ARCADIA, Calif. (March 19, 2014)–Trainer John Sadler’s Vagabond Shoes, a handy winner of the Grade II San Marcos Stakes Feb. 8, heads a field of five older horses in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Luis Rey Stakes going 1 ½ miles on turf at Santa Anita.
Off as the 5-2 favorite in the San Marcos going 1 ¼ miles on turf, Irish-bred Vagabond Shoes, a 7-year-old gelding by Beat Hollow, rallied from off the pace to win the San Marcos going away by 1 ¼ lengths, proving best over 10 rivals.
Owned by Hronis Racing, LLC, Vagabond Shoes had been idle since running a close fifth, beaten 2 ¼ lengths, in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. With earnings of $665,497, Vagabond Shoes will be seeking his ninth win in his 30th career start.
Third, beaten 1 ½ lengths by Vagabond Shoes in the San Marcos, Neil Drysdale’s Lucayan rallied from last when ridden for the first time by Mike Smith and will hope for a lively pace in the San Luis Rey. A come-from-behind winner of the Grade II, 1 ½ miles Hollywood Turf Cup two starts back on Dec. 14, French-bred Lucayan has solid credentials, evidenced by his overall mark of 16-4-4-3.
A Group I winner in France, Lucayan, a 5-year-old horse, is owned by Pandora Stud and has earnings of $638,858.
Drysdale will also be represented by Fire With Fire, who comes off a game win as the 6-5 favorite in the $75,000, one mile turf Cotton Fitzsimmons Handicap at Turf Paradise Jan. 18. Two starts back, the 6-year-old Distorted Humor gelding pressed the pace and faded to finish fifth, beaten four lengths, in the Grade II, 1 1/8 miles turf San Gabriel Stakes Jan. 4.
Owned by David Heerensperger, Fire With Fire has earnings of $395,354 from an overall mark of 29-5-7-5.
A troubled eighth, beaten 3 ¼ lengths, Temeraine rates a big upset chance for trainer Tom Proctor. Next to last early in the San Marcos, Temeraine hugged the rail around the far turn and was full of run under Gary Stevens inside the eighth pole, but was forced to steady sharply in close quarters a sixteenth out. With clear sailing, it appeared the 5-year-old gelding by Arch could’ve finished on terms with Vagabond Shoes.
Up-close two stars back as the 7-5 favorite in the Hollywood Turf Cup Dec. 14, Temeraine sat just off modest fractions and was put into a protracted drive three furlongs out, made the lead inside the furlong marker, but couldn’t hold off the late charge of Lucayan, finishing second, beaten a half length.
Owned by Niall Racing, Temeraine has a win and a second from three tries at 1 ½ miles on turf and is 19-5-2-2 overall with earnings of $505,879.
Lightly raced Niagara Falls will make his third added-money appearance in the San Luis Rey in what will be his 10th overall start. A 5-year-old horse by Giant’s Causeway, Niagara Falls was an even fourth, beaten 3 ½ lengths, two starts back in the Grade II, 1 ¼ miles turf Charles Whittingham Handicap on June 8. He was away slowly in his comeback race, a 1 1/8 miles turf allowance, on March 6 and finished seventh at 11-1.
Trained by Patrick Biancone, Niagara Falls is owned by Mrs. Paul Shanahan. A 1 ½ miles turf allowance winner three starts back on May 24, he has two wins from nine starts.
The complete field for the San Luis Rey Stakes, to be run as the fourth race on a nine-race program Saturday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Vagabond Shoes, Victor Espinoza, 123; Niagara Falls, Rafael Bejarano, 118; Lucayan, Mike Smith, 123; Fire With Fire, Tyler Baze, 118, and Temeraine, Gary Stevens, 118.
First post time on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates will open at 10:30 a.m.