Air Force Red Aims For Second Straight Graded Win In Thunder Road, To Meet Pair Of Top-Level Winners - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Air Force Red Aims For Second Straight Graded Win In Thunder Road, To Meet Pair Of Top-Level Winners

Air Force Red and jockey Juan Hernandez win the G2 Joe Hernandez

Air Force Red will try and become the first two-time stakes winner at the Classic Meet when he takes on 11 rivals in a contentious edition of the $100,000 Thunder Road (G3) going a mile on turf Saturday at Santa Anita.

Air Force Red is riding a two-race winning streak for trainer Leonard Powell following a front-running victory in the Joe Hernandez (G2) on the downhill turf course on Dec. 31. Prior to that, the 5-year-old ridgling by Air Force Blue won the restricted Lure Stakes going a mile at Santa Anita.

Santa Anita's leading rider Juan Hernandez was aboard for both of Air Force Red's stakes wins and will again be in the irons on Saturday. Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Holly Golightly, Air Force Red has won half of his 10 starts and banked $354,140.

Looking to get back on the beam on Saturday is Grade 1 winner Hit the Road, who returned from an 11-month layoff and finished last in the Joe Hernandez. Trained by Dan Blacker, the 6-year-old More Than Ready horse won last year's Thunder Road and could move forward as he stretches back out to his preferred distance. In 14 starts, all six of Hit the Road's wins have been at a mile, which includes his biggest score in last year's Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1).

Hit the Road, who is owned by an extensive partnership group, will be ridden for the first time by Kazushi Kimura.

There Goes Harvard, last year's Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) winner, will make his return to the races after a six-month layoff for trainer Michael McCarthy. Off since a ninth-place finish in the  San Diego Handicap(G2)  last July, There Goes Harvard is a two-time winner on turf but never at the stakes level.

There Goes Harvard will be ridden for the first time by Hall of Famer John Velazquez for owner Cannon Thoroughbreds.

Returning off an even longer layoff on Saturday is Grade 2 turf winner Du Jour for trainer Bob Baffert. The 5-year-old gelding by Temple City has been off since a fifth-place finish in the Grade II Mathis Mile in December 2021.

Owned by Natalie J. Baffert and Debbie Lanni, Du Jour will have Umberto Rispoli in the irons on Saturday.

The field for the Thunder Road (G3) in post-position order with jockey and weight:

  1. Earls Rock – Flavien Prat -120
  2. Du Jour – Umberto Rispoli – 124
  3. Anaconda – Edwin Maldonado – 120
  4. Bob and Jackie – Jose Valdivia, Jr. – 124
  5. Kiss Today Goodbye – Kyle Frey – 124
  6. Irideo – Hector Berrios – 124
  7. There Goes Harvard – John Velazquez – 124
  8. Air Force Red – Juan Hernandez – 122
  9. Hit the Road – Kazushi Kimura – 124
  10. Dark Shift – Lanfranco Dettori – 120
  11. Beaudacious – Kent Desormeaux – 120
  12. Cabo Spirit – Joe Bravo – 124



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