Santa Anita

2014 Kentucky Derby: Contender Watch List

In this edition of the ongoing series, Trending vs. Descending we take another look at the 2014 Kentucky Derby contenders and analyze their chances of winning the Kentucky Derby or missing the field all together.

As the prep season heats up there are a whole slew of horses trending in the right direction and, that’s the best place to start

Click Here to Continue Reading at The Kentucky Derby Post – Horse Racing Nation


The Morning Line: San Felipe Stakes

Two Trainers have Two Options Going

Creative Cause

And so we’ve arrived at the San Felipe Stakes, the final prep before the coveted Santa Anita Derby. The lineup is stacked full of possibilities and big names but headlining the show is a pair of trainers that will each be featuring their own pair of contenders. With the anticipation comes a variety of questions and most importantly expectations. In a weekend slated to feature three graded Kentucky Derby Preps from Florida to California we begin where the liveliest group of derby hopefuls are racing.

The G2 $300,000 San Felipe Stakes carries many different outcomes to dissect but let’s first take a look at the horse that is ranked the highest on our Derby Contender Rankings – Creative Cause by Giant’s Causeway and Dream of Summer. An important factor about this colt and this prep is that a very familiar face will be joining him in the starting gate, his stable mate Empire Way. Sometimes are more ideal than others but the timing of progression between the two seems to have prevented trainer Mike Harrington from going any other direction on the derby trail.  (more…)

Drill Rebounds in the San Vicente

Derby Contention Still Up in the Air

Rebounding by the slimmest of margins, only a nose, Drill earned a much-needed win after finishing out of the money in four consecutive races. Even though his narrow defeat over American Act came in the San Vicente, a Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby Prep, the decision that Drill will move on to either of these races is not one that trainer Bob Baffert is going to rush into. For the time being Drill is still a one turn horse that will need to prove to his connections over the coming weeks that he is ready to go long. (more…)

The Morning Line: San Vicente Stakes

Creative Cause Returns for his 3-yr-old Debut 

Creative Cause draws away from Drill in the Norfolk

The San Vicente Stakes has long been a staple race along the derby trail and a very credible prep for the Santa Anita Derby. It has been known to include fields of many legitimate contenders as well as potential Kentucky Derby winners. The race brings a mixed bag of coverage that spreads the buzz between multiple entries but in the 2012 addition however Creative Cause owns the pre-race coverage. The main reason is because this race will likely be the kick-start to a run in the 138th Kentucky Derby.

So let’s begin with looking at why Creative Cause is so deserving of the main stage.

Creative Cause (KY): Owner Heinz Steinmann | Trainer M. Harrington – Jockey J. Rosario; Foaled 4/6/2009 by Giant’s Causeway and Dream of Summer by Siberian Summer; 5 Lifetime Starts: 3-1-1  (more…)

The Morning Line: Robert B. Lewis Stakes

Rematch: Liaison vs. Rousing Sermon

Round 2: Liaison over Rousing Sermon in CashCall

Hold on a minute Super Bowl fans Patriots vs. Giants is not the only contest with a score to settle this weekend. Welcome to the Robert B. Lewis stakes where another much-anticipated rematch is awaiting. Dig in race fans we could be in for a duel. On paper the most accomplished of the 8 horses is Liaison, trained by Bob Baffert and winner of back to back stakes races including the G1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park. While wins give him the spotlight, Rousing Sermon who finished 2nd in both is rear and ready to go.

Let’s begin by backtracking to Round 1, the Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood Park. Both horses entered coming off of a win at Santa Anita but Rousing Sermon had added experience and a more significant win under his belt.  The previous race is when he scored his 2nd career win in the California Cup Juvenile, his first career race through two turns. Meanwhile Liaison entered off a MSW win in his 2nd career start at 7 Furlongs.

The two horses were locked in for the CashCall Prep and were ready to make their move when it was time to hit the stretch. At the end of the day only one horse that turned 3 wide at the top of the lane would enter the winners circle. As for Rousing Sermon, he would have to wait for the CashCall Futurity.  (more…)

The Morning Line: Sham Stakes

Secret Circle, Sham Stakes 4-5 Favorite

Santa Anita kicks off the 2012 Kentucky Derby preps with the Grade 3 Sham Stakes this afternoon.  It is the third race in today’s 9 race card with the post time listed at 1:32 local time.  After winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint as the 2-5 favorite, Secret Circle returns to Santa Anita where he won the Jack Goodman stakes last October.  Although this will be his first career race at a distance of 1 mile, Secret Circle is still the 4-5 favorite on the Morning Line.

