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Las Vegas, NV - The Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes comes our way from Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California this Saturday, February 7. A nice purse of $500,000 will be on the line for horses four years old and upward willing to go 1 1/8 miles on Santa Anita's dirt track.
A solid field of nine have been confirmed for the San Antonio - race 8 on Santa Anita's Saturday schedule. Post time is 4:00 PM. Let's take a look into the past performances of all nine combatants for this Grade 2 stakes - an intriguing clash between California Chrome, Shared Belief and Hoppertunity.
California Chrome - two-time Eclipse Award winning Art Sherman trained Horse of the Year had a terrific six race win streak early last year and looked absolutely untouchable - the Preakness Stakes, a four length win in the Kentucky Derby, the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes by 7 1/4 lengths and two minor stakes scores. But he stumbled his next two starts - a sixth in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby September 20 followed a fourth in the Belmont Stakes - a race that could have made him the first Triple Crown winner in decades. Last time out he got back on the winning track with a victory in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar November 29 - a result that followed a third in the Breeders' Cup Classic. He now has 16 career starts with nine wins, a second and a third place finish and once again looks like the most dominant horse on the planet. All eyes will be on jockey Victor Espinoza has he and 6-5 favorite California Chrome leave from gate 8.
Shared Belief - Jerry Hollendorfer trained, Jim Rome owned colt rebounded from a controversial fourth as favorite in the Breeders' Cup Classic - his only career loss in eight starts with a good win last time out in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes here December 26. The 2013 Eclipse award winner for two year old colts won the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes on this track September 27. It followed a terrific 2 3/4 length win in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar August 24, another nice 4 1/4 length win in the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Derby July 5, an Allowance score at Golden Gate May 26 and six months away due to a nagging foot injury. Before his layoff he had three starts and three wins - the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity by 5 3/4 lengths, the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue Stakes and a MSW at first asking. Shared Belief had seven convincing wins by a combined 40 lengths before the Breeders' Cup. Translation - he's darn good! Mike Smith will ride from post 9 as Shared Belief tries for a ninth win in 10 career start as the 7-5 second choice.
Hoppertunity - Bob Baffert trained colt was one of the favorites for last year's Kentucky Derby but missed that race. He is coming off consecutive terrific wins - in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes here January 10 and in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs November 28 with an impressive 104 Beyer Speed Figure. The wins followed a pair of seconds - an Allowance Optional Claiming here in October and behind California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby in April and a great win over Tapiture in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park March 15. Hoppertunity has three wins and two seconds in his last five starts and will be a threat as always on Saturday. Martin Garcia has the mount from the rail at 4-1 odds.
Tonito M. - Puerto Rican sensation made his North American debut in May for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and recorded a respectable second in the Grade 3 Lazaro Barrera Stakes at Santa Anita and followed that with a disappointing eighth in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens at Belmont Park June 17 and an OK third in the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Derby July 5. He won the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby three back at Remington Park and followed that with another respectable result - a second behind Alert Bay in the minor Zia Park Derby November 26 and a fourth in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes here January 10. Before shipping he had an impressive three race win streak including a Grade 3 and Grade 1 race last December. Tonito M has been competitive the last eight months and is expected to be again Saturday. Rafael Bejarano rides the 15-1 shot from the post 2.
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Imperative - last year's runner-up in this race, George Papaprodromou trained gelding has 21 career starts with three wins, four seconds and three third place finishes but hasn't been great lately - a fifteenth in the Group 1 Champions Cup in Japan followed a ninth in the Breeders' Cup Classic, a fifth in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes here September 27 and an OK third in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic. He looks for his first win since April - a score in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic with Flavien Prat in the reins from gate 4 at 20-1 on the morning line.
Bronzo - Group 1 winner in Chile entered his North America debut having won three of four starts. He finished a respectable fourth in that debut - the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile on this track and went on to a sixth in his only other North American start - the Grade 2 San Pasqual here January 10. He has an impressive 11 wins, a second and four third place finishes in 21 career starts but looks for a breakthrough here. Gary Stevens will guide the 20-1 shot Bronzo from post 7.
Clubhouse Ride - finished second in four straight races to start 2013 including the Charles Town Classic behind Game On Dude, the Big Cap and the Grade 2 San Antonio and then went on to a terrific win in the 2013 Californian - a race that he also won in 2014. He hasn't been great the last six months however - an eleventh last time out in the minor Clocker's Corner Stakes here January 25 followed a ninth in the Grade 3 Daytona Stakes December 28, a seventh in the minor Los Alamitos Mile, a tenth in the 2014 Pacific Classic and a second in the Grade 1 Gold Cup back in June. Aaron Gryder has been tabbed to right the ship Saturday - from post 6 at 30-1 odds.
You Know I Know - John Sadler trained gelding was last seen running a disappointing eighth in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar in August which followed a third in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap. He made his stakes debut last August 25 and finished a very respectable third at 40-1 odds in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic and has been up and down since. You Know I Know has placed in just one of his last four starts overall and departs at 30-1 on the morning line from post 3 with Drayden Van Dyke aboard in his first start in nearly six months.
Alfa Bird - will make his stakes debut for trainer Victor Garcia having posted two wins and three seconds in five career starts - two straight wins ahead of this weekend. Last time out the win came in an Allowance Optional Claiming on this track January 2 after breaking maiden at Del Mar November 27 in his fourth start. Tyler Baze will be in charge in Alfa Bird's step up in competition as the longest shot in the field (30-1) from the outside post.
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