After working five furlongs on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track in
59.80 Tuesday, Mike Pender decided Wednesday to enter streaking Ultimate Eagle in the Grade II, $150,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes for 3-year-olds at
one mile on turf on opening day.
Winner of all four of his grass races—the last four in a
row—Ultimate Eagle had been ticketed for a start on dirt, possibly in
the San Fernando Stakes on Jan. 14 or the Strub Stakes on Feb. 4.
“We have certain goals to meet every year and within those
goals, we can call some audibles, and this is one of them,” Pender said
Wednesday morning at Santa Anita.
Ultimate Eagle, a Mizzen Mast colt owned by B.J. Wright of
Pasadena, won two grass races at Del Mar some four months ago, then won
the Grade II Oak Tree Derby at odds of 34-1 at Santa Anita on Oct. 15
before leading throughout to take the Grade I Hollywood Derby by nearly a
length at 14-1.
Multiple stakes winner Jeranimo, eyeing a repeat win in the
Grade II San Gabriel Stakes on Jan. 16, also worked Tuesday at Hollywood
for Pender, going four furlongs in 48 seconds. “Jeranimo worked
sensational,” Pender said. “He couldn’t have worked any better. Ultimate
Eagle did the same thing. They both just went as easy as could be.”
Martin Pedroza, who has ridden Ultimate Eagle in his four
victories, retains the mount. Whether the streak reaches five remains to
be seen, since Pender has ample respect for his rivals.
“It’s probably the deepest Sir Beaufort I’ve ever seen,” he said.
The field for the 12th running of the Sir Beaufort, which goes
as the eighth race: Cozy Kitten, Alonso Quinonez; Venomous, Joel
Rosario; Comma to the Top, Joe Talamo; Mr. Commons, Mike Smith;
Thirtyfirststreet, Hector Berrios; Irish Art, Rafael Bejarano; Moment of
Weakness, Kevin Krigger; Ultimate Eagle, Martin Pedroza; and Riveting
Reason, Victor Espinoza.
Mr. Commons worked five furlongs on Hollywood’s Cushion Track Wednesday in 1:00.80 for trainer John Shirreffs.