News and STORIES

Country Grammer and Royal Ship Among Runners For Californian Stakes

Author: Ryan Knuppel
Published: Thursday April 15, 2021
There is set to be a small field of runners for the Grade 2 Californian Stakes this weekend. The race will be taking place at Santa Anita over a distance of 1 1/8 miles, but there are expected to be just five runners in total for one of the two stakes races that are taking place at the course on Saturday.

The other race that will be taking place on the same day is the Mizdirection Stakes. However, the limited number on the Californian Stakes doesn’t mean that there isn’t quality in the race, with five proven horses involved in the contest.

Country Grammer Among Contenders

Country Grammer will be among the leading contenders that will be on show at Santa Anita on Saturday. The Chad Brown-trained horse has won a Grade 3 previously, with his success in the Peter Pan Stakes coming at Saratoga last July. The four-year-old held on for the win on that occasion to win by a neck from Caracaro. However, his most recent run came in August, where he could just finish fifth behind Tiz The Law in the Runhappy Travers Stakes.

That was his first start in Grade 1 company, and the step back may be something that will suit the four-year-old this weekend. His only other career win came in his maiden at Aqueduct, as he beat Portos by three and a half lengths in November 2019. But, last season’s form does suggest that there is still more to come from this horse.

Royal Ship Looking For First Graded Success

Royal Ship is also among the five likely entries for the Californian Stakes this weekend, but the four-year-old, trained by Richard Mandella, will be looking for a first graded success. Unlike some of the other leading contenders, Royal Ship has already had a run this season, as he finished fifth in the Frank E Kilroe Mile Stakes at Santa Anita at the beginning of March.

Despite finishing fifth, there were positive reports surrounding Royal Ship after that run, and the race this weekend could suit. Last season, he finished sixth in the Grade 2 City of Hope Mile Stakes and followed that up with a run in the Grade 3 Native Diver Stakes. However, he finished six lengths behind the winner Extra Hope in the Grade 3 contest.

Independence Hall Returns To Santa Anita

Independence Hall for trainer Michael McCarthy will also be back at Santa Anita this weekend, as he returns to the track after finishing two and a half lengths behind Idol last month in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. That was his second run in 2021, as he finished three lengths behind Knicks Go in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes back in January.

His Graded form is relatively strong when compared to his leading rivals in the race and could be one that is worth a shout this weekend. His latest win came at Del Mar in November in an Allowance Optional Claiming race, as he won by a length and a half from P R Radio Star.

Growth Engine and Magic On Tap Complete Runners

Growth Engine and Magic On Tap are the two other runners that are likely to compete in the Californian Stakes this weekend. Magic On Tap will be appearing for the first time this season for trainer Bob Baffert.

Meanwhile, Growth Engine will be returning to the track after finishing fifth in the Santana Mile last month. The five-year-old has won three from seven starts, but this looks to be a big ask this weekend in the Californian Stakes.

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