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Cactus Wren Stakes
Turf Paradise Phoenix, Arizona
December 5, 2015 Race #03
6-1/2 Furlongs 1:31.86
Rick Reynolds, Owner
Dru Hall, Trainer
Justin Shepherd, Jockey
Jamaican Memories (2nd)
JP Rocker (3rd)
$10.60 $4.40 $2.20
Order of Finish - 1, 2, 3, 5
Please Give Photo Credit To: / Coady Photography
Arizona horses will be in the spotlight with the entire eight-race card, including four stakes, devoted to state breds Saturday at Turf Paradise.
The four stakes races are: Two divisions of the Az Breeders’ Futurity, one for 2-year-old fillies, the other for 2-year-old colts and geldings, with both to be run at 6 furlongs and both carrying a $50,000 purse.
Additionally there will be the $25,000 Cactus Wren for 3-year-olds and the $25,000 Cactus Flower for 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares. Both races will be run at 6 ½ furlongs.
First race is scheduled for 12:40 pm.
Az Breeders’ Futurity, Fillies
A group of six fillies are slated to head postward with the dominant two-time winner Hedi’s in Charge the probable post time favorite. Trained by Dan McFarlane, the daughter of multiple stakes winner Ez Dreamer (who won the colts division of this race in 2009), comes off a dominant two-length victory in the $89,000 ATBA Sales Stakes, November 1. The remaining five entrants have yet to win their maiden race.
The Cactus Wren Stakes
Of the six entrants four are sired by the prodigious stallion Rocky Bar. The standout of the four is last year’s Cactus Wren winner Rocked Twice who has been campaigning with moderate success in southern California.
Seven-year-old veteran Jamaican Memories, a son of Slew City Slew, is coming off a game nose loss to veteran sprint master Absolutely Cool in the Luke Kruytbosch Stakes, Nov. 14. Jamaican Memories defeated Rocked Twice in the Lyman Rollins Stakes in April of this year. Trained by David Van Winkle, Jamaican Memories, who won this race in 2012, will be making his sixtieth start and has a bankroll of $237,004 to lead all entrants.
Another Rocky Bar progeny is Rockin Home, who won this race in 2014. Also trained by Van Winkle, Rockin Home finished fifth off a 60-day layoff after racing on the lead until deep stretch in the Luke Kruytbosch.
The Cactus Flower
Multiple stakes winner Winning Vision, who’s eyeing her fourth consecutive win, including victories in the Princess of Palms Stakes and the recent City of Phoenix Handicap, has won half of her 12 lifetime starts for trainer Molly Pearson.
The Robertino Diodoro-trained Myrna Lou, returns to softer company following a five-race campaign in southern California.
Lady Jila, the 8-year-old race mare going for her 22nd win in 52 efforts, started back after a 2 ½ month layoff in the Princess of Palms Oct. 24 where she failed to menace.
Camille had trouble settling down in the City of Phoenix Handicap, after battling for the lead and finished fourth after a three-month layoff.
Az Breeders’ Futurity, Colts & Geldings
The field of nine is far more competitive than the fillies’ division, with four of the nine entrants with their maiden win.
However, attention might be drawn to the maiden Two the Punch, who finished third in two of three efforts against tougher in southern California.
Dan McFarlane, who won this race in 2012 with Red Zeus, is sending forth Ez Deluxe. A winner of the ATBA Sales Stakes in May of this year, Ez Dreamer is coming off two troubled efforts here at Turf on Nov. 1 and 18.
Jockey Andrew Ramgeet showed he’s a force to be reckoned with by winning both the $35,000 Queen of the Green Stakes with a longshot and the $35,000 Walter Cluer Memorial Stakes with the favorite Saturday at Turf Paradise.
Ramgeet struck first in the Queen of the Green for trainer F.C Frazier with, 22-1 outsider Hip Ninety Three ($46.80). The 3-year-old filly, facing older fillies and mares for the first time, rallied outside from sixth to sweep past favored Our Pure Creation (finished 4th) to post a three-quarter length victory over Enlightened with Aware a nose shy of the runner up.
Owned by Brent Stapley, Linden Hatch and Delwyn Ellis, Hip Ninety Three was winning for the fourth time in 12 career efforts for earnings of $66,990.
