The ‘Fitzsimmons Mile’, named after the late coach and executive of the Phoenix Suns, will be run at one mile on the turf course. Cotton’s widow, JoAnn Fitzsimmons, joined by many of her husband’s friends and former Suns players, will present the winner’s trophy.
The supporting feature will be the $35,000 Glendale Handicap for fillies and mares, at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.
As in previous runnings, this year’s edition of the Fitzsimmons Mile pits California shippers against local grass aces.
The three southern California-based imports are Somethings Unusual, Perfectly Majestic and Big Cazanova (ARG),
Prior to Somethings Unusual dismal performance in the Grade 3 Daytona, the 8-year-old turned in two wins and three runnerups in seven outings at Del Mar and Santa Anita. Trained by Michael McCarthy, Somethings Unusual will be ridden by Iggy Puglisi.
Perfectly Majestic turned in a banner 3-year-old year by being in the money in nine of 10 efforts for $172,308 in earnings. Trained by Bob Hess, who won this race in 1995, Perfectly Majestic will be ridden by Brice Blanc.
The Peter Miller-trained Big Cazanova (ARG) is the most accomplished of the invaders, having competed against graded stakes horses such as Tonalist in the 2014 Jockey Gold Cup (G1), and in 2015 against Hoppertunity in the San Pasqual and Dortmund in the Native Diver.
What the locals may lack in resume of graded stakes competition, they make up for in familiarity with the local turf course.
Heading the hometown group of six is Az Ridge, with five of 15 lifetime wins coming over the local greensward. Az Ridge, who won the Walter Cluer Memorial Nov. 28, is one of two horses entered by Dan McFarlane; the other trainee is Red Zeus, winner of six of 20 local turf efforts. Red Zeus finished second in last year’s running of the Fitzsimmons Mile.
Ride Hard Kowboy, winner of the Jack Coady, Sr. stakes Nov. 2, has won four of five local turf efforts, with all four at the mile distance.
Empire Knight, conditioned by leading trainer Robertino Diodoro, is coming off a third place finish in the Walter Cluer.
Gentle as a Breeze has won eight turf starts at the distance including five of them locally for trainer David Van Winkle.
Number Five, who has won two of six over the local green, is being sent forth by Carl O’Callaghan
The Glendale Handicap
A field of 10 fillies and mares are scheduled to face the starter, with Cal shipper and Hess-trained With a Twist heading a lineup of locals that includes SUM Racer, Hip Ninety Three, Four Times Lucjy and Enlightened.