Brian’s Derby preps: The San Felipe

The San Felipe – Grade II – $200,000 – Santa Anita – 1 1/16 Miles, by Brian Nadeau

Pioneerof The Nile looks to keep pace with The Pamplemousse in the battle for favoritism for the upcoming Santa Anita Derby. He meets six relatively unproven sorts trying to latch on to the Derby Trail. Let’s take a look.

He’s Really Big: Improved leaps and bounds since adding blinkers and stretching to two turns but he’s beaten much softer in his last two. At least he’s got the rail and some tactical speed, but a minor award seems his ceiling today.

Pioneerof The Nile: I’m not a big fan of this guy, but geesh, if his stall door opens, he’s got to win this, right? He sure found a cushy spot to get some afternoon legwork without having to overexert himself. Well-bred son of Empire Maker has shown himself to be versatile in the past, so the slow pace he might encounter shouldn’t hurt him too much. It’s hard to envision any scenario that doesn’t get him to the wire first in here, but The Pamplemousse and Take The Points will be licking their chops in the Santa Anita Derby next month.

Feisty Suances: Hasn’t run poorly in two stakes assignments, and the guy he chased last time–Chocolate Candy–is building a nice resume up north at Golden Gate. Here’s your pacesetter, folks, and it’s not out of the question that this guy gets mighty brave turning for home. Those looking to beat the favorite might have found their hero.

Shafted: Seemed to be going in the right direction before the Lewis, but a tardy start ruined his hopes in that spot. Nice to see Casse send him right back to battle instead of lowering his sights, so there’s reason for optimism. He’ll be motoring late and surely can crack the tri at a nice number.

Jeranimo: If nothing else, the San Felipe has given us some pretty neat names, and this guy surely applies. He tested winners and two turns for the first time here on February 26 and was hardly disgraced, so this seems like a nice progression. There’s a hint of speed in this corner as well, and he could have a one-over trip stalking Feisty Suances to the top of the stretch before making his move. Very interesting.

Kelly Leak: Looked good winning a one-mile turf allowance here on February 22, and that says he should be at home on the main track today. Another who looks to come from off-the-pace, so that might leave him with too much to do turning for home. Classy sort seems relegated to underneath in your exotics.

New Bay: Shame on us for questioning why they paid 300k for a son of Cuvee. This guy has really come to hand in his last two starts and it’s time for Mandella to see what he has. Stakes and two turns for the first time in here, but as we’ve gone out of our way to say, there’s not much in terms of quality aside from the favorite. His tactical speed from those sprints should have him in a good spot early, and from there it’s only a question if he’s good enough. He just might be.

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