ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 3, 2016) – Bob Baffert’s trio of El Kabeir, Hoppertunity and Cat Burglar will all hope to cash in on the $500,000 purse in Saturday’s 79th running of the Grade II San Antonio Stakes at 1 1/8 miles contested on the main track.
Formerly trained by New York based John Terranova, El Kabeir has been in Baffert’s shedrow here in Southern California since early December and will have his 4-year-old debut and a return to longer distances this Saturday. A winner of the Grade III, one mile Jerome at Aqueduct in January of his 3-year-old year and also a winner of the Grade III, mile and a sixteenth Gotham in March, El Kabeir most recently ran fourth to the 2015 Eclipse Champion Sprinter, Runhappy in the seven furlong, Grade I Malibu Dec. 26 at Santa Anita.
With two bullet works serving as his most recent over the Santa Anita main track, El Kabeir would appear to like his new base of operations. Owned by the Triple Crown winning connections of Zayat Stables and by the late sire Scat Daddy, El Kabeir will gain the services of Gary Stevens for the first time in the San Antonio. El Kabeir is 12-5-2-2- overall with $852,892 in earnings.
Hoppertunity, a 5-year-old by Any Given Saturday and a probable to travel to Dubai to run against California Chrome in the March 26th World Cup, hopes to win Saturday’s San Antonio first. A third to the late Shared Belief and California Chrome in this race last year, Hoppertunity won the Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs and Grade II San Pasqual at Santa Anita just prior to his San Antonio defeat in 2015.
Out of 17 lifetime starts, his last 11 have all been consecutively run in Grade I or Grade II company. The bay gelding has only run out of the money once in nine starts over the Santa Anita main track and will gain Flavien Prat in the saddle Saturday. Owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman, he is 17-4-6-3 overall with $1,572,675 in earnings.
Cat Burglar returns to his preferred track in the San Antonio as he attempts to win his first added money event. The often overlooked “other Baffert” in many of his 14 lifetime starts, has never run worse than second in six tries at The Great Race Place and most recently comes off a win in a mile allowance on Jan. 8 against San Antonio contender, Cyrus Alexander.
The 6-year-old horse by the late Unbridled’s Song is owned by Michael Lund Petersen and will retain the services of Rafael Bejarano who was aboard for his most recent win. He is 14-4-4-3 overall with $ $334,400 in earnings.
Also prominent, trainer Doug O’Neill will send out recently acquired Donworth for owner Paul Reddam’s Reddam Racing, LLC for the first time since purchasing the 4-year-old colt by Tiznow during Keeneland’s November breeding stock sale on Nov. 10. A winner of Delaware Park’s Stanton Stakes by 11 lengths on June 20 in his last out, brought $550,000 to top the sale when Dennis O’Neill, Doug’s brother and stable consultant bid by phone for the colt previously trained by Graham Motion.
The complete field for the Grade II San Antonio, to be run as the 7th race on a nine race program Saturday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Cat Burglar, Rafael Bejarano, 119; Donworth, Mario Gutierrez, 119; Cyrus Alexander, Martin Garcia, 119; Hard Aces, Joe Talamo, 121; Hoppertunity, Flavien Prat, 124; Blingo, Alex Solis, 119; Imperative, Mike Smith, 119 and El Kabeir, Gary Stevens, 119.
First post time on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.