Alex Solis and Bruce Headley hope that Wednesday’s $174,600 Very Subtle/Desert Wine Stakes was a dress rehearsal for Saturday.
Three days before Bertrando will try to give the jockey and trainer their biggest victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs, Solis and Headley combined to win with another 2-year-old colt at Santa Anita’s Oak Tree meeting.
Cape Royale, after finishing third in his debut on Oct. 20, led virtually wire to wire in a stakes restricted to horses who were offered for sale at the 1990 Del Mar Invitational Yearling Sale and the 1991 March California Thoroughbred 2-year-olds in Training Sale.
A Kentucky-bred son of Capote, Cape Royale won by three-quarters of a length over Friendship Forever, but he wasn’t without luck. Both Friendship Forever, the 2-1 second choice, and Magical Maiden, the 17-10 favorite and lone filly in the race, probably should have beaten him.
Coming off an easy maiden victory around two turns, Friendship Forever was blocked behind a wall of horses while starting his rally, then was forced to steady and alter his course behind Cape Royale near the wire. Magical Maiden, meanwhile, stumbled coming out of the gate, losing position, and finished a neck behind Friendship Forever.
Cape Royale had no problems and earned $96,030.
“He broke real well,” Solis said. “I really didn’t want to be on the lead, but nobody wanted to go. He had two horses (Ruthless Monarch and Music King) running with him all the way around and he was game enough to fight them off.
“He’s a very nice colt. He’s still getting stronger--he’s only going to improve. I think if he lays off the speed, it will be better for him. Bruce’s horses are well-trained. He gets on them himself in the mornings, and they learn to act like professionals. It’s an advantage for a jockey to ride 2-year-olds like that.”
Magical Maiden, a half-sister to Magical Mile and Magic Sister, returned the worse for wear.
“She stumbled severely in the second jump and tore her left quarter,” jockey Gary Stevens said. “She broke super, then in her second step, her head went right to the ground. It was a tremendous race for her to get up and run third. I was on the best horse.
“She showed a dimension that her (half-)brother and (half-)sister never showed by coming from off the pace.”
Kased Kareem was fourth, just ahead of stablemate Ruthless Monarch; then came Blackbeard’s Ghost, Little Chester, Music King, Summer Crossing, Ten Taylor Road and Cherokee Grey, who raced coupled with the winner.
Danny Velasquez Jr., son of the jockey turned trainer, may make his riding debut in Friday’s ninth race.
The younger Velasquez, 20, is named aboard Buns Galore, a $10,000 filly who is trained by his father. Buns Galore is on the also-eligible list for the ninth race, so she’ll need some help from scratches.
A graduate of Arcadia High School, Danny Jr. has been working and galloping horses for the past year and took out his jockey’s license Wednesday morning.
Horse Racing Notes
Cape Royale covered the seven furlongs in 1:23 4/5 and returned $8.20 as the third choice. . . . Alex Solis, Corey Nakatani and Kent Desormeaux each rode two winners Wednesday. Desormeaux is second in the standings with 26 winners, two behind Pat Valenzuela. . . . Reluctant Guest, who recently worked a mile in 1:39 3/5, is the 119-pound highweight for Sunday’s $100,000 Lou Rowan Handicap at one mile on the turf. . . . Post time for the Breeders’ Cup locally Saturday is 9:15 a.m. Santa Anita will offer betting on the seven Breeders’ Cup races, to be followed by an eight-race program.