May 26, 2024

Speakeasy offers BC Juvenile Turf Sprint berth; Ce Ce defends Chillingworth title

Ce Ce turned the 2021 Chillingworth into a paid workout (© BENOIT PHOTO)

Santa Anita’s opening weekend bonanza continues with four stakes on the Sunday program. The $100,000 Speakeasy S. is a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1), while reigning Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) champion Ce Ce defends her title in the $100,000 Chillingworth (G3). At the opposite end of the distance spectrum, Tizamagician goes for a repeat in the $100,000 Tokyo City Cup (G3). The action begins with the $200,000 Zenyatta (G2), where Midnight Memories bids to continue her ascent.

Zenyatta (G2) – Race 4 (5:30 p.m. ET)

Midnight Memories passed a pair of simultaneous tests in the Torrey Pines (G3) – her stakes and two-turn debut – to improve her resume to 3-for-4. Now the Bob Baffert filly steps up versus older graded rivals, chief among them Soothsay, in the 1 1/16-mile Zenyatta.

Last year’s Santa Anita Oaks (G2) and Indiana Oaks (G3) heroine, Soothsay resurfaced from a 13-month layoff in the Aug. 6 Clement L. Hirsch (G1) and faded to a remote fourth. The well-bred four-year-old promises to move forward for Richard Mandella. The Peter Miller-trained Samurai Charm was drubbed in this race last year, but could be cycling back into form after just missing in the Tranquility Lake S.

Multiple Grade 2-placed Awake at Midnyte, who was on the Kentucky Oaks (G1) trail earlier in the season, got a confidence-boosting allowance win after a freshening. That class relief also came in a sprint, so trainer Doug O’Neill is stretching the daughter of Nyquist out again. Empire House, winner of the California Governor’s Cup at Sacramento, was most recently a distant second in the Dark Mirage S. at Los Alamitos.

Speakeasy S. – Race 5 (6 p.m. ET)

Speed Boat Beach, who commanded attention with a 5 1/2-furlong track record in his first start at Del Mar, tries to transfer that high speed to turf. The Baffert juvenile could have early company in this five-furlong dash. Helladic ran away with a course-and-distance maiden May 20, and the son of Kantharos has been training sharply for Ryan Hanson.

Three revert to sprinting following losses in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf (G3). Ah Jeez was promoted to fourth via disqualification, Wound Up was elevated to sixth, and Mas Rapido finished eighth in his U.S. debut.

The rest are switching surfaces. Little Red Feather Racing’s new recruit Taltariate, a maiden claiming winner on Gulfstream Park’s Tapeta, makes his first start for Phil D’Amato. Also trying turf are Arman, a Churchill debut winner who adds blinkers off a disappointment in the Best Pal (G3); Straighten Up, twice placed in Cal-restricted stakes; and maiden claiming winner Flame Rider, who set a torrid pace before folding in the Capote S. at Los Alamitos.

Chillingworth (G3) – Race 6 (6:30 p.m. ET)

Champion Ce Ce is on a retrieval mission in the 6 1/2-furlong Chillingworth, in a scenario somewhat reminiscent of a year ago. At this time in 2021, Ce Ce was coming off a third in the Ballerina (G1) at Saratoga. The Michael McCarthy mare once again aims to turn the page on the Ballerina, but she fared worse than expected when a dull fifth Aug. 28 at the Spa. Ce Ce had previously appeared to be better than ever, when rolling to a repeat victory in the Princess Rooney (G2). If the pattern holds, the $2.2 million-earner would revive here.

Under the Stars likewise hopes to use the Chillingworth as a rebound spot. The Baffert sophomore flopped in the Torrey Pines last out, and a return to the sprint game could work well for her. Last winter, the three-quarter sister to Bodemeister captured the seven-furlong Santa Ynez (G2) before routing with mixed results.

Cal-bred Teddy’s Barino cuts back in trip after wearing down the aforementioned Samurai Charm in the one-mile Tranquility Lake. Rounding out the cast are lightly-raced Scenic Masterpiece, eligible for a first-level allowance but a half-sister to current Sorrento (G2) winner Vegas Magic; My Destiny, a starter allowance type who was runner-up in Tampa Bay’s Minaret S. back in February; and Cover Version, third at 37-1 in the Rancho Bernardo (G3) two back.

Tokyo City Cup (G3) – Race 8 (7:30 p.m. ET)

Tizamagician was nine lengths the best in last year’s edition of the 1 1/2-mile test, then conducted during the spring. The repositioning to fall gives the Mandella veteran an opportunity to defend his crown.

Sidelined through the first half of 2022, Tizamagician resumed as the defending champion in the July 24 Cougar II (G3), but couldn’t hold off the race-fit Heywoods Beach. Both switched to turf unsuccessfully in the Del Mar H. (G2), with Tizamagician a solid fourth and Heywoods Beach eighth. They renew rivalry in their dirt marathon specialty on Sunday.

Tizamagician also meets a Mandella stablemate, Extra Hope, and his own half-brother, Avenue. Extra Hope, third in the Cougar II, finds a friendlier spot than his latest – the Pacific Classic (G1) – where he tried to lead Flightline and tailed off in fifth. Avenue has boundless stamina as the close third in the San Juan Capistrano (G3). The McCarthy trainee has raced exclusively on turf so far, but should handle dirt.

Storm the Court, the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) shocker who hasn’t won since, experiments with a dramatic step up in trip. Los Alamitos Derby third Win the Day has shown promise placing in 1 3/8-mile turf allowances. Southwest (G3) winner Newgrange, a distant third in the Shared Belief S. for new connections, is a less certain stayer. Golden Gate shipper Govenor’s Party has one talking point, as the third-placer in the 2021 El Camino Real Derby.