All eyes were on this year’s crop of three-year-olds as they strutted their stuff in the San Felipe at Santa Anita. Many promising colts are working their way towards the Kentucky Derby and, while all went as planned in the race itself, the end result was not what anyone hoped for.
Five races preceded the San Felipe on Saturday. In the 1st, St. Reno went off as the favorite and dueled his way down the backstretch but was unable to hold off winner, Classic Ruler and jockey, Evin Roman. Classic Ruler narrowly got ahead of Hook ’em Kurt and Joseph Talamo, and 35 to 1 shot Zarqa Star, with Iggy Puglisi finishing third. St. Reno and Tyler Baze finished fourth.
The 2nd race saw favorite, Dr. Troutman and Martin Pedroza surging down the stretch towards the wire, winning clear. Thermopolis and Martin Garcia, at 17 to 1, got up to get the place, and Burnie’s on Board, with Santiago Gonzalez on board, rounded out the order of finish.
Argentine bred, Infobedad and Tyler Baze gamely held off favorite, Ain’t Misbehavin and Kent Desormeaux in the 3rd, an Allowance Optional Claiming for four-year-olds and up. Infobedad took the lead around the second turn and inched away to win well clear of rivals. Ain’t Misbehavin came on well to take the place. The pair paid an $8.40 exacta.
The clear and heavy favorite, Paradise Woods did not disappoint in the 4th. Flavien Prat had the Union Rags filly four wide in the stretch, and they took the lead at the eighth pole and won well clear of the pack. 11 to 1 shot, True Testament and Javier Castellano were second best. Faypien and Martin Garcia got the show.
In the San Felipe, 5th on the card, the crowd saw the true talent of Bob Baffert’s Mastery, undefeated in three starts. Mastery set the pace and inched away in the stretch then drew away to win by 6 and 3/4 lengths. Mike Smith had a long hold on the Candy Ride colt but knew something was wrong a few strides after the wire. Smith pulled up the colt just before the far turn, jumped off and unsaddled him. Baffert wasn’t aware something was wrong until a fan made note. Mastery was favoring a leg and a condylar fracture was discovered in his left front. He will undergo surgery and will require a few months off, which will likely put him off the Derby trail. A decision will be made after recovery on whether or not the colt will return to racing.
Racing continued into the 6th, with many horses dusting favorite, Jeremy’s Legacy, who was left to finished a disappointing ninth. Gary Stevens, newly returned from hip replacement surgery, had winner, Shehastheritestuff four wide at the wire, but got her in front of Ceeme Run Wild and Javier Castellano. The pair paid a $51.30 exacta. With Mangita and Edwin Maldonado finishing third, the trifecta paid a nice $344.40.
Favorites went back and forth in the 7th, however winner, American Pastime left the gate as the 3 to 1 favorite and came home in front under jockey, Kent Desormeaux. 8 to 1 shot, Cascade Kid and Javier Castellano were clearly second best.
The 8th race was noted as being the free spot on the betting card, however since this is horse racing, things are not always what they
seem. Masochistic was the obvious favorite, having previously won this race, the Triple Bend Stakes (Grade I) in 2015. Masochistic took the lead early and set the pace to the eighth pole, however he and jockey, Mike Smith could not match the late charge of Denman’s Call, who took the lead under Tyler Baze and charged home, at odds of 17 to 1, for a thrilling finish.
Another thrilling finish occurred in the 9th, the Kilroe Mile (Grade I), wherein champion horse, Dortmund, now under the care of trainer, Art Sherman, tried the turf for the first time. It became clear though that Dortmund was not a fan of the turf, which jockey, Victor Espinoza also conveyed, and Dortmund faded to last. Bal a Bali hugged the rail under Javier Castellano and set his sights on What a View and Tyler Baze, getting up to edge What a View by a head at the wire. The 9 to 1 Bal a Bali and 7 to 1 What a View paid a $56.50 exacta. Adding in show finisher, Bolo, at 3 to 1, a trifecta ticket paid $202.70. Espinoza did state that Dortmund has a big race in him and hopes his trainer will put the Big Brown five-year-old back on the dirt for his next start.
It was once again hard to pick a favorite in the 10th, the feature race on the card, the famed Santa Anita Handicap (Grade I). In the end, it came down to Shaman Ghost, the odds on favorite at the start, and Midnight Storm, the second favorite, who battled to the wire together. Shaman Ghost came out ahead and gave jockey, Javier Castellano back-to-back Grade I ones. Midnight Storm and Rafael Bejarano kept the place, and Follow Me Crev, with Kent Desormeaux aboard, got up for the show.
The 11th race, the China Doll Stakes (listed) had an obvious favorite in Sircat Sally, who made a move on the second turn under veteran jockey, Mike Smith then led clear of the pack to win. Sircat Sally is now three for three lifetime starts. Beau Recall and Joseph Talamo took the place, and Tyler Baze and Miss Sugars got up to show, however Miss Sugars was vanned off after the finish, though was noted as being okay.
Disappointing definitely to see such a talented colt like Mastery most likely off the Derby trail, but promising colt, McCracken, who is currently unbeaten, got back on the work tab this week after recovering from an ankle strain. He currently has 20 points on the leaderboard for the Derby. On the east coast, Tapwrit exploded onto the scene by winning the Tampa Bay Derby and earning 54 points on the road the Derby. Classic Empire, who won the Breeders’ Cup Sentient Jet Juvenile back in November, is also working his way back from injury and currently has 32 points towards the Derby. Still on top with 64 points is Gunnevera, winner of the Fountain of Youth. Santa Anita’s own Gormley, who was a well beaten fourth in the San Felipe, currently has 25 points.