Jockey Flavien Prat kicked off 2022 by riding six winners at Santa Anita on Saturday, including Grade 3 romps aboard odds-on bluebloods Luck and As Time Goes By.
La Canada (G3)
The Coolmore partners’ As Time Goes By, a homebred daughter of American Pharoah and Broodmare of the Year Take Charge Lady, turned the $200,000 La Canada (G3) into a lopsided affair. Prompting Park Avenue through splits of :23.46 and :47.00, the 3-5 shot put her head in front at the six-furlong mark in 1:11.46 and imposed her will. As Time Goes By extended her margin to 13 1/2 lengths at the wire.
“This filly keeps getting better and better with age,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “I’m really excited. She has always been a barn favorite of mine. She’s got that American Pharoah temperament. They seem to be late bloomers and she is getting better all the time. I am expecting big things from her from here.”
Park Avenue, the 7-2 second choice, was easily best of the rest by 4 1/4 lengths from 3.70-1 third pick Moonlight d’Oro. Fi Fi Pharoah and Velvet Slippers rounded out the order of finish.
By negotiating 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.31, As Time Goes By racked up her fourth graded stakes victory. The rebounded in the Dec. 5 Bayakoa (G3) last out at Los Alamitos, after flopping in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). Back in the spring of 2021, she captured the Santa Margarita (G2) and Santa Maria (G2). Her scorecard of 13-6-3-1, $655,600, also reflects seconds in the Beholder Mile (G1) and Zenyatta (G2). The Mar. 5 renewal of the Beholder is expected to be her next target.
As Time Goes By was completing a big-race double for Baffert, after Newgrange in Saturday’s Sham (G3), as well as for her family. Earlier Saturday at Aqueduct, Take Charge Lady’s great-grandson Courvoisier joined the Kentucky Derby (G1) points leaderboard by taking the Jerome S. at Aqueduct.
Robert J. Frankel (G3)
LNJ Foxwoods’ homebred Luck hadn’t lived up to her name when just missing in her last pair, but the 9-10 favorite enjoyed a better scenario in the $101,000 Robert J. Frankel (G3). Although the pace wasn’t overly fast here either, reverting to 1 1/8 grassy miles enabled the “niece” of the great Goldikova to use her late kick to more effectively.
Reserved in sixth early as Moraz posted fractions of :24.38, :49.26, and 1:12.50 on the good course, Luck began to quicken on the far turn. Defending champion Mucho Unusual, who was stalking in second, was in the process of challenging Moraz in upper stretch when both were engulfed. Luck stormed past and opened up by 3 1/4 lengths in 1:48.26.
“I’m pretty sure the cutback in distance helped,” Prat said. “She had some pace to run at and she gave me a good kick when it was time to make a move. I was saving ground pretty much all the way around and around the quarter pole I thought I had a lot of horse and just wanted to get a good run. She responded well.”
Newly-blinkered Bodhicitta got up for second, relegating Mucho Unusual to third by a nose. Moraz retreated to fourth, followed by Global Brand, England’s Rose, and Sloane Garden.
Luck’s first stakes laurel improved her resume to 8-4-3-0, $207,008. By Kitten’s Joy and out of Goldikova’s half-sister Gold Round, the chestnut began her career in France with Alain de Royer-Dupre. Luck won twice on the all-weather, but trailed in her turf (and black-type) debut in the Prix Bedel last May at Lyon Parilly. She prospered by switching to Southern California.
Impressing in her Del Mar premiere in an Aug. 7 allowance, the Richard Baltas trainee came up just a head shy in both the 1 1/4-mile Rodeo Drive (G1) and 1 3/8-mile Red Carpet (G3).
“She’s a very special filly,” Baltas said. “She got beat the last time because of the slow fractions. They weren’t going too fast today, but she ran like we knew she was capable of running. We are thankful to have a filly this good and thank the ownership of Jaime Roth and LNJ Foxwoods for this great opportunity.”
Luck is the fourth stakes winner produced by Group 3 heroine Gold Round. The Caerleon mare is also responsible for Group 3 scorers Goldwaki and Golden Valentine, stakes victor Spectaculaire, and three stakes-placers including Golden, runner-up in the 2021 Honeymoon (G3). Gold Round also factors as the second dam of Group 3 winner and Grade 1-placed Platane.
Aside from Hall of Famer Goldikova, Gold Round is also a half to Group 1 heroine Galikova and fellow Group 3 winners Gold Luck, Gold Sound, and Anodin, who almost emulated Goldikova in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).
Joe Hernandez (G2)
Prat nearly won the $251,000 Joe Hernandez (G2) as well aboard 11-10 favorite Beer Can Man, with the width of Chewing Gum’s nose all that separated him from a seven-win day. Confidently handled by Umberto Rispoli, the Bill Mott trainee rallied from near the back of the pack to nip Beer Can Man in 1:15.27 for 6 1/2 furlongs on the good turf. That was the actual distance since the race was shifted from the downhill course.
Bran was always thereabouts in third, and Delaware closed for fourth. Next came Commander; pacesetter Momos, who faded after rattling off fractions of :23.32 and :46.10; and the ever-trailing Cupid’s Claws.
Owned by Pantofel Stable, Wachtel Stable, and Jerold L. Zaro, Chewing Gum returned $13.40 as a 5.70-1 chance. The New York shipper was registering his first stakes win after placing in the June 5 Jaipur (G1), the past two runnings of the Belmont Turf Sprint Championship (G3), and the Nov. 27 Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship.
Rispoli noted that Chewing Gum relished the course conditions:
“The top of the stretch was easy. I got a hold of the horse. Once I put his head in front of Beer Can Man, the other horse fought really hard on the inside, and he was actually waiting for him, but he gave me that feeling that we could go. Even after the wire he kept a head in front of him just to get the job done by a small margin.
“He is the kind of horse that you have to kind of forget him the first part of the race, and Mr. Mott gave me the instructions to be on the outside, and in the stretch I had that gap so I didn’t want to lose that chance. For the first part he needs to find his legs and find his rhythm. I would say the ground really, really helped him, he really enjoyed that.”
Chewing Gum has now bankrolled $591,788 from a 23-4-4-8 line. The son of Candy Ride and the stakes-placed Forestry mare Shared Heart was bred by Wertheimer et Frere, just like Luck’s dam, Gold Round, and the Goldikova clan.