ARCADIA, Calif. (March, 4 2015) – Graded stakes winners Conquest Two Step, Wild Dude and Chitu head a field of strong sprint contenders in Saturday’s Gr. II, $250,000 San Carlos Stakes at seven furlongs. Comebacking Kobe’s Back makes his first start since July in a new barn, gains a Hall of Fame rider and helps to round out a competitive field of nine older horses.
A winner of the Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes in his most recent outing on Jan. 31, Conquest Two Step ran second, by a nose, to top older horse Shared Belief in the Gr. I Malibu Stakes two starts back on Opening Day, Dec. 26 going seven furlongs; after being steadied at the five eighths pole.
The 4-year-old colt by Two Step Salsa trained by Mark Casse earned a career-high Beyer Speed figure of 105 in the Palos Verdes and will retain the services of regular rider Joe Talamo. Conquest Two Step will go seven furlongs for only the second time in his career Saturday and has only been out of the money once in 10 lifetime starts.
Conquest Two Step is owned by Conquest Stables, LLC. He is 10-3-5-1 overall with earnings of $309,408.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer will be well represented by Wild Dude, who will be making his second start off an almost nine month layoff. The consummate sprinter ran third in his last out to Conquest Two Step in the Gr. II Palos Verdes and will again have leading rider Rafael Bejarano aboard. Preceding the Palos Verdes, he ran second to Gr. I sprint champ Big Macher prior to his layoff in the Gr. II Potrero Grande in April, 2014.
The 5-year-old horse by Wildcat Heir is owned by Hollendorfer and Green Smith. He is 11-4-3-2- overall with $344,220 in earnings.
Jerry Hollendorfer also has entered Outside Nashville, who comes off an eighth place finish in the Gr. III seven furlong, General George Handicap at Laurel Feb. 16.
Chitu, a winner of the Gr. III Sunland Derby a year ago, ran ninth in the 2014 Kentucky Derby, but came back in October after a layoff to win the seven furlong Damascus Stakes at Santa Anita and was third in his most recent start, the Malibu, behind Shared Belief and Conquest Two Step. After dueling for the lead throughout most of the Malibu, Chitu fought back and continued “willingly to the end” losing by only three fourths of a length.
After being ridden by east coast-based Joel Rosario in his last two starts, Martin Garcia gains the mount on Chitu and the pair will break from the rail. Off since December, he will run seven furlongs for the third consecutive time Saturday.
Owned by Tanma Corporation and trained by Bob Baffert, he is 7-4-1-1 overall with earnings of $597,800.
Away since July 2014, Kobe’s Back will make his first start for new trainer Peter Eurton and will also gain the services of rider Gary Stevens.
A Kentucky Derby hopeful following an impressive 5 ¼ length win in the San Vicente in February, Kobe’s Back went on to run seventh in the Gr. II Rebel at Oaklawn in March for then trainer John Sadler. Kobe’s Back ran fifth in his most recent start, the Gr. I Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar in July, going six furlongs on synthetic Polytrack.
Since entering Peter Eurton’s barn in the winter, he seems to be growing and filling out as a 4-year-old. “I feel pretty good about him,” said Eurton. “I like everything I see and he seems like he should run his race.” New jock Gary Stevens has been working him in the mornings and Eurton has expressed that he likes what he is hearing from Stevens.
A colt by Flatter, he is owned by CRK Stable and is 9-2-1-1- overall with $276,250 in earnings.
Majestic City will shorten up after his last seven attempts at routing as he comes off a nine month layoff for trainer Ron Ellis and will try rider Tyler Baze for the first time. Most recently fourth in the Gr. II Californian Stakes May 31 going 1 1/8 miles, he ran fifth to Fed Biz in the Gr. II Pat O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar in August 2013, his last attempt at seven furlongs.
Owned by Jeff Bloom’s Bloom Racing Stable, LLC, Majestic City is 22-4-4-4- overall with $448.960 in earnings.
The complete field for the Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes, to be run as the 9th race on an 11-race card Saturday, in post position order with jockeys and weights: Chitu, Martin Garcia, 118; Outside Nashville, Kent Desormeaux, 118; Majestic City, Tyler Baze, 118; Conquest Two Step, Joseph Talamo, 123; Kobe’s Back, Gary Stevens, 118; El Nino Terrible, Fernando Perez, 118; Wild Dude, Rafael Bejarano, 118; Midnight Hawk, Victor Espinoza, 118; Blues Blaster, Juan Sanchez, 118.