The Factor (right) won the San Vicente by going fast early (but slow late). He blazed through early fractions of 22.20 and 43.41, and finished in a slow (for that track) 36.93 seconds the last 3 furlongs. He snatched the lead early away from City Cool, disposed of that rival, kicked clear, then held off Sway Away's late stab. It was a solid effort from a horse who had only worked twice (at Hollywood Park) since his record-setting win on opening day. (He had been galloping during the interim). His connections have decided to try a route of ground in his next race, but it will not be at Santa Anita. They will instead point him towards the Grade 3 $800k Sunland Derby on March 27th. While this blog does not think he will last the Derby distance, he would have been a major factor (no pun intended) in the San Felipe Stakes.
Sway Away (right) rallied from far back to finish second. He was further back than normal coming off the layoff, and that is what may have cost him the victory. This son of Afleet Alex made his first start since finishing second to J P's Gusto in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes last August at Del Mar. His pedigree suggests that he should not have an issue with any additional distance. His connections have not made a firm decision on what his next race will be, but they have narrowed it down to either the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes next weekend or ship out for the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park the following weekend. Both races are at a mile and one-sixteenth. Either race could be used as a stepping-stone for the Santa Anita Derby.
Premier Pegasus (right) stalked the pace but gave way a little late, staying on for third. He was making his first start since his win in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue last November. His effort was rather good for a horse who only manages to get in three works in preparation for the race off the three month layoff. This blog's pick to win the Kentucky Derby ran about as expected in the race, and it should set him up well for whatever his next race will be. One would assume that his next start would be in the San Felipe as well, but no word has been given if it will be. The San Felipe could be the deepest Derby prep so far, with Sway Away, Jaycito, PrePeg, Albergatti, Runflatout and Comma To The Top (plus whomever else enters) all run as expected. That race figures to be a great betting race as well as a guide to help sort the pretenders from the pretenders.
News and Notes
- Awesome Patriot (who could also run in the San Felipe) has continually worked since his allowance win opening week, with his latest spin being on 2/28, going 6 furlongs in 1:13.20 at Santa Anita. This Baffert trainee has been on the sidelines, waiting for the right stake, either here or out of town
- Albergatti, pointed to the San Felipe, worked a steady five furlongs on 2/28 at Santa Anita, going 5 furlongs with 59.80.
- Jaycito worked towards his 2011 debut with a sparkling 5 furlong work on 2/28 at Santa Anita, coming home in 58.60, the third best of the day.
- Comma To The Top looking to bounce back from his poor effort in the El Camino Real Derby in the San Felipe, worked 5f at Hollywood Park on 2/28, sizzling home in 58.8, the 2nd best work of 37.
- Runflatout, who ran the fastest debut win EVER (according to the Illman blog) in his maiden win on Sunshine Millions day in January, worked on 2/28 7f in 1:24.20 at Santa Anita. He will make his stakes debut in the San Felipe.
- El Camino Real Derby winner Silver Medallion worked on 2/28 an easy 5 furlongs in 1:01.40. His next start is still up in the air.
- The Steve Asmussen trainee Astrology will point to the Rebel instead of the San Felipe, paving the way for Albergatti to stay here. (He is also the trainer of Silver Medallion and Albergatti.)
So as the halfway point of the Santa Anita meet comes and goes, the picture still remains rather muddled on who will step up and be the one to attempt to end the drought. Will a filly step into the picture? Can those coming back return or surpass their previous form? We shall see. Good luck everybody.