The first open allowance race for three year olds on the dirt at the Santa Anita meet ran on Friday. It was thought to be a match-up between the fast Baffert trainee Da Ruler and the swift Mandella filly Rumor. However, Rumor scratched out of the race when a filly-only version of this condition filled on Sunday. That plus another scratch left a compact field of 4 going 6 furlongs. Da Ruler was a heavy favorite, and pressed a hot pace set by the other two horses in the race. He took over at the top of the lane and looked strong. However, he was run down late by Bench Points (right) in a swift 1:08.22. This undefeated son of Benchmark ran his lifetime record to 4-for-4 by making his 2011 debut a winning one. He won both Cal-bred stakes at Del Mar, the I'm Smokin Stakes and the Graduation Stakes, last summer. This Tim Yakteen-trained gelding will have no problem as the distances increase, as his sire won going a 1m & 1/8, and his damsire Free House won the Santa Anita Derby, the Pacific Classic and the Santa Anita Handicap, the latter two at a 1m & 1/4. His likely next start is the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes March 12th, his first start at two turns.
Saturday brought two races that were thought to help crystallize the picture out here, yet caused more chaos instead. Here at Santa Anita, the Grade 2 Robert B Lewis Stakes going a mile and an eighth was thought to be nothing more than another notch in the belt for Tapizar, especially after Comma To The Top chose to run in the El Camino Real Derby instead (more on that in a minute). Unfortunately, things did not work out like that, as Tapizar was very rank in the early going, dragging jockey Garrett Gomez to the lead under swift fractions. He tugged and tugged so much that he had nothing left in the stretch, finishing a distant fifth out of seven runners. In a sustained stretch drive. Anthony's Cross (right) held off the multiple-graded stakes placed Riveting Reason for the win. This son of Indian Charlie avenged his loss to Tapizar in the Sham and won his first stake of his career in a slow (for this track) 1:48.63. His trainer Eoin Harty has not decided whether he will run in the Grade 2 San Felipe or wait until the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby for his next race, or maybe even ship out of town. This proved to be Tapizar's last race for a while, as he emerged from the race with a chip in his knee, and is sidelined indefinitely.
About an hour later and 400 miles up the 5 freeway, the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields was run. The heavy favorite was Comma To The Top, who chose this slightly "easier" spot instead of the Lewis. Jakesam set the pace, with Comma drafting behind. Turning for home, Comma attempted to take command, but flattened out and drifted out in the stretch. The winner was Silver Medallion, who this blog had touted as a horse to watch last week. This son of Badge of Silver completed the mile and an eighth in 1:50.45, grinding out a win after having to check early and swing well wide into the stretch. The Steve Asmussen trainee could head to any one of four spots for his next race, including halfway around the world in Dubai for the UAE Derby. This blog is very high on him and hopes he ships stays local and runs in the Santa Anita Derby instead. Comma To The Top came out of the race well, but his performance may been a harbinger for his future performances at this and longer distances.
News and Notes
- The Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes will be run this Sunday going 7 furlongs. Entries will be taking tomorrow, but probable for the race, making their 2011 debuts, is G3 Hollywood Prevue winner (and this blog's choice to end the drought) Premier Pegasus (right) and G2 Best Pal Stakes runner-up Sway Away. Other notable probables for the race are sparkling debut winner The Factor and San Pedro Stakes winner Indian Winter.
- On Friday (2/11), the Asmussen trained Astrology continued working towards a start with a slow 4 furlong work in 51.20, the 38th best out of 42 works at Santa Anita.
- Jaycito worked towards a start in the San Felipe Stakes on 3/12 with a 7 furlong work in 1:25.40 on Tuesday (2/15).
A changing of the guard took place last weekend, with a stable losing a strong hope, yet finding another. Favorites went down, prices reigned, and new challengers abound. What will this week hold? Will someone shine in the San Vicente and factor into the breaking the drought? We shall see.