Santa Anita: The Grade II, $250,000 San Felipe at 1 1/16 miles
#1 Albergatti (6-1): Sped off to an extremely fast maiden win going 7F’s over the track last time in his second career start and now steps up to tackle winners, stakes foes and two turns all for the first time. Certainly bred to handle this trip, but with this draw, he’s got to go to the front and there’s more than a few others who want to pull that trip too; siding against.
#2 Runflatout (4-1): West Point runner looked sharp breaking his maiden at first-asking going 6F’s here in January and has been a big buzz horse on the backstretch ever since. The waters get a ton deeper today and he’s trying to hurdle the same set of circumstances that the colt in the 1-hole is, so needless to say, it won’t be easy; must live up to the hype and then some to win this.
#3 Surrey Star (Ire) (15-1): No one is really mentioning it, but he actually put in a nice middle move and ran pretty well behind The Factor and Sway Away in the GII San Vicente going 7F’s here last month. And heck, that was his first start of the year and first on the main track as well, so there’s some room for improvement to be sure. He’s got a ton of European turf breeding in his bloodlines, so this longer trip should only help a runner that has the look of a sneaky customer today; got a feeling he’s going to give them a big scare in the lane.
#4 Awesome Patriot (12-1): Baffert runner gets the acid test today and makes his first start of the year after beating winners (albeit just a pair of them) in a two-turn allowance over the track in December. Bred to be a star, has a pedigree oozing distance on top and bottom and has been working lights out in the mornings, so it looks like he’s coming into this ready to run a career best. And don’t forget, that allowance run was also his first on the real stuff, so he could just be getting started; major player off the bench.
#5 Comma To The Top (4-1): GI-winning juvenile threw in a real clunker off the bench at 1-2 in the GIII El Camino Real at Golden Gate, his home track, and now he’s going to try conventional dirt for the first time in the hopes of keeping the Derby dream alive. His win in the CashCall last fall was a beauty, but he’s got a lot of speed in a race loaded with early pace and is by a pure sprinter, so you wonder if just maybe we saw his best last year? If you’re still a believer, you’ll get one heck of a price on a horse that has class and wants to beat you, but the bloom seems to have come off his rose quite a bit; taking a strong stand against.
#6 Premier Pegasus (4-1): His undefeated streak came to an end at three in the San Vicente, but he was hardly disgraced with a solid third-place finish behind two heavyweights in what was his first start of the year and first start on real dirt. Takes the blinkers off today in an effort to settle a bit better early on, and, being by a Derby winner, he should love this two-turn trip, so the fact that he’s been so good sprinting says a lot about his talent. Homebred should be ready to fire a big one today in his second off the shelf, and that means he’s going to be tough to handle; call to win a wide open heat.
#7 Bench Points (8-1): Cal-bred puts his perfect 4-for-4 career mark on the line while testing two turns for the first time and he’s got a lot of distance in his pedigree, so the trip should work. Nice stalking gear in this corner and he’s done everything they’ve asked of him so far, but this is a still rise in class and he might need a start at this level before showing his best; watching today.
#8 Jakesam (20-1): Tries the main track for the first time and he’s by Sprint Champion Smoke Glacken, so not really sure this trip is where he’ll make his living. Tons of speed in this corner, which should only add fuel to the fire up front, but not expecting him to be around when the real running begins; outsider.
#9 Jaycito (7-2): Much maligned GI winner makes his first start at 3 and first start for Baffert since giving the patrons on the outside rail on the backstretch a real scare in the BC Juvenile. Blinkers come off today and he’s been absolutely flying in the morning, while building quite a following, so suffice it to say, he’s going to take a lot of money at the windows and his performance will be closely scrutinized as well. Doubt Baffert really cares about winning today, with the goal clearly being the Derby, so expecting a nice closing run into the money to tighten up a horse that has the look of a runner that can wear a blanket of roses on May 7; might be the last time you can beat him on top all spring.
#10 Quail Hill (20-1): Decent third in the GII Lewis over the track, but that was a slow renewal and the favorite that day, Tapizar, needed to be hauled in with a life preserver, so the quality of that field can be questioned. Got no favors from the draw either and at this point he’s simply not fast to contend here; needs to step it up to make a dent against this crew.
#6 Premier Pegasus
#3 Surrey Star (Ire)