A field of 10 three year old colts and geldings continue their path to the Kentucky Derby. This field boasts more true Derby contenders than any race we have seen to date.
Santa Anita – San Felipe Stakes (G2) – $300,000 – 1 1/16 miles – Dirt
1. Blingo (KY) – Mike Smith – 118 – John Shirreffs
2. Bodemeister (VA) – Rafael Bejarano – 118 – Bob Baffert
3. American Act (KY) – Martin Pedroza – 118 – Jack Carava
4. Midnight Transfer (KY) – Victor Espinoza – 118 – Carla Gaines
5. Groovin’ Solo (KY) – Alonso Quinonez – 118 – Myung Kwon Cho
6. Liaison (KY) – Martin Garcia – 123 – Bob Baffert
7. Creative Cause (KY) – Joel Rosario – 123 – Mike Harrington
8. Rousing Sermon (CA) – Joe Talamo – 118 – Jerry Hollendorfer
9. Tiz Point (KY) – Garrett Gomez – 118 – Richard Mandella
10. Empire Way (KY) – Brice Blanc – 118 – Mike Harrington
The way things have gone for Bob Baffert so far in 2012, you just have to mention his horses first. Of course the first one would be multiple stakes winner Liaison. The Indian Charlie colt is coming off his worst performance in his brief career. After winning three straight races including the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity on December 17 at Hollywood Park, he did not show much in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2) in February at Santa Anita. He stalked the leaders as he normally does, but when needed, he did not fire. He slightly faded down the stretch. To make matters worse, he clipped heels with another horse and lost jockey Rafael Bejarano in the process. He seemed to come out of the race in good order and his works have been good leading up to this one.
The other Baffert horse is Bodemeister. Coming off a win in a maiden special weight race on February 11. He destroyed the field by 9 1/4 lengths and ran one mile in 1:34.45, just a little over a second off the track record. It’s worth to note, that his only other race was his debut where he lost to American Act by two lengths going 5 1/2 furlongs. You can tell this colt won’t mind going the additional 1/16 miles in the San Felipe.
Creative Cause comes into the San Felipe off a 3rd place finish in the San Vicente Stakes (G2) on February 19. The race was seven furlongs with only 4 horses. He just didn’t seem to be his usual self and was never really a factor. However, he wants to go long distance and it might have been a great tune-up for this race. He has yet to finish worse than 3rd in 6 career starts and has the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes and Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes to his credit. He’s certainly training well with three straight bullet works going 4 and 6 furlongs.
The Jerry Hollendorfer trained Rousing Sermon was another who disappointed last time out in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes. He was supposed to challenge Liaison for the win as he did in his previous two races, the CashCall and Real Quiet Stakes. His 3rd place finish was due to a DQ on Groovin Solo. He still finished 2 3/4 lengths behind Empire Way for 2nd and another 2 3/4 from I’ll Have Another for 1st. His running style is suited for longer distances, but if the race sets up with good speed early on, you just never know. He just might get up in time. Tiz Point, Bodemeister and American Act all like to get to the front, so it isn’t out of the question.
A couple of other late runners could play into the mix along with Rousing Sermon if the speed does come into play.
The first is Empire Way, who is coming off the 2nd place effort in the Robert B. Lewis. It was his best effort since breaking maiden first time out. Since, he has finished 6th in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue Stakes and 5th in the CashCall.
The other is the John Shirreffs trained Blingo. I really like this horse and feel he could contend for the Derby if he can qualify. After winning his debut on the turf going one mile, he came back to run 6th in the CashCash on the all weather. He was bumped hard out of the gate and fell to last place. When he tried to make his move around the far turn and all the way down the stretch, he couldn’t find room. He is training very well, coming off a bullet work on March 3 going 6 furlongs in 1:12 flat. You know Shirreffs likes the come from behind horses. He tries dirt for the first time, but don’t feel that will be an issue.
PREDICTION: I like Bodemeister as the speed of the speed. He will hang on to win, but will be holding off challenges from Creative Cause, Blingo and Rousing Sermon.