June 19, 2024

Forbidden Kingdom back for Santa Anita Sprint Championship

Forbidden Kingdom, with Juan Hernandez up, wins the San Felipe Stakes (Photo by Horsephotos)

A leading Kentucky Derby contender following a 5 3/4-length win in March’s San Felipe (G2), Forbidden Kingdom headed to the sidelines for an extended rest after weakening to last as the even-money favorite in the Santa Anita Derby (G1).

The ultra-quick sophomore colt will return to action at six furlongs, and tackle elders for the first time, when he lines up for the $200,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1), one of five stakes on Saturday’s Awesome Again (G1) undercard.

Forbidden Kingdom, a $300,000 son of American Pharoah, appears to be targeting a Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) bid with a strong showing in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship. The Richard Mandella-trained chestnut established wicked opening splits (:21.86, :44.49, and 1:09.31) when opening the year with a smart 2 1/4-length win in the seven-furlong San Vicente (G2), and Forbidden Kingdom promises to show speed from post 2 with regular rider Juan Hernandez.

His six rivals include multiple Grade 2 winner C Z Rocket, third in last year’s edition; Chilean import Todo Fino, a nice Del Mar allowance scorer when making his U.S. debut on Sept. 3; and allowance winner Kid Corleone, who will make his first stakes attempt for Doug O’Neill.

Nine turf sprinters are set for the about 6 1/2-furlong Eddie D. (G2) on the downhill turf, and while Green Flash (G3) winner Lieutenant Dan will bypass the race, the second-through-fifth runners will return from the five-furlong turf sprint at Del Mar on Sept. 4.

Lane Way rallied for second in the Green Flash, and Mike Smith will guide the Mandella-trained closer. Coulthard, a surprising third at 24-1, is also in the mix along with Dubai Key and Whatmakessammyrun. Gregorian Chant, third in the Churchill Downs Turf Sprint (G2) three back and second most recently in the one-mile Wickerr, is another contestant of interest.

Irideo and Cathkin Peak, second and third in the Sept. 3 Del Mar Mile (G2), highlight a field of six turf horses in the $200,000 City of Hope Mile (G2). Beyond Brilliant, winner of the Charles Whittingham (G2) two starts ago, will seek to rebound from a sixth as the favorite in the Eddie Read (G2) at Del Mar, and last-out allowance scorer Prince Alabama will try stakes company for Phil d’Amato.

The $200,000 John Henry Turf Championship (G2) kicks off the stakes action, and Del Mar H. (G2) winner Gold Phoenix heads a field of six in the 1 1/4-mile turf affair. Hernandez has the call on the d’Amato-trained gelding. His rivals include Breakpoint, Dicey Mo Chara, and Masteroffoxhounds.

Grade 3 winners Island of Love and Tezzaray are top contenders in the $85,000 Unzip Me S., an about 6 1/2-furlong turf race for three-year-old fillies. The 11-horse field includes Grade 1 juvenile winner Grace Adler, who will try the turf for Bob Baffert following a third in the Torrey Pines (G3) on Sept. 4.