CLASSY DONNA VELOCE HEADS SUNDAY’S GRADE III, $100,000 SANTA YSABEL STAKES FOR SOPHOMORE FILLIES AT 1 1/16 MILES ARCADIA, Calif. (March 5, 2020)–Favored in all three of her starts and most recently second in a pair of Grade I stakes, trainer Simon Callaghan’s Donna Veloce heads a field of seven sophomore fillies going a mile and one sixteenth in Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes at Santa Anita.As is his custom, Bob Baffert will also be well represented in the Santa Ysabel, as he’ll send out promising recent maiden winner Storie Blue and battle tested Gingham, who was a well beaten second behind potential superstar Venetian Harbor in the Grade II Las Virgenes Stakes here on Feb. 8.DONNA VELOCEOwner: Kaleem Shah, Inc., Mrs. John Magnier, Michael B. Tabor & Derrick SmithTrainer: Simon CallaghanImmensely talented, she rolled to a 9 ¼ length first-out maiden win going 6 ½ furlongs here on Sept. 28, earning a lofty Beyer Speed figure of 91. Subsequently second, beaten a neck as the 2-1 favorite going 1 1/16 miles in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Nov. 1, she’s been idle since running second, beaten a half length at 1-5 in the Grade I Starlet Stakes at the same distance over a wet surface Dec. 7 at Los Alamitos. Clearly the horse to beat on Sunday, this Kentucky-bred daughter of Uncle Mo, who’s earned $430,000 from her three starts at age two, will be ridden for the fourth consecutive time by Flavien Prat.STORIE BLUEOwner: Don Alberto StableTrainer: Bob BaffertHead and head early, this homebred filly by Empire Maker prevailed by a neck in breaking her maiden going a flat mile here on Jan 5 in what was her third consecutive race at that distance. With steady improvement in each start and a proven ability to go two turns, Storie Blue, who earned a 78 Beyer last time out, should be forwardly placed under Mike Smith in what will be her fourth career start.GINGHAMOwner: Sarah Kelly & Jane WiltzTrainer: Bob BaffertMost recently second, beaten 9 ¼ lengths by freakish winner Venetian Harbor in the one mile Las Virgenes Stakes Feb. 8, this Quality Road filly finished 2 ¼ lengths clear of the third horse in what amounted to a separate race. A one mile allowance winner two starts back and mile maiden victress four races back on Oct. 31, Gingham rallied from off the pace in both victories and should a hot pace develop, she could be dangerous in the late stages on Sunday. With an overall mark of 7-2-4-0, she’ll be ridden or the third consecutive time by Drayden Van Dyke.GIDGETTAOwner: Jungle Racing, LLCTrainer: Richard BaltasOwned and bred by Jim and Janet Rome’s Jungle Racing, Gidgetta will be facing winners and stretching out for the first time in the Santa Ysabel. An impressive one length maiden winner going 6 ½ furlongs in her second start Jan. 20, this daughter of the Medaglia d’Oro stallion Fast Anna could prove bothersome to anyone with designs on a front-running trip.SPEECHOwner: Eclipse Thoroughbred PartnersTrainer: Michael McCarthyA runaway nine length maiden winner going six furlongs at Los Alamitos on Dec. 14, a race in which she earned an 86 Beyer, she was most recently second, beaten 2 ¼ lengths, to the highly respected Auberge in a six furlong allowance here Feb. 1. In what will be her fourth start, this daughter of Mr. Speaker will be stretching out for the first time and will no doubt be in close attendance early.THE GRADE III SANTA YSABEL WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDERRace 7 of 8 Approximate post time 4 p.m. PTDonna Veloce–Flavien Prat–120Gidgetta–Joel Rosario–120Speech–Geovanni Franco–120Tiz Fake News–Abel Cedillo–122Gingham–Drayden Van Dyke–122Paige Anne–Umberto Rispoli–122Storie Blue–Mike Smith–120First post time for an eight-race card on Sunday is at 1 p.m., with admission gates opening at 11 a.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
