Arles nearly got the stable of H. Graham Motion off to a grand start for Thanksgiving holiday week of the Bing Crosby meeting, but was nosed out at the wire by Nuovo Record in Thursday's Red Carpet Stakes.
That narrow miss in a stakes that Motion won in 2015 with Rusty Skipper aside, the Maryland-based trainer, best known for saddling Animal Kingdom to victory in the 2011 Kentucky Derby, has three horses for Saturday's stakes double header with potential to make amends.
Motion will be represented by Journey Home and Happy Mesa in the Grade III $100,000 Jimmy Durante Stakes for two-year-old fillies, which goes as the sixth on the nine-race program. Two races later Ring Weekend goes in the Grade II $200,000 Seabiscuit Handicap.
Happy Mesa, a daughter of Sky Mesa who was a $20,000 purchase at the Keeneland September sale a year ago, finished 12th of 14 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on November 4 at Santa Anita. Journey Home, a daughter of War Front who was a $200,000 purchase at the same Keeneland sale, won her racing debut on the grass at Laurel on the same day as the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
“Happy Mesa stayed here after she ran in the Breeders' Cup and she's been training well at Santa Anita,” Alice Clapham, assistant to Motion, said Friday at Del Mar. “Journey Home just got here on Tuesday, but she's settled in well and seems happy here.
“I think Happy Mesa's race was better than the result shows. She handled all the activity and the crowds well and I think that experience will help her as she goes along.”
At one-mile on turf, the Durante is at the same distance and surface as the last races for both. It attracted a field of 13.
Ring Weekend stayed at Santa Anita after a seventh-place result in a field of 14 for the Breeders' Cup Mile.
“He's trained well since the Breeders' Cup and this seemed like a nice logical spot to run him,” Clapham said. “He ran a good race in the Breeders' Cup, we weren't unhappy with it and we think he should do well Saturday.”
Through Friday, Motion ranks 13th among North American trainers in 2016 for money earnings with $6,635,606 according to Equibase statistics. He has 89 winners from 540 starters and 47 percent of his charges have finished in-the-money. Among Motion's 11 graded stakes wins this year are the Grade II Bernard Baruch in September at Saratoga by Ring Weekend and the Shadwell Turf Mile and Maker's 46 Mile, both at Keeneland, by Miss Temple City.
Miss Temple City is part of a stellar field shaping up for the Grade I $300,000 Matriarch on closing day, Sunday, December 4.
The field from the rail for the Jimmy Durante: Defiant Honor (Mike Smith, 9-2), Bella Luma (Gary Stevens, 20-1), Mo'Vette (Santiago Gonzalez, 5-1), Journey Home (Drayden Van Dyke, 6-1), Tiburtina (Victor Espinoza, 20-1), Partyinthepaddock (Kent Desormeaux, 15-1), How About Zero (Mario Gutierrez, 20-1), With Honors (Flavien Prat, 7-2), Noble Dancer (Fernando Perez, 20-1), Simmy's Temple (Norberto Arroyo, Jr., 15-1), Miss Sugars (Tyler Baze, 10-1), Happy Mesa (Martin Pedroza, 10-1) and La Force (Brice Blanc, 8-1).
The field, from the rail for the Seabiscuit: A Red Tie Day (Norberto Arroyo, Jr., 10-1), Stylistics United (Tiago Pereira, 30-1), Om (Gary Stevens, 5-2), Vyjack (Flavien Prat, 3-1), What a View (Tyler Baze, 7-2), Hunt (Mike Smith, 10-1), Ring Weekend (Drayden Van Dyke, 4-1) and Hi Happy (Altair Domingos, 10-1).
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