Improving Border Town May Have Edge Over Turf Veterans In Santa Anita’s American Stakes

In a field replete with classy veterans returning off extended vacations, Richard Mandella’s fast-improving Border Town seeks his third consecutive win at the current Winter Spring Meeting in Sunday’s Grade 3, $100,000 American Stakes at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif.  To be run at a flat mile on turf, the American has attracted a deep and competitive field of 10 three year olds and up.

Trainer Mark Glatt will be well represented by multiple graded stakes winner Sharp Samurai, who has been idle since Aug. 18, and Phil D’Amato will send out a pair of classy comebackers, multiple Grade 1 winner Bowies Hero, idle since Nov. 2, and graded stakes winning Cleopatra’s Strike, who’s been idle 4 ½ months.

It is noteworthy that Flavien Prat, Santa Anita’s runaway leading rider who enters closing week with 83 wins, has opted to ride upstart Border Town over Bowies Hero and perhaps several others in the American lineup.

Owner:  Perry R. Bass, II & Ramona Bass
Trainer:  Richard Mandella
Winless in a pair of one mile turf maiden races with eastern-based Chad Brown in July and September of last year, this 4-year-old colt by War Front has run four solid races for Mandella and Prat, dating back to a head defeat in a one mile maiden race on Jan. 5.  Subsequently third under the same conditions Jan. 30, Border Town broke out with a big 3 ½ length maiden win going 1 1/8 miles on turf Feb. 28.  In his most recent start on May 24, he accelerated late to take a one mile turf allowance by one length, winning in-hand in a performance that has thrust him to center stage on Sunday.

Owner: Red Baron’s Barn, LLC & Rancho Temescal
Trainer:  Mark Glatt
One of the top turf horses on this circuit dating back to 2017, this 6-year-old First Samurai gelding has been idle since a close second in the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile Handicap on Aug. 18.  A three-time graded stakes winner on grass, Sharp Samurai is five for eight over the Santa Anita turf course and is 7-2-2-1 at one mile on turf.  To be ridden for the first time by Abel Cedillo, who ranks a close third behind Mike Smith and Prat with 10 stakes wins at the current stand, Sharp Samurai has a solid work tab to his credit and rates a huge chance off the bench.

Owner:  Agave Racing Stable, ERJ Racing, LLC, Madaket Stables, LLC & Rockin Robin Stables
Trainer:  Phil D’Amato
Idle since fifth at 16-1 in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile here on Nov. 2, this 6-year-old full horse by Artie Schiller rallied to win the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile two starts back at Keeneland on Oct. 5.  A winner of Santa Anita’s Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile in March, 2018, classy Bowies Hero is 10-3-1-2 over the Santa Anita lawn and is 16-7-1-1 lifetime at one mile on grass.  The leading money earner in the field with $1,538,970, his overall mark stands at 22-8-1-3.  With Prat committed to Border Town, Umberto Rispoli will try his hand for the first time on Sunday.

Owner:  Slam Dunk Racing & Michael Nentwig
Trainer:  Phil D’Amato
Idle since a close second in the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes at a mile and one quarter on turf Feb. 1, this 7-year-old Smart Strike gelding was also a close second two starts back, in the Grade 2 San Gabriel at a mile and one eighth on turf Jan. 4.  A winner of the Grade 2 John Henry Turf Stakes here four starts back at a mile and a quarter on Sept. 28, he’s been ridden in three out of his last four race by Abel Cedillo, but will get the first-time services of Mike Smith on Sunday.  Originally based at Woodbine, he’s flourished in D’Amato’s care, posting a win, four seconds and a fourth place finish from six starts dating back to a nose defeat in the January, 2019 San Gabriel.

Race 10 of 12 Approximate post time 5 p.m. PT

  1. True Valour—Jose Valdivia, Jr.—124
  2. Jasikan—Ruben Fuentes–124
  3. Cleopatra’s Strike—Mike Smith—124
  4. Blitzkrieg—Victor Espinoza—122
  5. Sharp Samurai—Abel Cedillo—122
  6. Souter—Evin Roman–122
  7. Border Town—Flavien Prat—122
  8. Bowies Hero—Umberto Rispoli—124
  9. King of Speed—Geovanni Franco—122
  10. Bolo—Drayden Van Dyke–122

First post time on closing day, Sunday is at 12:30 p.m.  For additional information, please visit or call (626) 574-RACE.

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