Shipper Rockemperor Takes On United

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By Emily Shields

Racing at Santa Anita continues this weekend with two graded stakes races on Saturday, topped by the $200,000 Charles Whittingham (G2) over 1 ¼ miles on the grass. Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) runner up United takes on a field of six rivals, with shipper Rockemperor (Ire) drawn outside. Chad Brown trains the son of Holy Roman Emperor (Ire).

Rockemperor made his first start outside France last July, running third in the Belmont Derby (G1) as a 10-1 shot. He was beaten just over a length that day, then ran sixth in the Saratoga Derby. The four-year-old was off from August 4 until March 21 at the Fair Grounds, when he ran third in Grade 2 company with a very wide trip. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will come in to ride for Brown, who is known for his top class grass horse army.

United will take some beating, however. The son of Giant’s Causeway runs for trainer Richard Mandella, who is poised for a big weekend with 2020 Kentucky Derby prospect Tizamagician running on Friday against older horses in allowance company. United is 6-5 in the Charles Whittingham after winning the San Marcos (G2) over this trip last out February 1. Before that he was second by a neck in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) and second by a head behind 2019 Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar in the Breeders’ Cup. He has been top three in eight of his 12 career starts. Flavien Prat will ride.

Originaire (Ire) is sandwiched between the two top choices in stall 6. The son of ZOffany (Ire) is coming off a more than five length win in a February 29 allowance over nine furlongs. Jeff Mullins trains the three-time winner, a stakes horse in England who has been dual Grade 2-placed since coming to the United States.

Desert Stone (Ire) rounds out the top contenders. He has been top three in six of 10 starts on this course and won the Grade 2 San Gabriel here in January. Richard Baltas trains the son of Fastnet Rock, who will be ridden by Abel Cedillo.

Watch TVG every day for live covereage of the racing at Santa Anita.

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