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Storm Fighter Readies for Santa Anita Derby

Karen Headley has more reasons than prestige and money to win the Santa Anita Derby on April 6 with Storm Fighter. Owner Golden Eagle Farm and her father, trainer Bruce Headley, come foremost to mind.

Storm Fighter, bred in California by the recently deceased Larry Mabee of Golden Eagle Farm, one of the most prominent and successful operations of its kind ever in the Golden State, is ticketed for the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles two weeks from Saturday.

The bay son of Stormin Fever is coming off a 5 ¾-length maiden victory at 1 1/16 miles on March 2 under Gary Stevens, who has won the Santa Anita Derby a record nine times.

“We always knew Storm Fighter was going to be a two-turn horse,” said Karen, Bruce’s daughter and assistant trainer. “His first two races were sprints and in his second race he pulled two shoes off. We trained him up to the mile and a sixteenth and he ran against older horses in that race. I think he was the only 3-year-old to run against 4-year-olds and he won that impressively.

“Golden Eagle felt that it was a good idea, as well as we did, to try him in the Santa Anita Derby. For me, I want to have the horse do well for my dad’s sake and for Golden Eagle. They’ve both accomplished so much.”

In other Santa Anita Derby news:

Goldencents, who usually fires bullets, worked six furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Thursday in 1:16 flat, on the surface an alarmingly slow time, but it was by design, Doug O’Neill said.

“We’ve been trying to work on getting him to slow down a little in the morning,” said the trainer who won two races Thursday to give him 20 for the meet, good for fourth place in the standings, behind Bob Baffert (29), Jerry Hollendorfer (24) and John Sadler (22).

“Jonny (Garcia), his normal exercise rider, got on him and did a great job. He went in 38 and three (fifths) the first three-eighths and 37 and two (fifths) the last three-eighths. He galloped out good. I’m very, very happy with him.”

Trainer Paul Aguirre said he is “leaning towards” the Santa Anita Derby with San Felipe third-place finisher Tiz a Minister, but also is considering the Blue Grass Stakes on Keeneland’s Polytrack April 13. Joe Talamo would ride in the Santa Anita Derby.



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