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Bourbon Bay Readies for Whittingham

Bourbon Bay worked seven furlongs in 1:26.80 on the Hollywood Park turf course Sunday in preparation for the $250,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap  Saturday.

 

The Grade I Whittingham at 1 ¼ miles on grass highlights a program of four stakes that also includes the Honeymoon Handicap, Affirmed Handicap and Cinderella Stakes. The card, which begins at 11 a.m., will also feature a simulcast of the Belmont Stakes from Elmont, N.Y.

 

Bourbon Bay, a 5-year-old gelding, was ridden by exercise rider Debra Biggs when he worked in company with Gothic Samurai. Rafael Bejarano has the Whittingham call.

 

“He went well,” said Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale, happy with the multiple stakes winner’s sixth work since returning from Dubai, where he finished a distant 11th in the Dubai Sheema Classic March 26.

 

“He got run into going into the first turn,” explained Drysdale of the disappointing performance. Bourbon Bay has won four Grade II distance turf stakes at Santa Anita the past two years.

 

Drysdale, a former assistant to the legendary Whittingham, has won the race six times, one less than co-leaders Whittingham and Bobby Frankel.


Drysdale’s previous winners: Both Ends Burning in 1985, Political Ambition in 1988, Storm Trooper in 1998, White Heart in 2000, Storming Home in 2003 and Artiste Royal in 2008.

 

David and Jill Heerensperger, who owned Artiste Royal, also own Bourbon Bay, who has won six of 17 starts and earned $539,424.

 

“He will probably be stalking,” said Drysdale. “There’s speed in the race.”

 

Bourbon Bay, who is winless in four starts on the Hollywood Park turf, will try to foil the repeat victory bid of Acclamation, who has won four of seven starts on the grass here.

 

Acclamation, trained by Don Warren, led all the way to win the Whittingham by 1 ½ lengths last year and comes off a seven-length score in the Jim Murray Handicap here May 14.

 

Acclamation, a 5-year-old California-bred horse owned by Old English Rancho, seeks to become the first two-time winner of the Whittingham since John Henry won it three times in 1980, ’81 and ’84 when it was called the Hollywood Turf Invitational Handicap. Joe Talamo has the call.

 

Other probable starters are Falcon Rock (Brice Blanc), Haimish Hy (Tyler Baze) and the John Sadler-trained duo of Celtic New Year (Victor Espinoza) and Red Alert Day.

 

Celtic New Year, third-place finisher in the San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita April 17, worked seven furlongs in 1:25.20 on Cushion Track with exercise rider Jose Alferez.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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