ARCADIA, Calif. (March 5, 2014)–Versatile Shakin It Up, a winner of the Grade I, seven furlong Malibu Stakes and the Grade II, 1 1/6 miles Strub Stakes Jan. 18, and Sahara Sky, winner of last year’s San Carlos and of the Grade I Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park, head a competitive field of 10 sprinters in Saturday’s Grade II, $250,000 San Carlos Stakes at seven furlongs.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Shakin It Up validated his 17-1 Malibu score with an emphatic 2 ¼ length win in the Strub, his second start off a lengthy freshening and his seventh overall engagement. With Game On Dude set to defend his title in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap later in the day, Baffert has opted to shorten Shakin It Up back to a distance that has produced two wins, a second and a third from four tries.
A 4-year-old colt by Midnight Lute, Shaking It Up is owned by Dennis Cardoza and Mike Pegram and was bred in Kentucky by Pegram. Idle following a disappointing run in the Grade III Sunland Derby from March 24 to the Dec. 26 Malibu, Shakin It Up appears to be hitting on all cylinders and has worked four times since the Strub, his most recent drill a five furlong move in 59.80 on March 3.
While Shakin It Up will break from the outside post 10, Jerry Hollendorfer’s Sahara Sky drew the rail. In addition to last year’s San Carlos, Sahara Sky won the Grade II, six furlong Palos Verdes Stakes, was a hard luck second in the Grade I, seven furlong Carter Handicap at Aqueduct April 6, and he was a valiant nose winner of the one-turn mile Metropolitan two starts back on May 27.
Well fancied on the comeback in the Palos Verdes Feb. 2, the 6-year-old horse by Pleasant Tap was never a factor, finishing fifth, beaten 3 ½ lengths by Wild Dude, who will also suit up in the San Carlos.
Owned by Kim Lloyd and Hollendorfer, Sahara Sky drilled a half mile in 48.80 one week after the Palos Verdes and has had a total of four drills leading into the San Carlos–indicating that he’s ready to return to his form of 2013. He has two wins, two seconds and a third from five tries at seven furlongs and is 17-7-3-4 overall with earnings of $890,680.
The Hollendorfer owned and trained Wild Dude broke from the rail in the Palos Verdes and was content to sit next-to-last early with Rafael Bejarano behind torrid splits of 21.80, 44.20 and 55.80. In his first stakes try, he flew home to tag Breeders’ Cup Sprint champ Secret Circle by a neck in a rapid 1:08 flat–earning a career best 104 Beyer Speed figure.
Off at 8-1 in the five-horse Palos Verdes, Wild Dude came off a pair of allowance wins and the 4-year-old Florida-bred colt by Wildcat Heir is after his fourth consecutive win on Saturday. Co-owned by Green Smith, Wild Dude is 8-4-2-1 with earnings of $265,220.
Pennsylvania-bred Zeewat represents Hollendorfer’s third entrant in the San Carlos. He comes off a head win at 4-5 in the six furlong Lost In The Fog Stakes Feb. 17 at Golden Gate Fields and was a non-threatening fourth two starts back in the Strub Stakes. Owned by Hollendorfer and George Todaro, he’ll be ridden for the first time by Corey Nakatani. He is 14-7-0-2 overall, with earnings of $361,450.
A winner of three of his last five starts, California-bred Big Macher comes off the biggest win of his career in the six furlong Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint Jan. 25. Trained by Richard Baltas, the 4-year-old Beau Genius gelding was purchased out of a maiden $20,000 claimer July 17 at Del Mar. He broke his maiden three starts later for a $40,000 tag and will try graded stakes competition for the first time in the San Carlos.
Owned by Tachycardia Stables and Tom Mansor, Big Macher is 8-3-1-2 overall and will be ridden for the first time by Florida-based Luis Saez.
Owner, trainer and breeder Bruce Headley will be represented by the hard hitting California-bred Cyclometer, who bobbled at the break and finished fifth, beaten three lengths as the 3-2 favorite in the Cal Cup Sprint.
A winner of the six furlong Midnight Lute Stakes two starts back on Jan. 4, Cyclometer is 18-5-5-3 overall with earnings of $332,754.
Trainer Craig Lewis’ Clubhouse Ride could well have needed his most recent race and the 6-year-old horse by Candy Ride will try to become a millionaire by running first, second, third, fourth or fifth. Mike Mitchell’s Ready for More was fifth as the 2-1 favorite in the 6 ½ furlong Clockers’ Corner Jan. 26 and will test graded stakes waters for the first time.
Trainer Carla Gaines’ Midnight Transfer shortens up from a second place run in a one mile classified allowance Feb. 7, and was fourth to Cyclometer as the even money favorite in the Midnight Lute Stakes Jan. 4. Trainer Bill Spawr’s Let’s Get Crackin has run three seconds in-a-row in allowance company and shortens up from a second place finish going a mile on Feb. 1.
The complete field for the San Carlos Stakes, to be run as the seventh race on an 11-race program Saturday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Sahara Sky, Joel Rosario, 120; Clubhouse Ride, Tyler Baze, 120; Zeewat, Corey Nakatani, 118; Big Macher, Luis Saez, 118; Cyclometer, Joe Talamo, 118; Wild Dude, Rafael Bejarano, 123; Ready for More, Martin Garcia, 118; Let’s Get Crackin, Agapito Delgadillo, 118; Midnight Transfer, Victor Espinoza, 118, and Shakin It Up, Mike Smith, 123.
First post time on Saturday, Santa Anita Handicap Day, is at 12 noon. Admission gates will open at 10 a.m. Santa Anita will guarantee $500,000 in Saturday’s 50 cent Late Pick 4.