RUN FOR THE FIRST TIME ON SANTA ANITA’S OPENING DAY, ICONIC STAKES TO SERVE AS PREP FOR $16 MILLION PEGASUS INVITATIONAL AT GULFSTREAM PARK ON JAN. 27
ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 21, 2017)–In what will be its 80th renewal, the Grade II, $300,000 San Antonio Stakes will be run for the first time on opening day at Santa Anita, this Tuesday, Dec. 26 and as such, will serve as an important prep to the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 27.
The race, to be contested at a mile and a sixteenth, has traditionally served as a steppingstone to the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap and was taken earlier this year on Feb. 4 by Hoppertunity, who seeks his third consecutive San Antonio win on Tuesday.
Trained by Bob Baffert, who will have a potent one-two punch with probable favorite Collected, Hoppertunity is one of several eying a potential start at Gulfstream on Jan. 27.
The primary San Antonio contenders are as follows:
Owner: Speedway Stable, LLC Trainer: Bob Baffert
A three-time “slayer” of his highly publicized former stablemate, Arrogate, he rode a four game winning streak (consisting of victories in the Grade I Pacific Classic, the Grade III Precisionist Stakes, the Grade II Californian and the Santana Mile) into the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 4, and finished second, beaten 2 ¼ lengths, by likely Horse of the Year Gun Runner. With four stakes wins from five stakes engagements this year, this Kentucky-bred colt by City Zip will be ridden for the first time by Mike Smith, as his regular rider, Martin Garcia, has relocated to New York. By any accounting, he’s the horse to beat as Baffert seeks his sixth win in the last nine runnings of the San Antonio.
Owner: Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman Trainer: Bob Baffert
Most recently third, beaten 1 ½ lengths in the Grade I, 1 1/8 miles Clark Handicap on Nov. 24, this 6-year-old full horse by Any Given Saturday has been a joy to behold through four racing seasons with Baffert. A solid 14-4-5-2 at Santa Anita, “Hop” as he’s known at the Baffert barn, seeks his eighth win from 29 overall starts as he tries to pad an enviable bankroll of $4,329,025. Ridden by Florent Geroux in the Clark, he’ll be reunited with Flavien Prat, who had ridden him in his previous three starts, including his Feb. 4 win in the San Antonio.
Owner: D P Racing Trainer: James Cassidy
Thought to be better suited on turf earlier this year, Prime Attraction ran lights-out on dirt in winning the Grade III, 1 1/16 miles Native Diver Stakes by 2 ½ lengths on Nov. 25. A close second early, Prime Attraction rallied to win with authority under Victor Espinoza, who rides him back on Tuesday. With the $16 million Pegasus looming on the horizon Jan. 27, Prime Attraction, a 4-year-old Unbridled’s Song colt, will hope to prove his Native Diver win at 7-1 was much more than an equine mirage.
Top of the Game:
Owner: Holly and David Wilson Trainer: Vladimir Cerin
A solid fit in the department of “What have you done for me lately?” Top of the Game will try to rebound off a disappointing fourth place finish behind Prime Attraction in the Nov. 25 Native Diver. A winner of three consecutive races and a devastating 4 ¼ length winner over Hoppertunity two starts back in the one mile Comma to the Top Stakes here on Oct. 28, Top of the Game was off at 2-1 in the Native Diver. Unbeaten in four starts at The Great Race Place, this 4-year-old gelded son of Desert Party need only run back to his race in the Comma to the Top to be a major force on Tuesday.
THE GRADE II SAN ANTONIO STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 3 of 9 Approximate post time 1 p.m. PT
1. Hoppertunity–Flavien Prat–122
2. Top of the Game–Kent Desormeaux–120
3. Giant Expectations–Gary Stevens–120
4. Prime Attraction–Victor Espinoza–122
5. Accelerate–Javier Castellano–124
6. Collected–Mike Smith–124
Special early first post time on Tuesday is at 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m. For more information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.