The problem with some authorized biopics — films that tell a celebrity’s life story as overseen by the celebrity — is that they tend to tell the safe, whitewashed version. It doesn’t look as if that will be the case with Rocketman, the story of Elton John’s life. “The movie begins with Elton marching into rehab in a really bad way, sweaty, grinding his teeth and that’s our jumping-off point for the film. We learn his life through him recanting his experiences from this therapy room,” actor Taron Egerton, who portrays Elton John, told the media this year.Rocketman promotional posterThe actor’s personality early in his career was “ugly,” Egerton said after screening 15 minutes of footage. It shows him at his “most vulnerable…most broken and damaged…about someone who was not well becoming well.”“What I felt was very special about this project is largely down to Elton’s very specific personality type, and especially him having gone through recovery, which I think leads to a certain quality of openness and candidness,” Egerton said.Elton John attending the premiere of The Union at the Tribeca Film Festival. Photo by David Shankbone CC BY 3.0The film is scheduled to be released May 31, 2019. It also stars Jamie Bell as lyricist Bernie Taupin, Richard Madden as his first manager, and Bryce Dallas Howard as Elton’s mother. It was directed by Dexter Fletcher, who finished the film Bohemian Rhapsody after Bryan Singer was fired. Check out the trailer below.The film has been described as “a musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years.” Tom Hardy was originally attached to the film until he dropped out for scheduling reasons. Taron Egerton then took the lead role; he is best known for the film Kingsman.Taron Egerton at the 2018 Global Education and Skills Forum. Photo by Fuzheado CC BY-SA 4.0Elton John was one of the film’s producers. Egerton praised Elton’s position that Rocketman could show him at his “most vulnerable.” The actor said, “It’s right at the heart of what makes Rocketman quite special because Elton gave me the license to go and make him look quite ugly at times, that was always very important to me.”The film has received an R rating, and rumors have been flying around the Internet about whether Elton John’s sexuality will be depicted.Fletcher at the 58th BFI London Film Festival Awards in 2014. Photo by wizardradiomedia CC BY 3.0Director Fletcher elaborated on why the film shouldn’t be described as a “biopic.”“Sure, there’s aspects and elements and in large part, it’s based on the early part of Elton’s career and his rise to fame and the price that he paid for that, but I think a musical fantasy really is a great way to describe it,” he told the media.“Elton is our storyteller in the film and it’s his memory of those times, and sometimes our memory plays tricks on us or we remember things in a particularly colorful or different way and that’s the idea we’re playing with.”Elton John on stage in 1971. Photo by yabosid CC BY SA 2.0The film will include classic songs including “Crocodile Rock” and “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” with Egerton doing his own singing, not being dubbed by Elton John. The director praised Egerton’s “snot, blood and sweat and tears performance” as Elton John. Amid all of the suffering, the heart of the film is the friendship and evolving partnership between Elton and Bernie Taupin.Elton John at the Musikhalle Hamburg, in March 1972. Photo by Heinrich Klaffs CC BY-SA 2.0“Although Elton puts his relationship with Bernie front and center constantly, he is the unsung hero of all of those songs that we all know and love,” Egerton said. “So this movie, quite rightly, is about friendship and a writing partnership as much as it is about this icon we all know and love.”Read another story from us: Rocket Man! Fantastic Elton John Memorabilia to be AuctionedHe said Bell was “just such a perfect fit for someone intensely likable, dependable, consistent, always there, with creative verve and a glint in his eye. He was just a perfect person to play that role, and we had a great time bringing that relationship to life.”Nancy Bilyeau, a former staff editor at Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, and InStyle, has written a trilogy of historical thrillers for Touchstone Books. Her new book, The Blue, is a spy story set in the 18th-century porcelain world. For more information, go to www.nancybilyeau.com