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Trainer Canani Seeking Sixth San Francisco Mile Victory
No trainer has had more success in the San Francisco Mile than Julio Canani, the Southern California-based conditioner who owns five victories in Northern California’s top turf race.
Canani will take aim at another SF Mile triumph Saturday at Golden Gate Fields when he starts the 6-year-old gelding Blue Chagall in the Grade 3 $100,000 race for older horses. Post time for the SF Mile, the seventh race on a nine-race card, is 3:45 p.m. First post is 12:45 p.m.
Canani won the SF Mile in 1989 with Patchy Groundfog, in 1990 with British-bred Colway Rally, in 1999 with the French-bred mare Tuzla, in 2000 with Ladies Din, and in 2006 with French-bred Charmo. Canani fondly remembers all of his SF Mile champs but admitted that three stand out.
“Patchy Groundfog is special, of course, because he was Shoemaker’s last ride,” said Canani. “He’ll always be remembered for that.”
Patchy Groundfog, who defeated Bay Area-hope No Commitment in the SF Mile, was the last horse ever ridden by the great Bill Shoemaker. Patchy Groundfog finished fourth under “The Shoe” in The Legend’s Last Ride Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 3, 1990.
“Tuzla was a very, very good mare,” said Canani. “She beat Silic (who finished fourth in the ’99 SF Mile) and Silic came back to win the Breeders’ Cup.”
Canani also trained French-bred Silic, who defeated Tuzla by a neck in the 1999 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Gulfstream Park. The win had to be extra sweet for Canani as Tuzla was racing for trainer Bob Baffert and Stonerside Stable in the Breeders’ Cup after being purchased by Stonerside a few months after her SF Mile victory.
“Ladies Din was a $32,000 claim who went on to earn nearly $2 million,” said Canani of the gelded son of Din’s Dancer who was claimed out of his second career start at Del Mar in 1997 and retired with $1,996,754 in earnings in 2003. “The horse won the Shoemaker Mile and went to Dubai twice.”
Ladies Din won the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park in 2002 and participated in the rich Dubai World Cup programs in 2000 (finishing fifth in the Dubai Duty Free) and 2001 (11th in the Duty Free). Ladies Din won nine stakes for Canani, including the Grade 2 Oak Tree and Del Mar Derbies in 1998, and the Grade 1 Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar in 2000.
Canani believes he has a solid chance to secure his sixth SF Mile win Saturday with Blue Chagall, who is coming off a strong second-place finish in the Grade 2 Arcadia Stakes at Santa Anita on April 9. The performance earned Blue Chagall a Beyer Speed Figure of 101, which tied his career best. The 101 is the highest last-race Beyer figure among the nine horses in the SF Mile field.
“He’s doing very, very good,” said Canani of Blue Chagall, who completed his preparation for the SF Mile by working a half-mile in :47 1/5 handily Monday at Hollywood Park. Blue Chagall’s clocking was the best of 40 at the distance. “He was just breezing,” said Canani of the bullet work.
French-bred Blue Chagall will be ridden in the SF Mile by French jockey Julien Couton. A multiple stakes-winner who has earned $361,649 in 29 career starts, Blue Chagall will break from post position nine.
The field for the 61st running of the SF Mile, in post position order with riders and morning-line odds, is as follows: Our Nautique, Kevin Krigger, 10-to-1; Times Gone By, Brice Blanc, 9-to-2; Sebastian Flyte, Patrick Valenzuela, 3-to-1; Baton Roo, Aaron Gryder, 20-to-1; Gallant Son, William Antongeorgi, III, 6-to-1; Dream Nettie, Juan Hernandez, 20-to-1; Bold Chieftain, Russell Baze, 5-to-1; Hudson Landing, Frank Alvarado, 8-to-1; and Blue Chagall, Couton, 7-to-2. All of the starters will carry 122 pounds.