News and STORIES

Daytona Stakes Set to Feature Three O'Neill Entries, Cistron

Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Friday May 22, 2020
Saturday's $100,000 Daytona Stakes (G3T) at Santa Anita Park is set to feature three impressive entries from trainer Doug O'Neill. They will all be looking for the chance to prevent Cistron from winning his third consecutive graded stakes.

With O'Neill's weaponry that he has at his disposal, there's a good chance one or more of his entrants are going to end up on-the-board. 

Murad Khan, Stubbins, Wildman Jack

O'Neill's three entrants come in the form of Murad Khan, Stubbins, and Wildman Jack. All three of them are viable contenders to score the Daytona Stakes.

"We have a couple nice up-and-coming 4-year-olds and a hard-knocking veteran in Murad Khan," O'Neill said. "I wish we could separate all three. Unfortunately, it doesn't work out that way."

Murad Khan is a 7-year-old gelding by Raven's Pass. He is owned by R3 Racing, Calara Farms, and Steve Rothblum and was claimed for $50,000 in January.

Joined by jockey Abel Cedillo, the pair will try to make up for the horse's previous loss to Cistron. That loss came in the March 21 San Simeon Stakes (G3T), where he finished third after being beaten by 1 1/4 lengths by winner Cistron. 
Murad Khan's morning-line is at 10-1. 
Stubbins, who will be joined by jockey Umberto Rispoli, is a 4-year-old son of Morning Line. He is owned by McShane Racing.

Stubbins is a dual stakes winner, and his most recent start was a fourth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) on Nov. 2. 

He is coming in at 3-1.

"I got a feeling that (Stubbins) and Murad Khan are going to be sitting near each other early on, and both should be running down the lane," he said.

Wildman Jack took the March 7 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint Sponsored By Arabian Adventures (G3) at Meydan. In that race, he set a course record after going about six furlongs in 1:07.61.

Wildman Jack is one of the top contenders of the race, and he will break from post 6 under Mike Smith, just outside of Cistron. 

He is owned by Glenn Sorgenstein's W C Racing, which is part of the partnership that raced Goldencents, who is the gelding's sire. Goldencents was trained by O'Neill and won two renewals of the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1).

"He's been telling me, 'If I get a really nice horse, I want Mike Smith to ride,'" O'Neill said. "Hopefully, this is the one."

Wildman Jack is the favorite with 2-1 odds. 

The Rest of the Field

Hronis Racing's Cistron scored the Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) last year on dirt. He later returned to win the San Simeon for trainer John Sadler. 

Cistron is coming in as the second choice with 5-2 odds. 

Texas Wedge took two turf stakes this winter; the Joe Hernandez Stales (G2T) at Santa Anita Jan. 1 and the Jan. 25 World of Trouble Turf Sprint Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He is owned by Altamira Racing Stable, Rafter JR Ranch, STD Racing Stable, and A. Miller. 

Since those performances, the 5-year-old Colonel John gelding has yet to race. He is trained by Peter Miller, who has a record of preparing horses for a successful return after a layoff. 

For example, Belvoir Bay returned after a five-month layoff to win the 2019 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. 

Texas Wedge is sitting at 3-1 odds. 

The field is completed by the longshots Sparky Ville and Blameitonthelaw, who have morning-line odds of 20-1.

The Daytona will be the fifth race on a nine-race card at Santa Anita Park. Post time is set for 2:30 p.m. PT.