Standing in his way is a field of 5 other horses.  Here is the line-up for the 2012 Sham Stakes.   (more…)

San Felipe Recap: Like Father, Like Son

Premier Pegasus Charges Home

Going two turns and leaving the blinkers in the barn for the first time in his career, Premier Pegasus drove himself down the stretch and into the Triple Crown picture with a remarkable 7 ¾-length victory in the San Felipe Stakes.  On March 19, 2000 it was Fusaichi Pegasus that took the San Felipe Stakes before moving on to the capture the Wood Memorial followed by the 126th Kentucky Derby.  As a three yr old, Fusaichi Pegasus was a big horse known for finishing races in the stretch by taking the lead and never letting it slip away.  Premier Pegasus certainly listened to his Dad, romping home to score convincingly while adding $150,000 in graded stakes earnings. 

The favorite Jaycito opened his three yr old campaign by breaking last from the gate and well behind before steadily gaining ground, making a five wide turn for home and finishing  2nd.  It will be interesting to see how much he progresses before the Santa Anita Derby as we expect that race to be the true judgement on his chances of enjoying the blanket of roses at Churchill Downs.  Losing for the first time but having enough to take 3rd was California Bred Bench Points with veteran David Flores in the irons. 

#6 Premier Pegasus $16.60 $7.20 $5.00                                                                                         #9 Jaycito $4.60 $3.60                                                                                                                    #7 Bench Points $5.40                                                                                                                    

$1 Exacta (6-9): $24.30, $1 Trifecta (6-9-7): $201.60

Going into the race on Saturday we were aware of the speed that was trying to represent themselves as distance capable but I definitely didn’t expect the suicidal pace that ensued.  Right from the break unproven contenders Runflatout and Albergatti along with class tested Comma to the Top moved quickly to the front.  The three remained bunched through the first turn and throughout the back stretch firing fractions of 21.75 for the quarter and 44.58 for the half.  After a split of 1:08.98 at the 6 furlong mark Corey Nakatani made his move aboard Comma to the Top.  As he tried to open up and move away from the field, Premier Pegasus was just getting started.  Striding beautifully out of the final turn, he took control and didn’t ease.  Compliments to Jockey Alonso Quinonez and Trainer Myung Kwon Cho, who also bred and currently owns the dark bay colt.  In the San Vicente Stakes they had Pre Peg stalking too close to the lighting fast pace set by the winner, The Factor, which ultimately left him tiring in the stretch.  However, with this field they obviously sensed similar fractions coming and benefited a great deal by sitting further off the pace before getting to work at the top of the lane.

As the West Coast’s final stepping stone to the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 9th, Saturday’s results in the San Felipe will make the Final Stage of California Preps worth all the Hollywood Hype it’s going to get.  Congratulations to Premier Pegasus who looks to continue to follow dad’s lead and inch closer to a Kentucky Derby dream come true.  Good Luck to you, and your connections.  We hope that all horses returned to their respective barns in good health and that we will also see you down the road.

Written by: Little Brink

The Morning Line: San Felipe Stakes

Jaycito Retuns For His 3 yr Old Debut

Back to Cali.  Despite the debut for Uncle Mo at Gulfstream and the Tampa Bay Derby, Santa Anita may be the best place to be on Saturday for an exciting day of racing.  Things will begin to heat up in the sixth with the Grade I Santa Margarita Invitational for 4 year olds and up.  Though the field is deep and stakes are high let’s turn our attention to the Kentucky Derby Trail and the San Felipe Stakes. 

The San Felipe serves as the last California prep before we reach the Hollywood of racing, the Santa Anita Derby on April 9th.  The last KYD winner to emerge from the San Felipe was Giacomo in 2005 and the last two winners, Sidney’s Candy & Pioneerofthenile, went on to score in the SA Derby.  It’s likely to expect today’s winner to be a serious contender come derby day now that the Santa Anita main track surface has switched back to dirt.  The odds are sure to move quite a bit off the morning line because this ten horse field is deep and boiling with potential from all sorts of angles. 

