Saturday, March 10, 2012

Drought Report 2012 - San Felipe Stakes

The San Felipe Stakes is the last local prep for the Santa Anita Derby. This race will most likely provide several runners for next month's race. This race has produced several Grade 1 winners in its past. It has been 11 years since it produced back-to-back Kentucky Derby winners in Point Given and Fusaichi Pegasus. This year's field is an even matched group of ten runners. To see full analysis of the race, go on over to the Thorofan's Handicapper's Corner, where I wrote about the race for them. Short version: Midnight Transfer earns the same trip I'll Have Another had in the Lewis, wins going away, with the Harrington-trained duo & Rousing Sermon collecting the minor awards.

In other news:
  • Out of Bounds missed this race and is off the trail after suffering an injury in his last work before the race. He had successful surgery and will be back for a 2013 campaign.
  • Fed Biz also missed this race because of a minor issue. He is already back on track galloping, and will be pointed to either the Santa Anita Derby.
  • Delta Jackpot winner Sabercat will make his first start of the year in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, where he could be joined by several others from out here, including at least one Baffert trainee (either Secret Circle or Castaway).
  • Last year's San Felipe winner Premier Pegasus is still on the mend after a setback from his previous injury, We wish him a speedy recovery.
Good luck this weekend folks.


  1. In Creative Cause, California has a totally legit elite Derby contender and a viable candidate to break the drought. Creative Cause has foundation, class, pedigree, a versatile running style, and in the San Felipe displayed a brilliance we previously hadn't seen from him in his stakes starts.

    What I like about Creative Cause is that he has the tactical speed to adapt to any pace scenario, so when the pace came up moderate in the San Felipe, Rosario was able to keep him in contact with the frontrunners.

    Then, on the far turn, Creative Cause did something he hadn't done in his earlier stakes attemtps, and that is flash some real acceleration when making a sweeping 5-wide move up to Bodemeister entering the stretch. Creative Cause was able to make up almost 2 lengths through a 4th quarter run in 24.27, meaning he ran a personal quarter in about 24 flat. He then finished the race with a final sixteenth in 6.20.

    Creative Cause did run erratically down the stretch, but in the final yards really straightened up and leveled off, putting Bodemeister away before galloping out about a quarter of mile beyond anyone else. That final sixteenth and the gallop out, along with his pedigree, leaves me confident he will, at the least, be just as effective at 10 furlongs, and maybe even better.

    Creative Cause has answered so many questions already, and from here on in it's just a matter of staying healthy and then peaking at the right time(and maybe continuing to get a little faster). What's great about him is that we already know he can ship, we know he can run well at Churchill, and we know he can run head and head with a field of nationally elite horses. Historically, he's up there with Lookin at Lucky, Brother Derek, Point Given, Fusaichi Pegasus, and Silver Charm among recent Derby prospects. He's the complete package.

    Creative Cause received a 102 Beyer for the San Felipe. Clearly Team Beyer believes the track has slowed since earlier in the meet. This was also reflected in the 100 Beyer given to Izzy Rules for her Las Flores, even though her time of 1:14 and 4 and was 1 and 2-5ths slower than Capital Account ran earning a 101 Beyer back in January. A slower track does help explain why Izzy Rules could only muster a final sixteenth of 7 and 2; her first 6 furlongs in 1:07 and 2 was so blazing for the track variant that it left her with little for late in the race(but she had exhausted those chasing her as well).

  2. Bodemeister did little wrong in defeat. Although the pace was moderate, he didn't have the lead this time and had to deal with multiple pace challengers. Ultimately, he was able to put away American Act and Groovin Solo. He wasn't able to spurt clear of the field through a quick 4th quarter only because Creative Cause and Midnight Transfer were also running fast internal quarters. Through the stretch, Bodemeister pulled away from everyone except Creative Cause, and he made that one work.

    For a 3rd career start, Bodemeister ran very well; clearly this is a horse with serious talent. But he still has much to prove, and must overcome inexperience and a serious lack of foundation. Even with his talent and pedigree, he faces a difficult task as far as the Kentucky Derby is concerned.

    Midnight Transfer ran a solid race to get 3rd, and deserves to move on to the SA Derby. However, his kick was dulled a little in this his first start around 2 turns, his pedigree suggests middle distances, and he doesn't have the build of a true classic horse.

    Liaison is probably the only other horse that deserves to move on down the trail. Given Baffert was experimenting with Liaison, taking blinkers off and changing him into a late runner, and given Baffert didn't tighten the screws in his preparation, and given Liaison experienced traffic trouble that forced him into last early in the San Felipe, the fact he made a smart move around the turn and finished 4th is encouraging. I expect a much improved effort next time out.