and is North America’s premier supplier of virtual online horseracing games, as well as a leading producer of social media content for the horseracing industry.