Ramgeet came right back with 7-5 favorite Az Ridge ($4.80) in the Walter Cluer Memorial for trainer Dan McFarlane and owner Sawyer Cattle Company, rallying from next to last to get a hard-earned (Ramgeet had his whip knocked loose at the sixteenth pole) photo-finish neck victory over Ride Hard Kowboy with Empire Knight another neck back in the field of ten older horses.
Az Ridge, a 6-year-old son of Toccet, covered the one mile (turf) in 1:36.28, while winning for the 15th time in 43 lifetime starts. Az Ridge’s bankroll now stands at $479,741.
It was McFarlane’s fourth victory in the Walter Cluer.
There will be plenty to do following Thanksgiving’s traditional turkey fest with triple promotions and double stakes this three-day holiday weekend at Turf Paradise.
Friday kicks off the weekend with special live racing, free Grandstand admission and $2 domestic draft beer.
Saturday is the annual free sweatshirt give-a-way to the first 3,000 fans, Kids Fun Park and $3 domestic aluminum bottle beer.
Sunday is Fiesta Day, showcasing Mexican food and live music.
Saturday also features twin stakes races, the $35,000 Queen of the Green (3rd race), for 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares the $35,000 Walter Cluer Stakes (7th race), for 3-year-olds and up. Both races will be run at one mile on the turf. Post time will be 12:40 pm.
Queen of the Green: Field of 8
Trainer Valorie Lund will be looking to duplicate last season’s Queen of the Green success with Lady Rosberg with the 6-year-old mare Enlightened or the 4-year-old filly Who’s for Glory.
Enlightened, who’s coming off an optional claiming victory at one mile (turf) on November 3, brings a stellar local grass course resume of 14-4-3-2. Seven times in her career the daughter of Larry the Legend has won at the eight furlong distance on the turf. The question with the highly competitive mare is, can she translate her form into stakes competition?
Who’s for Glory is asked the same question: Can the up and coming 4-year-old translate mid-level claiming and allowance success into a stakes win?
Favortism will probably fall to southern California shipper Our Pure Creation. The 5-year-old mare sports the largest bankroll - $261,898 – and the resume to go with it. She has been facing much tougher in Cal Bred stakes competition, including winning the $100,000 Cal Distaff Handicap October 4. Our Pure Creation’s double bullet workouts here locally on Oct. 23 and 31, signal her readiness for trainer Val Brinkerhoff and Scott Stevens.
Others signed up for the Queen of the Green are: My Blue Sky, winner of the Chandler Stakes Nov. 7, Peach Time, multiple Canadian stakes winner Aware, and Boise-based stakes winner speedster Sogn.
Walter Cluer Memorial: Field of 11
Named in honor of Turf Paradise’s founder, the Walter Cluer has attracted not only a large field but a talented one.
Heading the all-star cast is the Dan McFarlane double entry of Az Ridge and Red Zeus.
Veteran Az Ridge, who boasts a record of 42-14-9-9 and career earnings of $459,126, is a multiple stakes winner locally and who finished fourth in this race last year. Az Ridge comes off a gallant but losing effort in the Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) Sept. 14
Stablemate Red Zeus also brings an enviable record – 43-10-10-7 – and $323,645 in earnings, to a race in which he finished third last season.
The 3-year-old Ride Hard Kowboy is a perfect 4-for-4 over the local lawn, including a runaway 4 ¾ length victory in the Jeff & Jack Coady Stakes Nov. 7.
Robertino Diodoro, who won this race last season with Storm Power, has entered Empire Knight, a multiple-track winner with victories at Gulfstream Park, Churchill Downs and Canterbury Park.
Shipping in from southern California is the Craig Dollase-trained Rock Me Baby, a 6-year-old son of Rock Hard Ten with earnings of $494,457 to lead all entrants. The Cal bred’s most recent win came in Golden Gate’s Albany Stakes June 13, followed by a second place finish in Del Mar’s California Dreaming Stakes July 26.
Stakes favorites Winning Cool easily won the $35,000 City of Phoenix Handicap while veteran Absolutely Cool won a head-bobber in the $35,000 Luke Kruytbosch stakes Saturday at Turf Paradise.
Winning Vision ($2.60) proved her Princess of Palms stakes win three weeks ago was no fluke by delivering as the 1-5 favorite when capturing the City of Phoenix Handicap by 2 ½ lengths over Always a Chance with Missdang Sally third in the field of seven fillies and mares.
