October 25, 2021

Zuma Beach, Surfer Girl promise Breeders’ Cup implications for turf juveniles

Count Alexander was fourth in the "Win & You're In" Summer at Woodbine (Photo courtesy of Breeders' Cup via Twitter)

Although not “Win & You’re In” events, Monday’s stakes at Santa Anita should yield contenders for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

The Zuma Beach and Surfer Girl, each worth $100,000 and staged over a grassy mile, have attracted large, competitive fields. While the Zuma Beach drew the maximum 12, 14 crashed the entry box for the Surfer Girl, putting two fillies on the also-eligible list.

Carded as the 6TH race, the Zuma Beach has been won by five different trainers in its five-year history, but jockey Corey Nakatani has already landed it twice. He’s on arguably the form pick, Count Alexander, a resounding Woodbine debut winner who exits a fourth to the smart Untamed Domain in the Summer (G2). The Holly and David Wilson colorbearer was subsequently transferred to Vladimir Cerin, and the tactical son of Scat Daddy will break from post 6 in his premiere on this circuit.

Youngsters who’ve raced in Europe are always of interest in these spots, and the Zuma Beach features two. Phil D’Amato’s import Mantracker, bet down from double-digits to 4-1 in his Killarney unveiling, overturned the Aga Khan’s odds-on Andesh. Although that came over a mile on yielding ground, original trainer Willie McCreery told irishracing.com he’d be “sharper” for his introduction and “the faster the ground, the better.” Doug O’Neill sends out new recruit Trusting Friend, a winner at Thirsk in his finale for Kevin Ryan. The Kentucky-bred son of The Factor beat a useful sort in Arcavallo, who went on to win two straight and just missed in Saturday’s Tattersalls October Auction Stakes (not black-type but lucrative) at Newmarket. Trusting Friend made his U.S. debut for Brendan Walsh in the Laurel Futurity, finishing fourth after a slow start, and the stretch-out should suit.

Restrainedvengence is ready to tackle stakes company off a front-running rout over Big Buzz at this track and trip, if he can handle the nine-day turnaround from that September 30 maiden for Val Brinkerhoff. Martin Pedroza figures to send the 7-2 morning-line favorite from the rail. Runner-up Big Buzz was previously fifth, beaten less than two lengths, in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf. Big Buzz represents the same sire and human connections as last year’s Zuma Beach winner, Big Score, another George Krikorian homebred by Mr. Big trained by Tim Yakteen.

Several others are coming off the Del Mar Juvenile Turf. The respective second and third, My Boy Jack and Kazan, are still maidens, while sixth-placer Cono adds blinkers here. Armour Plate, who had beaten My Boy Jack and Kazan in his course-and-distance maiden win in July, simply ran off too fast early before tiring to ninth at Del Mar. Note that he now reunites with Rafael Bejarano, who was aboard for the maiden score. Kylemore, fifth behind Armour Plate in the same race, returned to break his maiden at Del Mar. Brave Helios ventures south after his Golden Gate maiden, and For Him has to prove himself in his turf debut off a $50,000 Del Mar maiden claiming win.

Three races later in the Surfer Girl, Irish-bred Goodthingstaketime has to wait for a scratch to draw in as the first also-eligible, despite her status as the 3-1 morning-line favorite. The Fozzy Stack filly has a couple of nifty formlines in her winless record so far, just missing to Aidan O’Brien’s eventual Middle Park (G1) runner-up Fleet Review in a maiden and placing a close second in the Curragh (G3). Her last effort, a sixth of 29 in the Tattersalls Ireland Super Auction Sale Stakes, came on bottomless going at the Curragh, and she’s entitled to do herself justice on a better surface. Florent Geroux has the riding assignment aboard the Canford Cliffs daughter who now races for an assemblage including Sheep Pond Partners and Bradley Thoroughbreds.

Four other European imports are in the main body of the field – O’Neill’s pair of Klosters, a fine fourth in her American bow in the Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf, and Miss Puddles, last seen scoring around tight left-handed Chester for Richard Fahey; Leonard Powell’s Fatale Bere, two-for-three in the French provinces, her loss a third in the Criterium de l’Ouest to Mission Impassible (subsequently third in the Prix Marcel Boussac [G1] on Arc Day); and Deep Breath, who went two-for-three in Ireland when capturing a Galway nursery before joining Eoin Harty.

Well-bred debut winners Retro and Moon Dash are eligible to make their mark at a higher level. LNJ Foxwoods’ Retro seeks to follow up on her Del Mar debut for Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, while Mike Stidham dispatches Speedway Stables’ Moon Dash, a $650,000 OBS April purchase who justified 4-5 favoritism at Delaware Park.

Multiplayer was in the same position going into the Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf, only to get off to a problematic start yet unleash a barnstorming late run for third. The Krikorian/Yakteen runner should do better with a more straightforward break. Aside from Multiplayer and Klosters, other Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf alumnae needing to move forward here are runner-up One Fast Broad; fifth Holy Diver, who hopes to rebound from being eased in the Chandelier (G1); and blueblood Medaglia Gold, who stopped to 10th.

Yesterday’s News and Cute Knows Cute face turf, and winners, for the first time, and the second also-eligible, Breezy Bee, was third to Medaglia Gold and a close fourth to Retro in her two outings so far.