San Felipe | GII $250,000 Purse | 1 1/16 Miles | 3 yr olds | Race 8, Post Time 4:07  PT       Horse, Jockey, Trainer, Odds

  1. Albergatti                      G. Gomez          S. Assmussen                       6-1
  2. Runflatout                     J. Rosario          J. Sadler                               4-1
  3. Surrey Star (IRE)        J. Talamo          J. Cassidy                            15-1
  4. Awesome Patriot          R. Bejarano       B. Baffert                             12-1
  5. Comma to the Top       C. Nakatani       P. Miller                               4-1
  6. Premier Pegasus          A. Quinonez      M. Cho                                  4-1
  7. Bench Points                 D. Flores           T. Yakteen                            8-1
  8. Jakesam                        P. Valenzuela    J. Hollendorfer                    20-1
  9. Jaycito                           M. Garcia          B. Baffert                              7-2
  10. Quail Hill                       M. Pedroza        D. Hoffmans                        20-1

Where to begin, let’s start with Bob Baffert and his two sophomore starters. Jaycito racing under Baffert and new rider Martin Garcia for the first time (switched barns after BC Juvenile) looks to pick back up where he left off in California as a 2 yr old. Prior to the Breeders Cup Juvenile at Churchill, finishing 7th, he performed well on the California circuit placing 2nd in the Del Mar Futurity before winning the Norfolk.  The other horse is Awesome Patriot who’s been gaining a lot of chatter lately as an early long shot derby threat.  What to make of these two? With Baffert I won’t be surprised to see either take the prize but I’m not ready to bet on it.  Jaycito has promise but I expect him to show more in the SA Derby.  As for Awesome Patriot, I will jump in on the chatter after I see him win or hit the board on Saturday.

This a 1 1/16 Mile race which in racing talk means Two Turns.  A lot of questions will be answered on Saturday because we have ourselves a few sprinters looking to show distance.  Premier Pegasus, Runflatout, Albergatti, and Bench Points all enter without ever racing more than 7 furlongs.  Bench Points is coming in hot at 4-0 lifetime and 1-0 in 2011.  Premier Pegasus with a pedigree from 2000 KYD winner Fusaichi Pegasus looks to keep moving forward after a 3rd place finish in the San Vicente.  As for the latter, they are lacking experience.  Both never ran as two years olds, facing only MSW competition thus far on their 2011 campaign.  I see potential down the line but on Saturday I can’t move on betting speed.

As for the winner I’m going back to Comma to the Top and Corey Nakatani.  I know there is the elusive dirt question but I’m putting his class and experience in front.  After a 5 race win streak was ended at the El Camino Real Derby earlier this year I’m betting a rebound win.  I also expect to see a nice trifecta today so I’ll be throwing my hat in the ring. 

Winner: Comma to the Top.  Trifecta: 1-5-9

Good luck to all of the owners, trainers, jockeys and other connections in California.  We hope that all of the horses finish strong and return to their barns in good health.

Written By: Little Brink 

San Vicente Race Recap: Catch Me If You Can

Fast, Fast, Fast

It’s as if that is exactly what The Factor, jockey Martin Garcia, and Trainer Bob Baffert offered to anyone that dare.  Three horses, Indian Winter, Metropolitan Man, and  Oakcrest Drive scratched before post time and the rest of field was left chasing.  Sway Away made a valiant and impressive effort  improving from last to 2nd but it just wasn’t fast enough. 

Coming off a six furlong track record performance on Dec 26th the overwhelming favorite returned to form on Sunday taking home the San Vicente (replay) in his stakes debut.  With the track condition listed as Wet-Fast, he didn’t even blink blistering through the 7 furlong feat in 1:20.34.    Bob Baffert knows his way around Santa Anita and it didn’t take long for him to identify what was trending on Sunday.  Front runners were holding ground all day so after breaking 2nd behind City Cool, Martin Garcia quickly moved him to the lead and never looked back.   As if an opening quarter of 22.20 wasn’t fast enough he turned the next quarter in 21.21 and clipped through the 6 furlong mark at 1:07.31.  Blistering fast folks, just raw speed.

