SUNDAY’S LA PUENTE STAKES ON TURF LURES SEVEN 3-YEAR-OLDS WITH GRASS-PROVEN SURREY STAR THE LIKELY FAVORITE

ARCADIA, Cal. (April 7, 2011) – One day after the Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles, seven 3-year-olds lend their attention to turf racing in Sunday’s 31st running of the $100,000 La Puente Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.

Three of the entrants exit the Grade II San Felipe Stakes over Santa Anita’s main track, and Irish-bred Surrey Star would seem the one to beat with three placings in graded stakes on his turf resume.

None of the three made much impact behind runaway winner and Santa Anita Derby favorite Premier Pegasus in the San Felipe with Surrey Star having finished seventh. La Puente rivals Quail Hill and Jakesam checked in fifth and eighth, respectively.

Quail Hill, also entered in the Santa Anita Derby, broke his maiden on grass while Jakesam will be making his grass debut on Sunday, but Class Racing Stable’s Surrey Star has proven ability over the surface.

While racing eight times on turf as a 2-year-old in England, the bay colt placed a solid third in the Group III Solario Stakes at Sandown Park and lost by a nose to Rerouted in the Group III Somerville Tattersall Stakes at Newmarket.

Sent to the United States in early November and turned over to trainer James Cassidy, Surrey Star was a fast-closing third behind victorious Grade I winner Comma to the Top in Hollywood Park’s Grade III Generous Stakes at one mile on turf on Nov. 27.

After two fruitless tries on dirt at Santa Anita, Surrey Star’s return to turf is likely to gain him favoritism on Sunday with Joe Talamo, aboard in both the Generous and San Felipe, set to ride. The Irish-bred’s overall record is 1-2-3 in 11 starts for earnings of $57,196.

With earnings of $99,940 from a 2-2-1 record in 8 starts, Jakesam is the most accomplished of the entrants as the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee makes his turf debut for Robert and Mary Ellen Bourque. The gray Smoke Glacken colt ran a strong second to Santa Anita Derby contender Silver Medallion in the Grade III El Camino Real Derby over the synthetic Tapeta racing surface at Golden Gate Fields. Rafael Bejarano takes over in the saddle.

Quail Hill, with two races on turf including his maiden win at one mile while going wire-to-wire at Santa Anita on Jan. 20, turned in his best career effort in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 12. He finished third behind victorious Anthony’s Cross, another Derby contender, while sent off at odds of 68-1. With earnings of $74,680 from a 1-0-2 showing in 6 races for Tarabilla Farms, the Candy Ride colt is to be handled by regular rider Martin Pedroza for trainer David Hofmans.

Newcomer Inscrutable is no stranger to turf racing. The Kentucky-bred son of Arch will make his United States debut for trainer Jenine Sahadi after winning 2 of 7 starts over grass in France. He captured a listed event at 20-1 at Cagnes-sur-Mer in his last out on Feb. 26. Joel Rosario will ride the bay colt owned by James McIngvale.

The complete field for the La Puente Stakes, with jockeys in post position order (all entrants carry 116 pounds): Jakesam, Rafael Bejarano; Surrey Star, Joseph Talamo; King Cola, Brice Blanc; The Flying Whizzer, Patrick Valenzuela; Quail Hill, Martin Pedroza; Major Art, Victor Espinoza, and Inscrutable, Joel Rosario.

The La Puente is scheduled as the eighth race on a nine-race program with first post at 12:30 p.m.

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