April 20, 2024

Baffert sends American Anthem, Nero to Triple Bend; Whittingham and Daytona also featured

American Anthem will be seeking his fourth graded stakes victory (c) Melanie Martines Photo

The Bob Baffert-trained duo of American Anthem and Nero highlight an eight-horse field in Saturday’s $200,000 Triple Bend (G2). The seven-furlong test serves as one of three graded events on Saturday’s 10-race program at Santa Anita.

A multiple Grade 2 winner last season, American Anthem nearly won his first start back when returning from a nine-month layoff on the Kentucky Derby undercard, displaying high speed from the start of a lucrative one-mile allowance before weakening late to be a clear second. The five-year-old son of Bodemeister registered BRIS Speed ratings as high as 103 last year and netted a 99 figure last out; he’s eligible to show more off the tightener and should appreciate the cutback in distance (four-for-five at seven panels). Mike Smith retakes the mount.

Runner-up in the San Vicente (G2) 15 months ago, Nero didn’t race again until November and recently posted a sharp allowance triumph at Santa Anita. The speedy four-year-old shows three consecutive five-furlong bullet works in preparation and will be forwardly placed with Joe Talamo.

Citron enters on the upswing for John Sadler, romping by 5 1/4 lengths in the April 20 Kona Gold (G2), and Victor Espinoza will guide. Kona Gold runner-up All Out Blitz is also entered and the Simon Callaghan-trained colt will receive a rider switch to Martin Garcia. Law Abidin Citizen switches back to the main track following a one-length tally in the grassy San Simeon (G3) and Tiago Pereira has the call for Mark Glatt.

The $200,000 Charles Whittingham (G2) lacks star quality but the 1 ¼-mile turf affair features a competitive cast of seven. Third in the San Luis Rey (G2) two back, Marckie’s Water looks poised to challenge following a nice allowance win over the course. The five-year-old will make his third start off a freshening for Richard Baltas and Pereira rides.

Other contenders include Prime Attraction, who faltered after failing to make the early lead in the Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs but remains a candidate to run big on the front end here for Jim Cassidy and Kent Desormeaux; Tizarunner and Ashleyluvssugar, who finished second and third to Marchie’s Water last out; and allowance scorer United from the Richard Mandella barn.

The $100,000 Daytona (G3) kicks off the stakes action with seven runners sprinting five furlongs on the turf. Eddie Haskell exits a good second in the restricted Sensational Star on March 31 and the Glatt-bred gelding will take plenty of betting action against open foes here. Multiple graded winner Kanthaka will also attract support in his turf debut.