On the day that Santa Anita issued a press release regarding its latest stakes schedule, anticipating a Friday resumption of racing, Sham (G3) winner Gunmetal Gray sustained a condylar fracture in a workout as reported by Daily Racing Form’s Steve Andersen.
Although the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee is obviously ruled off the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail, the injury is not believed to be career-threatening. Surgery was to be performed later Sunday.
Racing has been on hiatus since Santa Anita closed March 5 due to a 22nd equine fatality of the winter meet. After thorough examination of the surfaces on both the main and training tracks, training resumed as a step toward resumption of live racing. Timed works, under new safety and welfare protocols, have been permitted on the main since March 13.
Gunmetal Gray, who closed for fourth behind Omaha Beach and Game Winner in the second division of the Rebel (G2) March 16, was turning in a routine half-mile in his first work back. The Exchange Rate colt clocked :49.20 over Santa Anita’s fast main track, and the fracture was detected just after he returned to the barn.
Campaigned by Hollendorfer in partnership with Pearl Racing and West Point Thoroughbreds, Gunmetal Gray had ranked 14th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard (going into Sunday) with 21.75 points. He’d also placed second in both the American Pharoah (G1) last fall and the February 2 Robert B. Lewis (G3).
Gunmetal Gray was one of seven Hollendorfer workers on the main track Sunday. The Hall of Famer sent out nine more on the Santa Anita training track, according to the worktab on the track’s website.
Hollendorfer’s other Rebel runner, Galilean, also returned to the worktab Sunday but at Los Alamitos. Third to Long Range Toddy and Improbable in the first division, the Cal-bred ripped a half in :47.80.
Sunday’s highest-profile worker on Santa Anita’s main track was multiple Grade 1 star Bellafina, who covered five-eighths in 1:04.60. As expected, trainer Simon Callaghan had scratched her from Sunday’s Sunland Park Oaks in favor of the April 6 Santa Anita Oaks (G1).
The April 6 card will also feature the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and the rescheduled Santa Anita H. (G1), postponed from its original March 9 date. Also on the banner card are four other stakes – the Royal Heroine (G2), Providencia (G3), Evening Jewel, and Echo Eddie.
The March 30 program includes two stakes likewise transferred from March 9, the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) and San Carlos (G2), and a pair bumped from March 16, the Beholder Mile (G1) and the San Simeon (G3), along with the Santa Ana (G3). A trio of stakes will be contested March 31 – the Irish O’Brien, Sensational Star, and Santana Mile.
All of this is contingent upon the California Horse Racing Board’s approval at its Thursday meeting of the new policies outlined by The Stronach Group. Assuming those requirements are met, live racing will resume Friday, March 29.
Entries for the eight-race card were drawn Sunday in expectation of the green light. Friday’s highlight, the $200,000 San Luis Rey (G2) on turf, attracted a cast of six including 2015 hero Ashleyluvssugar and Epical and Beach View, the respective second and third from the San Marcos (G2). Of the races on dirt, the 5TH is a salty maiden race with several well-connected runners, notably OXO Equine’s Oggonis, a $750,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling and Triple Crown nominee from the Hollendorfer barn.