Taking over lead at the head of the lane from the erratic pacesetting Camille (finished fourth), Winning Vision with Scott Stevens up for owner CJ Racing and trainer Molly Pearson, covered the 6 furlongs in 1:09.73 for her sixth lifetime victory and $ 152,774 in earnings.
Meanwhile in the Luke Kruytbosch stakes, veteran sprint-ace Absolutely Cool ($6.80) eked out the slimmest of photo-finish nose decisions over longshot Jamaican Memories with Redsolocup third another 3 ¾ lengths back in the field of ten older horses.
Ridden by Jake Barton for trainer Valorie Lund and owner Karl Krieg, Absolutely Cool covered the six furlongs in 1:08.69.
It was the eighth local victory in 26 starts for the 8-year-old Absolutely Cool who had signaled his readiness for the new season by winning opening day’s (Oct. 17) Bienvenidos stakes.
Absolutely Cool, who won the Kruytbosch stakes in 2012, now has a lifetime record of 41-10-11-10 and earnings of $345,342.
The fleet of foot sprinters will be in the spotlight in the $35,000 City of Phoenix Handicap and the $35,000 Luke Kruytbosch Saturday at Turf Paradise.
The City of Phoenix drew a field of eight fillies and mares while the Luke Kruytbosch attracted a full field of 12 colts and geldings. Both races will be run at 6-furlongs, with the Phoenix going as the 7th race and the Kruytbosch the 8th on an eight-race card. Post time will be 12:55 pm.
What the two stakes have in common is both races are loaded with talent.
The City of Phoenix
Five up and coming fillies and three accomplished mares make this race an interesting betting proposition.
Leading trainer Robertino Diodoro has entered one of each: the 4-year-old filly Freakin Amazing and the 6-year-old mare Always a Chance.
Freakin Amazing, a winner of three of 10 efforts, including the Arizona Juvenile fillies, has been idle since an allowance win at Canterbury Aug. 20. The daughter of Zensational is blazingly fast and her Nov. 7 four-furlong work of :47.4 at Santa Anita may give an indication of her readiness, Always a Chance is a mid-pack racer who encountered racing difficulty in her last start, the Princess of Palms, here locally on October 24. She brings a previously competitive southern California form.
The Molly Pearson-trained Winning Vision brings her tracking the pace victory as the favorite in the Princess of Palms Stakes right back at her favorite 6-furlong distance. The 4-year-old daughter of up and coming sire Pollard’s Vision has won three of five efforts locally.
Camille, an ultra-fast daughter of Rocky Bar, will dare her rivals to catch her if they can. The 5-year-old mare has been off since Aug. 7. Be Proud, who closed stoutly to be second best in the Princess of Palms, will be sent forth by Dan McFarlane, who won this race in 2014 with Maker or Breaker.
The Luke Kruytbosch
Named after Turf Paradise and Churchill Down’s late announcer, who passed away in 2008, the Kruytbosch attracted last year’s winner Omar and Bienvenidos winner Absolutely Cool, as well as 10 other quality sprinters.
The Diodoro (who’s won this race four times)-trained Omar ran flat in the Bienvenidos, finishing sixth in the eight-horse field. But the son of Bertrando, who’s won 11 of 31 lifetime races including four locally, was coming off a 2-month layoff and was perhaps in need of a tightner.
Bienvenidos winner Absolutely Cool, trained by Valorie Lund, has won 7 of 25 starts at Turf, including this year’s Phoenix Gold Cup. The 8-year-old gelding is a confirmed closer and will surely have a pace to run at given a few of the confirmed front-runners.
Back to test Absolutely Cool again is Bienvenidos pace-setter Bourbon Sense who gave way in the final sixteenth of a mile to the victorious Absolutely Cool.
Then there is the speedy Rockin Home, the multiple stakes winning son of Rocky Bar who has five of 10 races locally.
Plus another speed ball, Canadian ship-in Swiss Idol, conditioned by Rick Wise, who’s working on his third consecutive win, while sporting 11 wins from 29 efforts.
Another Rocky Bar progeny is JP Rocker (local record 13-5-4-1) who finished fifth in this last race to the highly regarded Twelve Tribes.