Never a factor as the 5-2 favorite in the prestigious Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 17, Argentine-bred Indy Point
will try to make amends as he takes his place among a field of 14 in Sunday’s Grade II, $150,000 John Henry Turf Championship at 1 ¼ miles Sunday at Santa Anita.
A multiple Group I winner in Argentina, Indy Point was a scintillating winner of his U.S. debut, the restricted Wickerr Stakes at Del Mar, going one mile on turf July 24.
Joining Indy Point as likely horses to beat in the John Henry are Tale of a Champion
, idle since winning the Grade II, mile and a quarter turf Charlie Whittingham Handicap on June 8, and Irish-bred Vagabond Shoes
, who comes off a sharp score in the Grade II, 1 3/8 miles turf Del Mar Handicap on Aug. 24.
Highly regarded off his Argentine form in both stateside starts, Indy Point had 24 days between his Del Mar debut and Arlington debacle, a race in which he was favored over 12 rivals.
“He didn’t like the ground at all,” said jockey Gary Stevens following the Million. “He warmed up fresh. I think the quick turnaround (24 days) and excitement got to him. He had a good feel to him the first time through, but then didn’t like it and was protecting himself. I eased up on him and let him gallop out.”
Trained by Richard Mandella, Indy Point will be ridden for the third time by Stevens on Sunday. The 4-year-old colt by Indygo Shiner has had five works since the Million, four of them here at Santa Anita, and would appear to be back on his game.
Indy Point is one for two at a mile and a quarter on turf, the win coming in a Group I stakes on Oct. 13, 2012. Overall, he has six wins, four seconds and three thirds from 14 starts. Owned by Gus-May-Fer, he has earnings of $569,061.
A winner two starts back going 1 1/8 miles on turf in the minor March Madness Handicap at Santa Anita March 30, Tale of a Champion will be seeking his third consecutive win in the John Henry. Trained by Kristin Mulhall, the 5-year-old horse by Tale of the Cat has had four recent works at Betfair Hollywood Park—at distances of three furlongs, a half mile and two drills at five furlongs.
Joe Talamo, leading rider at the 2012 Autumn Meet, will ride Tale of a Champion for the fourth consecutive time on Sunday. Owned by Kretz Racing LLC, his overall mark stands at 14-6-1-1, with earnings of $269,708.
Winless in two starts over the Santa Anita turf last winter, Vagabond Shoes came to hand last spring for trainer John Sadler and was a big second at 23-1 in the Grade I Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar July 20, prior to his score in the Aug. 24 Del Mar Handicap.
Veteran reinsman Victor Espinoza will be up for the third consecutive time on Sunday as the 6-year-old son of Beat Hollow makes his 27th career start and will likely try to make a big run from off the pace. Owned by Hronis Racing LLC, Vagabond Shoes is 26-7-4-3 overall, with earnings of $425,497.
Sadler will also send out the hard-knocking Kettle Corn
, who was second to Game On Dude in the Grade I Pacific Classic on Aug. 25. Ridden by Espinoza in his last two starts, “Kettle” will get the services of Rafael Bejarano on Sunday and like his stable mate, he would benefit from a fast early pace.
A winner of the Grade II La Jolla Handicap in August, 2012, Glen Hill Farm’s homebred Old Time Hockey
certainly rates an upset chance and will likely stalk the early pace with Corey Nakatani up. The 4-year-old Smarty Jones gelding is trained by Tom Proctor.
Never at a loss for words or theorems, trainer Eric Guillot has shipped west with Teaks North
, a 6-year-old Florida-bred gelding that he claimed Aug. 15 at Saratoga. An earner of more than $1.2 million, Teaks North has done some of his best running on the front-end and could have theft on his mind with Martin Garcia aboard.
Well beaten in the Eddie Read on July 20, Slim Shadey
comes in fresh and dangerous for trainer Simon Callaghan and owner/breeder Phil Cunningham. With four wins and a second from eight tries at the distance “Slim” should be forwardly placed under new pilot, Julien Leparoux.
Reformed claimer Soi Phet
is in search of his fifth consecutive win since being haltered for $16,000 by trainer Leonard Powell on May 23. A 5-year-old California-bred gelding by Tizbud, Soi Phet is winless from four tries on turf and figures to be forwardly placed in his first attempt at a mile and a quarter.
The complete field for the John Henry Turf Championship, to be run as the eighth race on a 10-race program Sunday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Teaks North, Martin Garcia, 119; Holding Glory, Mike Smith, 121; Kettle Corn, Rafael Bejarano, 124; Indy Point, Gary Stevens, 121; Soi Phet, Irving Orozco, 119; Tale of a Champion, Joe Talamo, 124; Affrettando, Kevin Krigger, 119; Vagabond Shoes, Victor Espinoza, 124; Code of Conduct, Edwin Maldonado, 119; Old Time Hockey, Corey Nakatani, 119; Irish Surf, Jose Valdivia, Jr., 116; Lucayan, Garrett Gomez, 119; Slim Shadey, Julien Leparoux, 121, and Huntsville, Alex Bisono, 119.