Multiple Graded Stakes Winning Florida-bred Damon’s Mound Also Set
BY BROCK SHERIDAN
A stakes winner on both turf and dirt, versatile Florida-bred Speed Boat Beach heads Santa Anita’s traditional opening day main event, the Grade 1, $300,000 Malibu for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs on Tuesday. A field of eight have entered the Malibu, including multiple graded stakes-winning Florida-bred Damon’s Mound for trainer Michelle Lovell.
A colt by 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1)-winner Bayern, Speed Boat Beach heads a powerful three-horse contingent for Baffert, who took last year’s Malibu with Taiba and now seeks to join fellow Hall of Famer Richard Mandella by winning his sixth career Malibu.
In addition to Speed Boat Beach, Baffert has also entered Fort Bragg and Hejazi.
Second, beaten a head two starts back by top sprinter Dr. Schivel in the Grade 2 Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Sept. 30, Speed Boat Beach made all the early running in the Grade 1 Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint here on Nov. 4, but tired to finish fourth, beaten three lengths by winner Elite Power.
Owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, Speed Boat Beach will be ridden by Flavien Prat, who last rode him three starts back, winning the Grade 3 Cecil B. DeMille at one mile over the Del Mar turf on Dec. 4, 2022.
Speed Boat Beach was bred in Florida by Richard Heysek’s Caperlane Farm based in Williston, Fla., and has won half of his six career starts with one second while banking $318,000. Out of Sophia Mia, by Pioneerof The Nile, Speed Boat Beach also took the $102,000 Speakeasy in October of 2022 at Santa Anita.
Multiple graded stakes-winner Damon’s Mound makes his first start on the West Coast after finishing second to Ryvit in the $300,00 Steel Valley Sprint at Mahoning Valley Race Course on Nov. 20 in his last start.
Prior to the Steel Valley, Damon’s Mound had won two straight stakes including the Grade 3 Gallant Bob by a length-and-a-quarter as the 9-5 favorite going six furlongs at Parx Racing on Sept. 23. He also won the $350,000 Robert Hilton Memorial by two lengths after seven furlongs at Charles Town Races on Aug. 25.
His other graded-stakes victory came as a 2-year-old when he won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special in August of 2022 in his second career start.
Damon’s Mound has won four with two seconds from 10 lifetime starts while banking $659,300 for owners Cliff and Michele Love of Friendswood, Texas. He is by Girvin out of San Antonio Stroll, by Stroll and was bred by Cliff Love.
Lovell has again given the riding assignment on Damon’s Mound to Junior Alvarado, who has been ridden him in his last three races.
Fresh off a facile two-and-quarter-length allowance score at 4-5 going six-and-a-half furlongs on Nov. 17 at Del Mar, Fort Bragg was third, beaten a length-a-quarter for second by Speed Boat Beach in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship.
Fort Bragg has three career wins, including a victory in the Grade 2 Dwyer at Belmont Park in July. He as two seconds and three thirds with earnings of $414,300 for owners SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital LLC and Catherine Donovan.
Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride the son of Tapit from post two.
Also entered for the Malibu are Giant Mischief with jockey Kazushi Kimura, Sharp Aza Tack will be ridden by Antonio Fresu, Matanzas Creek has jockey Mike Smith, Juan Hernandez ride Hejazi and Raise Cain will carry Frankie Dettori.
— Large portions of this article are taken directly from a Santa Anita press release
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