LA Stakes (Grade 3)- $100.000 Purse
SA- For Three Years Old and Upward
Six Furlongs on the Dirt
May 25, 2015
Memorial Day at SA will feature the 11th running of the LA Stakes, a six furlong event for older horses; and we will be rewarded with a full field of eleven going to the gate, a far cry from the inaugural race which was a four horse event in which all horses were owned by one trainer. Recently, the race has belonged to Choppy Inc, who will have an opportunity with his horse Jack In The Box, to extend his LA Stakes winning streak to three. His last two winners were Unlisted Number and T S Perfect. Choppy Inc even has a claim to the race’s highest earning career winner, that being Without Kera in 2010. While Without Kera won the race running for Dew22, he now serves as a stallion for Choppy Inc. Despite that, the highlight of the race is the return of Bold Star, who won the BC Sprint right here back in November. Unfortunately, he has not won since. More on him in a bit as we take a look at this entire field!
#1- Kiva Kon (Night Rider Stables, ridden by T C Baze)- This will mark the 51st race of the 8 year old geldings career, and he is still going strong. He might not be winning graded stakes anymore, but this winter he won a pair of LA-bred stakes; the LCD Sprint in December (a race he also won in 2011), and the LAPN Sprint this February. He has hit the board in each of his last eleven starts, going (11-3-4-4) in that stretch. This figures to be his most difficult challenge since attempting the Grade 3 Toboggan at AQU in the race that was just before that 11-race stretch, and he placed sixth in that one, but that was fifteen months ago. There is a lot going for him, and it is foolish to completely count out such a gritty veteran who knows how to cash a ticket. A few others look a bit better, and I am sending a midpack finish for him.
#2- Dont Tell Master (Wynnewood, ridden by R Bejarano)- We won’t tell his master, but this four year old gelding has put together a recent habit of getting a big win every third race. If that holds true, then Dont Tell Master will be in the winners circle here! Those two big wins come in similarly pursed events, including the $100.000 Cammack Handicap last July at AP, and the Grade 3, $100.000 Mr Prospector at GP just after Christmas. He also has a couple decent non-wins on his resume, including a fourth in prestigious Grade 1 Vosburgh at BEL. Recent SRF’s have consistently been 99 or 100, and that will bode well for this one. It looks like this race might set up very well for his running style, and with this inside post, that can be beneficial. Dont Tell Master will be a major factor in this race. But keep that between us.
#3- Jack In The Box (Choppy Inc, ridden by D Van Dyke)- The trainer brings this well-experienced eight year old gelding to the LA Stakes in hopes of extending his three-stake winning streak. Make no mistake, there are others who have raced in much bigger races that Jack In the Box has, but this gelding has shown that he has the speed necessary to win this kind of race. He did win the $65.000 Bet on Sunshine at CD on the same day Bold Star was winning the BC Sprint at SA. Other then that ungraded stake, Jack In The Box has been very competitive in the claiming ranks, but he steps up a bit here. What is tricky about him is that he does have the ability to run the times that will be needed to win here, so let’s see. The trainer does know how to win in this stake.
#4- Zykov (Rouge River Stables, ridden by R J Albarado)- A four year old gelding by Keeping The Faith that has also shown that he can put together the type of race that will be needed to win. Most recently, he attempted the Grade 1 Carter Handicap and ran third a race that was very impressively won by Rule The Roost. Zykov will be glad not to see him today. If you go back a little further, he also turned in a great run in the SSM Classic at CRC, when he placed second. Therefore, you have to like him as a horse that seems to rise up to the level of competition he faces. He will have to do that again, as while Rule The Roost isn’t here there are plenty of other good ones to take his place in spite of being dropped down a bit.
#5- Make Me Danz (Maze Stables, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- The trainer makes just the second graded start of their career, and will still be searching for their first win. Make Me Danz, a six-year old gelding by Danzing Host gets the call, but he might be in tough here. He has only run in a stake once, and that was the $9.000 Detroit Lake Handicap at PM at the end of November. I would have liked to have at least seen him be the winner of that race, but he placed sixth. He’s won some high level claiming races, and in them has put together some mid-90 SRF numbers. But it will take more then that to win this race, so Make Me Danz will have to run the best race of his career to be able to get a piece of the purse.
