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Las Vegas, NV - Santa Anita in Arcadia, California will be the scene of the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Stakes on Saturday, January 31. Horses four years old and upward will take to Santa Anita's dirt track and dash six furlongs searching for the winner's share of the $200,000 purse.
A strong field of just six will take to the track in the Palos Verdes - race 6 on Santa Anita's Saturday card. Post time is 3:00 PM. Here is a peek into the past performances of all six combatants for this Grade 2 stakes.
Secret Circle - Bob Baffert trained colt won was terrific early in his career culminating with an incredible score in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Sprint. He finished second behind Wild Dude in the 2014 Palos Verdes Stakes, took eight months away and has looked good since - a third in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship October 4 was followed by a good second behind Sprint Champion Work All Week in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, a second in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile and a fourth behind Distinctiv Passion as odds-on-choice last time out in the Grade 3 Midnight Lute on this track December 27. Street Circle has been impressive - seven wins, five seconds and a third place finish in 14 starts and will be looking to bounce back from his only career off-the-board finish. Martin Garcia has the mount from post 4.
Big Macher - Richard Baltas trainee made his graded stakes debut March 8 and finished a good second in the Grade 2 San Carlos after a win in his stakes debut - the minor Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint here January 25. He went on to a two race win streak - the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes over Goldencents at Del Mar July 27 and the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Stakes in April. Last time out he returned to the winner's circle in the minor Cary Grant Stakes at Del Mar in November after an ugly ninth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint and a sixth in the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien Stakes at Del Mar August 24. Big Macher has won three of his last five starts overall, with some unflattering results in there as well. Tyler Baze has been tabbed to ride the 120 pound co-highweight from gate 2.
Wild Dude - Jerry Hollendorfer trainee was last seen running a decent second by a nose to Big Macher in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Stakes here back in April. He raced in stakes company for the first time in the 2014 edition of this race and won over Street Circle after two straight Allowance scores. After his Palos Verdes win was a bit of a hiccup however - a fourth in the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes at Santa Anita March 8. He has 10 career starts with four wins, three seconds and a third place finish - never worse than fourth and will be looking for a repeat win in his first start in nearly 10 months. Rafael Bejarano will be in the reins of the 120 pound co-highweight from post 5.
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Distinctiv Passion - multiple stakes winner Jeff Bonde pupil has 13 career starts with six wins, a second and four third place finishes and enters on a nice two race win streak - the Grade 3 Midnight Lute Stakes at 7-1 odds last time out in this track followed an Allowance Optional Claiming score at Del Mar in November. He has two other graded stakes starts - a third in the 2013 Santa Anita Sprint Championship and an eighth in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes in December, 2013. Distinctiv Passion has two wins and a second in his last three starts overall - in the best form of his career and will line up from the rail with Mike Smith aboard.
Conquest Two Step - Mark Casse trained colt made his graded stakes debut last time out and finished a good second behind champion Shared Belief in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on this track December 26. That result followed an Allowance Optional Claiming score, a second in an Allowance and a third in the minor El Cajon Stakes in his stakes debut in August. He has placed in eight of nine career starts - competitive every time out and off a good result last time out could be in the mix this week as well. Joe Talamo will get the call from post 3 Saturday.
Chief Lion - will race in stakes company for the first time for trainer Eoin Harty having posted three wins, two seconds and three third place finishes in 14 career starts. He enters off an Allowance Optional Claiming score on this track January 1 after a second in a similar race at Del Mar in November. Chief Lion has two wins and a second place finish in his last four starts overall but takes a huge step up in competition Saturday. Chief Lion leaves from the outside post Saturday with Martin Pedroza in the irons.
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