RACE IS TRADITIONAL PREP FOR GRADE I SANTA ANITA HANDICAP ON MARCH 10
ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 31, 2018)–With four graded stakes on the Saturday afternoon docket at Santa Anita, the Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes easily ranks as the most competitive, as a completely wide-open field of nine older horses have signed on to go a mile and one eighth.
With trainer John Sadler’s Accelerate narrowly rating top billing, Bob Baffert’s talented pair of Mubtaahij and Irish Freedom merit serious respect, as does Jim Cassidy’s speedy Prime Attraction and Vladimir Cerin’s Top of the Game, who returns to the main track and looms the biggest question mark in the race.
Owner: Hronis Racing, LLC Trainer: John Sadler
Second, beaten 3 ¼ lengths by front-running Giant Expectation in the Grade II San Antonio Stakes Dec. 26 at a mile and one sixteenth, this 5-year-old horse by Lookin At Lucky was a well beaten ninth two starts back in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, but ran the best two races of his career prior to that in running third in the Grade I Pacific Classic on Aug. 19 and in winning the Grade II San Diego Handicap by 8 ½ lengths four starts back on July 22. Ridden by Javier Castellano in the San Antonio, he’ll be reunited with Victor Espinoza on Saturday. Winless with three seconds and four thirds from eight starts locally, Accelerate is 15-4-4-5 overall with earnings of $787,480.
Owner: Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifia al Maktoum Trainer: Bob Baffert
An impressive 1 ½ length winner of his Southern California debut in the Grade I Awesome Again Stakes here Sept. 30, he was subsequently well beaten when overmatched in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 4 and rebounded to run a non-threatening third behind stablemate Irish Freedom as the 9-5 favorite in the Grade III Native Diver Stakes Nov. 25. A 6-year-old horse bred in Ireland, he comes into the San Pasqual as a fresh commodity and will hope to run back to his race in the Awesome Again. A winner of the UAE Derby in Dubai in March 2015, he has earnings of $4,601,332 from an overall mark of 20-5-4-2.
Owner: D P Racing Trainer: Jim Cassidy
A 2 ½ length winner while pressing the early pace two starts back in the Grade III Native Diver Stakes at a mile and one eighth on Nov. 25, he was then fifth and last here in the Grade II San Antonio Stakes Dec. 26 as longshot winner Giant Expectations was allowed to dictate terms on the front end. A 5-year-old full horse by Unbridled’s Song, look for Prime Attraction to be on or near the early lead on Saturday as he seeks his second graded stakes win. With an overall mark of 13-4-2-0, he has earnings of $241,545.
TOP OF THE GAME
Owner: Holly and David Wilson Trainer: Vladimir Cerin
A rousing 4 ¼ length winner of the one mile Comma to the Top Stakes three starts back here on Oct. 28, he disappointed when a well beaten fourth behind Prime Attraction in the Grade III Native Diver Nov. 25 at odds of 2-1. Tenth and last here in the Grade II San Gabriel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf Jan. 6, this 5-year-old Desert Party gelding was considered a serious candidate for the 2017 Santa Anita Handicap a year ago and he’ll try to run to those notices as gets back to dirt in the San Pasqual.
THE GRADE II SAN PASQUAL STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 8 of 9 Approximate post time 4 p.m. PT
- Pavel–Mario Gutierrez–122
- Mubtaahij–Drayden Van Dyke–124
- Accelerate–Victor Espinoza–122
- Win the Space–Rajiv Maragh–120
- The Lieutenant–Flavien Prat–120
- Ike Walker–Rafael Bejarano–120
- Irish Freedom–Mike Smith–120
- Prime Attraction–Tiago Pereira–122
- Top of the Game–Kent Desormeaux–120
First post time for nine-race program on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com.