Santa Anita news: Eurton plots Storm the Court’s next step

By Ed Golden/Santa Anita Park
February 14, 2020 05:06pm

Trainer Peter Eurton is satisfied with Eclipse Award winner Storm the Court’s 3-year-old debut despite it being a fourth-place finish in Sunday’s San Vicente Stakes (G2)

“He got a lot out of that,” Eurton said. “I like how he came out of it, too. We’ll see how he goes and ponder our next race, but it could be four weeks, five weeks.”

Eurton appears poised to start the son of Court Vision twice more before the 2020 Kentucky Derby, naming Santa Anita Park’s March 7 San Felipe (G2) and Oaklawn Park’s March 14 Rebel Stakes (G2) as options for his next prep.

“We’ll see how it goes,” the trainer said. “It’s a long way until the Kentucky Derby.”

Storm the Court, who runs for David Bernsen, Exline Border Racing, Dan Hudock and Susanna Wilson, won his 2019 title on the back of a 45-1 upset of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. His next start will stretch the colt back around two turns.

Royal Act, another of Eurton’s Triple Crown hopefuls who was second in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) on Feb. 1, is scheduled to work Saturday with his next race undetermined. Eurton has said he’s planning to start that colt in one major prep such as the Santa Anita Derby (G1) to earn a shot at the Derby.


Santa Anita’ training leader, Richard Baltas, has all options open for runaway Las Virgenes Stakes (G2) winner Venetian Harbor. The likelihood is the daughter of Munnings will remain in town for the Santa Anita Oaks (G2) on April 4 before a hopeful trip to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Oaks on May 1.

“We’re nominated for everything, including the Ashland,” Baltas said of the Grade 1 event April 4 at Keeneland. “But right now, we’re planning on running here. We’ll see how she’s doing.”

Baltas entered Friday leading all trainers with 19 wins through 23 days of the Winter Meet.


Hard Not to Love, the one-eyed filly who has become the feel-good story of the meet, is favored to win for the fifth time in six career starts when she faces four rivals in Saturday’s Santa Monica Stakes (G2) at seven furlongs.

Trainer John Shirreffs says the 4-year-old bay is “training very well for the race, she looks good, and she feels good.”

Hard Not to Love lost her left eye when kicked by another horse as a youngster and has had to deal with that disability, which led to anxiety that has been alleviated thanks to unflagging dedication by Shirreffs and her regular rider, Mike Smith.

“We’ll have to get around that a bit in the post parade,” Shirreffs said. “I’ll see if we can get permission from the stewards to have someone walk with her on the track around the turn and she’ll be OK.”

Dispelling any misconception that Hard Not to Love was named after losing her left eye, Shirreffs clarified that wasn’t the case. Her moniker was derived prior to the accident from a combination of the names of her sire, Hard Spun, and her dam, Loving Vindication.

As to strategy, Shirreffs is hopeful there will be ample pace for Hard Not to Love. “That would help,” he said, “because in the La Brea (a 2 ¼-length win coming from ninth and last on Dec. 28), there was a lot of speed and she closed into it.”

2020 Santa Monica (G2)


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