#6- Gsin (Team 7 Illusions, ridden by Mar Gutierrez)- Beautifully bred colt by Charley Farley and out of Model Mayhem, it is probable that at some point, Gsin will become a hot stallion commodity, especially already as a part of one of the best breeding operations in our racing world. That can wait, and for now Gsin is continuing to get results out on the track. He has a win and a second in a pair of ungraded stakes (Cartier Stakes and Providence Stakes, each at WO) in his last two starts. Not to far before that, he was third in the Grade 1 Malibu, right here at SA. I would have liked to have seen a faster work on the 21st, but how many times have we seen a less impressive work be good to get out of the way before a big run? I like Gsin a lot in this race, and even with the BC Sprint winner Bold Star in this field, Gsin is my pick to win.
#7- Mr Shine (Wolfs Den, ridden by J Talamo)- This five year old gelding by the late Cyborg has put together a pretty good career record with nine wins in his 27 career starts. About half of those wins came in the first half of 2014, including a three race stretch where all of the wins where here at SA. Claimers are where he made his early name, and it took one of those races to get Mr Shine in the Wolfs Den barn. Since claiming him, the trainer has got just one win in nine starts, which lead to a geld prior to his last race. That race was Grade 3 Last Tycoon Stakes at SA. If you’re thinking, “isn’t that a long a turf race?” Indeed it is, ten furlongs as a matter of a fact. Mr Shine has been all over the place in surface and distance since the claim, but dirt sprints have been successful in the past, especially here.
#8- Claim Your Prize (Axeman, ridden by M Smith)- A five year old autogen gelding who was also part of BC Sprint action here at SA, but he would only be 11th in that race. To get there, Claim Your Prize had an impressive stretch during the summer which included wins in the Tale of The Cat at beautiful SAR and the Grade 1 SA Sprint Championship, a race in which he defeated Gsin. After the BC, Claim Your Prize was off the board in his next two races, but has rebounded quite well in his last two starts, picking up wins in a pair of optional claimers. Now, it is time for him to rejoin the graded ranks again. He’s very capable of winning the race, though is not my pick.
#9- Bold Star (Sanny Village, ridden by J R Leparoux)- Not many horses can do what Bold Star has accomplished in his career. Many horses will dream of being a breeders cup champion, and few will realize that. Even fewer will win two BC races. Bold Star, in case you need the refresher, is the winner of the last two BC Sprint races, right here at SA. It has been a great ride for Sanny Village after picking up the gelding for $25.000 from Happy Tuesday, but it is possible that Bold Star needs a reboot right now. After winning the BC Sprint last November, this champion has been well off the board in two races since, placing 7th of 9, and four lengths back in the Grade 3 GP Sprint Championship, and 5th of 7 in the Grade 2 Kona Stakes last month. The time is now for a bounce back, and I see no reason why he cannot do so. His SRF numbers still show he is in good form, so I am still a believer in his ability, but I will not quite put him on top here.
#10- Heineken (Riggins Racing, ridden by V Espinoza)- Riggins Racing brings a five year old gelding by Pip Boy, who is our third entry to come out of the BC Sprint, although his twelfth place finish may have led his trainer to need a cold one after the race. Since then, he has raced five times and has not been back to the winners circle, but was second in his race right after that, the G2 Kennedy Road. He was 6th in the G3 Mr Prospector in December, a race won by Don’t Tell Master, and third in the G2 Palos Verdes Stakes on the last day of January. A pair of open allowance didn’t end the winless streak, but the trainer is not too bothered by that and brings him to SA for this one. It might be interesting to see the tactical race chosen for him, coming from this outside post.
#11- Charlies Material (Stald Gullis, ridden by C S Nakatani)- Starting from the far outside, we have another entrant that ran in the BC here at SA last November, but his race was the BC Juvenile. He would be twelfth there. Note that Charlies Material is the only three year old in this race, and he will get a three pound weight cushion, but having to start from the 11 hole will probably cancel out any benefit he would have from that. The youngster of the field has had some good runs, such as winning the SAR Special in August, but it looks as though he is going to have to pick it up a bit to be competitive here.
Categories: Grade III