The Saturday card at Hawthorne is average-tastic. (The Sunday card is better.) So we hit the road once again to an out-of-town prep race for the Kentucky Derby. The following piece, which will also be submitted for Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds, takes a look at the San Felipe Stakes. Good luck!
The Grade Two, $300K San Felipe Stakes on Saturday March 10 is Southern California’s final feeder race to the G1 Santa Anita Derby in early April. Although it’s been a dozen years since a San Felipe winner won the Kentucky Derby (Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000), the race has been a productive one. Recent Winners like Point Given, Medaglia d’ Oro, and Sidney’s Candy have gone to stakes success later in their careers. Past winners of fame include Bertrando, Sunday Silence, and Affirmed.
Let’s meet the field.
Santa Anita -- Race 9 -- 1 1/16 miles on dirt -- post time 4:38 PT
1. BLINGO, ML 8/1 (Artie Schiller -- Wassita, by Sure Blade). He was put on the shelf after being sixth, beaten less than three lengths in the Cash Call Futurity and after a win at first asking on Hollywood Park turf. He enters off five six furlong works over at Hollywood Park. The J. Sherrifs/M. Smith jockey trainer team of Zenyatta are behind this gelding. The closing style is an okay fit and there will be enough pace to deal with. However, this will be the first start on natural dirt and the pedigree leans a lot more to turf and synthetics. Could see him passing some tired runners and sneaking into the bottom half of the superfecta.
2. BODEMEISTER, ML 3/1 (Empire Maker -- Untouched Talent, by Storm Cat). When he won his maiden special weight race on February 11th by nine and one-quarter lengths going a solid mile in 1:34 2/5, the public oohed and aahed. With Bob Baffert at the training helm, you knew he’d be thrust into Graded Stakes company. Well, almost thirty days off the win he arrives in this G2. Bejerano takes the call. The works have been a bit slow for a trainer that often is quick with works. Moreover, he got a free lunch on the front end that day and that isn’t likely to happen again. I think he’s worth taking a stand against.
3. AMERICAN ACT, ML 8/1 (Quiet American -- Revolutionary Act, by Boston Harbor). I liked this Carava runner in the G2 San Vicente and he was the recipient of a bone-headed ride by Martin Pedroza. There, Pedroza throttled him back a little too much and got nailed on the line by Drill. He’s back here, going two turns for the first time. He’s in a tough spot: send early and risk dueling with BODEMEISTER or take back and hope he can rate, however he did demonstrate that minimally three back at Hollywood. Worse, he’s going two turns for the first time. Neither pace situation seems like a good proposition, but I’ll use him in the trifecta off the learning experience last out.
4. MIDNIGHT TRANSFER, ML 6/1 (Hard Spun -- French Stain, by French Deputy) Another runner going two turns for the first time. Winner of the listed San Pedro Stakes last time, he sat behind a fast pace and closed well. Solid trainer statistics across the board. He’s another that you have to wonder if he can handle two turns, but the pedigree and the trainer stats make this one a hard toss. Usable.
5. GROOVIN’ SOLO, ML 20/1 (Bob and John -- Squall Linda, by Summer Squall) Two starts back he got his diploma going two turns at Santa Anita. From there, he was thrown into the deep end in the G2 Lewis Stakes. He was third, placed seventh via disqualifcation for interference. He comes in off two five furlong bullet works at Santa Anita, and first call rider A. Quinonez has the assigment. He’s certainly proven better at three than at two, the works are encouraging, but he certainly flunked the graded stakes acid test last time. Maybe a better fit for an allowance race.
6. LIAISON, ML 6/1 (Indian Charlie -- Galloping Gal, by Victory Gallop). His effort in the Lewis Stakes five weeks ago was a dud, as he lost the rider. So he’ll be going second off the layoff, and has the services of Bob Baffert and his first call rider, Martin Garcia. Before the winter vacation, he won the listed Real Quiet and G1 Cash Call Futurity at Hollywood Park. Blinkers come off for today’s test. The pace up front should be quick enough to suit him, and this distance is in his pedigree range. Think he gets the winning trip.
7. CREATIVE CAUSE, ML 5/2 (Giant’s Causeway -- Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer). He made his first start off the winter layoff last time in the G2 San Vicente going seven furlongs. It was a distance too short and according to on-track reports he was not at top fitness. Perhaps he’ll be more fit today. On the other hand, he’s got enough earnings to make the Kentucky Derby right now so the connections don’t have to ratchet all the way for this test. While he’s capable on his best day, the connections want to the best in May and not the best in March. Underneath.
8. ROUSING SERMON, ML 8/1 (Lucky Pulpit -- Rousing Again, by Awesome Again) Second in both his winter two-year-old stakes to LIAISON at Hollywood, he made his first start off the shelf last time in the Lewis Stakes, finishing fourth but placed third. He had trouble in the Lewis, and he did have a good closing kick back at Hollywood. Worth noting that as a two year old he also won a statebred stakes, the Cal Cup Juvenile going two turns at Santa Anita. If the pace gets wicked on the front end he has a puncher’s chance. But I don’t think he improved from age two to age three and I won’t be using him.
9. TIZ POINT, ML 20/1 (Tiznow -- Windmill Point, by Storm Bird) Garrett Gomez returns to stakes company here after suffering a broken heel. He takes the call on a front-runner that will be on the front end with BODEMEISTER and possibly AWESOME ACT. Broke his maiden upstate at Golden Gate, then collected two checks in allowance company and went backwards three back in the Real Quiet. Worth noting he won an N1X allowance last out. I think he goes up front with BODEMEISTER, forces the pace, and goes backward through the stretch. Toss.
10. EMPIRE WAY, ML 6/1 (Empire Maker -- Delta Princess, by A. P. Indy) The second of two horses trained by Mike Harrington, CREATIVE CAUSE being the other one. He was second in the Lewis when closing off a moderate pace, but that was only his second money finish after winning at first asking last fall across town at Hollywood. Rider downgrade from Rosario to Blanc. He may have a sterling pedigree, but I think he got a more advantageous pace set up last time. Not the worst horse to use, but not the best either.
#6 LIAISON (6/1)
#3 AMERICAN ACT (8/1)
#7 CREATIVE CAUSE (5/2)
Longshot: The Cho/Quinonez trainer/jockey team behind last year’s San Felipe winner Premier Pegasus are represented with #5 GROOVIN SOLO (20/1). This is a team that has sent out quite a few long-priced horses when working together on the Southern California circuit. May be more focused with the blinkers off after getting disqualified in the Lewis. Most importantly, he’s shown his best form after turning three and when placed on the dirt. The pedigree is full of capable routers.