April 23, 2024

City of Light, Accelerate rematch in Gold Cup at Santa Anita; well-matched field of distaffers entered in Gamely

City of Light recorded his third consecutive graded stakes win in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) (c) Coady Photo

Santa Anita Park hosts a trio of graded contests on Saturday, headed by the $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes (G1).

The 1 1/4-mile affair attracted a field of seven, including CITY OF LIGHT and ACCELERATE. The duo were separated by only a neck on the wire of the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) last out on April 14, with City of Light getting the victory.

Accelerate brought a pair of wins into the Oaklawn ‘Cap, capturing the San Pasqual Stakes (G2) on February 3 and the March 10 Santa Anita Handicap (G1) for trainer John Sadler. The Lookin at Lucky five-year-old’s two-race win streak was snapped in the Oaklawn Handicap but City of Light’s win streak was extended to three straight.

That Mike McCarthy pupil, who has yet to finish worse than second in seven career starts, closed out 2017 with a two-length wire job in the Malibu Stakes (G1) and took the Triple Bend Stakes (G1) on March 10 to open his four-year-old campaign. City of Light made his first foray outside of California in the Oaklawn ‘Cap.

Drayden Van Dyke remains in City of Light’s saddle on Saturday while Victor Espinoza retains the call on Accelerate.

Lining up against the pair are DR. DORR, a 7 1/4-length winner of the Californian Stakes (G2) last out on April 28, and the Californian runner-up PRINCE OF ARABIA, as well as Grade 1-placed stakes victor PAVEL, who was last seen finishing fourth in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) on March 31.

Chilean Group 1 scorer FULL OF LUCK, fourth in the Californian most recently, and claimer LITTLE SCOTTY complete the Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes field.

The other two graded races on Saturday at Santa Anita both take place on the turf. The $300,000 Gamely Stakes (G1) drew a field of eight to go nine furlongs on the grass, but that has already been reduced by one with the reported defection of Uni to illness.

That leaves a well-matched group to face off, including MADAM DANCEALOT and MIDNIGHT CROSSING. The pair ran one-two, respectively in the Santa Ana Stakes (G2) over course and distance on March 18 before going their separate ways in their last races. Madam Dancealot ended up seventh while reverting in distance in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs, and Midnight Crossing finished eighth in the Royal Heroine Stakes (G2), also at a mile on the same day at Santa Anita.

The Simon Callaghan-conditioned BEAU RECALL rallied for the win in the Royal Heroine last out, claiming her first stakes score in the process. The four-year-old daughter of Sir Prancealot racked up a quartet of runner-up efforts against stakes rivals last year, including a nose second in the Del Mar Oaks (G1), and gets a rider switch to Flavien Prat while seeking a second straight graded win.

MOPOTISM is looking for a return to the winner’s circle in the Gamely for trainer Doug O’Neill. The Uncle Mo filly scored a head triumph in the La Canada Stakes (G2) to open her four-year-old campaign before running second in the Santa Maria Stakes (G2) and third in the Santa Margarita Stakes (G1) in her past two.

Completing the Gamely field are British-bred SOPHIE P, sixth while making her stateside debut in the Royal Heroine; multiple Grade/Group 2 vixen and Irish-bred HAWKSMOOR, runner-up in the First Lady Stakes (G1), Matriarch Stakes (G1) and Dahlia Stakes in her past three; and Argentinean-bred Grade 3 scorer MADAME STRIPES, third in the Royal Heroine and fifth in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile in her last pair.

Sandwiched between the Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes and Gamely will be the $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes (G2) sending eight runners 10 furlongs on the turf.

Six-time Grade 2 conqueror IITSINTHEPOST tops the field as he tries to add another graded victory to his resume. The Jeff Mullins-trained gelding had a three-race win streak snapped when third, beaten only three parts of a length, while going for a title defense in the Elkhorn Stakes (G2) at Keeneland last out on April 21. He opened his six-year-old season with wins in the San Gabriel Stakes (G2), San Marcos Stakes (G2) and San Luis Rey Stakes (G2).

Regular rider Tyler Baze stays aboard as Itsinthepost attempts to better his fifth-placing in this race from last year.

FRANK CONVERSATION and SYNTAX also line back up for another shot at the Charles Whittingham after running second and third, separated by only a head on the wire, in the 2017 edition. Frank Conversation missed by a half-length and just held Syntax on the line. Syntax ran better than his rival, though, when fourth in the San Francisco Mile (G3) most recently on March 31. Frank Conversation wound up sixth under the wire.

Dual Grade 2 winner FLAMBOYANT finished behind Itsinthepost in the San Gabriel and San Marcos but rallied from the rear of the San Francisco Mile to post a neck victory for trainer Paddy Gallagher. The seven-year-old geldings lines up here under fellow French native Brice Blanc.

Grade 1 scorer WHAT A VIEW brings a wire job in the American Stakes (G3) into this spot for trainer Kenneth Black, as well as jockey Stewart Elliott, who piloted the seven-year-old gelding last out. KENJISSTORM also returns after finishing third in the American last out.

RITZY A. P., fifth in the American, and FULL OF LUCK, who is cross-entered to the Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes, round out the Charles Whittingham field.