UNDEFEATED SMOKEY IMAGE TRIES TWO TURNS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SATURDAY’S $250,000 CALIFORNIA CUP DERBY AT 1 1/16 MILES
CAL CUP DERBY ONE OF FIVE STATEBRED STAKES ON SANTA ANITA’S ANNUAL SUNSHINE MILLIONS DAY ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 27, 2016)–Unbeaten in five starts, Irvin Racing Stable’s Smokey Image heads a field of seven state-bred sophomores as he tries two turns for the first time in Saturday’s $250,000 California Cup Derby at Santa Anita. The Derby, to be contested at 1 1/16 miles, will be run for the 26th time and is one of five stakes restricted to California-bred or sired horses on Santa Anita’s annual $1 million Sunshine Millions Day.Originally trained by Northern California-based Greg James and currently conditioned by Carla Gaines, Smokey Image, a chestnut colt by Southern Image, has been idle since winning the seven furlong Golden State Juvenile at Del Mar at odds of 1-2 on Oct. 30. Favored in four out of his five starts, “Smokey” overcame significant early trouble in the Juvenile to win by three quarters of a length. Ridden in all five of his races by Golden Gate Fields-based Juan Hernandez, he’ll be handled for the first time Saturday by Victor Espinoza.Bred by C Punch Ranch, Inc., Smokey’s Image, who is out of the Free House mare Special Smoke, has earnings of $297,600.Glory Bound and Tough It Out, two-three finishers in the one mile King Glorious Stakes at Los Alamitos on Dec. 12, appear to be solid contenders with legitimate two turn experience.Trained by Craig Dollase, Glory Bound pressed the pace in the King Glorious at odds of 16-1 and finished second, a comfortable 2 ¼ lengths in front of Tough It Out. A bay gelding by Heatseeker, Glory Bound is owned by Highlander Racing Stable, LLC and has two wins from six starts.Trained by Phil D’Amato, Nick Alexander’s homebred Tough It Out, a grey gelding by Grazen, broke his maiden two starts back at Del Mar going one mile on turf and was off at 5-1 in the King Glorious.Bred and trained by Walther Solis, Xingontothebone loomed a threat in the King Glorious, but had to settle for fourth money, finishing a half length behind Tough It Out. Although the King Glorious was his first try going a route of ground, “Xing” has the benefit of more game day experience than anyone in the Derby field, as he’ll be making his 11th career start on Saturday. A chestnut colt by Time to Get Even, Xingontothebone is 10-2-0-3 overall with earnings of $111,356. He is owned by Carrillo, Hauptman or Hauptman.Trainer Richard Baltas will be represented by the lightly race Demonslayer, who comes off a Cal-bred maiden special weight win going 6 ½ furlongs on Dec. 27. A dark bay or brown ridgling by Tale of the Cat, he’s owned by Cicero Farms, LLC.The complete field for the Cal Cup Derby, to be run as the fifth race on a 10-race card Saturday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Tough It Out, Santiago Gonzalez, 119; Smokey Image, Victor Espinoza, 123; Record Highs, Joe Talamo, 119; Demonslayer, Rafael Bejarano, 119; Glory Bound, Edwin Maldonado, 119; Xingontothebone, Martin Pedroza, 121, and Loyalist, Flavien Prat, 119. First post time on Saturday is early, at 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.