Congratulations are in order for Bob Baffert as this win makes it his record sixth San Vicente Stakes victory.  So Bob, congrats on a dazzling performance but I got to ask you: What’s next for The Factor……can he race at this level at a distance of a 1 1/4 Mile?  After these last two wins we’re about ready to declare him the fastest sprinting 3 yr old in the land so it will be interesting to see just how far he can go.  It’s likely this talented colt will begin training for two turns and will compete in race of over a mile his next time out.  However, it’s too early for Baffert or Owner George Bolton and Fog City Stables to talk about the next steps.  So for the time being, The Factor remains a high-ranking derby contender on our list and we will await anxiously for his next race. 

I stuck to my wagering notes in The Morning Line: San Vicente and came away satisfied.  Even Steven, as my across the board wager on Sway Away and no exotics left me cashing just under my wager total.   With The Factor’s odds as short as they were, I opted for higher amounts on place and show in case it would be too tough to take down the favorite.  Great ride Garrett, I’ll keep my eye on Sway Away as I see derby contender potential. 

  • 7 – The Factor              $3.80  $2.80  $240
  • 3 – Sway Away             $3.60, $2.80
  • 8 – Premeir Pegasus    $3.60

Congratulations to The Factor for a beautiful display of powerful thoroughbred racing, I’m excited to see you compete on the trail to the derby.  We hope that all horses returned to their respective barns in good health and that we will also see you down the road. 

  • Written By: Little Brink                                                                                              

The Morning Line: San Vicente Stakes

Buckle your seat belts, the San Vicente Stakes is going to be moving fast.  While the race won’t have all the hype, glitter and glam of another disappointing Fast & Furious film, this California sprint is sure to please the critics.  At a distance of only 7 Furlongs, things will get interesting with this field as they come out of the only turn and head for home.  Like all sprints, it comes down to who gets a clean break, establishes position, and hits the stretch ready to change gears and roll.

While the race is a shorter distance than almost all Derby Preps, history shows that the winner can excel in longer races.  Silver Charm took home the San Vicente in 97 before moving on to Churchill Downs to show just how good he was.  Overall, there have been 11 San Vicente winners who came back to claim the Santa Anita Derby so we will definitely keep close tabs on Sunday’s winner.

The field is set and the odds on favorite is The Factor.  Trained by Bob Baffert, The Factor made jaws drop at SA in Dec when we he broke his maiden while setting a 6 furlong track record in 1:06.98.  For a 2 yr old to post an unbelievably fast time while racing against good company is just down right commendable.  The young colt is reportedly ready for his first race of 2011 after rest & a full recovery from a minor foot bruise in January.  Couple these factors with a Jockey change (Bob’s top choice rider, Martin Garcia up) and you can see the anticipation building.  Will he return to record form or has the competition closed the gap?

The field has got the potential to upset the California favorite again this weekend so let’s look at the upset bid leaders.  Expect pressure from San Pedro winner Indian Winter and runner up City Cool.  Both look rested and ready to return to form.  Premeir Pegasus, the son of 2000 KYD winner Fusaichi Pegasus, is hot coming in at 3-0 but with no wins on dirt.  Finally, I expect some noise from Sway Away with Garrett Gomez up.

Going out on a limb, I’ll play Sway Away across the board for a good price if The Factor finishes behind him.  In this deep field I’m undecided on exotic wagers.  So, barring any last minute decisions, which happen, I’ll likely be staying out on exacta / trifecta combos.  Last minute decisions could include The Factor, Indian Winter, Sway Away, and Sinai.

San Vicente | GII $150,000 Purse | 7 furlongs | 3 yr olds | Race 8, Post Time 4:07  PT 

  1. Surrey Star (IRE)            M Smith           J Cassidy               8-1
  2. Metropolitan Man            P Valenzuela   V Cerin                  12-1
  3. Sway Away                        G Gomez          J Bonde                4-1
  4. Sinai                                    R Bejarano      B Baffert              8-1
  5. Indian Winter                    M Pedroza      J Hollendorfer     9-2
  6. City Cool                             J Talamo         S Asmussen         8-1
  7. The Factor                         M Garcia         B Baffert               8-5
  8. Premeir Pegasus               A Quinonez     M Cho                   8-1
  9. Oakcrest Drive                  V Espinoza      J Cassidy              15-1

Good luck to all of the owners, trainers, jockeys and other connections in California.  We hope that all of the horses finish strong and return to their barns in good health.

Written By: Little Brink