October 27, 2020

Bodhicitta looks to continue winning ways in Rodeo Drive; United tops John Henry

Calvin Nguyen's Bodhicitta and jockey Flavien Prat, outside, outleg Tonahuta (Victor Espinoza), inside, to win the Grade II, $150,000 Yellow Ribbon Handicap, Saturday, August 8, 2020 at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Del Mar CA. © BENOIT PHOTO

Having progressed from allowance participant to graded stakes winner during the course of the season, Bodhicitta‘s rise might continue Saturday in the $300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita, the winner of which will earn an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) in November at Keeneland.

A dual allowance scorer over one mile last winter, the English-bred daughter of Showcasing was a respectable second in the Gamely (G1) in late May, and then overcame a modest pace to nose out Tonahutu in the Yellow Ribbon H. (G2) at Del Mar last time.

The step up in trip Saturday from 1 1/16 miles to 1 1/4 miles might work to Bodhicitta’s benefit, but might also trigger a better performance from fellow Richard Baltas trainee Lady Prancealot, who captured the course-and-distance American Oaks (G1) last December. Lady Prancealot turned in her best effort of the season to date last time when a neck second in the John C. Mabee (G2) at Del Mar.

In what is a paceless affair on paper, the ex-claimer Tonahutu might prove somewhat more dangerous this time around. Mucho Unusual, meanwhile, is winless since July 2019 but has placed multiple times at this level and can not be dismissed.

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While not an official Breeders’ Cup Challenge prep, the $200,000 John Henry Turf Championship (G2) over 10 furlongs figures to have some implications courtesy of United, who narrowly missed in last year’s Turf (G1) to Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar.

The Dick Mandella-trained gelding has enjoyed a terrific season so far this year with scores in the San Marcos (G2), Charles Whittingham (G2), and Eddie Read (G2), though he settled for second last out in the Del Mar H. (G2) after Red King got an early jump on him.

Multiple graded stakes winner Next Shares can factor with his best, while Oscar Dominguez, despite beating United in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) last year, has tended to come out on the head-to-head battles with that rival. Originaire is capable, too, not missing by much in either the Whittingham or Del Mar ‘Cap.

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One of two other turf stakes on the card is the $100,000 Speakeasy Stakes, a 5 1/2-furlong dash for 2-year-olds with potential eyes on the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2).

The field includes three first-time starters from the barn of Doug O’Neill and the filly Amanzi Yimpilo, the only stakes veteran in the field who weakened to third in the Bolton Landing S. at Saratoga last out.