Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Drought Report - San Felipe Stakes

As the final stakes prep for the Santa Anita Derby arrives this weekend, most of the big guns show up to continue their preparations as the first Saturday in May draws ever closer. One of the leaders of the division makes his seasonal debut out of a new barn, and some fast maiden winners step up to stakes level in the Grade 2 $250k San Felipe Stakes. We shall also recap the Santa Anita Oaks, and catch up on some of the workers who are not running this weekend, but still might be a part of the Santa Anita Derby in a month's time. Let's start with a brief recap of the SA Oaks.

The Santa Anita Oaks field of five was made up of three Grade 1 winners, a stakes winner and a well-fancied runner. May Day Rose set sensible fractions on the front end, with sitting in 2nd. Behind her was A Z Warrior. Kilograeme sat third, with Turbulent Descent (right) fourth and Zazu trailing the field, and it stayed that way through the first half of the race. As they turned for home, Kilograeme dropped back to last, with Turbulent Descent and Zazu closing in on the front pair. With a 1/16th to go, Turbulent Descent and Zazu had both passed A Z Warrior, with May Day Rose backing out of the picture. At the wire, Turbulent Descent held off Zazu by a neck, with 5 & 1/2 lengths back to A Z Warrior in third. This was the second Grade 1 win for TD, and would put her in great position for the Kentucky Oaks on May 6th, But her connections have decided that this race proves that this distance is her upper limit. She will be kept in one-turn races, with the Grade 1 Acorn being a possibility. Zazu will probably ship out of town for her next start, either the Fantasy S. at Oaklawn or the Ashland S. at Keeneland.

Now we move onto this Saturday's San Felipe Stakes. A field of 10 comes together for the race, with the likely favorite to be Jaycito. This son of Victory Gallop was last seen taking the scenic route in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last November behind Uncle Mo, bolting in the first turn before rallying for a distant 5th. Since that race, he has changed barns, now residing in the Bob Baffert barn. He has worked superbly towards the race, and this former grade 1 winner at the distance will have to earn this victory. The other grade 1 winner in the field (also at the distance) is Comma To The Top. This son of Bwana Charlie looks to bounce back from a dull 4th in the El Camino Real Derby last month. He's had two steady works since the race, and will go off at much higher odds than he has in last three starts. Premier Pegasus looks to build off his third-place effort in the San Vicente Stakes on President's Day weekend. He may have tipped his hand about his readiness with a swift 5 furlong bullet in 57.60 last Saturday. Bench Points (right) brings his undefeated record into the race as he stretches out for the first time. He ran a smashing race in his first race this year, winning in strong time. Runflatout ran what may have been the fastest 6 furlong debut win EVER (according to the Illman blog on in January and steps right into stakes company, as does Albergatti, who broke his maiden in only his second lifetime start. This will be a very tough race that will hopefully help clarify the jumbled picture.

News and Notes
  • El Camino Real Derby winner Silver Medallion worked at SA on 3/7 6 furlongs in a 1:12 flat, 3rd best of 14.
  • Robert E. Lewis winner Anthony's Cross worked over at Hollywood Park, going 5 furlongs in 1:01, earning the rare Breezing designation for the work.
  • The runner-up Riveting Reason worked 5 furlongs on 3/5 at SA, going 5 furlongs in 1:00.80.
  • Mr. Commons, who won an allowance race going a mile on 2/26, worked 4f in an easy 49.2 over at Hollywood Park
  • Sway Away worked 5f in 1:02.80 in preparation for the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park next weekend, but still could run in the Santa Anita Derby.
So the last stop on the prep train arrives in the continuing search for the Drought Breaker. Can someone separate themselves from the pack and take control of the search? We shall see...

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