Santa Anita Handicap (Grade 1)

SANTA Anita moved their big day with two Grade 1s to Sunday. Bob Baffert pulled his impressive and unbeaten Nysos from the Grade 3 San Felipe Stakes. Baffert indicated the three-year-old son of Nyquist would instead wait for the April 6th Santa Anita Derby.

Baffert still took the honours in the trial but he had to share the day’s headlines with none other than Frankie Dettori, as first they combined with Imagination, an Into Mischief colt who prevailed by a head over stable companion Wine Me Up, and then Dettori went on to win the biggest prize of his winter in the US in capturing the Santa Anita Handicap on Baffert’s Newgate.

Another son of Into Mischief, he got up in the last stride to head Subsanador. It was Baffert’s six win in the race, three of those with Game On Dude.

“I followed Victor (Espinoza on Newgrange) and I sat pretty low until the quarter pole,” Dettori told reporters. “I took my horse to the outside. I thought I could get to the line okay, and in fairness, Subsanador gave me a good fight. The last 20 yards we got out in front, and I couldn’t believe it. I could not believe that I had done it.”

As Newgate was led into the winner’s circle, Dettori cried, “I won the Big ‘Cap!” before performing his famous flying dismount to a huge cheer.

In the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf, the six-year-old gelding Du Jour landed his first Grade 1 to seal a great day for Baffert.

Jockey Flavien Prat got Du Jour away cleanly behind the leading quintet as the field raced down the backstretch and taking closer order approaching the turn, as pacesetting Goliad tired quickly and drifted out off the rail, Prat steered Du Jour through, the gelding responded and quickly drew off as Easter closed for second.

Dornoch has simple task

LAST week’s Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown trials in the US were a bit like this week’s Cheltenham preparations with some of the key horses withdrawn at the last hour. Grade 2 Remsen Stakes winner Dornoch had his form boosted by the win of the second Sierra Leone in the Risen Star at Fair Grounds, and he took full advantage of several late withdrawals and showed his class in a five-horse field to win the $400,000 Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park by a length and three-quarters.

Before the race, the favourite and last year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity winner Locked, as well as Victory Avenue, who ran a close second to Speak Easy in a good Gulfstream maiden race, were scratched.

The field lost a major contender before the off when Speak Easy trained by Todd Pletcher, an easy winner on in his career debut in that race at Gulfstream, was scratched after getting loose during the post-race parade.

In New York, Christophe Clement’s Deterministic put up what looked a decent effort, coming from fifth to pull away in the stretch and notch a two-length victory in the one mile Grade 3 Gotham Stakes over a very wet sloppy track at Aqueduct, and earn enough qualifying points (50) for the Kentucky Derby. It was his first race since he broke his maiden at first asking, back in August at Saratoga.