ARCADIA, Calif. (June 4, 2014)–Upstarts Can the Man and Friendswith K Mill, conditioned by Bob Baffert and Doug O’Neill respectively, head a speed-laden field of eight sophomores going 1 1/16 miles in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita.
Idle since winning the six furlong Speak Easy Stakes by 1 ¾ lengths on Oct. 14, Can the Man was a first-out maiden special weight winner four starts back at Del Mar and finished third, beaten one length, in the Grade I, seven furlong Del Mar Futurity in his next out on Sept. 4.
In his only try around two turns, the 3-year-old colt by Into Mischief pressed the pace and tired to finish fourth, beaten five lengths, in the Grade I, 1 1/16 miles Front Runner Stakes on Sept. 28. Owned by Kaleem Shah, Inc., Can the Man has four bullet six furlong works showing for his return to action–two at Los Alamitos and a pair from the gate at Santa Anita, both accomplished in 1:11 flat.
He’ll be handled by his regular rider, Martin Garcia, and is expected to vie for the early lead. With two wins and a third from his four starts, Can the Man has earnings of $156,000.
O’Neill’s Friendswith K Mill comes off a handy 2 ¼ length allowance tally on May 11 as the even money favorite and has a come from behind style that should benefit from a hot pace. A Kentucky-bred son of the Holy Bull stallion Flashy Bull, Friendswith K Mill was fifth, beaten two lengths, in the Grade III, one mile Derby Trial at Churchill Downs two starts back.
Owned by Neil Haymes, Martin Kenney and Wonderland Racing, Friendswith K Mill is 8-2-1-0, with earnings of $78,442.
O’Neill will also be represented by recent California-bred maiden winner Frensham, who was a prompt 2 ½ length maiden winner on May 9, getting 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.40. A chestunut colt by Square Eddie, Frensham is owned by Zillah Reddam and was bred by her husband, Paul Reddam.
Second, beaten 2 ¼ lengths by Friendswith K Mill on May 11, trainer Dan Hendricks will try to turn the tables in the Affirmed with Arkenstone, who was a game gate to wire maiden winner going a mile and a sixteenth two starts back on March 23.
A Kentucky-bred ridgling by Arch, Arkenstone is owned by Thor-Bred Stable, LLC, and will be ridden for the third consecutive time by leading man Joe Talamo. He has a win and a second from six starts.
A flashy gate to wire winner of the Desert Code Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course May 3, Forever Juanito will try two turns and natural dirt in what will be his fifth career start for trainer Victor Garcia. Owned by Garcia’s father, Juan, and Victor Garcia, there seems little doubt the Badge of Silver gelding will be sent from his number seven post position by regular pilot Agapito Delgadillo.
Forever Juanito has two wins, a second and a third from his four starts and earnings of $109,640.
A winner of the one mile Riley Allison Futurity four starts back at Sunland Park, trainer Justin Evans ships west from New Mexico with Kentucky-bred Rebranded. Originally conditioned by Todd Pletcher in New York, Rebranded is a bay colt by Tiznow who comes off a close second in the one mile Sun Ray Park Casino Handicap on May 3.
Rebranded has the advantage of having routed in seven out of his nine career starts and is 9-2-3-1 overall, with earnings of $176,760. He’s owned by Tony Pennington and will be ridden for the first time by locally-based Elvis Trujillo.
With all horses assigned 118 pounds, here is the complete field, with jockeys in post position order, for the Grade III Affirmed Stakes, to be run as the ninth race on an 11-race program Saturday: Arkenstone, Joe Talamo; Big Tire, Fernando Perez; Frensham, Mario Gutierrez; Can the Man, Martin Garcia; Rebranded, Elvis Trujillo; Friendswith K Mill, Tyler Baze; Forever Juanito, Agapito Delgadillo, and Lolo Canonero, Edwin Maldonado.
Special early first post time on Saturday, Belmont Stakes Day, is at 12 noon. Santa Anita’s admission gates will open at 8 a.m. First race post time from Belmont Park is at 8:35 PDT.